New Year’s Eve has passed and if you’re like many others, you may have created a list of resolutions. Personally, I find that the easiest resolutions are those that are simple and that you have fun with. Increasing physical activity, is one of the more common resolutions, but your resolution will fail if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. One of the easiest and most fulfilling resolutions that I completed last year, was to participate in a biweekly NIA class.
Last year, I was going through a lot of changes which resulted in an elevated amount of stress. I had moved to a small town away from the majority of my friends, changed my job, and was newly married. In the midst of all of these changes, I felt like I was losing myself. I had drifted from my writing and I was spending very little time on my own needs, including building my own yoga practice.
As part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided it was time to re-invigorate my fitness practice and so joined a ballet class and a biweekly Nia class. The ballet class helped increase my flexibility and physical strength but it was the NIA class that helped me discover the self- empowerment and creativity that I was missing.
Strong movements such as kicks and blocks taken from the marital arts movements give me a sense of empowerment. Wild and free movements from Isabella Duncan’s dance theory combined with slightly more structured jazz and modern dance, add creativity and imagination to the practice. While the three healing arts that this practice combines (yoga,the Alexander technique and Feldenkrais teachings) helps us to embrace both self-love and connectedness.
Nia was created in 1983 by Debbie and Carlos Rosas. Their focus was to get away from the high impact aerobic trend that was currently bombarding North America and to create a technique that addressed the whole body. Originally the word NIA stood for Non Impact Aerobics stressing the fact this cardiovascular workout was about the whole body.
In 1987, the acronym NIA was changed to Neuromuscular Integrative Action to provide a clearer definition of what this style of fitness was.
NIA is based on the whole body including your internal emotions and cognitive states:: the practice works on integrating each aspect of your body to create positive wellness.
Nia: Movement with a Purpose
The word Nia in Swahli means “With Purpose”. This definition neatly embodies the main principle of this fitness movement: that our lives and our movements should reflect our internal purpose and desires.
The thirteen principles of the NIA movement clarifies the holistic vision that the creators believed in when developing this practice.
Each of these principles focuses on a different aspect of our mind/body connection from recognizing the importance of the base: feet and legs to dancing what you sense.
Today NIA is practiced worldwide, training instructors on the proper techniques on how to develop a positive practice for all participants.
The Nia movement encourages all participants to feel empowered, energized and to embrace the pleasure principle by enjoying each movement.
This year my goal is to embark on the path of becoming a NIA Instructor by completing my white belt instructional training in October 2009.
NIA is a philosophy which I find naturally integrates with my daily yoga practice, infusing my life with creativity and wellness. The class is about self-love and recognizing the strengths that we each our naturally equipped with. Nia encourages you to have fun, to recognize your own inner beauty and to develop self-empowerment. These are three aspects which we all should have a daily dose of.