Wear cool, loose fitting clothing
Exercise or yoga clothing, leotard and footless tights, full skirt, shorts or anything that makes you feel comfortable and free to move.
The bottoms of your feet sense the ground and send information back to your brain so your body can effectively compensate and adapt. For your safety, take off your shoes or wear soft-soled shoes, such as gymnastic shoes.
Follow “level one” movements, or focus only on the leg motions, adding arm motions when you are ready. Build intensity gradually. Let your body slowly acclimate and adjust to Nia movement. Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy being a beginner. Nia is different; it is meant to teach you about you, physically and emotionally. Keep your interest and fascination up and your criticism and judgment down. Be gentle, be patient and allow yourself to move through levels and stay on plateaus. This is the way to master and enjoy anything!
Don’t force a motion
Don’t strain. Strive for a balance between control and relaxation as you listen to your body’s signals. Move in a smooth, lightly relaxed way that doesn’t make you breathless or fatigued. If your body does not relate well to a movement, adjust and move within your own challenge and comfort zone. This puts positive, loving information into the muscle memory.
Get in as much non-stop movement as possible
Find a rhythmic, easy pace, working slower and longer rather than faster and harder.
Make the movements an expression of you
This is your workout. Express your own unique rhythm and body language through the Nia Technique. Your emotional body will help to fine-tune your physical body, and vice versa. Be jazzy, luscious, lyrical, snappy, or sensually smooth. But most of all, passionately be yourself and have fun!
Use “belly breathing”
As your body opens, inhale. As your body closes, exhale. When you inhale, first feel your belly expand, then your ribs laterally expand, and then your chest and clavicle rise. Exhale to contract your abdominals and to round the spine. Let go freely with hearty “Hai” exhalations to tone your abdominals and protect your back during kicks and punches. Breathing is one of the most effective ways to strengthen and relax your body, mind, and spirit, so don’t hold back!
Move the way you walk – by using your whole body
Lead with your heel when stepping forward or to the side, gently rolling onto the ball of your foot and then pushing off to change directions. Step back onto the ball of your foot, keeping your knees soft and your heel high as you lower your body weight to a point of comfort in the muscle and joint. Avoid stepping back with a locked and rigid leg.
Keep your spine lengthened
Stay upright, from the crown of your head, down through your spine into your tailbone. Imagine a tiny weight at the end of your tailbone and a ray of light streaming upward through the crown of your head. Always let your spine remain soft and flexible, like a willow tree. Eventually you’ll learn to move from the energy centre of your body, which is two inches below your navel.
Use your arms to express your feelings, emotions, or mood
Using your arms can elevate heart rate, so be careful not to overdo it. To maintain comfort, work in a range of motion that allows you to feel balanced and in control. Generate arm movements from the core of your body and keep your joints relaxed and fluid to obtain definition. If you feel tension building in your shoulders, shake out your arms and hands to release the tension. Add your arms back into your movement when you feel ready.
Draw your knee up toward your chest before you kick out
Always kick at a level where you can lengthen your spine and maintain control, comfort, and balance. Feel for a stretch along the back of the leg and spine as you kick.
Protect your knees
On sinking motions, periodically lift your toes to keep your knees safely aligned over your feet and to keep your calves engaged. As you lower your body weight, feel your buttocks naturally move back behind you to avoid pressing your knees to the front.
Take at least four classes a week
To obtain cardiovascular benefits the American Council on Exercise recommends that you work within your recommended target heart-rate zone for at least 30 minutes, four to five times a week. If it is difficult for you to get to four classes a week on a regular basis, use the Nia companion videotape workouts at home.
Combine a good diet with internal and external exercise to balance your fitness program
With enough sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise, you will see and feel results far beyond changing the shape of your body. Reducing the amounts of salt, sugar, fats, red meats, and refined and processed foods will cleanse your body and strengthen your internal fitness. Having healthy organs and a system that functions optimally will give you more energy to do everything you want. Your skin will glow, you will sleep better, your cells will be nourished, and you will feel excited about living!