Nia Stances

There are 6 stances used in the Nia Technique.  Each of them provides their own benefits and together, they allow the body to relax, root and ground.  Focus on stances to provide power, grace and relaxation throughout your body. (From The Nia Technique by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.  Click here for more information about this book.)

Closed Stance

Closed stance is the smallest two-foot base stance.  Stand with your big toes touching (or as close as is comfortable) and your heels slightly apart so the outside edges of your feet are parallel.  Keep your feet and knees relaxed and the spine vertically dynamic and tall.  Use closed stance for moving with precision off a small base to improve readiness responses. Practice walking a few steps, then stopping in Closed Stance.  Imagine you are a deeply rooted tree.

  • Imagine you are a deeply rooted tree
  • Learn to rest into your Base
  • Stand with the intent to be powerful and still
  • Use closed stance for bringing awareness and self-healing to your everyday standing posture.

Open Stance

Stand on a base that equally supports the left and right sides of your body with your feet parallel and hip width apart (one way to measure this stance is to place your fist sideways between the big toes).  Keep the feet relaxed, toes parallel, and the knees spring-loaded, naturally relaxed, allowing your tailbone to drop and keeping the posture falling up into the sky.  Imagine that you are standing on two railroad tracks.  Use open stance for moving with precision to develop strong balance that uses grounded support from and for the left and right sides of the body.

  • Imagine you’re standing on two railroad tracks
  • Learn to equalize your balance between left and right
  • Stand with the intent to be ready to move
  • Open stance improves hip-joint strength and flexibility, for increased comfort in moving.

“A” Stance

Stand on a base wider than your hips with your feet parallel and your legs creating the shape of a capital letter “A.”  You can measure the appropriate width for your “A” Stance by lowering your shoulders:  they should slide right between your thighs (if your shoulders have to collapse to get between your thighs or if your shoulders don’t touch your thighs, adjust the width of your stance).  Keep knees soft and relaxed.  Breathe deeply and relax into the support.  This stance allows precise, powerful movements with a lower center of gravity and expressive movements using lines and body geometry.

  • Imagine your legs are the letter “A”
  • Stand tall in a wide base
  • Stand with the intent to claim the space
  • “A” stance can self-heal breathing by widening the body base, allowing your nervous system to support relaxed, deep breath.  “A” stance also improves hip flexibility and leg strength, which improves agility and mobility.

Riding (Sumo) Stance

Stand on a base wider than shoulders with your knees slightly bent.  Functionally, riding stance is like the posture a sumo wrestler assumes or like riding a horse.  Practice riding stance with your feet parallel and with your torso upright.  If parallel toes do not feel good to your hips or knees, turn your toes out slightly and gradually work toward parallel feet.  Riding stance generates stability and power by dropping the body’s center close to the earth.

  • Imagine you are riding a horse
  • Learn to release your hip joints, relax the knees and settle into your feet
  • Stand with the intent to balance left and right sides
  • Riding Stance is good for self-healing breathing by triggering a natural deeper
    exhale to support physical effort and for conditioning all the muscles of the
    legs — the foundation that makes it possible for you to move with ease, power
    and grace.


Bow Stance

Stand in Open, “A” or Sumo Stance, then step back onto the ball of one foot.  Step back far enough so you can drop your back knee straight down and align your head, shoulders, hips and back knee in one line.  Maintain your balance by keeping both knees bent and your back heel high.  For increased stability, turn your front toes in and/or step your feet wider apart.  This move builds powerful agility.  As you step back onto the ball of your foot, land and stick crisply.  Return to Open, “A” or Sumo Stance and repeat on the other side.

  • Imagine your back leg like the bow of a bow-and-arrow
  • Learn to remain stable on your front whole foot as you draw your other leg back
  • Stand with the intent to be still in the whole body
  • Practicing Bow Stance is excellent conditioning for walking and for dealing with changes in levels, as you descend and ascend, changing the body’s center of gravity.


Cat Stance

Stand in place, on one foot, and balance yourself as if you were poised to pounce.  Keep the knee and hip joint of your supporting leg soft and spring-loaded, and keep your hips level.  This develops agility for all of the movements that require balancing on one leg.  To support your balance, exhale and engage your hands, especially your power/balance fingers.  Alternate sides.

  • Imagine you are poised to pounce
  • Learn to balance by softening your hip and knee joints
  • Stand with the intent to respond quickly
  • Practicing Cat Stance improves balance, which improves your ability to move at various speeds.
  • Allow yourself to relax into the support under you just as you do in the two-footed stances.


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