I highly recommend the NIA exercise and dance program to anyone who wants a new way of exercising that will make BOTH your body and your mind feel great.

Exercise is a great healer ~ no matter what the disorder or disease and whether you have a problem of the body or the mind. The NIA dance movement is exercise PLUS, it's designed not just for the body but for the mind and spirit too. That might be sounding too arty-hippie for you but it works.


The Nia Technique stands for Neuromuscular Integrative Action . It's said to incorporate:

  • The flexibility of yoga
  • The muscle toning from strength training
  • High-powered aerobic exercise
  • The strength and core workout of Pilates
  • The discipline of martial arts
  • The creativity and spiritual fulfilment of dance

NIA is like the best of the best of workout programs. You will burn fat, build muscles and tone up, but without the panting, pounding or running.


It's often called 'movement medicine' or 'exercise chocolate'. The founders, Debbie Rosas Stewart and Carlos Aya Rosas wanted to remove the idea that exercise should be like punishment. They believed that exercise should be a pleasure.


Debbie and Carlos wanted Nia to:

  • be designed for all levels of gender, age and fitness. Whether attending a class, reading a NIA book or watching a DVD, you are encouraged to work at your own pace, rather like yoga or pilates.
  • start with fitness but also work on a healing of the body, mind and spirit (in a similar way that yoga is not simply about physical exercise, but about letting the body heal itself and providing spiritual exercise for the mind)
  • be about cardiovascular exercise and burning off calories but without repetition, boring jogging or lifting. And without pounding the body and joints
  • be about doing things the easy way rather than the hard way. It's not about 'feeling the burn' or 'no pain, no gain'
  • make you feel grounded about your body
  • be a kind of medicine that heals because movement heals
  • use the body, sound, expression, space, time and music in a creative way
  • not be intimidating, even for those completely new to exercise, or morbidly obese or recovering from serious illness
  • come from the basis that the body is a whole entity: all joints, muscles, tendons work together to create the whole and so each core part of the body (they identify 13 key joints) must be exercised
  • use the body the way it was designed to be used
  • make sure fitness address the whole human being, not just the body
  • actually put an emphasis on pleasure and joy: NIA instructors actually talk about this during the class ~ making you aware of your emotions and spiritual wellbeing


  • Pretty much everyone but especially those looking for a different kind of workout that would tone muscle, improve balance, burn fat but do it all in a way that worked with the body, without 'shocking' the body
  • Those who want to look and feel younger
  • Those who like yoga but wanted something with more strength and aerobic training
  • Those suffering from depression
  • Those in boring jobs who need a little sparkle and way of expressing themselves out of the office
  • People looking for a little joy in their lives


The Nia 5 Stages Practice is based on the way the body develops naturally and first learns to walk. That's why the five simple moves are called:

  • Embryonic
  • Creeping
  • Crawling
  • Standing
  • Walking

Even as little as one minute spent a day in each stage will make you feel a whole lot better and realign your body. The 5 stages is designed to activate the process of healing.


Now I know this might be all sounding a little new-agey for some (and certainly for me before I tried it). But if you want to, you can start with a Nia DVD at home before moving onto an actual class. I don't recommend this approach, however, as I think you miss some important key postures and movements watching a DVD that an instructor can spot and help you with. And, as the founders say 'if you shut out life, life shuts you out' so the fact that you're taking part in a NIA class with fellow participants provides another kind of spiritual and mental support. And going to at least one class first will give you an idea of the spiritual energy evoked. Still, better a DVD than nothing for NIA newbies out there.

It's strange, but you really do feel more joyful and happy after attending a Nia Class. There's no other way to describe it.

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