All the Ride Moves

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We are blessed with Kathy Davidson (equestrian specialist and soon to be author) attending our Writer’s NEST retreat this week.

Kathy’s an extremely accomplished and most delightful equestrian teacher, coach and judge.

She’s developing a fabulous intro session “All the Ride Moves” a mindful movement workshop based on the principals of Nia.

Tomorrow (Friday evening) Kathy will provide a debut, and You are invited!

She is generously offering the experience complimentary (considering it her “beta test”).

Designed primarily for the Equestrian Athlete, this hour long session has beneficial information for the health and daily living of people from all walks of life.

We will not be riding horses, but we will be simulating the movements and rhythms used when riding with the help of music!

The Walk is four beats, the Trot is two beats, and the Canter is a three beat Waltz!

Some of the work is done standing, but much of of the session is done sitting in a chair just like being in a saddle!

All feedback is welcome. Please come!

Kathy Davidson “All the Ride Moves” Debut at Soma Ranch, Friday, March 22, 7:30 - 8:30pm

Kathy Davidson “All the Ride Moves” Debut at Soma Ranch, Friday, March 22, 7:30 - 8:30pm

Fabulous experience for house riders, Nia lovers and beneficial for the health and daily living of people from all walks of life!

Fabulous experience for house riders, Nia lovers and beneficial for the health and daily living of people from all walks of life!


Kathy Davidson

Here Kathy is, writing her book in her favorite spot, at the Soma Ranch Writer’ NEST Retreat.

Writer's NEST Retreat Schedule

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Submerse yourself in a relaxing retreat experience at Soma Ranch. Choose to:

  1. drop in for a class (7:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 5:00pm, 7:30pm) Regular class rates apply to all classes.

  2. enjoy a Day Retreat NEST experience 7:00am - 8:15pm (you choose when to arrive and when to leave, full day attendance not required!) 24 hours notice required for Day Retreat bookings.

  3. submerse in the Full 6 day Retreat experience (Tuesday 3pm - Sunday 2pm)

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Tuesday March 19

01:00 - 03:00 Arrivals

03:00 - 04:00 Afternoon Gathering Circle

04:00 - 05:00 Free Time (let the writing flow!)

05:00 - 06:00 Nia Class

06:15 - 07:00 Dinner

07:30 - 08:15 Sunset Ceremony & Class

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Sunrise to Sunset:

Wednesday, March 20

Thursday, March 21

Friday, March 22

Saturday, March 23

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07:00 - 07:30 Sunrise Yoga/Meditation
07:30 - 08:15 Q time (let the writing flow!)

08.15 - 08:45 Breakfast

08:45 - 09:45 Q time (let the writing flow!)

10:00 - 11:00 Nia Class

11:00 - 11:30 Nia 5 Stages + Meditation

11:30 - 12:15 Q time (let the writing flow!)

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12:15 - 1:00 Lunch (choose silent or social)

01:00 - 03:00 Field Trips (Boating, Labyrinth, National Forest) or Free Time (let it flow!)

03:00 - 04:00 Afternoon Gathering Circle “support, listen, share thoughts and progress”

04:00 - 05:00 Free Time (let the writing flow!)

05:00 - 06:00 Nia Class

06:15 - 07:00 Dinner (choose silent or social)

07:30 - 08:15 Sunset Ceremony or Class

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Sunday, March 24

07:00 - 07:30 Sunrise Yoga/Meditation

07:45 - 08:15 Breakfast

08:30 - 09:30 Cowboy Church Option

10:00 - 11:00 Nia Class “Rise Up”

11:00 - 11:30 Nia 5 Stages + Meditation

11:30 - 12:15 Circle Closing Ceremony

12:15 - 01:00 Lunch

01:00 - 03:00 Departures

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Nia 5 stages class foci:

Tuesday: writing

Wednesday: focus

Thursday: imagination

Friday: flowing

Saturday: producing

Writer's NEST Retreat
from 149.00

Nia, Exploration, Time & Space for Writers (and other creative souls) More Information

Very special rates have been created especially for this retreat.

Each option is a fully inclusive of Dinner, Breakfast and Lunch, classes, workshops and more. Rates are per person.

  • One Day Special Retreat. $149 (4 places)

  • Non-Residential. $699 (6 places)

  • Dormitory: 6 twin beds, 2 bunk beds, 1 queen bed. $799 (9 places)

  • Semi Private: Room with 2 Full Beds shared by 2 people $899 (6 places)

  • Private Room with 1 King or Queen Bed ensuite bathroom $1199 (2 Places)

Book Now
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Writer's NEST Day Retreat

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Several folks shared the challenge between their desire to participate in the upcoming Writer’s NEST (Nia Exploration Space Time) and lack of ability to take off for the whole 6 Day retreat experience.

