Integrating All of You
Holistic: addressing the whole being, not merely one part. An increased awareness of body, mind and spirit.
I love that Nia is more than a workout for your body. It has a way of working out your mind, tapping into the power of your emotions and opening spirit.
I know in my early exposure I sensed many layers of myself being moved beyond the sweaty physical. Although, I couldn’t always put my experience into words, I do know that my mind was engaged in a focused, relaxed way. I was learning new patterns of movement, breaking habits and enjoying new music. My emotions shifted – I always left class feeling a natural high, happier than when I stepped in no matter my life circumstance. I felt connected to my spirit, to my essence. Similar to yoga, in that I felt deeply connected in body, mind and spirit.
As my practice deepened, I realized that my whole body was integrated, working together. It wasn’t just my biceps or quads. Like the definition of holistic, all parts of me were being addressed. Much like naturopathy is a holistic form of medicine, I began to think of Nia as a form of ‘holistic fitness.’ It involves the body, mind, emotion and spirit. Let’s look at these roles:
The body is that physical part of self: muscle, bone, joint and connective tissue. Its role is to move, to be conditioned, to sweat, to stretch. A barefoot Nia workout strengthens and tones the whole body by building power and moving energy from the ground up. All aspects of the core are involved using breath as well as sound. The cardiovascular system is enhanced from moving small, intrinsic muscle groups to large, extrinsic groups; balancing fast and slow speeds. A blend of Nia’s 9 movement forms adds variety, increasing the body’s IQ – its kinesthetic intelligence.
The role of the mind is to direct the body, to engage both left and right hemispheres. The left hemisphere taps into linear thought, sequences numbers, and language. It is the thinking hemisphere, tracks the focus, keeps count and is essentially: the ‘I am’ that makes choices and decisions. The right hemisphere taps into visualization, the imagination, story, emotions, colors and creativity. When activated, a sense of being universally connected or a feeling of oneness is enhanced.
Nia is unique in that is adds an awareness of emotion, using this concept of ‘energy in motion’ as a way to shift, shape, express and condition the body. Think about how emotions shape the body from head to toe, from facial expression to an engagement of the core, arms and hand gestures. Humans are emotional beings – expressing and experiencing life through the way we feel: through love, compassion, grief, joy. Nia uses different styles of music to evoke emotion; as well as our own emotional range and vocalization (yes, no and maybe) to move energy, thus conditioning the body.
The role of spirit is for you to connect to you, to your unique energy, your personality and sense of self. It is what make each movement personal, a ‘do it your way’ quality that is very empowering. There is a sense of your inner world being connected to the move, to being aware of space and world around you at the same time. This is what results in people relating to Nia as a ‘work within’ versus a ‘work out.’
May you enjoy your next Nia workout with a greater depth and understanding, knowing that all parts of you – your body, mind, emotion and spirit – are being integrated. May you be inspired to move, think, feel and express your movement your way. To learn more, consider the Nia White Belt training.