The Body’s Way: 5 Reasons to Dance Nia

Guest Post by Katia Mikhailova, Licensed Nia Teacher

In 2010, I realized something in my life was missing, but I couldn’t get a hold on what it was.

I stopped my usual workouts at the gym and started taking some serious Pilates classes in a small studio next to my office. Pilates training works great for me as my body craves exercise and loves discipline and physical effort. I was even considering becoming a Pilates teacher when my husband and I went to see the Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour concert in Wiesbaden, Germany in May 2011. I have a ballet background and have danced and practiced yoga most of my life and I was totally inspired by the dancers, their passion, their ability to express emotions, their incredible body control and physical presence. On the way back, I realized that, in fact, dance was what I was missing and I kept thinking of how I could bring it back into my life.

Then I remembered a ‘movement’ class called Nia that I had tried in California back in 2009. The originality, creativity and physical self-expression of the discipline had enthused me in much the same way. Once back home, I started research on how to become a Nia teacher and signed up for a Nia teacher training course two months later. The further I got into the training, the more it would become apparent that although I had a dance background, I had to let go of my schooled dance moves and let my body guide me.

In other words, I had to learn “My Body’s” way.

Today I am a certified Nia Teacher and have been leading regular weekly classes and participating in creative events since 2011.

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So what is a Nia class like?

Nia consists of 52 easy, body-centered moves that draw on Dance Arts, Martial Arts and Healing Arts, like yoga. Nia’s 52 moves include various steps, stances, and foot, hand and finger techniques to name a few. These particular moves, combined with a free dance element make Nia a wholesome practice that helps to bring physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to students. A Nia class works through 7 cycles and is set to music varying from world music to rock and pop. No Nia class is the same and no Nia teacher is alike.  This is what I enjoy the most about being a Nia Teacher. I get to mix and match music and movement, which keeps me in a creative flow for hours while planning my classes and events.

The Body’s Way

One of the main principles of Nia is what is called the “Body’s Way”. Since everybody has different levels of mobility and stability, students are encouraged to pay special attention to their body in order to develop body awareness. At the same time, students need to recognize body sensations such as pleasure and pain. Before I started practicing Nia I wasn’t aware of my body the way I am now. With Nia, I have come to truly understand and love my body through discipline, healthy eating habits, exercise and rest.

I have learned to let go of my negative emotions and allow my body to thrive on joy, love and pleasure – all while dancing. I am wholly focused on helping others find their Body’s Way, and delight in seeing the glowing satisfaction of the students at the conclusion of each workout. Each class features a different emphasis, but it is ultimately up to the individual to follow, or to work with their own particular focus. My job is to guide students through the routine in a relaxed atmosphere with warmth and humor, while exhibiting the different energies found in Nia training.

What is your focus today – is it the joy of movement, forgetting an unpleasant thought or situation, or simply breaking a sweat? You are welcome to dance through it with other members of the non-judgmental Nia community. No dancing experience is necessary to dance your Body’s Way!

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Here are my 5 reasons to practice Nia:

1. STAY IN YOUR BODY

When we let our body guide us through movements, our inner ‘dialogue’ will naturally diminish. Just try to free dance at home without attaching to your thoughts and notice how your mind stops roaming and chattering.

2. RELEASE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Delight in your Nia teacher when she laughs and plays like a child, then follow her lead. Express your personal power by doing arm blocks, chops, and kicks…all while releasing negative emotions in a fun and playful way.

3. BALANCE AND ENERGY

The playfulness of Nia helps to relax your body as you let go of your emotions. This allows you to recharge and rebalance, which in turn helps you to accomplish more in your daily tasks.

4. PHYSICAL TRAINING

Choose your intensity level from 1 to 3, and shape your workout according to your own needs. Sense your own energy of “now” for achieving the best results. If you feel like having an athletic workout today, stick to level 2 and 3. If your focus is body awareness, use level 1 and 2. Your teacher will suggest all three levels in the class.

5. EXERCISE YOUR HANDS AND FINGERS 

Have you heard of catching flies, creepy crawlers, and claw hand or spear fingers? These are Nia moves that train the small muscles in your upper extremities. I personally practice these everyday because I spend way too much time on my Mac using repetitive movements. Essential…

Nia is like chocolate – it’s hard to describe, you just have to taste it.

Learn more about Katia’s classes in Geneva on her website or about our joint smoothie and dance class here.

Next class: November 6, at 19:00  –  Kak.Alom Studio, rue de la Navigation 21 bis

Katia Mikhailova, Genève, 2012 © Annik Wetter

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9 Comments

  • Pauline Osborne on Nov 05, 2015 Reply

    Thank you Katia for writing this post! Great Job!

    Pauline Osborne MN, RN – Certified Black Belt Nia Teacher

  • Candice on Feb 26, 2015 Reply

    Dear Katia,
    Such an insightful article, thank you! Your NIA dance class is like no other dance class I have ever been to… And I love to dance! I really enjoy the way you make it so much fun with the ease of movement that feels natural to the body. My favourite is the martial arts combo 😉 I particularly the way it makes me feel strong and connected and I love that we can dance like no one is watching! Looking forward to the next class. Much love Candice

    • Anonymous on Mar 11, 2015 Reply

      Thank you Candice, let’s dance again soon!

  • Mercè on Feb 25, 2015 Reply

    Dear Katia,

    Thank you for sharing this. I loved the article! Above all, to discover NIA and the concept of “Body’s Way”. I believe it´s very important to listen to our bodies and express ourselves through it without judgement and with love & joy! I will love to do another session with you soon and catch more flies! Never did it before while dancing and was very funny!

    Love,
    Merce

    • katia on Feb 25, 2015 Reply

      Dear Merce,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I totally agree that we need to get into our bodies, like when we were kids, and experience again and again love and joy.

      I would love to dance with you again!

      Much love,

      Katia

  • Ruth on Dec 13, 2014 Reply

    Dear Katia,

    This article is very inspiring & really makes me want to give Nia a go. It sounds as though it would suit most people these days & help them find a healthy balance in their lifestyles.

    • Katia on Dec 15, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Ruth! Nia is extremely adaptable and easy to follow fitness program, every body can do it!

  • Loretta Milo on Nov 01, 2014 Reply

    Katia,

    Loved loved loved this article! Nia is fortunate to have you as a teacher. Come to Colorado and we shall dance together!

    Loretta Milo
    Nia Faculty Trainer ~ White and Green Belt Level
    http://www.LorettaMilo.com

    • Katia on Nov 01, 2014 Reply

      Thank you, Loretta, your words touched my heart. It’s on my wish list to dance with you once again, whether in Colorado or Scottsdale!

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