We’ve created a solution!

We’ve added a DAY RETREAT option for only $149.

For one whole day, get away, enjoy all meals, classes, group circle, time and space for writing and reflection. Get more information.

Please note,

  • at least 24 hours notice is required for booking the inclusive day retreat

  • there are a maximum of 4 places per day


Each day includes

  • yoga sunrise class

  • 2 Nia classes

  • 1 Nia 5 stages class

  • 1 sunset experience

  • field trip option (boating, paddle-boarding, walk labyrinth, hike national forrest)

  • unlimited use of sauna, hot tub & lap pool

  • scrumptious healthy meals, coffee and tea

Check out the Full Schedule

Combat Winter Blues

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One of the things I LOVE about Texas is how the sunshines often and it’s warm almost all year round. (it’s one of the reasons I chose to move from the UK!). This winter has been cold, damp and very wet. I’ve found myself slipping into old habits of getting the “Winter Blues”. This is where I tend to go into to “turtle time” mode, all I want to do is curl up, binge on Hulu and eat sugar. Being able to get out at Soma Ranch, spend time with the donkeys and horses, enjoy nature and the peacefulness of the ranch is a big plus. The benefits of the far infrared sauna and therapeutic hot tub really help warm up the body and soul.

I’ve also found a few techniques that really help me not get stuck in this self destructive downward spiral of behavior. Here’s a few things that work for me:

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  1. keep a consistent early wake up time and GET UP when the alarm goes off

  2. get up when it’s dark and watch the sunrise (gives me hope)

  3. get up and get going (early morning walk or run outside)

  4. stock up on yummy teas, make a hot drink before delving into the freezer for ice cream!

  5. drink apple cider vinegar every day (my fav is warm water, stevia, ACV and tart cherry)

  6. call a friend (I like to do this while walking - a “2 for 1”)

  7. go to church

  8. help someone else

  9. keep to a schedule

  10. seek professional help (as always, if you really feel you need help seek professional guidance)

Here’s a great article that gives some info behind SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and 10 tips on how to counter.

We're 50/50 with Men of Nia Retreat


2019 Men of Nia Retreat is 50/50

We are 50% booked with our upcoming 2019 Men of Nia retreat at Soma Ranch (April 26 - 28)

The present attendance is about 50/50, meaning with our registration so far we have about 50% women and 50% men signed up.

Folks have the misconception this retreat is for men only. Truth is the Men of Nia Retreat is welcoming of everyone, and we celebrate Men of Nia with 4 key World Class Male Presenters (Mark, JAG, Ray and Alan)

We are 50% booked with our upcoming Men of Nia retreat. The present attendance is about 50/50, meaning, with our registration so far we have about 50% women and 50% men signed up. Folks have the misconception this retreat is for men only. Truth is the Men of Nia Retreat is welcoming of everyone, and we celebrate Men of Nia with 4 key World Class Male Presenters (Mark, JAG, Ray and Alan)

Big thanks to Nia second degree black belt instructor, Fred Bass, who created and introduces a fabulous video series of interviews with "Men who do Nia"! Here’s his introduction:

Fred has wonderfully captured the essence of some of the fabulous Men who do Nia

click HERE for more clips from the series.

AND check out more information on the Men of Nia retreat, we’d love you to join us.

Run 2019 Miles update - eat an elephant?


There’s a crazy expression

you can’t eat an elephant in one seating.

Although my first thought is

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who wants to eat an elephant - EVER!

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I get (and abide to) the concept. My running 2019 miles goal is a great example of this:

  • WHEN the weather is more challenging,

  • WHEN I’m leading a training or retreat

  • WHEN “life happens” and I don’t do it!

I have the tendency to tell myself “it’s all over”, “I’ve failed”, “I may as well give up” and “I’ll never get caught up”. Then I return to my spread sheet (thank you Mum xoxo - retired math teacher!) and enter the data. I then realize, in the long run, if I keep chipping away at my goal, doing my best every day, my long term goal is still achievable.

My daily goal is to run 6 miles, this helps me gain a “pocket” for the days when “life happens”. Over these last 2 weeks, some days I’ve only clocked in 2 or 3 miles and yes I go into the dramatic “it’s all over, I’ll NEVER catch up”.

However, when I enter the data and check my average requirement, I still have a good chance! my required daily average has dropped, yet in the big picture, it is an insignificant slump (from 5.43 to 5.45) that comes out to only .05 miles a day. REALLY!??? I was stressing over .05 miles? I smile, I relax, I look out the window and get out there feeling inspired to clock in a good long run for today.

What ever your goals are, I encourage you to write them down, break down goals into achievable “gulps” and keep records of achievement.

If you’d like help whether it’s personal development, teaching Nia or achieving fitness goals please contact me for a one-on-one coaching session. I LOVE helping others achieve.

