I am always up for trying something new, especially if it involves physical exercise. When my coworker invited me to a Nia class, I thought about researching it first, just to see what was in store for me. All I knew was that it wasn’t your typical dance class. You move to your own freedom with no inhibition, while sticking to the main principles. I decided to attend the class with no background information and go in blind. The only “research” I did before class was right before it started by reading a line that said, “Nia is to exercise what holistic medicine is to healthcare”….I was sold!
“Nia is a holistic fitness practice that allows you to tap into your creativity and discover new ways of moving.
Created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas 25 years ago, The Nia Technique blends movements and concepts from Dance Arts, Martial Arts and Healing Arts with vocal sounding and self-expression into dynamic routines set to uplifting music from around the world.”
“Nia is based on The Body’s Way, which means using the body’s natural design to improve function. The biochemistry, joint and muscle action are triggered using imagination, music, emotion and vocal sound. Movements work with and against gravity…Nia addresses the body’s five main sensations: flexibility, strength, mobility, agility and stability, and focuses on conditioning the body and the nervous system.”
- Increase the pleasure of living in your body
- Facilitate weight loss and proper weight maintenance
- Strengthen muscles, improve muscle tone, and increase muscle definition
- Calm the mind and relieve stress
- Improve endurance
- Increase grace and flexibility
- Balance the autonomic nervous system
- Improve posture and even increase height
- Improve organ function, particularly that of the heart and lungs
- Enhance sensory awareness
- Heighten sexual function
- Build reservoirs of chi energy
- Alleviate emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, and stress
- Improve circulation of blood and improve lymphatic drainage
- Strengthen immunity
- Improve concentration and cognitive function
Like I mentioned before, it is not your typical exercise/cardio class. Nia exercises your physical, mental and spiritual well-being as well. What left the biggest impression on me was the age group- I was the youngest one there! Ages varied from 40 to 70 years old. Turns out Nia is also very kind to your joints and help alleviate symptoms of inflammation, swelling or other health issues related to muscles and bones.
We started with The 5 Stages of Healing. Watch this video http://youtu.be/FO0x55kbSOQ for a demo.
“The Nia 5 Stages is an integrative movement practice based on the five stages of human development: Embryonic, Creeping, Crawling, Standing and Walking. Practiced with awareness, these stages have the power to facilitate optimal alignment, improved function and comfort in the body. Whether practiced at length or for as little as five minutes a day, this system provides a tool for reclaiming and sustaining mobility, flexibility, strength, agility and stability.
The rest of the class consisted of dance moves that involved punches and kicks (martial arts) accompanied with the vocal sounds, as mentioned above, and the freedom to dance at our own will as long as it felt good to us. The instructor gave us a basic “cha-cha” step, which I could not master for the life of me! I have no idea why I found this difficult but I didn’t give up. As long as we maintained this basic step, we were allowed to dance and move freely. I was surprised to see a few 70-year-old women accompany the cha-cha with a sexy hip swing- they were totally into it! I can imagine the flexibility and agility they must have felt afterwards.
Later we were instructed to walk on the balls of our feet and move freely- I used this opportunity to stretch out my shoulders and back. I simply rolled my shoulders forward and backwards and I would swing my arms in big circular motions. We used the entire floor to move and dance around- It was so much fun! This is going to sound really silly, but we ended the dance session with the instructor telling us to walk around and CLUCK LIKE CHICKENS!!! I am not kidding you- we had to walk around, flap our “wings” and cluck like a chicken. Some people were really getting into it, others (me included) just shyly moved our arms up and down and politely smiled at the more creative and less inhibited types. I tried to search the web for the purpose of this, but all I got was websites on how to make chicken soup, so I must ask the instructor next time I see her. We ended the Nia session by laying on the floor for some meditation/mental relaxation.
Usually after a sweaty cardio session I feel spent and look forward to relaxing on the couch, but after Nia, I felt very energized and aware. I just felt so good and believe it or not, I felt that as though my posture had changed, like my shoulders were pushed back and I was walking taller. I cannot wait to attend my next Nia class!
During class, I could not help but let my inner dreamer think about how great it would be to provide such a wonderful service to the older population, like at senior centers and maybe offer Nia to an Adult Program. I think becoming a Nia instructor may just have to be another thing to add to my bucket list 🙂