Nia Fitness (formerly known as Non-Impact Aerobics, now Neuromuscular Integrative Action) is a combination of Eastern and Western styles that blends these nine movement forms – yoga, Tai Chi, jazz, tae kwon do, aikido, Duncan dance, Alexander technique and the Feldenkrais method – into one. Sometimes referred to as aerobic yoga, Nia is a type of non-impact fitness training that delivers whole-body conditioning and cardiovascular aerobic exercise. It is practiced barefoot to increase stability of participants.
Pronounced “nee-uh,” Nia classes features low-impact cardio workouts that allow swift whole-body movements. After around 40 minutes, the pace slows down gradually and blends in poses and various stretches. Each class includes a customized, consistently changing soundtrack to provide interesting and surprising mood, which motivates the body in different ways. Participants are asked to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.
Nia’s headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon, but has hundreds of teachers around the United States.
In 1983, fitness instructors Carlos Rosas and then Debbie Rosas (now Debbie Rosas Stewart) began questioning traditional exercises and started designing a holistic way for the body to be healthy. They incorporate mindfulness, comfort, pleasure, passion and The Joy of Movement into their workout for body-mind-spirit well-being. Carlos and Debbie discovered that exercising and getting health through pleasure is the key to health and the way to heal. This new lifestyle led to a fitness practice called Nia.
Nia encourages self-empowerment and creativity, while getting fit and health. Today, Inner IDEA (a part of the IDEA Health and Fitness Association) recognizes Nia as a body-mind-spirit exercise. It offers on-going education in body-mind training and is considered as the safest cardiovascular programs to date.
Nia Training Structure: Belt Levels
Nia training is designed for people of all ages, sizes and shapes. Like traditional martial arts, the Nia training involves several progressive belts with the Black Belt as the highest mastery level. Each belt levels address five competency areas, which include science, philosophy, anatomy, movement and music. Each belt level also has 13 unique Nia principles, except for the Green Belt that is designed simply for teachers and can be taken any time after the White Belt Training.
All belt levels have over 50+ hours of self-reflection, interactive discussion and movement. Although both students and teachers can enroll in trainings more than once, Nia requires a 12-month reflection period (or rest) between belt intensives. This is done so that belt graduates can understand and embody the potential of each level, before going forward.
Nia Training for Personal Enrichment
The personal enrichment Nia training includes four belt levels – white, blue, brown and black, each with 13 principles. These 52 principles explore your movement and body through Science-Craft-Art. According to Nia experts, as you progress through each level, you will develop increased self-awareness and a connection to you mind, body, spirit and emotions. During each training, you will be asked to place your complete attention on your body and physical through using movement.
Here is a quick summary of each belt levels and the principles you will be taught for each level:
- Nia White Belt – The Nia White Belt Intensive is the most important level because it introduces you to the foundation for all Nia education and training. This level focuses on the physical realm of the body, teaching you to find a deeper understanding of yourself. It also teachers ways to integrate The Alexander Technique, The Work of Moshe Feldenkrais®, Aikido, Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Yoga, Jazz Dance, Duncan Dance, and Modern Dance.
In the White Belt training, students also learn the 52 moves of Nia, the language of self-learning and conditioning, the practice of RAW (Relaxed, Alert, Waiting), the 8BC system and how to develop listening skills to take advantage of music, stimulating movement through the 8 stages of FreeDance and understanding “The Body’s Way” method for physical conditioning and moving.
Other lessons you’ll learn in the White Belt training include how to “create space,” how to listen to your body’s voices, hot to use your “witness” as a self-healing tools, how to work with Energy Allies, and how to communicate with your body senses. This level also gives a background about Nia philosophy and implementing this livelihood into your own life.
