Three Planes of Movement

The Unofficial Guide
to the 13 Nia Principles
~ Practical, Nia-or-Not Applications for EveryBody

(Wondering what the heck the Unofficial Guide is and why I’m writing this series of posts? Click here!)


Principle 7, Part 1 – Three Planes of Movement

(This week’s principle is a big, rich, juicy one so we’ll start off with Part 1 and tomorrow, we’ll get to Part 2.)

Excerpt from the Official Nia Headquarters Description:

Part 1: Three Planes of Movement

The body is designed to build strength by moving as a whole. When we learn to walk, we begin by creeping on the floor, which prepares us to move into crawling, crouching and finally into standing and walking. These actions strengthen our core, upper and lower bodies, limbs, joints and respiratory and nervous systems. Moving through this process is how we develop strong, agile bodies, as well as emotional and mental adaptability. Nia teaches us that in order to maintain our natural movement potential throughout life, we must maintain the ability to move like a child.

This part of Principle 7 encourages you to move your body through three planes of movement along a vertical line: high, middle, and low. The range of motion within each plane is personal and unique to each person.

Unofficial Practical Nia-or-Not Application for EveryBody:

Principle 7 is a two-part principle with a bunch packed into it. Here is my short unofficial take on it:

Part 1 is physical and highly practical no matter what you do with your body…

Increase your strength, your cardiovascular fitness, and your youthfulness by moving your body up and down in relationship to the floor.

Part 2 can also be physical but it applies to non-physical activities, too…

Vary your intensity levels based on your needs (not just the needs of other or the situation) at the moment to create more health, ease, and longevity.

Part 1 of Principle 7: Three Planes of Movement offers a natural, dynamic approach to creating functional physical fitness. By moving your body up and down along the vertical line, you create more strength (especially in the base and the heart) and – super cool bonus! — more youthfulness. This approach is one of the most powerful things we can do and it is one that is often neglected, even by experienced movers.

As adults, we are trained to stay in the middle plane: moving from bed to standing to chair (and car) and back again. Somehow, it’s not dignified to get down low or reach up high. When people peek into a Nia class, one of the comments I often hear is, “Why do you get on the floor?” My answer is always, “Because getting up and down off the floor is one of the best things you can do for your body.” (Cue eyebrow waggling and skeptical face-making from class-peeker.) But it’s true, moving your physical center — your hara (located two inches below your navel) — up and down even a little has tremendous health benefits for bones, muscles, spine, and heart.

Imagine your hara is like an airplane and it leaves a vapor trail behind it as you move through the day. The more up and down that trail goes, the better for your body. So when you drop your towel on the floor, drop your center down to the floor to pick it up. If your child or your pet wants to play, you go down to the floor with them rather than picking them up to sit on the couch with you. If you need something off the top shelf, see if you can reach it instead of asking a taller person to get it for you. Even small variations in the plane that your body travels in can have a huge positive impact.

Don’t take my word for it: do it yourself. Set a timer for 30 seconds and get down and up off the floor as many times as you can and see what your heart rate does! In Nia class, really experiment with taking your hara (not your head but your center point) up and down in relationship with the floor…see how you feel!

Tomorrow, we’ll get into Part 2 which is not just physical but, well, you’ll see. See you then.


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