FYI the beautiful elephant picture is from my former business “Studio NiaMoves” in Houston. The new owner (Angela) completed this beautiful mural, super inspiring - when in the Houston area it’s well worth going to take a look!

Living Big In A Tiny House


At Soma Ranch, for the past 10 years, we love to look at how we can recycle, reuse and be as creative as possible with space.

Being able to create great spaces, buildings, rooms and do renovations is super helped by Joe Terry (husband, Soma Ranch CEO and “Soma Construction Department”).

Joe is an artist, with master carpentry skills, an eagle eye and a extremely creative mind. Under his expertise and guidance, we have renovated, restored and redesigned several spaces at Soma Ranch, including our beautiful dance studio, vibrant social area, peaceful rustic dormitory and massage house.

We are presently researching how to possibly add more rooms, ideally building spaces as independent cute tiny homes.

Solar power, water collecting and the possibility of being offer the grid are attractive options and constructing with shipping containers are very appealing to us.

During our recent research, we found this home made from 3 x 20ft shipping containers. The concept and design is very in line with several of our values, being energy conservative, environment conscious and enthusiastically creative! hope you enjoy taking a look around as much as we did. Feel free to add comments. Would you like to stay in an independent little bedroom until, possibly with your own toilet, sharing a shower/bathroom with another guest? option of an outdoor shower/bathroom? :-)

Aqua Yoga coming To Soma Ranch

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We are super excited to be bringing Aqua Yoga to Soma Ranch! Our pool is perfectly designed for this kind of class, retreat and training.

This is an excellent weekend for

  • FIT PROS who’d like to add aqua fitness/aqua yoga to their skill set

  • YOGA TEACHERS who’d like to add aqua

  • ANYBODY who’d like to enjoy yoga in the water, a fabulous retreat and opportunity to learn

For more information and to register click

Congrats Team ExtraOrdinary

Wow! we truly had an ExtraOrdinary week with Brown Belt Nia Teachers. We balanced practice and teaching with playing.

Each day the group taught a “JAM” class (this is where they each taught at least one song), guests enjoyed a class with Helen and received one-on-one specialized coaching with regards technique and teaching.

Relaxing, exploring and having plenty of time for fun and socializing all contributed to a most ExtraOrdinary week:

Relaxing with hot tub, sauna and lap pool.

Exploring the area with field excursions to labyrinth, cowboy church, juice bar, boating on Lake Conroe, hiking in the Sam Houston National Forest, and (not to be missed) ChillerBee frozen yogurt! We even found time to pick grapefruits!

Plenty of time having fun around the fire, sitting at the dining room table and walking around the property.

“Nia Brown and above” teachers interested? save the dates Feb 1 - 7, 2020 and let Helen know ASAP, open to a maximum of 8 participants.

New Public Nia Classes at Soma

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Super excited about our new addition to the Soma Team.

Please welcome new resident Nia teacher (and Soma Ranch assistant), Hànanda Whittingham.

We’ve added 6 new weekly Nia public classes for the month of February.

The time is NOW to come dance!

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As a lead International Nia teacher trainer, Helen teaches at 10am on Mondays and Thursday on a regular basis, with guest instructors covering when she’s traveling to offer trainings.

Hànanda is offering all other classes as a beta test for the month of February. If you want evening classes at Soma, now is the time to let us know, through your action of attending classes!

Results from Second Degree Black Belt

I’m challenged to describe my recent Nia Second Degree Black belt experience and sense it could take a few months before I truly feel the experience settling into my cells.

The good news I can share with ease the fabulous results I’m enjoying from attending the training. During the training I realized :

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  1. I miss having a piano at my home, and would love to restart playing

  2. I’d like to explore some kind of wardrobe makeover

  3. I desperately need help in my office

Within 72 hours of returning home from the course

  1. I have an electric piano and have started playing the new Lauren Daigle Album

  2. A lady, at the end of yoga class, asked what size feet I was, then offered me a bag with wonderfully sexy high boots as a gift

  3. Hananda, a recent Nia White Belt, with extensive retreat, office and management experience, has come to live at Soma Ranch for a while, and is helping me in the office! I am filled with hope and joy!


AND I’m noticing a wonderful sense of ease in class, while my teaching and creativity has improved!

5 Years of Team Coaching

As we step into our 5th annual Coaching Retreat for Upper Nia belts, here’s some fun facts and photos.

It all began 5 years ago when Helen entertained how best she’d like to celebrate her 50th birthday:

I thought about what I LOVE to do; Teaching, Sharing Soma Ranch, Helping others and having a GREAT time are 4 things that light me up! Creating a 7 day coaching retreat for upper Nia Belts seemed like a perfect solution!

