Sunday, December 27, 2009

Broadening Your Experience

The Three Planes & Three Levels
Nia Principle Number 7 out of 13

"Every movement can be done within three plane-low, middle, and high - and can be done with three different levels of intensity.

Mixing the three levels and three planes creates a wide repertoire of movement choices.

Transfer body weight along a Smile Line, moving from low to middle to high. Use three levels of intensity to vary your rate of exertion."

Visualization Pearls (words to trigger your mind and body to get the most out of your Nia workout):

1. See yourself rising high into the clouds as you rise.

2. Imagine your torso slipping below the waterline as you sink.

3. Imagine your body as a helium balloon that fills and empties as you move through three planes.*

*from the book, The Nia Technique

Commentary from Julia, Nia Teacher

Principle 7 combines two aspects of Nia, planes of movement and levels of intensity, that when consciously used together provide a customized work out for the participant. In every class the student has the freedom to choose her/his own level of intensity and plane of movement. This unique aspect of Nia honors every "body" in every class.

As stated in the name, there are 3 Planes of Movement - Low, Middle and High. Playing with the planes improves agility, mobility and balance. Having the freedom to choose these planes allows for unlimited options; the student can create their own movement within the framework of the day's routine. No routine will ever be exactly the same if the student plays with planes.

As adults we do not get on the floor very often a fact that ultimately hinders our range of motion. Playing with the low plane improves our agility. The middle plane is a place to work on deepening and intensifying movement. Playing with the high plane can speak to the spirit as well as the body. Stretch, reach, and create beautiful long lines with the body letting the spirit soar to the heavens. This is a wonderful feeling to receive in a "work out".

The three Levels of Teaching (One, Two and Three) allow the student to find ease in movement and to nurture the body. Every level has its benefits. Level one focuses on sensitivity. It conditions the intrinsic muscles and improves control of the body. Level two allows the participant to develop and deepen the movements. The focus of level three is on complexity and energy. Using level three allows the student to improve strength and endurance and eventually reach their full physical potential.

Mix up the levels and planes and the Nia experience will condition and tone the entire body and the class will never be dull. Dare to try something new you may surprise yourself!

Commentary from Allison, studio owner
When I think of moving my body in the three different planes, the first image I am reminded of is the scene from "Dead Poets Society" where Robin Williams portrayed a professor. In order to open up his student's minds, he told them to climb on top of their desks so that they could experience a different perspective. This was a powerful exercise for me and is something I've always carried with me.

Just as our minds become more embedded in habit, so do our bodies. We stand and walk in nearly the same way all the time. We tend to sleep in the same positions. These habits reinforce our experience of reality and in fact, define our own realities. While habits give us predictability and make it easier to multi-task, they can also diminish our sensory experience and encourage us to walk through life in zombie-like state.

I use the three planes and three levels in Nia class to break my own habits and perspectives. In general, the plane I spend the least amount of time in, is the high plane. I rarely think to reach high above my head, to stretch my arms and neck as high as they can go. In fact, during my Nia White Belt training, one of our trainers who teaches in New York City, commented that I wasn't keeping my head up. In order to encourage myself to grow outside my comfort zone and habits, I try to extend my arms and reach for the sky often.

What are your movement habits? Are there ways you can move in Nia that would encourage you to gain a different perspective? Perhaps you rarely like to get down on the floor? Or perhaps moving quickly from a standing position to a plank position is something you don't like doing but if you did it often enough, you will not only increase your flexibility but you will also increase your perspective on what your body is still capable of doing.

Each Nia class and each Nia movement gives you the opportunity to move in the three planes and utilize the three levels of intensity.

Nia studio member testimonial:

Thanks to my daughter, I found Castle Rock Nia. I had moved back here three years ago and didn't know there was one so near. Previously I had done Nia in Idaho and was missing it very much. Nia gives me something that other exercise doesn't. Not only do I get a good physical workout, but the music and movement touches my heart as well as my soul.

Also dancing like that puts me in touch with my femininity. In my day to day routine, I don't move my hips and sway to the music. I LOVE IT!

I live in Parker and can honestly say the drive to Castle Rock is no problem or hindrance. In fact it really gives me something to look forward to. Castle Rock Nia has a very comfortable and friendly atmosphere and the owner and instructors are wonderful. Nia is a so much fun and perfect for women of all ages. I am 61 and plan on doing this for years to come!

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Save the Date: Jan 12th Special Nia class

One of our Nia members, Kathy, is going to bring her hoops to class and after class we'll learn how to exercise using (hula) hoops. This fun exercise craze taps into the carefree 1950's memories and gives us the challenge of moving our hips fast enough to keep the hoop in place - and I expect there will be a great many laughs.

"Hoopnotica is an energizing, fat-burning cardio and muscle-sculpting hoop dance workout that is endlessly FUN, creative and sexy! Using an adult size hoop and blending hooping with elements of dance, hoop dance is easy to learn and great for boosting your mood and reducing stress."*

I hope you can join us on Tuesday, the 12th.


Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Exercising Your Legs, and Oh Yeah, Those Feet: Nia Principle Number 6 out of 13

"Your feet are the hands that touch the earth and through your legs they carry the energy of the earth to your whole body.

Connect to your foundation, your feet, the hands that touch the earth. Focus on your feet and legs with intent to move in a grounded, functional, and safe way."

Pearls (words to trigger your mind and body to get the most out of the focus of Nia moves and your legs and feet): foundation, hands that touch the earth, balance, support, connected, texture, sensation, toes.*

Nia Moves: Relevé, Rock Around the Clock, Duck Walk, Squish Walk, Heel Lead, Smile Line (from The book, The Nia Technique)

Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor

In Nia, the base consists of the feet, the knees and the legs. The base provides us with support, stability and a sense of balance. It is literally the foundation of physical movement.

"Listen to your feet." (Nia White Belt Manual) The feet ground us to the earth, support our entire weight and feed us the information necessary for the rest of the body to remain in alignment. We dance without shoes in part to allow the 7,000 nerve endings in the feet to caress the floor. The feet sense the temperature, texture, and imperfections in the floor and the body makes constant alterations in balance and alignment based on this information. Dancing bare footed also strengthens the foot and keeps it agile and flexible. The lack of shoes is beneficial to the ankle as well because it stretches the tendons and muscles healing the damage we ladies do to ourselves when we wear high heels.

Our legs consist of three parts, the lower leg, the upper leg and the knee. Nia considers the leg to extend from the foot to the top of the hip because the muscles that help to move the legs attach to the upper hip. “We use the legs to dance, play, create, move, and express ourselves.” (Nia White Belt Manual) The knees transfer energy from one set of leg bones to the other. For the majority of people the first experiences of mobility were on these amazing joints as we crawled across the floor. Flexible knees promote strength in the entire leg. In order to keep the knees healthy the knee and foot should move together. When the foot moves the knee should move in alignment with it. This simple rule will prevent torque on the knee joint and avoid damage to the knee.

The steps, stances and kicks that are the basis for all Nia routines come out of Principle 6. The movements are designed to strengthen the base and can be modified to suit every one. They work from the ground up and are designed to be fun and creative. All the physical magic that is Nia begins with the base.

