A WORLDWIDE fitness and dance technique which started in the US has reached Nelson Mandela Bay through the first instructor in the area, Lilly Ramnath.
The Nia dance and fitness technique was brought to South Africa nearly 10 years ago by American-born Kathy Wolstenholme who will be hosting two Nia workshops in Bluewater Bay this weekend.
Ramnath said Nia consisted of various exercise routines which combined to form one "holistic and grounding" routine.
"Nia is a fusion of healing fitness, healing dance and healing martial arts routines. It is a body and mind routine. When we start the class, we remove our shoes to connect to the ground directly and we wear flowing clothes so as not to restrict our movements.
"We start off with martial arts movements in the same way tai chi, aikido and tae kwon do to speed up the heart rate.
"During the class there is also a period of free movement where students are given the space to dance and move as their body and they please.
"For the cooling down section we use and incorporate yoga movements," she said.
The different Nia grades – white, blue, brown and black belts – are achieved when an individual takes intensive courses or training to become a teacher. Ramnath said before she began the course, she had her doubts about the dance technique.
"I would really say that Nia finds you. For five years before I actually did Nia, I would spot the adverts in the paper or magazines and I wasn't convinced. It seemed like everywhere I went I kept seeing it over and over again.
"One day I saw another advert and went onto the internet. I researched it and was quite impressed. Then, through sheer coincidence, we went to Cape Town and I thought: 'Why not?' and went to one of the studios.
"It was a life- changing class I attended. I feel that, through Nia, I have been reborn because I bring the principles of Nia into my life and it has made me more confident. I am not scared of taking on any challenges," the white belt instructor said.
Ramnath said there were no previous requirements needed to start a Nia class.
"I have found there are more women doing Nia.
"However, the classes are completely unisex and cater for everyone. There are no criteria to be met, you can just step into the room and build an awareness of your body and mind."