Each year, in a very relaxed manner, Helen invites folks to join her for a week of coaching. It’s been wonderful each time to see how the group comes together. Some friends accompany each other, reconnecting from previous belts (like a reunion). Other folks step in not knowing anyone. Either way, great friendships are cultivated within 7 days of collective coaching, teaching and playing. In a small group where participants bring common interests (Nia, wanting to improve teaching, a willingness to be coached and have fun!) it’s rewarding and magical to witness what can be achieved.



Team C.A.R.E.

TEAM Dream

Look UP Lauren Daigle

This evening I shared my latest Nia Creation, “Look UP”, with the new Lauren Daigle “look up child” album.

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When choreographing a Nia experience (whenever possible) I like to keep the integrity of how the artist has created the album, and this includes the order in which they choose to place the songs. With the Look Up Child Album, I managed to honor the order, with the exception of one song,“This girl”.

Funny how, out of all the songs, this song is the one who ended up relocating, with a chorus repeating “This Girl ain’t going anywhere!”. “This Girl” has some lovely quirky patterns (we call fractions in Nia), these irregular groups of beats bring in a little unpredictability (a challenge to provide reliable, and the song also ends with a long “outro”. Originally “This Girl” was placed as the third song, which in most Nia experiences is where we want to be building the architecture of the experience from Cycle 3, Warm Up into Cycle 4, Get Moving. These are the factors that influenced my decision to move the song to Cycle 5 (Cool Down) shifting into Cycle 6 (Floor Play) where it fits beautifully - I wonder what Lauren Daigle would think of the shift?


The first time I played with this music, in a public class, was the last time I was in Budapest (back in October/November 2018).

I pulled off a “blue monkey play class”. This is where I show up with music I have not prepared or choreographed at all. The experience is similar to a “live Improv” where I am improvising choreography on the fly, teaching and guiding the class from intuition (and the seat of my pants!) with the option to be able to call out FREEDANCE any time I completely loose it.

These kinds of classes can be “hit of miss”, I encourage participants to laugh with or at me and either way have a grand time.

Participants seem to enjoy being part of the creative process, find pleasure witnessing me teach from such a RAW place and I think most of the class thoroughly enjoy when I get lost, can’t figure something out and in general don’t have it together!

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Keeping the promise to provide the class again, (in a more planned and choreographed manner the next time I returned) tonight was the night!

We had a magical experience, so much so we are returning tonight to dance again. This time we’ll video the class, in the hope we can share with Lauren Daigle what folks around the world are doing with her music.

I wonder how Lauren will feel when she sees all these wonderful ladies in Budapest dancing their body, mind, heart and soul to her music?

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Please enjoy the play list, as you’ll see I’ve added several Eva Casidy songs at the end. I recently saw a tweet where Lauren Daigle shared about doing a cover of a song “Don’t Dream It’s Over” even though the original was by the Wallflowers, I checked out and then immediately fell in love with the Diana Krall version of the song, when I noted she has a similar quality to Lauren I went ahead and added this to the playlist. I then had the thought “what about - following that with “over the rainbow”. On the search, amongst many artists I fell in love with the Eva Cassidy version, that took me down the rabbit hole of revisiting many of Eva’s amazing songs. When I was spoilt for choice with options I gave up with the time I had a dragged my top 6 Eva Cassidy songs into the mix.

I now have a playlist of 20 songs, an hour and 20 minute of music and great choices for the end of class.

For example:

  1. The other week I was teaching in a very NON Christian environment and, although Lauren is a Christian artist, I deem most of her songs to be appropriate for any religion, however the last song is an old hymm, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”. With the hymn and the lyrics there is no escaping Jesus! Wanting to honor the spectrum of beliefs in the room I chose to pull the Jesus song out (unchecked it) and replace with “Songbird" and “Over the Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy. Great news there is, the original Lauren Daigle Album is 52 minutes, and “turn your eyes upon Jesus” is a long song at 6:30. The 2 replacement songs are 3:44 and 4:27 = 8:11 minutes, bringing the grand class total closer to 54 minutes which is a very satisfactory (if not better) length for a class experience.

  2. This evening was more of a special event, I wanted to extend the class closer to a full hour experience of music, I therefore choose to add “Fields of Gold” 4:42. Then, with the music experience weighing in at 59 minutes, we had a lovely extended floor play section where I was able the luxury of giving a whole song to corse pose (complete resting pose in a laying down posture). The lights were turned out, every body rested for the entire song, and then the step out (Cycle 7) was the entire song “Over the Rainbow”, where we rose from the floor, returned to the 4 moudras of “Earth, Heart, Pray, Joy” before physical stepping out with grand applause.

  3. Next time I teach this experience I want to bring in the Diana Krall song “Don’t Dream it’s Over” before “Over the Rainbow” so I’ll probably take out Fields of Gold and Songbird.