Commentary by Allison Frederick, Nia Studio owner/operator

Change Our Bodies from Heavy Burdens to Light Creatures

I've never been in an exercise class that places emphasis on the feet. Perhaps that is because our feet are normally bound in sweaty, cumbersome aerobic shoes. However, no body area is ignored in Nia. We extend and stretch our fingers which not only relieve tension stored in our necks, but can also elongate the arms and tone them. We use our toes and feet in Nia similarly. We are used to the fact that our hands make us highly functioning mammals but could our feet do the same?

When I focus on my toes in Nia, I find that I move in a more determined way. The heel lead method of planting our feet on the ground encourages me to be conscious in my step instead of simply plodding mindlessly along. My toes make contact with the mat, spread and provide not only stability but also a springiness that makes me feel like I can use momentum to launch into a graceful step. I also feel muscles in my legs engage (all the way up to my lower back) when I focus on my toes, arch, and ankles in each step.

If you were in Sandy's class Wednesday night, then you heard her teach those of us who don't feel graceful or who aren't usually light on our feet to move lightly like elves. She taught us to use our ankles and arches to rock our entire foot so that we move in a lilting fashion, or as they call it in Nia, a smile line. The smile line begins at the top of an arch, sways down and then uses momentum to carry ourselves and our energy back up. When a Nia teacher tells us to smile with our hip or with a move, picture yourself moving along this pendulum and your body will actually move with a smile.

Barefoot for Foot and Leg Strength

Julia just shared how Nia strengthens your feet and legs. There is a modern fitness movement encouraging us all to adopt more active movement in our bare feet. Several years ago, Nike created a shoe called Nike Free. Nike Free is a running shoe with minimal support. I have a pair and I love them. You don't wear any socks and can throw them in the washing machine to keep them clean. I take long walks in them and my feet never get tired.

More recently, you may have seen the "shoes" that look like a glove for the feet and have individual toe slots.

I am not so sure about these because the fashionista in me is dubious but I perhaps they are incredibly comfortable and therapeutic. If someone tries them out, let me know what you think.

According to some research, going barefoot strengthens the arch in the foot. Many people today are suffering from fallen arches. This is a painful condition which literally makes it a struggle to take one step. Some forms of therapy encourage arch support but this doesn’t strengthen the arch, it just supports the arch. An arch support may be necessary for short term relief but long term healing may be found with exercises to actually rebuild the arch.

“Our feet are one of the most muscle-rich areas of our body. In fact, there are 18 muscles within the arch of our feet, with additional muscles originating in our leg, inserting into the arches.”**

The website, has a great article about exercising and walking around in your bare feet. Click Here to read their article.

**arch quote source:

More articles on The Thirteen Principles of Nia

*Nia Principle descriptions are taken directly from the fitness book "The Nia Technique: The High-Powered Energizing Workout that Gives You a New Body and a New Life" by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nia White Belt Training Experience – for Personal Development - or to become a Nia teacher

Given the fact that Nia exercises incorporate moves with outstretched, overhead arms for stretching and rolling around on the floor to increase flexibility, I shouldn't have been surprised when during my Nia White Belt training, I vacillated between high highs and low lows. I was so shocked by my energy.

At times I was exhausted, left thinking that I wouldn't be able to budge from the ground for a week! Then, one of the patient Nia trainers would encourage the class to get on our feet, move our bodies slowly and then – BAM – she would play an irresistible song and we were once again dancing and moving to the beat with boundless energy.

I felt like a stranger to my body, tapping into reserves I never knew I had.

Nia (pronounced "knee-ah") is a mind body fusion fitness program that expects a lot from its teachers. Nia carefully evolved from extensive analysis of anatomy and physiology so that each of the moves compliments the body's normal function and movement. This premise in Nia is referred to as "The Body's Way." If done properly, Nia exercises will not stress joints but will strengthen your entire body. Nia teachers are expected to understand basic physiology and learn how to teach to Nia students so that the students get the most out of exercising and do not injury themselves.

The Nia White Belt training (the first level of advanced training for any Nia teacher), focuses on how a body functions. Because I chose to train in Portland, Oregon with one of the co-founders, Debbie Rosas, I had the opportunity to learn from the developer herself. I’ve studied anatomy in university and yet I never heard anyone explain anatomy in such a clear way.

You do not have to want to teach Nia to go through this training. In my class we had about 30 participants from all over the United States and I would say only half were going to become teachers, the rest were there for personal development.

This program emphasized several aspects that I think would help anyone come into a greater appreciation for their body.

Building Body Awareness – What is my body "thinking?" What makes my body happy? What is my body trying to tell me?

Building Body Appreciation – This training provided tools that we could use once we became aware of our body messages. These tools helped us learn how to appreciate our bodies.

Expanding Pre-Conceived Limitations – As I mentioned with my energy levels, this program brought me to my perceived limits then gently lifted me past them. It made me realize that I can accomplish so much more than I think I can, especially when I am having fun!

Building Community & Friendships – Our class of 30 people immediately built rapport and trust with each other that didn't disappoint. We created a safe place where each of us could share some struggles and receive the support and suggestions we needed to transcend those challenges.

How Does the Nia Advanced Training Work?

First of all, the Nia training is different than taking classes or workshops with your Nia teacher. Advanced trainings are held for an entire week – 6 full days. The training is progressive so each person begins with the White Belt Training. The training levels were inspired by the martial arts progression, which has different color belts. You begin with white and after many years of training and passing through the other belts, you can end with black. Unlike a martial arts program; however, the white belt does mean that you have begun your journey through the advanced training. In martial arts, every new student in regular classes receives a white belt and then the other color belts reflect more advanced training.

Where are Nia Advanced Trainings Held?

Many cities with established Nia classes around the world hold advanced Nia training; including Colorado were we hold a couple each year. My training began at 5 PM on a Saturday evening then classes were held every day from 7 AM to 7 PM through Friday. We did have a nice lunch break in the middle of the day. We spent some time in lecture, sharing, and dancing. It was intense but honestly, not too rigorous. I was worried that I wasn't in good enough shape but staying true to Nia philosophy, the teachers encouraged us to take breaks when we needed and to take good care of ourselves.

Some Nia teachers I know chose to take the advanced training in a location near their home. I think this would have been really challenging. I was tired after class and would not have wanted to deal with normal everyday responsibilities. Fortunately I chose to go to Portland, Oregon to Nia Headquarters for my training. This time away from my family, Nia studio, and other responsibilities allowed me to focus on my growth in an uninterrupted way. If you are considering the training, I would strongly encourage you to go out of town where you have to stay in a hotel. Portland was an excellent city with remarkable food and very safe and clean. Also, you can’t beat learning Nia from the founders.

In Conclusion

I was intimidated to attend this training but I am so glad I didn't let that stop me. The Nia White Belt training can be so much more than preparation to teach an exercise class. It is another step in a journey for learning how to feel confident and feel comfortable in your own body.

Tips if you go to Portland

I highly recommend staying at the Mark Spencer Hotel. It is several blocks from the Nia Headquarters but the blocks in Portland are short and it takes about 5 minutes to walk to the headquarters. The Mark Spencer hotel has kitchens in each room which will save you a lot of money in eating out. You can pick up food at farmers markets or there is a Whole Foods a few blocks from the hotel. The hotel is also at the edge of an incredibly fun district called the Pearl District. This neighborhood is amazing with fantastic restaurants, breweries, indie film house, and of course, Powell's Bookstore.

