The Unofficial Guide
to the 13 Nia Principles
~ Practical, Nia-or-Not Applications for EveryBody
(Wondering what on Earth the Unofficial Guide is and why I’m writing this series of posts? Click here!)
Principle 6 – The Base of the Body
Excerpt from the Official Nia Headquarters Description:
Working out in bare feet turned out to be one of the most profound choices we ever made. We discovered the power in our feet, and ultimately, we discovered our foundation: the earth. Being able to sense our bare feet allowed us to ground, to center ourselves and move gracefully, powerfully and efficiently. Shifting our body weight, rather than dropping it, protected the tiny bones in our feet, making them naturally strong and allowing us to safely walk, run, jump and dance through life.
This principle introduces you to the technique of using your feet and legs as a powerful, dynamic and grounded foundation for your whole body. The base of your body includes your feet, ankles, shinbones, knees, thighbones and hip joints. All these parts work together to allow you to walk, run, push, shift, rise, sink, step, stand, kick and dance!
[NOTE: This principle includes details about the foot and leg anatomy as well as the 27 Nia steps, stances and kicks. For details on the Base of the Body, please see The Nia Technique: The High-Powered Energizing Workout that Gives You a New Body and a New Life by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas New York: Broadway, 2004.]
Unofficial Practical Nia-or-Not Application for EveryBody:
I love watching feet. Feet are my favorite spectator sport.
This was not always so.
Before practicing Nia, I thought feet were odd and peculiar and were best snugged up safely in shoes and socks. Once I started dancing on bare feet, though, I was fascinated by what an impact my feet had on my entire experience – physically, mentally and emotionally. And this impact is happening all the time ~ not just in Nia class.
I started by using Principle 5, Awareness, to pay attention to my own base. Whoa. I discovered that I tend to walk heavily (okay, stomp), shuffle a lot (especially going up stairs), roll onto the outside edges of my feet (especially when I’m nervous), lock my knees and cross my legs (all. the. time. right over left.). Then I started watching other people — children, dancers, athletes, people in airports and on city streets, singers, musicians, comics, politicians — to see how they were on their feet and legs.
Here’s what I’ve found after 15 years of foot observation: how relaxed and confident you are is directly connected to how you use your feet and legs. No kidding. It’s that simple. You cannot be relaxed and confident if you aren’t in your feet and legs. (I have a theory that pointe shoes and stiletto heels – beautiful as they might be — were designed to make women less powerful. You might be used to the feeling of high heels and you may feel confident in them but your body cannot be relaxed. They negatively impact your body and put your nervous system is on alert.)
Your feet – how you stand, walk, run, dance on them – affect the alignment and function of your body, your nervous system and your emotions. Don’t take my word for it. Feel it for yourself. Walk through a room on tip toe and then with whole feet or a heel lead. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and then with your heels up or your legs crossed. Stand up to say something at a meeting while pacing back and forth or standing still. The sensations of your whole body will shift by the choices you make with your feet.
Yes, yes, yes, you can find lots of information about the anatomy of your feet and legs (on this blog and on the World Wide Interwebs). You can refer to the Nia Technique book to learn about the way we use the base of the body in Nia. For any activity or sport, there is lots of information available about how best to use your feet and legs. I strongly recommend learning about structure and technique, for sure, it’s good and interesting stuff.
The real power, though, happens when you observe what you do with your own sweet feet. The real juice of Principle 6 is when you use your legs and feet with awareness and through them feel relaxes, supported, grounded and powerful.