This final “fine tuning”, where I twiddle with different options (most often the end songs) will land one of 3 ways

  1. I’ll simply one day find an order that “clicked” beautifully and I’ll declare “that’s it!”

  2. I’ll have a certain playlist clicked, every time I return to teach the routine I’ll make the same decision. After quite extensive period of time I’ll realize “Hmmm!! I always choose the same, I guess this is it”

  3. I’ll keep on playing with options from the selection and conclude that is how it’s meant to be

Well this post was rather “Nia geeky”, if you’ve made it this far I hope the sharing of my process has helped inspire you. In conclusion I hope you see and sense the “loose but tight” nature of the process. There’s lots of playful mucking about, balanced with a clear focus and intent. Allowing creativity in natural time while aligning with Nia technology (like the 7 cycles, the body’s way and the 52 moves) One of the elements I enjoy is to not push anything to come together, even though, every time I deliver the routine, I have an intent to get closer and tighten up the details. This process makes for delicious creative tension.

Foot note: most of my “clicks” and creativity don’t happen when in class NOR when I’m formally practicing at home. Instead it’s the moments i’m playing after class, literally playing the music while I drive, run, shower or bath! I’ll lightly come back to slight remembering of what I taught in the song I’m listening to, very dream like, and then the image of choreography or reveal of a detail in the pattern of the music POPs! I get excited, it feels like a moment of genius/brilliance, very much like I Helen didn’t think it up, instead it literally feels like a gift of brilliance from God.I giggle, replay the concept in my mind a few times then invite it to come with me the next time I class. When I remember (or the click pops in unannounced like someone saying “HI!”) and integrate the new click, it works, then it sticks and becomes “part of the family” - my phrase for when another element of choreography slots into the structure and architecture of the routine.

7 Day Forecast is ExtraOrdinary!

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Oh my! our annual coaching retreat (for Brown and Black belt Nia teachers) begins this evening and I can barely contain myself. This retreat began 5 years ago and has continued as an annual event. The first year was “Team Awesome” and we’ve continued the progressive alphabet tradition with BOLD, COMPASSION and DREAM Teams.

This year will be Team ExtraOrdinary.

Nia Teachers receive balance between:

  • LEARNING from taking classes with Helen

  • PARTICIPATING in team teaching “Nia Jam classes” with Helen witnessing

  • RECEIVING feedback + coaching from Helen with regards technique, teaching & choreography

  • PLAYING with NiaTV on the big screen

  • RELAXING with sauna, hot tub, lap pool, pastures, porch and donkeys!

  • ENJOYING each others company, support and brainstorming

  • EXPLORING the local area with field trips and surprises!

Thank you Nia Black belt teacher Ray Wotten who has attended every year. That is he’s returning for his 5th year and shares “I’m in this through Z!”. We deeply appreciate your support and the wonderful energy you bring every year to each fabulously unique group.

We are offering public classes every day at 10am and 5pm. Regular rates apply. This is a PERFECT time to invite friends and for beginners to come join us as these are great community experiences where you receive a flavor of many different teachers who are traveling in from Idaho, Florida, Indiana, and Texas!

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Here in Montgomery, Texas, we’re blessed with an amazing weather forecast. Looks like we’ll be in the upper 70s by Tuesday!

Sunshine and warm temperatures helps us to:

  • enjoy hikes in the National Forest,

  • Boat, PaddleBoard and Kayak Lake Conroe,

  • Labyrinth meditative walk next door to the Wolf Sanctuary,

  • nightly bonfires and more.

2nd Degree Black Belt

When I recently returned from the Nia 2nd Degree Black Belt, my Mum asked me “what exactly does that mean?”.

For the past 26 years I’ve been involved in the Nia continuing education, a program that models the Martial Arts Belt System. My Nia path began in 1993 with the white belt, I then progressed through Blue, Brown, Black. I took the Nia Green Belt when it was introduced and now I am a White, Green, Blue, Brown, Nia 5 stages trainer, which this means I teach others these belt levels.

Being a Nia Black belt doesn’t necessarily mean you are a “master” of Nia, it simply means you’ve taken at least the 4 belts, in some ways like a 4 year bachelors degree, you’ve covered the course work. There are no tests in any belt with the exception of the Nia Green Belt.

After attending Black the next levels of course go in degrees. So far in Nia there have been 1st degree and 2nd degree courses offered.

In Judo the highest belt level is a 10th Degree. This 98 year old women is the 4th person, and only woman, to be awarded this highest honor.

Read more HERE

The Nia system begins with White belt and progresses through Blue, Brown and Black belt. The Green belt can be taken any time after the white Belt. I’ve heard Nia students share

“oh my I’m so glad I took the Green before the Blue Belt”

and I’ve also heard students say

“oh my! I cannot imagine my Green belt if I’d not taken the blue belt first!”