Look on Mark Spenser's website for the best price. They have a week discount rate (this is true as of the time of this writing).

Find Advanced Nia Training - Belt Training

Read about Sandy's Brown Belt Training Experience

Does Nia sound like something you want to try? We invite you to take a free class at our Castle Rock Nia Studio in Colorado.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Nia Belt System: the Science and Craft Behind

Nia belt training will cause you to levitate!
Disclaimer: This statement has been documented but scientific evidence is still forthcoming.

Commentary from Sandy Enke, Certified Nia Instructor

As many of you know, I completed my Nia Brown Belt certification in October. There is so much depth and richness inherent in the Nia Technique; and for those of you who experience the end product--a fun, enriching, joyful movement experience--what's behind the crafting of a Nia class is decades of science and study, and a profound love for the Body's Way. Did you know that you can go through the belt system for personal enrichment, without actually teaching Nia? And there are some who do just that.

There is simply no way to fully encapsulate all that we receive in the week long intensive trainings in a short article. It has often been said that we're peeling away the layers of an onion; one layer at a time. In a nutshell, the Nia White Belt focuses primarily on learning how to become aware in the physical body, and embody the concept of the Joy of Movement. The Nia Blue Belt takes us one step further, and teaches us how not only to be aware, but also to actually be in relationship with our bodies, with others, and with our 4 realms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The Nia Brown Belt takes all that we have embodied in the White and Blue Belts and reveals how everything that is experienced as a sensation in the body is an energy experience; and teaches us how to use energy in effortless ways to co-create the Nia experience.

After the Brown Belt I feel as though I have a much larger experience of the world around me. Working with energy has helped me feel more grounded, centered, comfortable in my skin, and aware of my connection with everyone and everything around me. It's a really beautiful sensation--my spirit is soaring! I highly recommend it.

I'll look forward to seeing you in class for our next "energy exchange"!

- - Allison also shares her experience with Nia training in Portland, Oregon, CLICK HERE to read.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When We are Great People, We Know Great People...

A friend of mine from Austin explained that a group of her friends meet monthly for brunch. To keep the group dynamic and fresh, each person is strongly encouraged to bring someone they know. The idea is that if they are a good person then they know good people.

She said the group has turned into a fun, strong collection of amazing people and many new friendships have started.

That is what is happening for us at Nia. For those of you who have come in to class, you already know that we have an incredible group of interesting, kind women. So many of you have, in turn, brought friends and relatives to class and it is no surprise that they are also great to be around.

Our Saturday morning kick-off was no exception. We had the chance to meet your friends, neighbors, and later, even a sister. Thank you for sharing your friends with us and sharing Nia with them. You all are helping us foster a wonderful environment to exercise in!

Don't forget, as a modest way of saying thank you for helping us share Nia, we offer 15% off a 10 punch card for the Nia member who brings someone they know if that person decides to purchase a 10 punch card. The person you bring in also receives 15% off a 10 punch card.

Nia testimonial from a Castle Rock Nia member:
Myrnan of Castle Rock says:

"Nia Rocks!
I've been attending Nia for over a year and for me it rocks! I exercise 6 days a week and Nia is a key part of that routine. I enjoy Nia because it offers variety to my exercise options and is the most fun of anything I do. The low impact aerobics of the routines allow me to participate despite an arthritic knee. I also enjoy the variety of music. I'm hoping the Nia classes in Castle Rock are able to expand their schedules and offer even more classes. I think I'm hooked on Nia for life!"

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dancing through Life

Understanding the fundamentals of Nia Dance Fitness, continued...

The Thirteen Principles of Nia (a 13 part series)
Principle Five, Part 2: Awareness and Dancing Through Life

Principle 5 is about living in the present, about having all 5 senses turned on and about paying attention. Last month we addressed the pain half of Awareness this month we look at the pleasure half of the principle.

Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor

Pleasure : a state of gratification, a source of delight or joy

The pleasure half of Awareness consists of three parts: Dancing through Life, Living Meditation and Life as Art. Dancing through Life is the active portion of this Nia triad. It teaches that all movement is dance and when we take time to make every movement a conscious act we can begin to choose pleasure over pain. Movement can become a source of delight for the body. In class, play with the various movements. Can you find different ways to do the same movement that brings you pleasure? Try stretching in a new way, deepening or intensifying the move and sense how your body reacts.

Living Meditation on the other hand addresses stillness. It is the practice of stopping and waiting. With practice, the mind and emotions can be stilled as easily as the body. When we achieve stillness we become centered and can truly listen and see. Before class take a moment to close your eyes and be still - simply listen as the music starts, when moving notice the body parts that aren’t moving. Start to appreciate the moments of stillness in your busy life.

The third portion of this triad is Life as Art. This corner of the triad is about perception and inspiration. What is beauty, art or dance? It is easy to be inspired by the beauty all around us in Colorado. What is more difficult but just as important is to find the beauty of and find inspiration in the simple movements we go through every day. As I sit here typing this paragraph I notice my fingers are doing their own small dance on the keys. Before Nia and the awareness principle I would have simply said I am typing.

Dancing through Life helps us to be more aware of all that we physically do in this life. Enjoy every movement made during the day and chose to make it pleasurable. Make time to be still and centered. Realize that beauty, art and inspiration is all around merely waiting to be recognized.

Commentary by Allison Frederick Nia Studio owner/operator

Fall is a great time to learn how to "Dance through Life." The streets are lined with vibrant splashes of red, orange, gold, and yellow. Fallen leaves crunch below our feet. The air is crisp and the sun is bright. For me, my senses are heightened during the fall and it is the experience of heightened senses that is a goal of Nia.

Nia is about appreciation, and in this case, it is appreciation of our world around us. Instead of just "getting through the day," Debbie Rosas (co-founder of Nia) encourages us all to "dance through life." In Nia class we may relevĂ© and the teacher will encourage you to visualize taking an item off the top shelf of a closet so that as you raise up onto one leg and stretch forward, your mind does so with a sense of purpose rather than to simply move for movement’s sake. Another Nia exercise is the "sink and pivot table wipe" where you drop your knees a bit and pivot your arms around your body as if you are wiping the table. We suggest everyday activity visualizations in class to introduce the flow of brining daily life into our Nia routine and to apply our Nia routine into our daily life.

During the fall season, I feel as if I am walking through a Van Gogh painting. Compared to what I normally see and experience the colors are larger than life. Even though I feel it is surreal, in reality I am face to face with the explosive beautiful reality of nature and life. The feeling, as if I am walking though a painting, is a lot like dancing through life. I am not visibly swaying as I walk as I would if I was actually dancing but my gait is different because I am walking with acute sensory awareness. I am noticing life as it is happening. I am appreciating the world around me and this appreciation leads me to actually dance through life rather than to simply move for movement's sake.

How will you learn how to dance through life? The book, The Nia Technique provides these helpful suggestions to get you started.

