By Pauline Osborne and Debbie Scally
Why choose Nia?
I was recently asked a great question by a health professional. She often refers clients to yoga and meditation, and she wanted to know when and why to refer a client to Nia.
This is a great question! It made me pause, and really think about why Nia is an excellent tool for people who are looking for ways to support their own well-being.
What is Nia?
Nia is a joyful, healing and empowering barefoot movement program designed for any age or fitness level that will leave you feeling more grounded, relaxed and energized. Nia is movement meditation. What does this mean? It means that we dance, with our feet bare on the floor, to a wide range of music. Sometimes we sing along, sometimes we yell, sometimes we move fast, sometimes we move slow, sometimes we are completely still. It means that we arrive at class in a wide variety of states of well-being from old, young, sick, well, tired and energized. And the wonder of Nia is that every last one of us leaves feeling better, stronger and happier.
Who benefits from Nia?
Well, the short answer to this question is – Everyone! But today we are focusing on why we might refer a client, specifically one who is seeking help for a health issue, to Nia class.
When people are in a state of stress, depression, overwhelm or anxiety, we, as their health professionals, are looking for ways to help achieve calm. So we prescribe calming activity. But asking a person to walk into a class, and go quietly into a state of reflection, as in meditation or yoga, poses a unique challenge for someone who is dealing with a lot of mental chatter. It can be very difficult to find a place of quiet and peace, and thus it can be very challenging to enjoy restorative time, with all that noise going on inside of our own head.
What I love about Nia is that we have the ability to use music and movement, and even the sound of our own voices, to help get us moving out of the mental noise that is so overwhelming and exhausting. Nia gives us the opportunity to shake up the nervous system so that that the body can release stress, tension and anxiety. This means that a person can get out of their head, and down into their body, and from there they can make real progress with calming their nervous system.
What happens in a Nia class?
Within a Nia class, we first use movement to really engage the body in activity, to focus the body on moving with music. When our mind is focused on moving our body, we can let go of some of the mental baggage that is weighing us down. Then we can start to use the music and movement to calm the nervous system down so that we can enjoy something more like yoga and meditation, later in the Nia class.
Sometimes we call Nia “movement meditation” because it’s about connecting with the body, refocusing the mind. Often, people think that they can’t meditate, because they are not the sort of person who can imagine sitting down and being quiet for 15 to 30 minutes. That is not the only way that we can achieve a meditative state – we can be moving and focusing on being inside of our body. This focus allows us to start clearing the mind.
Another thing to think about is that when people are in a depressed state they need to be moving, they need to be expressing their feelings, they need to be releasing their stress and anxiety. Staying in a still, calm state, like we do with yoga and meditation, doesn’t always help. Don’t get me wrong, these things can still be very beneficial to depression, but it is important to realize that there may actually be more benefit from moving the body. Getting the heart rate up, using sound to express emotions, waking up the nervous system, releasing endorphins, can all help a person to feel more alive and more vibrant.
What do our students say about Nia?
“I started taking Nia classes 5 years ago, a busy mother of two teens. My marriage was failing, and I was miserable. I was visiting the gym twice a week, and hating the drudgery of it, so I was looking for a ‘fun’ way to stay fit. I had no idea, when I walked in to Pauline’s class for the first time that Nia would make me laugh and cry, exercise and rest, strengthen and heal. I had no idea that it would give me courage, that it would grow my self-confidence, that it would help me to find ME. I have watched students travel through sickness, grief, loss, anxiety, as well as joy and celebration, in this class, and it is incredibly joyful to be a part of this amazing community. There are days when other students lift me up, and days when they allow me to lift them – both are a gift. I love how Nia makes me feel.” – D
Pauline Osborne, MN, RN, lives and works in Redmond. She is a certified integrative medicine health coach and certified black belt Nia teacher at Moving To Heal, LLC. For more information, visit www.movingtoheal.net or contact Osborne at firstname.lastname@example.org.