In summary Green Belt is a floater course, taken after the white belt, usually before or after Blue Belt. Whenever someone chooses to take the Green Belt they appear to believe it landed in the perfect place for their continuing education.

White belt is the pre-requisite to teaching Nia. About half the people attend the white belt with the dream/intent to teach, the other half purely attend for personal growth. Often by the end of the course participants who have said they only want to attend for personal growth begin to warm up the idea with comments like “Well maybe I could teach at my church” or “with my family”, or “as a volunteer” or “after all!”.

Green Belt

Focus: Music-Movement-Magic | Intent: To condition the central nervous system

Time: 5 days (45 hours)

Green Belt focuses on developing skills to effectively teach Nia using Nia White Belt Principles.

Delivering the Nia Experience is a phrase we use to express the transformative power of Nia. As a teacher you aim to deliver the Nia Experience every time you teach; your role is to guide people through a meaningful journey of physical conditioning and self-discovery. The student's transformative experience comes from your ability to listen to the music with detail, dance the choreography with passion and share your personal experience of sensation in your body.

White Belt

Focus: Art of Sensation | Intent: To embody the foundation of Nia 

Nia White Belt Training takes you on a journey of self-discovery by exploring the art of sensation. Beginning with the Joy of Movement, you learn 13 principles for body-centered awareness. Each principle teaches you a variety of somatic skills for connecting to physical sensation in your body. Through the science, craft and art of sensation, you will learn Nia's body-centered approach to health, wellness and fitness. Crafting with sensation is the starting point for all Nia teachers. The Art of Sensation is what brings magic to the Nia class experience.

Blue Belt

Focus: Art of Communication | Intent: To create intimacy through somatic relationships

Blue Belt, the second level of Nia education, explores how to create healthy relationships through body-centered communication. This intensive introduces the next set of 13 Nia principles, which focus on the 4 realms of body, mind, emotions and spirit.

While the White Belt curriculum focuses entirely on awareness of physical sensation, Blue Belt applies these skills to explore internal sensations as perceived through – but distinct from – physical sensations in the body.

Blue Belt Principle #1: The Joy of Being in Relationship, integrates the sensation of Joy with the awareness that Joy is something outside the self, which we can invite into our physical experience.

As a result, we begin to deepen our ability to listen with clarity and sustain awareness of details outside our body.

Art of Sensation is rooted in Nia's philosophy of The Body's Way. Sensation guides you to create health and vitality by moving your body in ways that feel good. Nia White Belt teaches you to develop body literacy - the ability to listen to your body, making choices that lead to health and total body well-being.

Nia White Belt teaches you the Art of Sensation through five core areas of study.

  • Movement - the study of moving, health + potential

  • Anatomy - the study of body parts + systems 

  • Science - the study of body awareness, health + vitality

  • Music - the study of sound, health + expression

  • Philosophy - the study of the body's inherent wisdom. 

Anyone can take the Nia White Belt; no experience is required. If you have a desire to share Nia in a professional capacity, the White Belt Training is your entryway into teaching. Those who choose to pursue the path of personal enrichment use this training as a starting point for becoming a master student.

Brown Belt

Focus: Art of Perception | Intent: To live as an energetic being

By the time you reach Brown Belt, the third level of Nia education, you have developed a proficiency in sustaining awareness of your physical body and paying attention to the sensory details of the four realms: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

This level of training explores the experience of living as energy beings, as every experience of sensation in the body is an energy experience.

Brown Belt Principle 1: The Joy of Movement in the Zone, introduces "The Zone," a place of no thinking, a universe unto itself.

The Zone is a state of heightened sensation inside and out, from which you can think with both the logical mind and the intuitive parts of your being.

In The Zone, energy fields are tactile and readily available to you; Brown Belt teaches you how to tap into this energy to make positive changes in each of the four realms of your life.

Black Belt

Focus: Art of Creativity | Intent: Conscious Transformation

Black Belt, the fourth level of Nia education, invites you to let go of all you know and enter the River of the Unknown, a place of infinite and endless creativity.

First Degree Black Belt

Focus: Art of Self | Intent: To explore your personal potential

Art of Self is a profound step on the Nia Journey. It is the Belt that celebrates not just you, but your advanced potential. It's about stepping even further, out of your excellence and into your genius. Being in genius, in the zone, means letting go. It is expressed in beauty, power, and wisdom of spirit.

The desire for First Degree is "more". More personal knowing and more about how to live in a world of pleasure, purpose, and freedom. Plato wrote that "all knowledge is already within us, no one really teaches anything new."

The Origin of the Martial Arts Colored Belt System 

The martial arts colored belt ranking system was originated by Dr. Jigoro Kano, who was Japanese and known as the "Founder of Modern Judo", who first devised many of the concepts that are the foundation of Modern martial arts. Dr. Kano devised the colored belt system as a visible sign of a student’s progress, awarding the first “black belts” in the 1880's. 

