Nia on Fingers and Toes (from the Nia White Belt Manual)


Your fingers, like wands, are magical tools. Each one can individually direct and move energy along particular channels called meridians. It is possible to consciously direct energy through each finger.

In Nia, you vary the energy flow through the arm by using all five fingers, either one at a time, or all five together. Moving finger by finger, you wake up the intrinsic muscles inside the hands and arms. Spreading the fingers, creating more space between them, makes the hands more powerful. Opening and closing the webbed spaces between the fingers activates the movement of energy and increases your ability to feel sensation. By visualizing, you can enhance the way you direct energy through the fingers.

Each finger extension represents a unique expression:
• Your Index finger is the desire finger. It naturally points to things you desire. Use the extension of this finger to connect with the deeper desires of your life.
• Your Middle finger is your power finger. Because this finger physically represents the center of your hand, you can use it to increase balance, ground, center and develop a stronger connection between your feet and the ground. In many cultures, this is the finger used to express emotional power or anger. In the martial arts, it is specifically used to increase balance.
• Your Ring finger is the commitment finger. Use it to sense a deeper connection to space, or to follow through and extend your arm movements. As it is located more laterally, it energetically connects you to the outside of your body.
• The Little finger acts like a lateral boundary antenna. Use this finger to balance the movement of your body weight shifting from left to right and to gently stabilize the body in relationship to the ground. It is the earth finger. Like your little toe, it is not meant to bear weight but define boundaries and edges.
• The thumb is your heart finger, the one that gives you direct nourishment and pleasure (think of the baby sucking her thumb). Use it to nurture your movement, to tightly hold onto and grasp that which makes you feel save and loved. In Nia, we use the thumb like a rudder, to direct the rotation of the spiraling motion of the forearm bones and to navigate movement of the hand and arm.

Middle / Index Crossing

Placing certain fingers over and under one another helps direct energy along the arm bones in a way that protects the elbow joint. By crossing your middle finger over your index, you increase arm power and further extend the flow of energy along the bones. Use this cross-over technique and notice the safety created for the elbow and shoulder joint, the relaxation in the shoulder joint, and the centering sensation. Feel the precision and extension that this finger motion provides.

Middle / Ring Crossing

Place your middle finger, the power finger, over your ring finger. Now, move your hand and arm. This technique protects the shoulder girdle. It will also bring a deep sensation along the underside of the arm. Notice the difference between the middle finger and ring finger positions in relationship to arm movement and the extension of energy.


The toes are the fingers the touch the earth. Wearing shoes may lead to thinking of all toes as one piece but each is constantly adjusting and moving as we move. For example, as we take a step forward, the first 3 toes push off to move us forward and the last 2 toes keep us stable and balanced. Imagine your toes lengthening all the way into the arch of the foot to the 7 “stone bones” of the foot, called tarsals. Practice standing on one foot and notice the constant adjustments that the toes make to keep you balanced – it’s a toe dance!


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