Photo By: Becka Regan of Regan House Photography
SYJ: Can you tell us about the business you have created from doing what you love?
Christina Wolf: My studio, Embody Movement Studio, is an ever-evolving sanctuary for body, mind and spirit. We offer yoga and holistic fitness classes to empower our clients on their journey to a stronger, healthier, and more authentic and alive body and life. Our primary class offerings include yoga (of varying styles and levels,) and Nia. We offer 18 yoga classes and 8 Nia classes each week. We also offer Tribal Belly Dance.
SYJ: Considering the myriad of healing and movement modalities out there today, why do you choose to pair Nia Technique® with traditional yoga?
CW: I find the unification of Yoga and Nia, specifically, to be very powerful and transformative. I explain to my clients that come from a traditional “fitness” perspective that they can think of Nia as their “cardio” and Yoga as their “strength training” – but because all of our offerings are holistic, it goes much deeper than that.
From a mind, spirit and emotion perspective, Nia is a moving meditation of sensation. In Nia, because there is so much stimulation (music, choreography, interaction, community, cueing, steps,) the mind becomes quiet because it has to. There is simply no space or time to think about anything else other than the present moment of movement. In Yoga, I find the opposite is true. There is more spaciousness which allows the student time and space to connect with their body, mind and spirit in quiet, stillness, and breath. I find that the two, when practiced together, are pure magic for transforming body and life.
SYJ: How did you find yourself where you are now? Did you always hope to open your own studio?
CW: Prior to opening Embody, I was living a completely different life. I was a Digital Ad Sales Exec for a top 50 US Website. At the end of 2012, I experienced a personal tragedy that forced me to take stock and realize that I needed to craft a different life that was in alignment with the calling of my soul. That was when the inspiration for Embody was born. Once I made the decision to open Embody, I went all in and there was no looking back. Within a 9 month period from the moment I made the decision, I had crafted a business plan, left my career, cashed in my life savings, purchased and renovated a historic building with my husband, completed my Nia White Belt Training along with a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and built a brand, studio, and boutique from scratch. It was a terrifying, electrifying and passionate journey that felt 100% directed and guided by spirit.
SYJ: What developments have occurred between those pivotal 9 months and now?
CW: Since we opened in August of 2013, we have grown to a staff of 7 teachers, over 120 members, welcomed nearly 1000 new students through our doors, expanded to offer massage therapy, private yoga sessions, and a myriad of special workshops and events in addition to our group classes. Every day I have the privilege of hearing my client’s personal stories of profound transformation through their work at Embody. I am deeply humbled by this work and consider it a sacred calling and responsibility.
SYJ: You mentioned a personal tragedy sparking the inspiration for Embody. Surely the the timing of those circumstances was out of your control. Did you feel ready to jump into entrepreneurialism?
CW: I resisted the call to entrepreneurship for a long time. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and knew the harrowing truth of what being an entrepreneur can mean (“on” 24-7, no separation between work life and family life, terrifying risk, staff management challenges, the mandate to wear hundreds of different hats each day, etc. etc.) Early on in life I decided I would never choose that road. Though I majored in Business Administration in college, I believed I would be perfectly happy working for someone else in the corporate sphere. That all changed when the call of Spirit got louder than my internal resistance. Once I made the decision to move forward, my family of entrepreneurs were right behind me, supporting me and offering assistance, guidance and love.
SYJ: As a child, could you imagine yourself teaching dance? Paint us a picture of your childhood.
CW: Yes! Absolutely. I spent most of my childhood dancing 6 days a week. My beautiful mother (who is now our Tribal Belly Dance instructor) was the executive director of our local dance studio, so I grew up immersed in dance. I studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern, and later got involved in musical theater. My first job at 14 years old was teaching creative dance and Jazz and Tap to 5 and 8-year-olds, respectively. I danced until I was 18 and then spent the following 15 years stepping away from dance entirely. When I committed to the Nia path in 2013, it was like coming home to myself.
Photo By: Becka Regan of Regan House Photography
SYJ: What are the most potent realizations or gifts that practicing the Nia Technique® has given you?
CW: From the first Nia class I attended sometime around 2004, I knew that Nia was something special. I didn’t know why it was special – but I knew that it was much more than an “exercise class.” In each step along the Nia journey I’ve received a greater and deeper understanding of how and why I was called to this practice. I’ve gathered an arsenal of tools that enrich and enliven my experience of being human in this world, including learning to connect to the sensations of my body, learning to truly receive, and deepening my understanding and experience of all of life as energy.
Above and beyond everything, I think the greatest gift of Nia has been the profound sense of connection and togetherness I experience within my community of students, teachers and trainers, and the global Nia community as a whole. It is a true privilege to dance and work among such intelligent, inspiring, dynamic, creative and loving people. Nia has transformed my local community in a deeply meaningful and impactful way – and I know this is just a microcosm of the greater impact the global Nia community has on our world.
SYJ: Can you share one social or political issue you would like to see change in your lifetime?
CW: The simple answer is the illusion of separation and “other.” When I contemplate all of the social and political issues that I would like to see change in my lifetime… oppression, inequality, war, terror, child abuse, environmental degradation, political division, cruelty in all forms, etc. – it can all be boiled down to the manifestation of the illusion of separation and the tendency to see other people or the planet as something separate from ourselves. I believe that if we all truly understood the interconnected nature of life and reality… that we are all one… it would simply not be possible to continue our destructive behaviors.
SYJ: How would you like to see this shift come about?
CW: That is a tall order and I believe that the only way to fulfill this utopian vision of reality begins within each individual. Calling on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it requires establishing a base-line of health and safety for all beings… shelter, food, water. It requires early-childhood and parenting education. It requires social infrastructure to provide a safety net for those in need. It requires love. And once all of those basic human needs are met, it requires eliminating the overwhelming distractions of our time to connect eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart with one another while remaining firmly rooted in ourselves and Spirit as we make choices about how we show up in the world. It requires dance and expression and music and art and connection and freedom for all. It is, indeed, a tall order, but one that I have to believe is possible.
SYJ: What inspires you? What do those moments of inspiration look like?
CW: I find inspiration all around me all the time. Sometimes my inspiration comes from my trainers and watching the way they masterfully and powerfully practice their craft. I have been blessed with an abundance of teachers and mentors throughout my life and I carry their lessons with me always. Sometimes my inspiration comes from my students as they push through perceived limitations into their next highest version of themselves. Sometimes my inspiration comes from authors or speakers, books or films that frame the world in a way I hadn’t thought to see it before. Most often my inspiration comes from Spirit… from an experience, insight or message that feels divinely orchestrated to assure me that I am on the right path.
SYJ: What books have you read recently?
CW: As a mother of a two-year-old and owner of a 3-year-old business, I don’t have nearly as much time to read as I would like, I am currently in the middle of two books: “The Active Side of Infinity” by Carlos Castaneda and “Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity” by David Allen. The juxtoposition of these two are pretty representative of the state of my life at the moment! I recently read “The Craft of the Warrior” by Robert Spencer, inspired by Nia Faculty Trainer Britta von Tagen. It was a powerful reminder of what it means to choose and walk a path with heart. I also keep “Quiet Talks with the Master” by Eva Bell Werber on my nightstand for periodic reminders to connect with Source. In a completely different vein, about six months ago I read “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, which revolutionized my relationship with food and has significantly changed my body. I now recommend this to many of my clients.
SYJ: Do you have a favorite quote?
CW: I love powerful and inspirational quotes. In fact, I close each Nia and Yoga class I teach with a quote related to the class’ theme or focus. Though popular, this one beautifully sums up how I choose to move through the world and what I strive to share with my students:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”