Nia White Belt Principles:
o Principle 1: The Joy of Movement (Sensing Universal Joy)
o Principle 2: Natural Time and the Movement Forms (13:20 = Our Organic State)
o Principle 3: Music and the 8BC System (Music Appreciation)
o Principle 4: FreeDance (Stimulating Movement Creativity)
o Principle 5: Awareness (Paying Attention to Body Sensations)
o Principle 6: The Base of the Body (The Feet, the Hands That Touch the Earth)
o Principle 7: Three Planes of Movement and Intensity Levels (Conditioning the Body)
o Principle 8: The Core of the Body (Primary Energy Centers)
o Principle 9: The Upper Extremities of the Body (Creative Arm and Hand Expressions)
o Principle 10: X-Ray Anatomy (Dynamic Postural Alignment)
o Principle 11: Creating a Sacred Livelihood (The business of My Body and My Life)
o Principle 12: Continuing Education (Tools for Transformation)
o Principle 13: Teaching What You Sense (Sharing the Joy)
- Nia Blue Belt – The second level of Nia training explores how you can create healthy relationships by using body-centered communication. It focuses on the spiritual, emotional and mental realms of the body. Unlike the White Belt training that involves mostly of physical awareness, the Nia Blue Belt training focuses entirely of physical sensation. You will be taught skills on exploring internal sensations.
Nia Blue Belt Principles:
o Principle 1: The Joy of Being in Relationship (Exchanging Energy)
o Principle 2: The Power of Two (Communication)
o Principle 3: Awareness, Insight, Clarity (Pearls and the realms)
o Principle 4: Developmental Anatomy (Reaching the Ideal)
o Principle 5: The Power of Three (Relationship)
o Principle 6: Split, Ellipt, Blend (Crafting with Attention)
o Principle 7: The Nia Class Format (Body, Mind, Spirit)
o Principle 8: The Power of Silence and Sound (Music, Emotion, Expression_
o Principle 9: Form and Freedom (The Yin Yang of Nia)
o Principle 10: FloorPlay (Creative Movement on the Floor)
o Principle 11: Music, Movement, Magic (Manifesting the Ultimmmate Nia Experience)
o Principle 12: Observe, Listen, Guide (Co-Creating Movement Change)
o Principle 13: Vertical Routines (50/50 Movement Transubstantiation)
- Nia Brown Belt – When you reached the Brown Belt level, you have a clear understanding of half of the Nia principles. You also have developed how to sustain awareness of your physical body while paying attention to your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional sensory. In the Brown Belt level, you will be taught how to go to “The Zone” or the “place of no thinking” in order to heighten your sensation “inside and out.” This level teaches you how to make positive changes in your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional state by tapping into this energy field.
Nia Brown Belt Principles:
o Principle 1: The Joy of Movement in the Zone (Expanding Awareness)
o Principle 2: Physical Energy (Posture, Walk, Voice)
o Principle 3: Increasing, Circulating, Utilizing Energy (Creating Sustainability)
o Principle 4: Mental Energy (Minding Mental Energy)
o Principle 5: Asleep, Dreaming, Awake, Mindful (Living in Mindfulness)
o Principle 6: Emotional Energy (Emoting Life)
o Principle 7: Love, Fear, Peace (The Emotional Root of All Choices)
o Principle 8: Spirit Energy (Receiving the Mandate of Spirit)
o Principle 9: Choice and Manifestation (The Realm of High Magic)
o Principle 10: Symbology (Shaping Consciousness)
o Principle 11: Energy Beings (Being Multi-Dimensionally Conscious)
o Principle 12: Choices for Personal Power (Enough!)
o Principle 13: Energy Warriors (Living with Impeccability)
- Nia Black Belt – This level encourages you to “let go” and implement all you know by entering the “River of the Unknown” or what Nia trainers call the “place of infinite and endless creativity.” Like other belt levels, the Black Belt level also follows 13 principles, but are only introduced in the actual Black Belt training.
Each belt level costs $1599, which includes over 50 hours of somatic education, a book, a DVD, monthly e-Newsletter subscription, access to monthly Nia telecourses and the community forum, and a designated belt and certification of completion upon graduation.
Those who graduate with a Black Belt can apply to become Nia trainers. If you are accepted into the program, you will undergo a 10-month “Next Generation Trainer Program” where you will be taught how to share what you know and be ready to teach White Belt Trainings. To qualify, you need to be certified in CPR, graduated from all Nia levels, teach at least three Nia classes per week, engage in your local Nia community, participate in Nia telecourses and the online forum, have a detailed understanding of all 52 Nia Principles and the body’s anatomy. Since trainers must be exceptional in Nia choreography, those who wish to become trainers can master Nia routines by buying over a dozen CDs, which are $15 a pop.