1. Move and particularly notice one part of your body, and pay attention to what you are doing, how you are doing it.

2. Say to yourself: I am slowing down and paying attention to what I sense, connecting to the sensory impulses I receive.

3. I am becoming aware of my touch, how I stand, how I feel, what I think, what I smell, what I hear, what I see, and what I perceive as art.

4. I am connected to everything going on inside and outside of me, energetically connected to my body and my world.*

*p. 281, from the fitness book The Nia Technique

More articles on The Thirteen Principles of Nia
Principle One: The Joy of Movement"Joy is the primary sensation you should seek from all movement. If you momentarily lose joy, tweak your movement until joy again arises." *

Principle Two: Natural Time and the Movement Forms"All of your Nia movements are done in your own personal, natural sense of time and include movements and energy from nine classic forms." *

Principle Three: Music and the BBC System "Nia is practiced to the sounds and silences of music, using an eight-beat counting (BBC) system (1 - and, 2 - and, 3 - and, 4 - and, 5 - and...) to organize the movements." *

Principle Four: FreeDance"Anything goes movement-wise. Let go of structure.

Principle Five: Awareness and Dancing through Life"In Nia, you become aware that every movement in life is a dance and that every movement can be used to self-heal."

Part 2 of Principle Five: Dancing through Life

*Nia Principle descriptions are taken directly from the fitness book "The Nia Technique: The High-Powered Energizing Workout that Gives You a New Body and a New Life" by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Learn Nia Steps Online: "The Cross Behind"

Commentary by Sandy Enke, Certified Nia Instructor for Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio

One of Nia's 52 Moves, The Cross-Behind, reminds me to embrace the Joy of Level 1 in my movement. Cross Behind involves bringing one foot in a small "x" behind the other foot.
Often, when the music invites us to move bigger, my students' and I "x" gets bigger and the body leans to one side or the other, thereby creating knee and hip complaints when I overextend.

To energize the Cross Behind move, focus on:

(1) using one of Nia's 9 Movement Forms to energize your arm movements as Helen Terry suggests, such as Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Jazz or Duncan Dance; or

(2) moving energy upwards, as opposed to sideways, in the body (imagine a string is pulling your head and skeleton upward). Alternatively, when moving downward in Cross Behind, imagine the tailbone leading you down to activate healing in the low back.

Remember: keep the "x" small whenever possible. Less is more. Have fun with this move!

- from Sandy

Stay Tuned for More Virtual Nia...
Here you can learn Nia online, a Virtual Nia studio, if you will. These videos are presented by a very dear woman, Helen Terry. Helen is a Nia trainer (she trains Nia teachers and leads personal development seminars that are Nia based). She is a great person to learn from because she's been practicing Nia for a long time and she is very enthusiastic about Nia. If you ever have a chance to take her classes or trainings, I highly recommend it. She is so funny that I've decided that her idea of an abs workout is to be so funny that you sides ache. - from Allison

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

New Saturday Nia Exercise Classes

Introducing New Saturday Morning Classes
Party & Class on October 31st, 2009
8:15 am - 9:15 am

Free Class for Everyone

Pre-Register and You Will Receive 20% Off our 10 Punch Cards!

In appreciation for you celebrating the launch of our Saturday morning classes, we would like to offer a significant savings on Nia classes.
(This is the last offer for a significant savings on the punch cards.)

It is simple to receive this special offer. Simply pre-register for the class on
October 31st, then come to class and you will receive 20% off a 10 punch Nia card.

*Cards must be purchased on this day. There is no limit to number of cards purchased.

Join us on Saturday and you will also qualify for other prizes including:
1. Five Free Nia Classes (for someone who hasn't purchased a punch card with us before, but perhaps you've already tried a free class)

2. Some kind of tasty (Halloween) treat, Harry & David perhaps?

3. Nia music CD


Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Body Awareness Exercise - Principle 5 of Nia

"We are wired to be fully aware."
from the Nia teacher and personal development guide: White Belt Manual

Commentary by Julia Desmond, Certified Nia Instructor

Principle 5 is actually consists of two parts. One half is the awareness of pain in the body and the use of stimulation to promote self healing. The second half is the awareness of pleasure that leads us to "Dance Through Life." This month I will focus on the awareness of pain and our ability to self heal.

This principle has been a powerful one for me personally. I suffered a misalignment of my hips after the birth of my daughter. I went through physical therapy and eventually realigned my body. However for many years later I had chronic hip pain. It wasn't until I took the White Belt training that I realized I had gotten into a peculiar bad habit that was exacerbating my injury.

As I learned to be more aware of my body I came to the astounding realization that I was driving with my right hip in the air. I have since worked quite diligently to keep that hip on the seat and as a result I am pain free, a state that just a year ago I wouldn't have believed possible. Whenever, the pain returns I know that I need to check that (difficult, quite set in its ways) hip and make a slight correction.

Awareness is a dynamic process. It is only possible in the present and therefore is constantly changing. We are rarely aware of sensation in our bodies unless we are in a state of discomfort or pain. Pain signals the need to change the body's movement or alignment. Awareness is not about judging ourselves but about gathering information about our bodies. With this awareness we can then set about making small changes in our movement that improve our balance and alignment. Use stimulation, either movement or relaxation, to encourage healing. Ideally this process is a daily occurrence. We check in with our bodies when we wake up in the morning and adjust how we do the little things in life, just like I monitor my hip as I drive.

In class this principle should be employed so you don’t accidently cause an injury to yourself. If a movement hurts or even causes a slight twinge, the movement should be modified or stopped. Check in with the instructor to see if you are doing the movement correctly. Principle 5 is about choices. It is choosing to be aware of our bodies, sensing what needs to heal and stimulating the area in order to achieve healing.

Commentary by Allison FrederickNia Studio owner/operator
Julia's story demonstrates the complex benefits of the Nia philosophy. One healing art contributing to Nia is Feldenkrais. Feldenkrais focuses on retraining our brains to break physical habits that are causing our body pain. For Julia, it was in the way she was holding her hips and standing. For those suffering from knee problems, it may be that they walk with their feet pivoted out to the side rather than being aligned in a forward position. Sometimes we hold our bodies in such subtle, yet destructive ways which over time lead to painful conditions. We might say "I have a bad knee," instead of saying, "I have a bad way of walking." Becoming aware of what our body is doing is the first step towards self healing. How do we stand, sit, walk, do Nia?

Do you have any sensations of pain in your body? If so, when do you feel them? Watch how your body does a certain activity. Can you guess whether you are causing the problem through poor body mechanics? Below is a 10 minute video explaining the core philosophy of Feldenkrais. The good news for us is that Nia incorporates the best of Feldenkrais with other healing arts and other exercises to create one comprehensive exercise that can be used to burn calories, tone your body, give you a cardio vascular workout, and self heal.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have questions about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? You are welcome to take a Nia class for free to see if it is right for your fitness routine.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class or call us at 303-522-4740

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Can 60 Minutes Really Give You Health and Happiness?

As busy as we are these days, it is hard to believe that 1 hour can make a significant difference in our feelings of happiness or health but that is exactly what some of our members in our Nia fitness class are experiencing.

