through movement we find health
I teach movement classes in the Nia Technique® which is a sensory based practice that draws from the dance, martial and healing arts. It is a powerful but gentle self-healing technique that conditions your body, mind, spirit and emotions using movement and music.
In every Nia class you get a great physical. adaptable workout. You are invited and guided to tailor the movement for your personal needs and abilities following your bodies’ way, making choices based on pleasure. But most of all Nia class is a place to have a great time, to literally kick off your shoes, let down your hair and dance through life!
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Your First Class: Your energy, your way.
What to Expect
Nia is a little different from other classes you may have taken. Expect a structured class that consists of a warm-up, higher intensity movement, cool down, stretch and relaxation, but there is no beginners Nia, no Nia ‘gold’, no advanced or elite Nia.
Nia uses an an ingenious system of ‘levels’ that makeS it possible for people with different levels of experience and conditioning to participate in the same class.
To start at the very beginning, when Nia was created it stood for Non Impact Aerobics. It was the first fusion fitness method and the first aerobic-style fitness class to remove the shoes. You can take your shoes off in a Nia class because the moves are non-impact and very safe, but going barefoot is optional and a personal choice.
In a Nia class we all start easy. We believe small is good because it gives you a chance to sense your body and establish the neuromuscular connections that lead to self-healing, so the pace is easy. Gradually we add upper body and arm motions. That’s level one: small, easy but profound. (In the second wave of the history of Nia, it stood for Neuromuscular Integrative Action – quite a mouthful! It really means that Nia is very effective for physical/mental, body/mind conditioning).
Music is very important in a Nia class. Rather than a continuous sound track, Nia uses moves which lend themselves to different movement forms (the nine forms in the above graphic: modern dance, jazz, and so on). With each and every song in the class, whether the focus move is tai chi or Duncan dance, we start with “level one” movements to get that neuromuscular conditioning. As the song progresses, the teacher (that’s me!) demonstrates levels two and three and you will have the option of levelling up or staying where you are.
- Level two adds a larger range of motion or intensity to the same level one moves. It might be taking bigger steps or lifting your legs and arms higher on kicks.
- Level three gives you the option of kicking it up another notch: more intensity or more personal expression. You can take it from no-impact to low-impact if you choose.
Many people combine all three levels in their Nia practice, depending their needs, or even how they are feeling that day. Maybe they are a level three for Modern dance, and level one for TaeKwonDo inspired moves. Sometimes a person who is normally a level three will choose to move at a level one if they aren’t feeling their best. And sometimes a person who normally works at a level one will come to class one day feeling so fantastic they are level three all the way: it really is your energy, your way!
Now, sit back (if you can sit still) and watch this video for a taste of a Nia class through a beginner’s eyes.
Nia class is your time for yourself. My teaching style is to occasionally take some time to demonstrate the safest way to do new moves, or break down tricky steps, but you will never get a personal correction, or be singled out. (But you are most welcome to ask for clarification after class).
What you will hear is encouragement to go at your own pace and honour your body; to find the joy and the enjoyment in the movement and the moment. If you are a beginner allow yourself the freedom to enjoy being a beginner. You only get to do something for the first time once!
Did you know Nia is 30 years old this year? And lastly in the history of Nia, Nia is just Nia – although some people have coined “Now I Am”. Because for many people, Nia is mindful movement. Listen to Debbie Rosas, co-founder of the Nia Technique® talk about the development of Nia.
My experience of Nia is that it feels like natural movement. I’ve never liked aerobics classes and couldn’t figure out why because a lot of the components are the same such as inspiring music. It was because the movements feel repetitive and unnatural. In Nia the moves flow and even though only three of the nine movement forms are dance related, it all feels like dance to me so I often refer to it as Nia Dance.
There is truth in Nia’s tagline: through movement we find health. I truly believe that movement – natural movement – is the most important thing you can do for your health, on all levels.
Deborah Redfern, Certified Nia Technique® Teacher