Gichin Funakoshi, who was Okinawan and the founder of Shotokan Karate and often referred to as the "Founder of Modern Karate" adopted the belt ranking system and other organizational and philosophical concepts from Dr. Kano, who was both his contemporary and friend. 

Byung Jick Ro, who was Korean and the founder of Song Moo Kwan and known as "Founder of  Modern Taekwondo" was a student of Gichin Funakoshi, receiving his black belt from him in 1939, and thus, the color belt ranking system has been part of Taekwondo since it was developed in the early 1940's.

Dispelling an Urban Legend 

One common “legend” concerning the tradition of belts claims that early martial artists began their training with a white belt, which eventually became stained black from years of sweat, dirt, and blood. However, there is no real evidence for this story, so it should be relegated to the status of myth. In fact, given the standard of cleanliness common in the traditional Judo or Karate dojo, a student arriving with a bloodied or dirty uniform would probably not have been allowed to train. In some arts and schools there is the opinion that the belt should not be washed; by doing that one would "wash away the knowledge" or "wash one's ki away." This is all related to the “dirty belt” myth. 

Levels of Advancement 

Another common misbelief that needs to be clarified is the "black belt as master" stereotype,. In reality, a black belt indicates the wearer is competent in a style's basic technique. Since in Song Moo Kwan a black belt takes approximately 2 to 4 years of training to achieve, a good intuitive analogy would be a 1st Dan Black Belt is equivalent to a college Bachelor's degree. The 1st Dan black belt is thus seen not so much as an end, but rather as a beginning, a doorway to advanced learning. The 4th Dan is “Master” in Song Moo Kwan, and can be viewed similar to a college Master’s degree, and 8th degree black belt “Grandmaster” can be seen being equivalent to a university Doctoral degree. 

Meaning of the Colors 

Originally, the white belt was simply dyed to a new color. This repeated dying process dictated the type of belt color and the order of the colors. The standard belt color system is white, yellow, gold, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red and black. Due to the dying process, it was only practical to increasingly use darker colors. All of this came about shortly after the Second World War, when Korea and Japan were very poor countries. Dying the belts to a new color was a cheap way to have a visible, simple and effective ranking system. 

White Belt: White signifies a birth, or beginning, of a seed. A white belt student is a beginner searching for knowledge of the Art. The white belt is the beginning of life's cycle, and represents the seed as it lies beneath the snow in the winter. 

Yellow Belt or Sash: Yellow signifies the first beams of sunlight which shines upon the seed giving it new strength with the beginning of new life. A yellow belt student is given his first ray of knowledge, opening his mind, from his instructors. 

Orange Belt or Sash: Orange represents the growing power of the sun as it warms the earth to prepare for new growth in the spring. The orange belt is starting to feel his body and mind open and develop. 

Green Belt or Sash: Green signifies the growth of the seed as it sprouts from the earth reaching toward the sun and begins to grow into a plant. A green belt student learns to strengthen and refine his techniques. 

Blue Belt or Sash: Blue signifies the blue sky as the plant continues to grow toward it. A blue belt student moves up higher in rank just as the plant grows taller. The light feeds the plant so it can continue to grow. The student is fed additional knowledge of the Art in order for his body and mind continue to grow and develop. 

Purple Belt or Sash: Purple represents the changing sky of dawn, as once again the student undergoes a new change and prepares for the transition to advanced student. A purple belt begins to understand the meaning of the black belt. 

Brown Belt or Sash: Brown represents the ripening of the seed, a maturing and harvesting process. A brown belt is an advanced student whose techniques are beginning to mature, and he is beginning to understand the fruits of his hard work as a beginner. 

Red Belt or Sash: Red signifies the red-hot heat of the Sun as the plant continues growing toward it. As a red belt student acquires more detailed knowledge, just as the plant grows slowly toward the Sun, so the red belt student learns to be more cautious with his knowledge and physical abilities. Red is a sign of danger, and the red belt is beginning to become dangerous with their knowledge and abilities. 

Black Belt or Sash: Black signifies the darkness beyond the Sun. A black belt seeks new, more profound knowledge of the Art. As he begins to teach others, he plants new seeds and helps them grow and mature. His students, many whom will form roots deep into the Art, blossom and grow through the ranks in a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge, and enlightenment. 

The Last First

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In the Nia Blue belt we introduce the concept of “it’s a good day to die” - meaning if I die today will I exclaim “it’s a good day to die ~ I am at peace, I’ve lived a great life and I have no regrets.”

Directly applying this concept to teaching (or taking) Nia classes; preparation, execution and reflection" of class, are motivated by the concept this could be our last class.