Many of us concede that group exercise classes are good for accountability and often motivate us to exercise when we are tempted not to. But when our finances are tight or our schedules are bombarded with obligations, it seems much easier to simply buy an exercise video or workout with FitTV. The trouble as many of us will admit to; is that we don't make the time to insert the video into the DVD player and actually do the routine, despite our best intentions.

One Nia member, Kathryn of Castle Pines North, stated she hadn't been in a group exercise class in eight years. Then one day a neighbor came by and told her about a fun fitness class that was starting in Castle Rock. The class is called Nia (pronounced "knee-uh"). Nia is a fusion fitness class, taking the best of yoga and tai chi, adding punching and kicking exercises found in martial arts which are great for toning arms and hips, and then combining those exercises with moderate cardio, uplifting music and fun dance moves. The enthusiasm Kathryn's neighbor had for the Nia classes was enough to encourage Kathryn to come, and nearly six months later, she still comes regularly.

A group exercise class serves as a commitment in our calendar and we are more likely to stick with our exercise routine if it is scheduled. This is just human nature. Another member, Mary Ellen of Castle Rock, enjoys Nia so much that she schedules the rest of her day around her Nia classes. She said her friends and family understand that she is busy during that time.

One way a Nia class is unique is the attitude of the teacher and the other members. Everyone is so friendly and non-judgmental. The classes aren't competitive or hard core. Even intermediate yoga and Pilates classes can be intimidating because of how limber some other students are. For someone with a chronic minor injury or who simply doesn't have a body like a pretzel, group classes can be frustrating. Nia classes emphasize personal expression and encourage each person to work out to their own abilities or desires. Because of this approach anyone watching a Nia class will see that during and after class everyone is smiling and happy.

In this way, 60 minutes can make a huge difference in your health and happiness. At the end of each class I feel relaxed and happy. Whatever frustrations or concerns I had before class seem more manageable and I am ready to tackle them with a new found sense of ease.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have concerns about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? We are happy to answer any questions you have. Please call us anytime at 303-522-4740.

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class.

Monday, September 14, 2009

National Dance Workshop Facilitator Comes to Castle Rock for Fundraiser for Women of Darfur

Beginning Saturday, October 17, 2009, Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio will host Leela Francis for a dance fundraiser for the women suffering from the violence in Darfur.
"Leela is awesome! She is a uniquely dynamic and inspirational contribution to our programs. Our participants adore her heart opening and joyful blend of the sacred and the sensual, eliciting purpose and passion, and a profound experience of personal expansion."
T. Harv Eker, NY Times #1 Best-selling Author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

Leela Francis, founder of VividExistence™ and VividWoman,™ is an international trainer & facilitator of Nia, Yoga, Trance dance, & nature therapy. She is the premier dance/movement facilitator for the largest Self Development Seminar Organization in North America.

She has raised thousands of dollars for our sister survivors of sexual, domestic and war time violence in developing countries and facilitated the reunion of body, self and soul for thousands of women in the developed world in service of women globally, all beings and the planet.

To date VividExistence/VividlyWoman has raised & donated over $30,000 in aid of women survivors of war.
Event Details:
When: Saturday, October 17th, 7 pm - 9 pm Fund and awareness raising Sunday, October 18th 11 am - 2 pm VividExistence 5 Stages DanceShop

Where: Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio, Castle Rock, Colorado (Located 20 minutes south of Denver metro and 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs.)

Cost: Tickets are $22 for Saturday night only $65 for Sunday event $80 for both days*
*Donation: Ticket profits from this event will be donated to the Women’s Peace Center in Darfur to support women survivors of genocide to receive care and be given the start up costs to weave baskets for a self-sustaining income. We are also proud to be partnering with the Women's Peace Collection, the fair trade organization that is organizing this basket weaving cooperative venture.
Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio

Monday, August 17, 2009

Spice up Exercise Routine with Free Dance

"Anything goes movement-wise. Let go of structure."
from the exercise book The Nia Technique (This book provides instruction on all 52 moves in Nia.)

Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor

Free Dance is one of my favorite parts of the Nia Techinique. I have observed, as both student and teacher, that this principle seems to give students the most trouble. I too found it intimidating at first. I was afraid that people would think I looked stupid and as a result I felt awkward, but overtime I ceased to censor myself, became seduced by the music and learned to move in my own way. When I fully give myself over to free dance I feel exceptionally free, light hearted and emotionally moved in a positive way for a few minutes and I carry that feeling with me for the rest of my day!

The first tenant of free dance is anything goes, and Nia truly means anything! As a teacher, I will never comment, criticize or attempt to modify a student’s movement. The second goal is to be seduced by the music. This means to truly listen to each song, you will find that you relate to each song differently and as a result move in quite different ways. The next step in the journey of free dance is to tap into emotions and feelings. Feel free to pretend to move with a given emotion, see how feelings such as anger and joy change your body's response to a song. Once you have acted an emotion see if you can tap into that authentic feeling and witness how true emotions influence dance. Don't let yourself get stagnant, dancing the same safe move over and over. Change you movement frequently, eventually you will run out of old standbys and be forced to find your own authentic movement. Finally: Do not judge or censor yourself!! Free dance is not about dance steps, it is a path to authentic movement. Witness your progress and let free dance fill your spirit. It truly is amazing when you feel free to fully participate.

To my class: When I witness you all attempting free dance I am amazed at the results although the class is only 5 months old! The result is incredibly organic with you all moving as one being –sensing the music-while each person moves in their own individual way. You are all truly amazingly beautiful and I am honored to share this Nia journey with each one of you!

Commentary by Allison Frederick Nia Studio owner/operator
FreeDance is the time to push aside some of our inhibitions and rediscover the free spirit inside each of us.

A workout routine with a free dance portion? What is the reason for that? For me, free dance during Nia has always been a little odd. Why am I dancing in the morning and without a glass of wine in me? Each class I muddle through this portion of the routine. I do enjoy losing myself in the beats of the music and eventually my body follows my mind as I sway, stretch, or actually dance. It all depends on my mood and that is exactly the point of free dance – anything goes. I met one lady during my Nia teaching training who said she took the "anything goes" literally and she would leave each time free dance started to go to the bathroom or read literature in the lobby.

So, if there are some people who feel self-conscious about the free dance portion of the routine, why do Nia teachers keep it in? The philosophy of Nia is to reestablish the connection between our mind – and in this case we might say our "mind police" and our free spirit which often hides in a tiny corner somewhere in our body. Our mind police tell us that we are busy people with a lot of responsibility and there isn't time for us to dance or express ourselves freely. If we are going to exercise we should do something practical like jumping jacks or lunges.

Our free spirit may still have a voice but it is often trampled on by the governing mind police. Nia is one hour, given to yourself, to push the mind police aside and discover and hear your own free spirit. free dance is the perfect opportunity for you to listen to your body and do what your body wants to do. This is probably a big change for most of us.

To help you dust off your free spirit, the Nia Technique offers keywords, or what they call "pearls." These are words you can say to yourself during a Nia routine to trigger your mind and body into a particular movement or emotion. If you feel awkward during free dance, trying keeping some of these words in your mind: anything goes, pretend, no judgment, no thinking, change, or creativity. Try using one of these keywords whenever you feel awkward and want to quit. Does is shift your mood? Does the word help take you to a better experience? Sure, there are a few people who are very comfortable with this part of the routine. They look graceful and happy as they float around the room. For me, I consider it a journey and with each new experience I can feel my body lift as I improve my ability to stifle the mind police.
Read more about the 13 Nia Principles that lay the foundation for Nia exercises.

-- Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have concerns about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? We are happy to answer any questions you have. Please call us anytime at 303-522-4740.
Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aerobics Exercise vs. Nia Technique

How is the Nia Technique different from other aerobics exercises? Is it really an aerobic class? How does it differ from a yoga or pilates class? Is Nia good for people who are overweight or who have injuries or arthritis?

Only you can answer the question of whether Nia is right for you. Showing up at a class without knowing what to expect may be a bit intimidating. In this video co-founder Debbie Rosas Stewart explains why they developed Nia and what is Nia.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have concerns about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? We are happy to answer any questions you have.
Please call us anytime at 303-522-4740.

Listen to the music and more about what Nia is like, watch Nia videos.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kickoff Dance Fitness Party: New Fall Evening Exercise Program September 9th

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio is growing and adding evening classes to their schedule. Come join us for an hour of fitness that is so fun you won’t think you are working out.

When: Wednesday September 9, 2009 – 5:15 PM – 6:30 PM

Where: Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio located at 185 Caprice Court, Unit 5 Castle Rock, CO 80109. Easy off highway access. Just west of I-25 and Downtown Castle Rock exit (Exit 182).

Cost: Free plus a chance to win 6 more free classes.
Contact: 303-522-4740 or

Nia - pronounced "knee-ah" is a mind/body exercise program set to uplifting music.

Nia is a low impact exercise class.

A Nia class will provide you with the stretch and stress relief found in yoga, the muscle toning for hips & arms from martial art punches and kicks, and the flexibility and freedom of dance.

All these are combined into one incredibly fun fitness class that allows you to move your body with so much ease that feelings of awkwardness or self-consciousness flee.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Journey of Self Acceptance - Nia in Oprah Magazine

"When all I wanted to do was lie down, Nia was the inspiration to keep moving."
Kathy Wolstenholme

Michelle Obama may have graced the cover of the May 2009 issue of Oprah Magazine but in the "bodywise" section, one woman spoke about her experience with Nia exercise classes telling readers how Nia helped her overcome the negative self image feelings brought on by her severe acne and even helped her overcome breast cancer.

Kathy Wolstenholme began teaching Nia classes in South Africa in 2002. Her article is a sensitive one, sharing her feelings and experiences with Nia. She says, "Every woman has the right to feel proud of her body. And mine illustrates that dance is not just for the athletic or lean. It proves older, voluptuous women can access deep play through movement and music."

CLICK HERE to read this Nia article in Oprah Magazine.

Nia (pronounced "knee-ah") is a low impact / high fun group exercise class that has:
The stretch and stress relief found in yoga,
the muscle toning for hips & arms from martial art punches & kicks,
and the flexibility and freedom of dance are all combined into one incredibly fun Nia fitness class.

- Serving the Denver Metro South region of the Tech Center, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock, Larkspur, and Parker.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have concerns about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? We are happy to answer any questions you have.
Please call us anytime at 303-522-4740.

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video on YouTube.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Keep Joints Flexible – a Key to Health & Longevity

While many people have lost weight practicing Nia (a group exercise class pronounced "knee-ah") what I hear most is how people feel their joints open up, feel more strong and how they feel more flexible.

I also hear women talking about how they feel better about their bodies – some women even start to like their bodies for the first time. It isn't all about the abs, the cut, and the sweat with Nia. It is about creating a relationship with your entire body where you can move each part with ease. Nia is about building strength in your feet so that pesky problems stop preventing you from walking several miles on your vacations. Nia is about moving your body even though you've had knee problems for years. Nia is about listening to beautiful music and becoming inspired to find joy in the immediate moment. Nia is about having respect for your body, listening to your body and overcoming the challenges in your health and movement.

Each movement in Nia is based on decades' worth of study in exercise physiology. The routines are choreographed so that each move builds on the other. You begin each class by gently waking up joints and moving your entire body – including your toes, fingers, and head. Unlike a regular aerobics class, each Nia teacher is trained to listen carefully to music and add exercises that flow seamlessly with the rhythm. Their attention to the details in each song allows the Nia class to lose themselves in the music and even forget they are exercising.

Each Nia move has three levels of intensity so you can customize your exercise routine to your fitness level or even according to the amount of energy you have on a particular day. In Nia, the pressure is off and the pleasure is on. I think this is why many people are so committed to their Nia classes and do not let other activities get in the way. You feel so good after a Nia class – it is just too hard to give that up.

I invite you to learn about Nia. If you live in the south Denver metro area then please come try a Nia class for free. Don’t worry if our current Nia class schedule doesn’t meet your needs. We are getting ready to expand our schedule and will let you know when we have more classes.

Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio
Do you have concerns about this class? Do you wonder if it is right for you? We are happy to answer any questions you have.
Please call us anytime at 303-522-4740.

Listen to the music and see what Nia is like, watch a Nia video on YouTube.

Request a Coupon for a FREE Nia Class.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Effects of Music and Silence in Exercise

The Thirteen Principles of Nia (a 13 part series)
Principle Three: MUSIC AND THE Eight Beat Counting (8BC) SYSTEM

"The sound of music is one of the most powerful underlying creative forces in our universe."
–– The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual (teacher training manual)

Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor

There are many benefits to using music in a Nia class. The first benefit is that it gives the class a beat to keep movement together, allowing the group to move as one. Music also provides a melody giving every individual in the class a tool with which they can improvise their own movements. Music has been proven to help coordination and concentration. It can increase endurance, improve mental function and influence a body's energy level. However the most obvious benefit is that it makes the class fun!

Nia thinks of the whole body in terms of four realms, the Body, the Mind, the Emotions, and the Spirit. Music speaks to each realm in a slightly different way. The Body senses the rhythm of the music, the Mind tracks the sound, the Emotions generate an energy release which depends upon which emotions are triggered by the music and finally the Spirit translates the music into movement of the body. This process results in each class member's unique expression and creativity.

The 8BCs is a system of music notation that helps Nia teachers learn and create choreography. Each song is broken down into bars. A bar consists of 8 counts or 16 beats (1 and 2…). The bars are classified into the type of music being played, i.e. intro, verse, chorus, or instrumental-solo. The teacher's job is to overlay the choreography onto the musical bars. This helps the teacher quickly learn how the choreography fits with the music. The teacher can then use musical cues to recognize a specific movement and where movement needs to change. As a result, the teacher doesn't need to count repetitions of movement. The entire process frees the teacher to teach the choreography and be full present to the class at the same time.

Commentary by Allison FrederickNia Studio owner/operator

Each Nia class begins with stating a focus and intent of the class. This isn't the same as saying "today we are going to focus on abs." Instead, in Nia, we want to set an intention before class so that our mind and body workout together. If our mind understands what our focus is for the workout, it will tell our body to move in a way that best meets that focus. For example, Principle Three of Nia, described as music and counting the steps in music, the focus and intention is "to listen to music with the intent to develop an intimate relationship with all kinds of sounds, including silence." *

Moving and listening to silence may seem esoteric at first but practically, it is a time to use isometrics. Isometric exercises involve muscular engagement/contraction without outwardly moving a body part. The pressure of an arm against a wall or contraction of calf muscles still engage and build muscle even though the body isn't moving. Many isometric exercises involve smaller, supportive muscles. Pilates is one exercise discipline that incorporates isometric exercises.

