Photo By: Fred Bass
SYJ: I know you teach several modalities of healing movement. What are they and how do you integrate them?
Laurie Bass: I was drawn to the healing arts and modalities by the need to heal myself. Yoga was my first love, then came the all-encompassing Nia as a fitness, dance and lifestyle practice. I teach the following: Classic Nia, the Nia 5 Stages, Moving to Heal, Nia FreeDance and yoga. As a Nia Faculty Trainer, I offer 7-day White Belt Intensives for those seeking to dive deeper into the practice and for those ‘called’ to teach. The tools and practices enhance any body-centered profession and beyond. The Nia 5 Stages Somatic Training is a 2-day event, with a pre and post-course study program based on the body’s design. I guide people to delve into this healing practice, teach them to deliver a poetic, meditative experience and hone their somatic voice. It is an amazing program that enhances energy flow and compliments any movement modality. I am very lucky to have been a key part of the development team of this program, supporting the vision and deepening my knowledge of the body and somatic delivery from its creator, Debbie Rosas.
SYJ: What development and growth has this work brought about for you? Explain.
LB: This work has whole-heartedly helped me heal and integrate my experiences in a profound way. Integration is inherent in my personal practices, filtering into my professional offerings, creating a synergy in my teaching style. My Nia training has made me a better yoga teacher and vice versa. Throughout the language of the body, sensation is the constant. As I listen to the voice of my body, I guide people to listen to listen to the voice of their body as the source. My classes are deeply influenced by my knowledge of anatomy, imagery and connection to self. The beautiful thing along my path of healing, self-discovery and transformation is that nothing is ever static. These modalities have developed the whole of me: my physical self through movement; my cognitive self through the design study of the body; my emotional self through inquiry; and my spiritual self through my unique, creative expression.
SYJ: How do you market your work?
LB: I love what I do. I do what I love. That is really how I market my work.
With authenticity and soul, I market my passion for movement, self-healing, personal empowerment and a positive lifestyle. I love being a Nia teacher and trainer, moving people to a deep, inner connection with their bodies, tuning into their minds and tapping into their self-expressive spirits. I communicate from the heart, from personal experience and from the healer within me. I create with the intent to inspire – whether that is a movement experience, an event flyer, or social media tile. I envision that every body will grow into their fullest potential – on the dance floor and while dancing through life. I understand that I am the face, the energy and body of my business. I market from the way that I dress, move, listen and engage with people in classes, events and online. I’m patient and committed. I also trust my intuition in the process of planning events and believe in the ‘law of attraction.’ What, how, where, when and why I communicate my passion, sharing my work… it all matters.
SYJ: As a child, could you imagine yourself teaching dance? Why or why not? Paint us a picture of your child self.
LB: I was always at home in my body, excelled as an athlete in high school and college, and envisioned myself as a future teacher and coach. I didn’t know it would be dance! I grew up with the feeling of total freedom, exploring the countryside of Montana, soaking up its sunny skies and star-studded nights. My childhood memories are filled with laughter, running barefoot through the fresh cut grass and playing games of “hide and seek” in the cornfields with my younger brother, cousins and twin sister (and yes, she does Nia!). The world was my playground. My exposure to dance was limited to wedding receptions, high school proms, my bedroom and 80’s dance movies. I was hooked on the aliveness, the rhythm of the music and knew that was something I would love to share.
I am now a Sacred Athlete who teaches people to tune into the aliveness of their bodies through movement and dance. A new archetype for health and well-being, Nia defines a Sacred Athlete as a teacher and healer to all people- one who plays the game of life by aligning one’s purpose, believing in potential and staying open to all of life’s possibilities. Debbie Rosas states, “A Sacred Athlete knows that making choices from love and pleasure guide the path to all transformation and self-mastery.” I choose love.
SYJ: When did your passion for entrepreneurialism ignite? Were there teachers, friends or family members who encouraged or sparked your interest?
LB: Entrepreneurial passion is in my DNA. My father (and his father before him) owned several businesses. And though I didn’t understand the risk, I was drawn to the rewards of being independent and in control of my own path. After college, I pursued this independence as a coffee entrepreneur. I learned the many roles of a business owner: marketing, sales, operations, accounting, managing time, training staff, customer relations and tracking inventory. It was in 2003 that I changed the course of my life, going from a boss of many to a boss of one – me! You can read about by transformation from ‘coffee diva’ to ‘Nia diva’ on my website.
