Joanna Livingstone

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My love of dance started at age four, when I went to ballet classes three times a week until aged fifteen.  Then I went on to explore contemporary, jazz, salsa, tap, 5 rhythms and biodanza, either at dance classes, in the kitchen or at nightclubs.  I could never stop moving, until a back injury in 2002.  This had an enormous impact on both my physical and mental wellbeing which took many years to heal, and continues to be an ongoing process.

I had no option but to stop, to listen to my body, and to wait.  I began to explore healing arts.  This began with Alexander Technique, which helped with posture and alignment.  I explored the teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais, which helped me to sense my body and tune into somatic experiences.  I then moved onto Scaravelli yoga, which helped with spinal movements and flexibility.  Throughout this time I had periods where the pain was severe and debilitating.

As a psychologist I also trained in Mindfulness and took a specialist training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  I learned mindful responses to pain which helped me to change my appraisal and experience of pain.  I remember trying a movement meditation which I loved and found helpful.

Over the years I was desperate to return to dancing again but needed something non-impact which was beneficial to my body.  Luckily I discovered Nia, which made me feel like I was coming alive again.  My body was being moved by the music and every movement felt natural and pain free.  It was non-impact and was movement medicine for my joints and muscles.  I felt relaxed but most importantly it was a lot of fun!

Nia is based on 52 moves, and draws on moves from the dance arts, healing arts and martial arts, while combining all the movement forms described above.  The dance arts (modern, jazz and Duncan dance) took me back to a place in childhood where I loved to dance freely as well as follow choreographed steps.  The powerful, strong martial arts moves drawn from Aikido, Tai Kwon Do and Tai Chi have helped build my core strength and balance my energy levels.  I have also integrated the healing arts (Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais and Yoga) to help me become a sensation scientist and increase my body awareness.  I started to build flexibility and stability but I also found the floor exercises which are part of Nia 5 stages, very healing and beneficial.

When I returned to my home town of Glasgow in 2014 there were no Nia classes in the area.  I was determined to share this amazing movement medicine as it has been so beneficial for me.  I was fortunate to attend a workshop with the founder of the Nia technique, Debbie Rosas, in Edinburgh in 2015.  I met so many inspiring Nia teachers who encouraged me to take my white belt training to become a licensed teacher in 2016 with international trainers from Italy and America.

As a Nia teacher my aim is to bring this amazing soulful workout practice to Glasgow, to build a community of like-minded movers and dancers and to help share the magic of Nia.  I will lead the choreographed routines but there is also opportunity for free dance.  The moves are easy to follow and suited to all levels from beginner to more experienced.  I also run specialist programmes to help with pain and movement conditions called Moving to Heal, and programmes for children which help with hyperactivity, concentration and attention levels called Moving to Calm.

Please come along and join me for a fun, exciting class!