New yoga classes

I am very excited to report that I will be teaching my first yoga class this weekend. A few months ago I took a training course from a local yoga studio, and now I’m ready to get out there in front of a class and teach what I know. I’m a little bit nervous, but mostly I’m just excited to develop my personal style, and hopefully it’s something the students can relate to.

By chance, I also got an opportunity to fill in for another instructor for a short vinyasa class on Mondays, so I’ll actually be jumping into two classes. Here’s the info. I would love to see you in class!

• Sundays, 10:30-11:45 a.m. at the Family Tree, 3817 Ingersoll Ave.

• Mondays, 5:15-6 p.m. at Firehouse Yoga, 2300 University Ave.

Both of these are mixed level vinyasa flow classes. The Monday class is just a bit more condensed.

And I’m still teaching my Nia classes:

• Wednesdays, 7-8 p.m. at the Family Tree (I alternate bi-weekly with another teacher)

• Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Firehouse Yoga

Nia training in Des Moines

This is taking place at my yoga studio later this spring, so I just wanted to get the information out there. It was huge for me, and I can highly recommend it to others who are looking to learn more about Nia and perhaps teach it in the future.

photos courtesy of

A Movement Training for you mind body and soul
Des Moines, Iowa
May 15-21 2010

Each day of this 7-day training contains a combination of fluid dance arts, precision martial arts and self- healing practices. Immerse yourself in the 13 Principles of Nia and take home tools for a lifetime.

The Spring Nia White Belt Intensive will include:

* the new Nia white belt Learn Manual
* a week devoted to movement and music
* a return to awareness, self healing and the body in motion
* freedance and creative self-expression

$500 deposit to secure your space. This training is open to all levels of experience and completes the requirement to become a licensed Nia teacher if so desired.

Location Details:
Family Tree Yoga Studio
3817 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa

Contact: Sandi Hoover
telephone: 515-202-2584

Try Nia for free!

If any of my posts have made you curious about what a Nia class is like, or you have been on the fence about checking it out, here is your opportunity to do it without spending a dime.

I am teaching a freebie class at Firehouse Yoga this Friday at 5:15. Firehouse is a great studio space at 2300 University in Des Moines. Beginning in March I’ll be teaching Nia there weekly (I believe Thursdays at 5:30). So we’re doing this demo class to get people excited and show them what Nia is all about.

I’m hoping to do the routine Opal, which is my absolute favorite so far. It’s challenging, super fun and the music is fantastic.

Just as a recap, Nia is like an aerobics class with an holistic spin. It’s an hour -long routine set to music. The beginning is a warmup, the middle very energetic, and the end a cool down with stretching and usually some yoga poses. If you’re a regular yogi who sometimes wishes for a faster paced class, or a former dancer who misses dancing, or someone who likes to work out but dislikes a gym setting, you might really love Nia, so give it a try!

Reflections on 2009

Despite parts of this year being pretty awful (I keep hearing people say they can’t wait for it to be over), this has been one of the most enlightening years of my life. I guess I thought that by the time I finished college I would know who I really was, but the truth is most of that education has come in my later 20s, and especially this past year.

I learned that it was possible for me to do what I loved. But that making it profitable was a much bigger challenge.

I learned I could teach Nia, and that there was an exercise that was right for me, and my body. I’m so grateful for that.

I got engaged to someone who truly loves me for me. And I’m pretty grateful for that, too.

I learned an incredible amount about how to run a crafty business, and saw it start to thrive by the end of the year. The business part was pretty humbling at times, and I had to start over on some projects more times than I’d care to admit. But I feel so much more confident now, and ready to grow Mary Marie even more.

I admitted to myself what I truly wanted to do with my life. And I realized that some things I thought I wanted to do, I didn’t want to do at all. Maybe I just thought I was supposed to. Regardless, I have to keep telling myself to stay on the right path, and close some doors so that others can open.

I spent a lot of time musing about the future. Mike and I had a lot of heart-to-hearts. We know we want to make some changes, but we’re not sure how it will play out yet. We thought we’d tackle the whole wedding thing first.

