What is special about the NIA technique?

If I could pick one exercise program that I think would be great for highly sensitive people, it would be NIA. NIA stands for Neuromuscular Integrative Movement. It was founded in 1983 by Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas, two fitness trainers, who felt that there was a need for a better exercise program.

NIA , located online at NIANOW, was the result of their effort to integrate martial arts, dance and healing arts disciplines into a program that celebrates movement and, as they say again and again, “the body’s way.” The story of NIA is a wonderfully uplifting tale of how two people searched for their wholeness and found it in their own creation, NIA, which they have made into a gift to the world.

Where did the idea come from that we have to fight and deprive our bodies?  Too often exercise is really a form of punishment and when we engage in punishing exercise we feel virtuous. The NIA technique challenges that thinking; it is not a punishment so it dispenses with any practice that promotes the harmful idea “no pain, no gain.”

One of the most amazing characteristics of NIA is how each move is really simple. No complex movements that make you feel like an idiot! You do not have to turn into a pretzel to be healthy. You do not need special outfits, lots of equipment, not even shoes! If you like walking barefoot in the grass, you will like NIA. This is the description of NIA offered on their website:

Combining dance, martial arts and mindfulness, Nia tones your body while transforming your mind. More than just a workout, Nia is a holistic fitness practice addressing each aspect of your life – body, mind and soul.

We believe every person can discover, explore, unleash, and enhance their individual potential to live a healthy and meaningful life by engaging their senses and listening to their bodies.

Nia is based on the intelligent design of the body. Each workout brings mindfulness to your dance movement experience leaving you energized, mentally clear, and emotionally balanced.

Nia cardio-dance workouts combine 52 simple moves with dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts to get you fit in 60 minutes – body, mind, emotion, and spirit.

Nia is non-impact, practiced barefoot, and adaptable to individual needs and abilities. Nia classes are taught by licensed Nia teachers.

NIA treats the entire person. Now, NIA is not the only exercise discipline to consider the whole person.  Yoga is the best known (NIA uses some yoga moves) and there are others. They are all good exercise programs. So why is NIA different?  I think is it a combination of factors:

  1. Because the individual exercises are simple, each person can have their own exercise experience at their own pace.  In many exercise programs, the technical side is so complicated that the individual focuses on the execution.  In NIA, the simple exercises make it possible for the exerciser to BECOME the movement, which means the integration of body, mind, emotions and even soul can occur.
  2. The physical integrative aspects of NIA are impressive.  I like the way all joints are exercised.  If you follow the exercises, you will create an exceptional core.
  3. In my experience benefits are achieved quickly.  I have been impressed with the fast improvement in strength, back and arms.
  4. The program is portable, flexible, and it takes 15-30 minutes to do the basic exercises depending on the person and the amount the exercise.

Highly sensitive people need a simple effective way to become healthier and fit.  Since many HSPs can be in a weakened state because of stress levels or illness, the NIA technique is made to order for people who needs great results but without being expected to jump through more hoops than a circus tiger.

Nia programs are available for purchase and trainers offer individual instruction. Because of COVID-19, you can now also subscribe to their online service, offering a huge number of exercise videos.

In their book, The NIA Technique, the Rosas write, “NIA is like chocolate”. And it is.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.