I’m inspired to do my best when preparing and teaching class and celebrate all the things that went well. Checking what I can improve on for the next class, while being 100% satisfied with the experience, is a wonderful exercise of balance, self love and compassion.

This is a great example of how a Nia class can become a metaphor for life. Where our choices and decisions can be made like a sacred athlete, striving to do our best, live life fully and pay attention to what matters most in life and find the ability to let go of the rest.

Liliana, our daughter, sent us a “last first” photo.

It’s her last semester at University of Texas, Austin. Liliana was marking the moment in time of her last first day back to school!

We’ve had the tradition of taking her “first day back to school” photo since preK. This certainly seems to mark a significant moment in time, igniting her transition from school to the work place.

As we step into our 10th year at Soma Ranch we too are enjoying our milestones. A curious thing to consider is how we don’t know what our last of many things will be. I don’t know when will be my last class, last training, last month, last day, last moment, last breath. So I choose to celebrate what I have today, notice the first and lasts of the day, month, year and live a life as if this could be my last (as one day it will be!)


What would you do if you knew this was your last day, month, year? Something worth considering. And hopefully there’s a place for Soma Ranch in your plans, wink wink ;-) Let us know how we may serve best.

Congratulations Nia White Belts

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Our first event, first training and first Nia White belt for 2019 was a fabulous success.

A joyful group of women came together.

Each with their own individual needs and desires, these wonderful participants brought a collective desire to learn, support each other, grow, have a good time and be healthy.

We had a great time. It truly was a magical experience.

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Lindsay (a Nia White Belt participant from Vermont) experienced a super surprise when 3 women, from her community, flew in to be with her.

They stayed a couple of nights, enjoyed retreating at the ranch, attending public classes and most of all showing support and love for their friend.

Hananda (July 2018 White Belt graduate) returned for her 3rd white belt experience and is now considering moving to the Montgomery area!


Sue Korthauer dropped in for public classes and reconnected with 2 participants from Denver (Sara and Kate) who she had met at a retreat in Mexico.

Sonja Groskopf and her husband stayed for a few days, they are in the process of deciding whether to relocate to Texas.

This beautiful web of connections, good times shared, friendships made and rekindled is a blessing to witness and be part of.


As we continue to attract folks to relocate to Montgomery Texas, we appear to be adopting a most successful business model.

What could be better than folks moving to be closer to Soma with a desire to take classes and trainings!

Montgomery, TX is one of the fastest growing counties in the US and Soma Ranch appears to be becoming a beacon of attraction.

Body Shadow Retreat Feb 15 - 17, 2019

New Years can be a great time to Self reflect, look for New Beginnings and let go of what no longer serves us. If you’re looking for an opportunity to do all 3 and more please consider our upcoming Body Shadow Retreat. With way less pain and much more gain I feel I processed 10 years of talk therapy in my first Authentic Movement therapy group sessions.

We're hosting a fabulous WHOLE WEEKEND retreat with Erica Lorentz in February, and would love you to join us! We've extended the Early Bird pricing through Feb 1 (save $150).

Let us know if you'd like to come (or be on the list for future retreats)

Hope you enjoy this little chat JoAnn and I had on Soma porch the day after the last Body as Shadow retreat.

We share how, in a relatively short period of time, we experienced great value from the immersed, nurturing, retreat experience.

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We agreed how, even though folks came in with different personalities, abilities of moving and styles of learning we all enjoyed the process, learned from each other, felt safe and secure and benefitted from a most nurturing, healing environment.

Click here to REGISTER and receive more information about the upcoming Body Shadow retreat.

Reconnecting with Jenny Block

I met Jenny Block a few years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed witnessing her growth as a speaker and writer. I love witnessing how she courageously speaks out about what she not only feels passionate about but also feels is a very important message to share with women.

Last month Jenny was able to visit Soma Ranch for the first time. She beautifully shared her work and passion with Soma guests. We were all left very inspired and curious to know more. I’ve since read her book and am super excited to be hosting a special event with Jenny at Soma Ranch.

We’re please to announce Jenny is returning this upcoming week to offer an intro talk (Sunday, January 13, 7:30pm) with the option for one-on-one consultations if you’d like more information.

Sliding scale ($10 - $50) . Pay at the door.

Nia White Belt on Sale!

What better way to kick-off the new year than with a journey of self-discovery?

From Jan. 1st - Jan. 15th, all Nia White Belt Trainings are $300 off!

Explore the art of sensation, explore the new you.

At Soma Ranch we have a Nia white belt starting this Thursday (Jan 10th), with 7 folks signed up there is room for YOU to join us!

We also offer trainings in July, November and December.  For more information Click

The $300 off sale is valid WORLD WIDE now through January 15th, for ALL Nia White Belt trainings in 2019.