The activity that calms the mind and keeps you physically fit : NOW I AM

The NIA: the alliance of 9 disciplines and 52 movements

This is a practice that comes to us from the United States, off the California coast, to be exact.

Created by Debbie and Carlos Rosas, respectively aerobics and tennis teachers, who imagined a sport without impact for the body (Non Impact Aerobics) and soothing for the mind. Zoom on this holistic practice!

If I had to give you 2 words to qualify the NIA it would be:

–       Freedom

–       Movement

The NIA is freedom of movement.

 1. The NIA : quésaco?

The NIA is a clever mix of Western and Eastern disciplines. The recipe is an alliance of 3 dance arts, 3 martial arts and 3 techniques of body awareness.

1 ° Martial arts

– Aikido,

– Taekwondo,

– Tai-chi

Nia, session in Singapore

2 ° The arts of dance

– Dance of Isadora Duncan

– Contemporary dance


3 ° Body awareness techniques, also called body alignment

– Alexander Technique

– Technique of Moshe Feldenkrais

– Yoga

The combination of these 9 activities generates both physical and mental well-being. The alliance of these 3 disciplines undoubtedly leads to harmony between body and mind. The NIA allows you to feel physically fit, since the body is constantly in motion with varying intensities. Dance connects martial arts and body awareness postures. It’s amazing how it works.

And the good news is that this practice is accessible to all : no age required, no physical level to have, no dancer’s liabilities, no need to have bathed in Jackie Chan’s universe, or to know how to do the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (standing balance posture, hand to the big toe) or the Bakasana (“crane” or “crow” posture). No, with the NIA we are not talking about skills, but about body expression, intuition and even inspiration of the body in the present moment.

Nia, session in Singapore

2. Progress of a session : « Body Mind Spirit »

A NIA session involves 3 parts : from the creation of the wave to its peak, to end up descending delicately, gently.

During the first part of the session, the “routines”, here hear the choreographies, will be gentle. The idea is always to take care of your body, which leads to calming the mind. We talk about self-healing by the NIA. The movement of the body is delicate.

Maurice Béjart said, « For me, to move is to enter into meditation« . Then the intensity becomes stronger and stronger, the movements become more rhythmic. The body expresses itself, but so do the voice if you feel the need to. The great American dancer Martha Graham called the dance « the hidden language of the soul. » And finally, the last part of the session is slowing down.

During the session, you feel that there is a permanent dialogue between your body and your mind. You become fully aware of your inhalation and exhalation while dancing. As Marie Nuss Bonneau puts it so well « For me, the Nia is almost a moving meditation, a danced meditation« . And this danced meditation allows you to fully inhabit your body with its own limits, both physical and psychological. We remain free to go as far as we want in the movement. No judgment, no comparison possible with one’s neighbour since everyone is fully attentive to one’s body to be in physical harmony while listening to one’s emotions at the present moment and there, it is mind and spirit which feel free to do or not to do.

When I dance, I can’t judge, I can’t hate, I can’t separate myself from life. I can only be happy and complete. » Hans Bos

Participants may feel a « reliance » (trust / dependence), a communication of their body with their mind. The magic that is present in each of us operates: « Now I Am« .

3. What can you expect from it?

  •  A lot of joy in oneself. A feeling of intense joy that runs through your body. And do you know the power of joy? It is communicative, « Moving is such a joyful experience« , Debbie Rosas
  • Recovering and / or strengthening self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Physical tension and stress releasing

« Choosing pleasure is a process of empowering oneself to be in charge of any situation », Carlos Rosas.

  • A reconnection to mother earth. Nia is practiced barefoot in order to feel, in my opinion, our connection to the earth. We are all on the same planet.
  • Accept yourself with your limits, your pains by putting beauty and gentleness in them.

NIA is FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. The freedom to be fully oneself. As Marie Nuss Bonneau says : « Dare to be yourself ». (see interview on L’Effet Domino YouTube channel)

  • Dancing allows you to be extroverted. We communicate differently. We express our joy, our anger, our sadness in different ways, and whatever happens eventually turns into positive energy.
  • A feeling of well-being. At the end of the class, we sweated. We evacuated. We are rinsed, but in a good way 😉.

Erol Ozan  » To dance is to create a sculpture that is only visible for a moment.  »

I would conclude with a super piece of advice from William W. Purkey (Professor Emeritus of Counselor Education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro), this brilliant education enthusiast  » You must dance like there’s no one watching you, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like there’s no one listening to you, and live like it’s heaven on earth « .

So one last advice: « Let’s go!  » Let yourself be carried away by this beautiful practice which is good for both the body and the mind and dance!

Pauline Rouillé

Thanks :

  • Thank you to Cécile L., my godmother for so many years now, for welcoming me to her home in Singapore.
  • Thanks to Marie Nuss Bonneau for making me discover and including me in her NIA sessions; I felt great joy.

Go further :

Links to follow : The very nice interview of Debbie and Carlos Rosas on their 25 years of practice of Nia. Two fantastic characters !!!

Marie NUSS BONNEAU, NIA Teacher & Life Coach