Last weekend I attended a NIA workshop at the Kripalu Yoga Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts. Carlos Rosas, co-founder of the technique, led our â€œDancing Through Lifeâ€ workshop. NIA, an acronym for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, is an amazing mind, body and spirit approach to fitness.
You may think that a website devoted to acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an odd place to be discussing a fitness technique, but if you consider that TCM also focuses on keeping the body in balance to maintain health by addressing the mind, body and spirit of each individual, you will see that there is a definite correlation.
I was first introduced to NIA about fifteen years ago. Like it is for so many people, NIA was life changing for me. NIA incorporates moves from nine fitness disciplines, including tae kwon do, tai chi, yoga, jazz and modern dance. Each routine adds visualizations and vocalizations to enhance the workout. NIA is all about body awareness and appreciation. Specific moves are choreographed to promote strength, flexibility, mobility, agility and stability. NIA movements are designed to release emotions in a healthy way and cultivate personal power and self-confidence. For me, NIA was instrumental in my decision to change careers at the age of 50.
But it wasnâ€™t until I was actually studying TCM in Albuquerque, NM several years later and found a NIA class out there, that I realized why NIA was so powerful. NIA is done in bare feet. Each NIA step is designed to activate the acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot (KI 1), taking in energy from the earth. Every movement that opens all of the energy pathways on the front of the body is followed by a movement that opens all of the energy pathways on the back of the body â€“ balancing the yin and the yang energies. Finger flicks activate the jing well points on the hands. Visualizations often bring in the elements of wind, water, earth and fire â€“ another integral part of Chinese medicine. And I could go on.
â€œThe NIA Techniqueâ€ book pictured here discusses all of the NIA moves and is a great reference for both the curious and the serious NIA student. Many testimonials are included from people who found relief from such conditions as arthritis, depression and fibromyalgia. But the book doesnâ€™t compare to actually experiencing a NIA class. You can go to www.nianow.com to find an instructor near you. You wonâ€™t be sorry!
About the author
Joyce Marley is a NYS licensed acupuncturist and is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has practiced NIA for ten years and continues to attend classes and workshops.