And about that. Though I’ve had world’s longest engagement, I still felt the many pressures to get caught up in wedding planning to the point of insanity, and I never let it happen. So far, it’s been fun (sans the budget part… OMG). And thanks to A Practical Wedding, I know it can still be fun, down to the last stressful minutes.

2009 was also a good year for this little blog. I remember how excited I was the first time I checked Google Reader and discovered I had 11 subscribers. Whoever they were, I love them for that. And whoever’s still reading, thanks for continuing to support me.

So here’s to more lessons in 2010. I’ll be celebrating the new year with a sushi dinner and night out at the Des Moines Social Club. And then, who knows. So many big things are set to happen in 2010 (the wedding, turning 30, watching some of my closest friends tie the knot, too), I can’t imagine it being just another year.

The crazy things we do to get fit

Some of us were chatting during the stretching part of our Nia class tonight about all the torturous exercise classes we’ve put ourselves through in the past. And not that it’s not important to push yourself in the name of fitness, but some of the stuff we’ve done has been truly insane. I paid a personal trainer to time me doing planks (a move I hate more than just about anything) and balance on a half-ball thing with weights in each hand. Another girl took a class where an instructor screamed at her until she cried. It’s no wonder we quit after a while.

I think maybe we just stopped believing there was a way to work out that wasn’t painful or miserable.

Finding Nia was such a blessing after all that. I love the music (and you can buy Nia Sounds CDs just to listen to – they’re even on sale right now). I love that we all have different body shapes, including the teachers, and nobody cares. I love that we’re dancing and moving and sweating, and all the sudden an hour’s gone by and we’re still sitting around talking because no one’s ready to leave.

My neighbors probably think I’m crazy when I’m dancing around my living room practicing routines. But hey, at least I’m happy doing it. I give you permission to dance around, if that’s what feels good to you.

See? Fun!

photos from

Have you found the exercise that fits you perfectly? What crazy things have you done in the name of fitness?

Come dance with me

Tomorrow’s the big day – my first time teaching Nia. Thankfully another first-time teacher has agreed to switch off songs with me so I don’t have to tackle the whole thing by myself. That should be a good transition into teaching, I think.

It’s been quite a process getting to this point. It always seemed a little daunting, the idea of memorizing a whole hour-long routine. But the reality is that it is darn near impossible to know it all exactly, so you have to learn general movements and musical cues to help you get through it. The good thing is that Nia is not an exact science. As long as you’re moving, and doing the moves they want you to do, it’s all good. Most students will never notice if something gets off a little.

So, Sept. 2, 6:45 p.m. at The Family Tree yoga studio, 3817 Ingersoll Ave. I’ll also be teaching next week, same time, same place. And more after that, but I’ll get those dates to you later.

After I get over the hump of never having taught before, I’ll have to move on to learning a second routine. I hope my brain can hold it all!

Practice makes perfect

As my own boss, I decided to give myself a mini vacation this week. My sister was planning to be home in Kansas for a few days so I thought I would go home, too. Other than the holidays it’s pretty rare for the whole fam to be in the same place at once anymore. So, I’m off. And there will be garage sales and pedicures and general debauchery, I’m sure.

I am, however, taking a little work with me. Because I’ve been scheduled to teach my first Nia class!

It’s Sept. 2, and that is going to be here before you know it. I finally sat down to try to come up with a system of teaching myself all the moves, and it was…not so easy. Honestly, I think just doing the routine over and over is as good a lesson as anything. So that’s what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks. Some of you may be called to practice with me…

Any words of wisdom regarding the teaching of a class for the first time is appreciated.

What is Nia?

All week long I’ve been training to earn my white belt in Nia. And you might be wondering, what the heck is that?

