As a follow-up to my recent article on Nia (a fusion of dance, mixed martial arts and mindfulness), I wanted to experience it for myself. So I attended a class taught by Anne Cosgrove, the Nia teacher featured in my original blog. Having spoken at length about the benefits of Nia, I knew I would enjoy it. As Anne calls it “moving through life with joy and ease”. But I wasn’t fully ready for the true movement freedom of Nia.
Experiencing the Freedom of Nia
Dressed casually in loose workout gear, I arrived at the class with a small amount of trepidation (I’m not great at new solo experiences). However I needn’t have worried. Anne introduced me to the rest of the ladies, all of whom were long-standing fans of Nia. We covered a wide age range between us. Finding my space on the floor, we got started.
As Anne had explained to me previously, Nia can be done to pretty much any music genre. For this session, Anne had chosen Native American Indian soul music. It was vibrant, uplifting, calming, invigorating, enchanting!
We began with some breathing exercises, and the process known as “stepping in”. Anne suggested we imagine standing in a pool of calm. She then took us through about 50 minutes of various moves and techniques, combining dance steps and martial arts moves. The entire body was engaged at some point throughout, moving through the fingers and hands, the arms, the neck and shoulders, the back, abdomen, legs, and feet. We were encouraged to be as gentle or as “forceful” as we wanted, especially with the martial arts moves, depending on our mood and what we wanted to get from the class. We could “funk it up” and introduce more dance into it, or keep it calm and more controlled. I went for full funk!
There were moments of “free” movement too, where we were encouraged to just move in any way we wanted. I thought I would struggle with this part of the class, being a bit of an introvert. But I felt surprisingly uninhibited. We were all very much within ourselves, focusing on our own bodies in our own space. Frankly, nobody cared what anyone else was doing! As I said, there is genuine freedom in Nia!
We finished with a lovely, relaxing cool down to some beautiful Indian flute music. It was a perfect way to end the session, and we were encouraged to take away with us a little of the pool of calm as we stepped out of it.
Who’s Nia for?
With ages ranging from 40 to nearly 80 in my class, this is definitely a form of fitness and movement for everybody. And every body!
We were encouraged to always work within the limitations of our own bodies. To bend or stretch only as far as we could. Because I’m pretty fit and flexible, I was able to give it quite a lot of effort. However some of the older ladies in the class had limitations (one lady is waiting for a hip operation!) so they had to take it more carefully. But this certainly didn’t inhibit their enjoyment or their participation. And this is what I really love about Nia.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! I think everyone should experience at least one Nia class in their lifetime. Whether it’s for fitness, rehab, or simply to let go of the hectic modern world for an hour, I know you will feel better for it. More positive, more motivated, calmer and a little bit happier. We could all do with some Nia in our lives. In a difficult, stressful, crazy world, we would all benefit from moving through life with joy and ease.
To find out about Anne’s classes, visit her Supple Change website.