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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

The Benefits of Practicing Nia for Exercise

by Ann Brueggemann

Nia, a total mind, body and spirit celebration, focuses on the joy of movement. Since its introduction in 1983, Nia (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) has provided an alternative workout to hard-driving, high impact aerobics programs. To quote Debbie Rosas, Nia co-founder along with Carlos Ayas Rosas, “Connecting with physical sensation is how you begin to live a conscious life, to learn about yourself and work out in a way that’s respectful to your body.”

In creating Nia, the founders integrated nine movement forms, creating a dynamic synergy: martial arts (taekwondo, aikido and tai chi), dance arts (jazz, modern and Duncan dance), and healing arts (yoga, the Alexander technique and Feldenkrais). Nia is danced barefoot—unless participants need footwear for individual reasons—to the tune of varied music and rhythms in comfortable, yet vigorous, 55-minute routines. Nia’s international cadre of faculty trainers and choreographers have produced a library of routines available to all licensed instructors, who are also encouraged to craft their own routines. During every routine, three levels of intensity are described and demonstrated, and participants choose the most comfortable way of moving in their own body’s way during their Nia practice.

Why practice Nia? --Nia is a mind-body activity. Instructors encourage participants to use their imagination as they perform the moves. It’s not uncommon to hear phrases encouraging visualizations such as “clear the clouds” or sense the back of your neck” or “circle step around a starfish laying on that warm beach.” Participants who spend their days living in their heads in stressful occupations can benefit from letting go of their mind-directed routines and give in to sensation and their body’s way.

--Nia is a complete practice. The 52 Nia moves, building blocks of all Nia workouts, were designed to deliver fitness results, and also fulfill therapeutic needs. They are broken down into three categories— the base, the core and the upper extremities—and address all parts of the body, from a heel lead to a front kick, hip bumps to spinal rolls, palm directions to finger flicks—to name a few.

--Nia helps maintain flexibility, agility, mobility, stability and strength (“FAMS”). Nia participants focused on aging and related body issues will experience how the “FAMS” evolve via their practice.

From the moment of “stepping in” to a workout and leaving all thoughts and distractions behind, through the warm up and “get moving” parts of the routine, to the cool down, floor play and final “stepping out,” Nia encourages participants to remain aware and sensitive to their body’s way during this sensation-focused and fun fusion workout.

Ann Brueggemann, a licensed Blue Belt Nia instructor, teaches Nia at Lokahi Studio located at 1121 Sherman Ave., in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She can be reached at 208-704-3769. Mention Natural Awakenings, and your first class is free.

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