Nia is a fitness class I discovered probably close to two years ago at a yoga studio when they swapped it for our regular class. Instead of stretching we ended up dancing, and I just connected with it instantly. Maybe it was because I used to be a dancer (waaaay back in the day), maybe it was because I liked a little more energetic movement than my usual introspective yoga class, or maybe it was just because I’d never done exercise that felt so natural and good to my body. Either way, I remember thinking it was intriguing, but then forgetting about it for a while.

So when my current yoga studio started offering the class a few months ago, I showed up. The teacher and I talked a lot about how we felt Nia would catch on here if we just kept doing it. It’s popular in bigger cities like Portland, Oregon where it’s headquartered (!!), New York and Chicago. But not so much here. So we kept dancing, and pretty soon more and more new faces started showing up. My teacher got more routines in the mix, and then she started talking about how she wanted to do a training session here, so that people could have the full experience of Nia, get really immersed in it, and then become teachers if they wanted.

Even if I didn’t know right away I would do it, I think deep down I did know.

Going through this whole job change, which is really me trying to figure out how I can have the career I want and sustain it indefinitely, it really seemed like Nia could be a part of that. And wouldn’t it be great for someone like me who’s constantly struggling to find an exercise program I can stick with (and let’s be real, constantly failing on that front), to incorporate Nia into my work?

I joke that Nia is like new-agey aerobics, because I think some of the concepts are a little out there for most of us. But ultimately, the point of the class is to move in the way your body is meant to move. The way it wants to move. In a way that feels good and won’t injure you. The tagline is “through movement we find health.” So true.

So the classes are choreographed to music. The moves change as the music changes naturally, which is also kind of cool. The moves are a blend of the dance arts, martial arts and healing arts. So sometimes you are swaying or doing a cha-cha-cha, sometimes you are kicking or punching, and sometimes you are stretching, breathing, relaxing. Again, all moves go with different types of music. Some routines are more energetic than others.

We had five classes this week, and they were some of the most fun I’ve ever had because of the trainer who taught them, Stephaney Robinson.

She lives in South Carolina now, but she grew up in Des Moines. She spent the whole week with us, pulling us out of our shells, listening to us talk and talk and talk about ourselves. There was so much going on mentally and emotionally outside of the dancing, even though the class is all about the physical part. The best part really was finding a new community in Nia with these women that I just connected with right away. Three of us even live in the same neighborhood.

Here we are: Jewels, me, Moira and Jen, showing off our Nia bags like the dorks we are.

Another Nia white belt joined us for a couple of days, and she turned out to be one of the most fascinating women I’ve ever met. She’s a farmer with seven kids, who baked us muffins (twice!) with ingredients from her farm and brought us fresh flowers.

She told us a lot about the Nia community in Fairfield, Iowa, which is another fascinating place full of both farmers and hippies, thanks to the Maharishi University there.

Anyway, if you would like to try Nia, I would love to see you at the Family Tree yoga studio Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Hopefully there will be at least one more class per week offered there, and I might even be the teacher sometimes! It’s going to take me a while to learn the routines, and practice until I feel comfortable leading the class. But the prospect is so exciting.

Perhaps one of the most profound parts was just getting comfortable in my own body. We spent hours, HOURS, freedancing. Just turning on music and dancing around the room like no one was watching. Except we were all there. You have no idea how unlike me it is to do something like that. I am usually wound up much too tight, but Nia just forces you to let go. I admit that at first I was like who are these people and what are they saying and what are they doing? I didn’t fully get it. But I just told myself to trust the process.

So here I am. I’ve got a white belt, five new friends, and a future totally open to possibility. I have to say I’m a little proud of myself for plunking down the money and deciding to do something totally for myself in my grand plan to create more positivity in my life. I can’t even remember the last time I exercised this much in a week, and though my muscles were tired and my feet hurt and I overdid it with a few crazy moves, I don’t feel anywhere near what it would feel like to even just lift weights for an hour. I may have even danced a little of my ass off.

OK. Enough rambling. I just really wanted to share this experience with you. And I hope if you’re open to it that you’ll give Nia a try sometime.

Even just turn on some music and dance around your living room for a few minutes. Let it go. LET IT ALL GO. You need it. Trust me.