The fusion of nine distinct dance, martial, and healing arts blend seamlessly into a whole body experience. Nia offers the opportunity to become your own conscious personal trainer. I admit, that’s not why I started taking Nia classes 10 years ago. I just wanted someone else to guide me through a workout that I didn’t hate doing. I used to simply show up and dance, doing my best to follow the teacher and not trip over my own feet. I had fun, and was always glad I made the effort to show up. Sometimes I would feel surprising emotions rise to the surface and be released. Every class would challenge my muscles and my coordination, and I would sweat and let all my stress of the day evaporate.

In trying to explain to friends why I enjoyed Nia so much better than other dance aerobics, I was at a loss for words. “There’s something spiritual to it,” is all I could manage to express.

When I chose to buy a Nia Technique book, I knew I’d never go back to simply showing up for class. I moved from being a student to a participant, a co-creator of my own fitness program. Ownership can be a weighty thing, so I chose consciously to attend a White Belt training. Before I started down this path to becoming a teacher, I asked myself, “Do I want to look behind the surface? Do I want to know how this machine – my body – works? Do I want to know how this magical experience – my Nia class – really works?” The answer was – and still is – yes.

The reality is there’s no magic to it. It all makes incredible, simple sense. Just as a song is made of rhythm, harmony, and melody, each note a separate and completely comprehensible item, Nia is made of 52 moves, 9 movement forms, 13 principles, and other identifiable qualities with numbers attached. Somehow, when all the parts of a song fit together just right, we don’t really care what those notes and numbers were — it moves us beyond words. Somehow, Nia has a knack of weaving all its components together just right, and it enables deep healing throughout the mind, body, and spirit.

Now that I’m a Nia teacher, I still find it hard to put into words how the practice affects me. It’s the only fitness program I’ve ever felt a healthy addiction to, sensing when I’ve gone too long without it and hungry for the nourishment it provides. To use another metaphor, maybe it’s like knowing the recipe for your favorite meal. The fusion of flavors and textures is what makes it work so well. Like learning to cook nourishing food, understanding the form and structure behind each routine deepens my appreciation for the design of the dance and makes it even more delicious to serve it up and share Nia with my community.

-Karen Lanier