Listening to the silence in music during a workout also gives you a chance to check in with your body. What aches? What feels good? Which muscles are tight? Are you lightheaded? Paying attention to what your body is telling you during your exercise routine is a key component of Nia. So often we ignore our bodies. We push through something painful. We indulge when our mind is warning us not to. When all is quiet we can finally hear what our bodies are saying so the pauses in music are the perfect opportunity to tune into our bodies. In our Nia classes in Castle Rock, we sometimes dance to a wonderful Beatle's song called "Because" from the Love album. The singing and music is broken up by relatively long periods of silence. Our Nia teacher, Julia, uses the unusual structure in this song to have us stop moving. While we are in a freeze position, we are supposed to stretch and listen to our bodies. Instead of a typical "no pain no gain," approach found in many other exercise programs, Nia demonstrates it's holistic approach to health and movement with a motto more like, "Ask, then Listen, have Respect, now Move."

More articles on The Thirteen Principles of Nia

Principle One: The Joy of Movement - "Joy is the primary sensation you should seek from all movement. If you momentarily lose joy, tweak your movement until joy again arises." *
Principle Two: Natural Time and the Movement Forms - "All of your Nia movements are done in your own personal, natural sense of time and include movements and energy from nine classic forms." *
Principle Three: Music and the BBC System - "Nia is practiced to the sounds and silences of music, using an eight-beat counting (BBC) system (1 - and, 2 - and, 3 - and, 4 - and, 5 - and...) to organize the movements." *

Article Coming Next - Principle Four: FreeDance"Anything goes movement-wise. Let go of structure.

If Nia sounds like something you would like to try, we invite you to take your first Nia class for free. Visit to request a coupon for a free Nia class.Do you have any questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us. Send us an email.

Or call at 303.522.4740

Nia classes in Castle Rock. Serving the south Denver metro area.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Nia Video Samples Inspirational Music

Music has a way of penetrating our soul. It pierces through distraction and worry and can carry us into a place of joy, peace, happiness, or inspiration. I love this new Nia fitness video. It was filmed in South Africa when Debbie Rosas, one of the founders of the Nia exercise classes, traveled to Cape Town to train some of her Nia teachers.

The music is beautiful and is a great sample of what you will hear in class. Nia really does take exercise into a whole new dimension.

Would you like to try a class for free? Do you have any questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us. Send us an email.

Or call at 303.522.4740

Nia classes in Castle Rock. Serving the south Denver metro area.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can Breathwork Really Reduce Stress? A Book Review of Breathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman by Katrina Repka and Alan Finger

Yogis, relaxation experts and Buddhists all extol the virtues of breath for stress relief and claim breath work unlocks health-compromising stress patterns. I've never been able to experience the power of breath, as they say. I take a few breaths and then do feel calmer, sometimes even more centered but to make a daily habit of breathing deeply never appealed to me. Quite frequently, I forget to take the time to breathe deeply.

The 2009 book, "Breathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman" by yoga teacher Katrina Repka and yogi master Alan Finger finally opened my eyes (and my lungs) to the potential of breathing techniques.

Repka is an early thirty-something woman who leaves her marketing career and hometown of Calgary in Canada to test her merits in New York City. Her friends and family, baffled by her decision, wondered, "How can she uproot herself like that at the time when she should be settling down and starting a family? How could she give up a good job, promising romantic prospects, and more importantly, us?" Though her motivations were not understood by her family, Repka had been drawn to New York City since childhood. One day, with all her courage and little support, she set off for the big city.

"My life in Manhattan was supposed to be the complete opposite of my life in Calgary, Alberta. I would be thinner, smarter, happier, hipper. My work would be glamorous, my days and nights filled with excitement and fascinating new friends. I wasn't going to settle for the comfortable routine that had threatened to stifle me in my old hometown." *
Once she settled in New York and adjusted to the pace and attractions she discovered that she brought her old Calgary self all the way to New York. Her new, glamorous New York self wasn't as easy to keep on, no matter how many Prada shoes she purchased. Old insecurities and reservations bombarded her, screeching more loudly than the big city's noise. Her old self doubt and restlessness was getting in the way. She wrestled with old questions about who she really was and what she wanted her life to be like. The answers, just as they did in Calgary, evaded her.

Her frustration continued until she met yogi master Alan Finger. Finger ran a yoga studio in NYC. The studio had many yoga classes and Finger also offered private breathing consultations, that in Repka's case, closely resembled psycho-therapy sessions.

The book, Breathing Space, is broken into chapters that focus on different areas of self growth so the reader can quickly go to a chapter of relevance for themselves. Some of the titles are:

Focus: The power of breath to help you see yourself clearly;
Criticism: The power of breath to erased self-destructive tendencies;
Faith: The power of breath to overcome hesitation and connect with your truth.

As a woman in my thirties, I found Repka's journey especially relevant to my own journey and quest for a fulfilling life. Repka is self effacing and willing to share embarrassing moments and mistakes with her readers but don't be put off by her age. Her explorations, struggles, and victories are common among all women struggling with their identity and for those demanding an enriched life.

When was the last time you smiled and laughed while working out? Try a class for free at Castle Rock Nia Fitness Studio. Visit or call 303-522-4740 to request your coupon for a free Nia class. Nia fitness classes combine yoga and deep breathing into each exercise routine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Learning Natural Movements for Health

The Thirteen Principles of Nia (a 13 part series)
Principle Two: Natural Time and the Movement Forms

"All of your Nia movements are done in your own personal, natural sense of time and include movements and energy from nine clasisic forms." - from the fitness book "The Nia Technique"

Commentary by Julia Desmond,Certified Nia Instructor

Principle Two of Nia contains two different yet interconnected parts. The first is Natural Time and the second is the Movement Forms that influenced the development of Nia.

Natural Time is the concept of honoring the rhythms of nature as opposed to following the current calendar and clock that run most of our lives. Moving in Natural Time is about staying true to yourself. It is a tool to help you get in touch with your body's natural rhythm and the reason for the teacher reminding you to dance in your own way. Once embodied by the student, Natural Time results in the participant dancing their body which in turn leads to feelings of fun and satisfaction during and after a class.

In Nia we use a total of 9 movement forms which fall into 3 categories – Martial Arts, Dance Arts and Healing Arts. Nia incorporates the essence of these various art forms rather than attempting to teach the students how to correctly perform these arts. Nia can change the energy and focus of a single movement by changing the Art Form influencing the movement.

