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Finding the Joy of Movement in Everyday Activities with NIA

The Joy of Movement

The radio's on while you start dinner. Your feet start tapping to the chop-chop of the vegetables.

You're in the proverbial slow commute home when a guitar riff has you bouncing in your seat.

Either activity when done spontaneously without thought has the element of Joy. So what is joy? Does it mean I'm giddy? Does it mean I have to smile? Does everything in my life have to be perfect before I can find it or enjoy it?

Babies come into this world with an innate sense of moving. Just ask a mother who gets kicked from the inside as she senses life moving and flowing in her belly.

Once we're here, we learn to turn over, crawl, stand and walk. Those first steps, wobbly and unstable as they might be give us a sense of I-Did-It! What a joy! To be upright and walking like the big people. Do you think there's a smile on the child's face with that first step? You bet there is. That's joy coming out of those 75 trillion cells that make up the body.

The Easy Way is the Right Way: Rediscovering the Joy of Movement

Art11_Nia_imageHow do we lose that joy of movement? A variety of reasons: work, stress, childcare, marriage - life. It happens. Then there's the mandate to take care of yourself, eat right, exercise. Exercise! Maybe you have time to go to the gym. You work out. You're buff; your body feels great but you still don't have a sense of joy or whatever that means. Maybe you don't have time to go to the gym or you have the concept of no pain, no gain and you would prefer being a couch potato than go through that agony.

Want to know the secret to fitness? The easy way is the right way! Scientists are discovering that psychologically, your body creates resistance and insecurities with the no pain-no gain concept. On the other hand, ease creates enthusiasm and self-love - or Joy!

Co-creators of Nia, Debbie Rosas Stewart and Carlos AyaRosas, discovered the Joy of Movement after they decided to quit the traditional aerobics they were teaching. They were tired of getting up in the morning with their bodies hurting. There had to be another way. In their book, The Nia Technique, the High-Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You a New Body and a New Life, they mention a study that showed that the injury rate among traditional aerobic teachers was 76% and 44% for students. Of those injuries, 82% were to the knee or below. There was no joy in moving.

The Birth of Nia

Debbie and Carlos created the first fusion fitness combining nine movement forms from the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts into an hour of cardiovascular movement done to music in bare feet - Nia. Nia encourages participants to be in their bodies - to learn to love their bodies and move the body with joy. Scientifically Nia means neuromuscular integrated action; originally it was called non-impact aerobics.

The year was 1983 when Debbie and Carlos revolutionized fitness with Nia. Since then Nia has spread around the world with thousands of teachers. In the Puget Sound area there are more than 60 classes to choose from and the choices are growing daily.

What makes Nia such a JOY? Nia is for any fitness level, every age and type of body, even those with special limitations. You can take Nia beyond the classroom and into your life. Nia trains all muscle groups and creates more graceful movement whether you're washing a car, buying groceries or chasing kids. You become more conscious of your movements in everyday activities. Some of the benefits of Nia: helping health conditions such as asthma, depression and pregnancy; reducing stress; sharpening the mind; and finding the joy of movement.

The music in Nia gets you moving. The rhythms of every day life have musical tones, too. See how many rhythms you can move to during your normal activities. "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

And most of all - smiling is movement - the joy of movement.

Sarah Love is a certified Nia instructor. Nia classes in the Seattle/Puget Sound area. Additional information on Nia.

Photo by Celine Nadeau (Creative Commons)