SYJ: Who are your biggest inspirations? Why are they moving to you? What do those moments of inspiration look like?
LB: The source of my biggest inspiration begins with my family. My parents taught me that commitment, love and kindness opens doors, that anything is possible. My dad taught me to see the ‘upside’ of any situation. I learned the power of sisterhood from my mother and her six sisters, to giggle until my face hurts and that togetherness equals strength. My husband taught me the power of authenticity.
I find inspiration in the power of friendship, in the understanding silence.
The source of professional inspirations are vast and many. What they have in common are qualities of the visionary, living in right alignment, having traveled spiritual and creative journeys. Committed. The moments they inspire in me are sensory imprints that guide me in my current choices, business decisions and life journey. The moments are filled with silence, an inhale, a sense of inner knowing and an outward ‘aha’ or two. Who they are or were makes a difference to me. They have shown me that who you are makes a difference, that who I am makes a difference.
Photo By: Nia Technique
SYJ: Are there any meaningful or compelling books you’ve read recently that you would like to touch on?
LB: I’ve just re-read Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. Toward the end of the book, he writes about acceptance: “If you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you do –stop. Otherwise, you are not taking responsibility for the only thing that really matters: your state of consciousness. And if you are not taking responsibility for your state of consciousness, you are not taking responsibility for life.” This is a compass for me, my life, my relationships and my business.
In a section entitled ‘Enjoyment,’ he writes, “When you make the present moment, instead of the past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do—and with it the quality of your life—increases dramatically. Joy is the dynamic aspect of Being.” For me, the Joy I tap into onto the Nia dance floor, the power of being present and fully alive in my body, mind, emotions and spirit creates an exponential and limitless amount of Joy in my life.
SYJ: What’s one social or political issue you would like to see change in your lifetime? How would you like to see this change come about?
LB: Music, dance, and physical education have been largely removed from the education system. The concept of the Arts is being devalued, as well as the people who choose to pursue them – artists, dancers, writers, performers. Generations are being deprived of their creativity, their self-expression and potential. Without movement and creative outlets, the brain and human spirit will suffer. Children are growing up being more “plugged in” to their electronic devices than their bodies.
I’d like to see school days starting with meditation and yoga; to see the arts, dance, movement and music programs restored and expanded in curriculums; to empower the education system to teach to bodies, not to test scores; to restore recess, encourage play and let kids move in order to experience the freedom of their bodies.
My dream is that future generations will be as intuitive about operating their bodies as they are about operating an iPad.
SYJ: Can you share three of your favorite quotes?
LB: The human voice has such tremendous power to heal others as well as ourselves. It is a reflection of health and well-being. As a teacher, I cultivate a conscientiousness of my tone, speed and resonance as I hold the space. I love this quote from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen:
“The strength of our voice is based upon the degree of involvement of our total organ system. A blockage somewhere in our organs will be reflected in the quality and intensity of our voice.”
— Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
Sensing, Feeling, and Action
This quote from Maya Angelou is a wonderful reminder for the budding entrepreneur:
“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”
– Maya Angelou
And a simple reminder to accept change and make your choice, from the original Nia diva Debbie Rosas:
“If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that the body and life changes. Transformation is constant. It is what you and the universe do. You can either go with or against this constant, the flow of change.”
White Belt Training Manual
SYJ: What are the most recent realizations or gifts that your Nia practice has given you?
LB: My Nia practice is a grounding force for me emotionally and spiritually. Through it, I have accessed a deep, healing power of presence. Most recently it centers me in peace as I transition from being a daughter who has received a lifetime of support, love and understanding from my parents to one of giving support in the wake of my father’s diagnosis of dementia. Nia’s gift to me: to choose, to be with, to access the energy of Joy in all of life, in the easy and hard times, in the known and unknown outcomes.
SYJ: What do you love most about your work?
LB: I love meeting and moving with people from all over the globe. People travel to Portland from all over the world to train at Nia Studio, to receive from the source. I love that my work has opened doors for me to travel, to collaborate with colleagues across the US, Australia, the UK and Europe. I get to move, laugh, educate, and play while tuning into accents and a variety of cultures. I have learned firsthand that dance is the universal language, the language of the body and spirit. I believe that Nia has started a “Joy Revolution” and I am proud to be a part of the movement on the world dance floor. Thank you.