Martial Arts:

Tai Chi – The Slow Dance: Inspired bare foot dancing, heel lead, and mindfulness

Tai Kwon Do – The Dance of Precision: Inspired passion, whole body strength, and voice

Aikido - Harmonious Spherical Motion: Inspired the integration of internal and external energy and the use of spirals

Dance Arts:

Jazz – Fun, Showmanship and Expression - Inspired playfulness, softened the martial arts an added Fun to the technique

Duncan Dance – Spirited, Honest Movement – Inspired natural movement, use of imagery and spontaneity

Modern Dance – Playing With Balance, Shapes and Space – Inspired improvisation, use of balance and creative expression

Healing Arts:

Feldenkrais – The Conscious Feeling of Movement – Inspired slow movement, sensory awareness and the knowledge that the body can be retrained to function more efficiently

Alexander Technique – Movement From the Top: Inspired incorporation of the head in movement and directing the body up and out

Yoga – The Conscious Dance of Alignment: Inspired alignment of the bones, flexibility and breath

Principle 2, Natural Time and the Movement forms, is the foundation of Nia. This principle guides all of our movement and when the two aspects are merged in our bodies we experience the Joy of Movement (Principle 1). The class feels "natural" and we have fun!

Commentary by Allison Frederick, Nia Studio owner/operator

In order to keep up with the rest of the people in exercise classes, most of us feel compelled to carefully study the teacher's technique and copy it perfectly. I know that I sometimes feel flustered if I am not in sync with my fellow exercisers and it isn't unusual to see me facing right when the rest of the room is to their left. Nia exercises are helpful in strengthening a connection between what your ears hear; your brain processes, and then what the brain commands your body to do. This is the foundation of mind/body exercises and scientists tout the benefits of mind/body fitness and activities like dancing and martial arts, which help keep our brains vibrant and ward of deterioration diseases like Alzheimer's and other dementia.

Each Nia exercise builds on the foundation of the previous one. I find that one exercise elongates my spine even more or a following dance move reaches deeper into my hips, really working on any stiffness that lurks in my joints. Closely following a Nia routine will give you the most benefits out of the program because of how thoughtfully the moves are designed to build upon each other.

That being said, a primary tenet of Nia, however, is balance. Nia is like a loose, fluid structure. There is structure but the founders of Nia and Nia teachers encourage each person to find their own rhythm, their own pace, or their own level to exercise at. This is the idea behind Principle Number Two, "Natural Time."

Each of us probably has an area of the body that we feel we need to strengthen. We may have weak knees or, for me, tight muscles in my lower back. No matter how much I stretch, I can't seem to loosen my lower back muscles the way I would like. Every time there are lower back moves that help stretch or stabilize my back during Nia class, I slow down from the pace of the class and really focus on the exercise so that I can get the most out of that particular move. For some of us, Natural Time means speeding up a routine or moving our bodies in larger ways to burn more calories. For others, Natural Time may mean slowing down a move and giving oneself a chance to breathe deeply to help heal some troublesome areas.

To stay connected to Natural Time, stay connected to sensation, an experience which isn’t governed by the clock!”
–Carlos Rosas, co-founder of The Nia Technique

If Nia sounds like something you would like to try, we invite you to take your first Nia class for free. Simply Click Here to receive your coupon. Our Nia fitness classes are offered in Castle Rock, Colorado. Feel free to call us at 303-522-4740 with any questions or visit

Monday, June 1, 2009

Will Exercise Give You Wrinkles?

Exercise increases muscle tone and burns fat which will reduce the look of fatty deposits below the skin but will exercise cause wrinkles or even lead to cancer?

Many people wanting to discredit the health benefits of exercise cite examples of their very athletic friends – the ones who everyone thought was so healthy, ended up developing cancer. Lance Armstrong is a perfect example of someone incredibly fit but who was diagnosed with cancer. How does this happen? Is exercise actually good for you?

Just as many of us are happier when we experience balance in our lives, our bodies are happiest and function best if they are balanced. Eating, exercise, indeed, simply living throw our bodies out of balance. This doesn't seem to make much sense but our bodies are constantly adjusting to our environment on a chemical level. For example, when we breathe, we take in oxygen. Oxygen breaks down in our bodies and combines with other elements to help make our body function properly. The interaction of oxygen in our bodies produces free radicals. You may have heard about free radicals in health reports. It is a charged molecule that isn't attached to anything. It is similar to a remainder in long division, or the "remainder" in the Matrix movies, a remainder molecule in your body is not very functional. In fact, many health experts believe that free radicals are destructive in our bodies and lead to aging, wrinkles, plaque in arteries, and even cancer.

Authors of the health book, "Ultraprevention: A 6-Week Plan that Will Make You Healthy for Life," remind us that oxygen is flammable. It is still flammable when we take it into our bodies. Free radical oxygen can inflame our bodies. The more food we eat and the more we breathe, the more free radicals we produce, so in effect, the faster we age. Exercising, like Nia classes or even yoga exercises that incorporate deep breathing can accelerate our aging process. I don’t know about you but I don’t take that as good news.

Fortunately, for every villain, there is a good guy battling in our best interests. Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants. Antioxidants are making headlines these days with leading heroes like acai juice, green tea, and pomegranate juice. Antioxidants found in our food and some beverages neutralize free radicals. Keeping with the Matrix analogy, antioxidants are the "Mr. Smiths," but in this case, we want Mr. Smith to win.

Renowned nutritional neurology physician, Dr. Dan Murphy, D.C., encourages exercise for overall health but cautions about the free radical imbalance that can occur in those who exercise a lot like athletes, long distant runners, and dancers. So to complement your exercise routine and to reverse the signs of aging, consider taking a quality multi-vitamin, a "green" vegetable drink, or an ounce of pomegranate juice after exercising. Anyone who exercises heavily should have their eating habits and supplements reviewed by an experienced nutritionist to make sure they are maintaining a healthy balance in their body.

Some sources of high antioxidants
Pomegranate juice
Green tea
Olive Oil

Exercising with Nia and eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants are part of an overall health strategy. You can try a Nia class for free. Click here and we will send you a coupon for a free class. Our Nia classes are held in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Busy this Summer? Our Nia Fitness Gym Doesn't Have Monthly Membership Fees

Summer is a time of freedom, sudden plans, projects, and of course – vacations!

Traditional gyms and many fitness studios see a drop in membership during the summer because most of them require a monthly membership fee. Gym memberships are great because you can work out any time but paying for the monthly membership dues when you'll be out of town for vacation or are too busy at work to work out is frustrating.

At Castle Rock Nia Fitness, a new studio in Castle Rock, we understand how busy people are so we offer fitness classes with a pay-as-you-go system. This means you are only paying for workouts you actually participate in. Punch cards are a great way to try a new exercise program to see if you really enjoy it. They are also great for people with busy schedules.

As summer approaches we have the chance to exercise in different ways – pull weeds for example. Our Nia classes are great because they will complement your summer activities. This morning our Nia teacher had the class focus on our spine and each of the exercises were designed to gently move our spines and awaken the core of our bodies. I felt incredibly refreshed after class.
Nia (pronounced 'knee-ah') is a dynamic exercise program that incorporates elements of yoga, martial arts, and dance. While this seems like an unlikely combination, it is actually a fun way to fully stretch your body and move a purposeful way. You don't have to give up your workouts this summer – just make sure you aren't paying for workouts you aren't using.

Would you like to try a class for free? Do you have any questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us. Send us an email.

Or call at 303.522.4740

Nia classes in Castle Rock. Serving the south Denver metro area.