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Center focuses on movement

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    Instructor Malia Helela, middle, leads her class during a keiki hula and craft class at the Still & Moving Center in Kakaako.

For Renee Tillotson, founder and director of the newly opened Still & Moving Center in Kakaako, it all stated with Nia.

Nia, a barefoot movement class that draws from dance and martial arts, became her passion, so much so that she wanted to build a place where people could do it seven days a week.

It’s where she first learned the practice of "moving meditation" — the ability to hold a point of focus while moving. Thus, the mission of the Still & Moving Center is to be a place for seeking one’s center.

"When I first started creating this space, I knew it had to be a collective effort," said Tillotson. "I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s all about community."

Tillotson, a mother of three, first signed up for Nia when her children were teens to relieve stress. She now holds a black belt.

When looking for instructors, she began to embrace many other practices with the same "moving meditation" concept. The center offers dozens of other forms of dance, movement and practice — ranging from aikido to Bha­ra­ta­nat­yam (Indian dance), ContempoModFunk dance, ecstatic dance, hula, meditation, tai chi, yoga, Pila­tes and Take­tina (a rhythmic, musical form of meditation).

WHEN creating the course schedule, Tillotson made a point of including at least a dozen classes for kids, from infants to teens.

Besides creative movement for 3- to 5-year-olds, there are kids’ classes which range from tai chi to meditation, aikido, drums, improv and obstacles.

There will be adult hula classes taught by kumu hula Malia Helela, but also those geared toward keiki, ranging from baby-carrying hula and sitting-baby hula, to hula and crafts for 3- to 5-year-olds, to keiki, teen and adult hula.

Helela — a mother of twin 6-year-old boys and a 3-year-old girl — says she tailors the keiki classes for kids’ shorter attention spans. Kids learn to sing songs in Hawaiian, learning the names of fish, for instance. Crafts include braiding raffia into kupee (wrist and ankle lei).

Classes also include Mama Mia Nia for expecting moms, while seniors can choose from gentle yoga, Fel­den­krais (movements designed to preserve joints and improve posture) or Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, which is a falls-prevention program.

Many of the children’s courses are strategically offered at the same time as the adult classes so families can coordinate their schedules.

With three movement studios, a crafts/kids room, changing rooms with showers, an upstairs "Ohana Hall" and a ground-floor gathering place, the two-story center has plenty of room to accommodate the simultaneous classes.

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