Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Nia and Tai Chi

Posted by terrepruitt on September 26, 2009

A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.  

From the martial arts, we use moves from T’ai chi.  Actually it is not just “moves” from Tai Chi but also some of the “ideals” from Tai Chi.  Nia calls Tai Chi “The Slow Dance”.*  Tai Chi allows for the elements of grace, ease, precision, power, and lightness to be accessed and brought in to our dance that is our workout. 

So while we do not do the sequences of postures that form a Tai Chi routine or exercise we might have some of the Tai Chi moves incorporated into a routine.  And/or we might take a portion of the routine and execute it “Tai Chi like”, moving slow and graceful.  Being mindful of our movements and moving from the feet with relaxed joints establishing that fluid Tai Chi like flow.  We might also incorporate circular movements and shift our weight to assist in balance, all the while sensing the gentle flow of chi. 

Some things we do in class to assist us in moving “Tai Chi like” is leading with our heels when we step, using our eyes to allow for our head to be included in our movement, keeping our joints open and soft, focusing on moving from our energy center, using our breath to generate power and support for movement, and moving systemically.** 

Hopefully this post will serve to address some of the inquires about the aspect of Tai Chi in Nia. This will give you an idea of how Tai Chi is brought into Nia. 

I love to watch the people in the parks of San Jose doing Tai Chi.  I actually see them all over the Bay Area.  In Nia we don’t “DO” Tai Chi, we glean from it and allow what we’ve gleaned to mix with aspects of Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the teachings from Feldenkrais.  It is all combined to be Nia.

*Both the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual state this.  Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

**V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual

12 Responses to “Nia and Tai Chi”

  1. Alex said

    Good post Terre.


  2. Oh, I so envy you living where you get to see parks full of people doing Tai Chi. How glorious that must be.

    Thanks for this post Terre. I love the Tai Chi-like aspect of Nia. You mentioned the heel lead…so very important in Nia and one that is so foreign to some folks. I see so many people stepping forward in class and instead of leading with the heel they put the ball of their foot down first…in some instances this is okay obviously — especially when the direction is to step onto the ball of the foot!!! (ha ha). However, I find that when I do that (step on to the ball of the foot rather than leading with the heel) I have a very unbalanced sensation.

    Thanks for this reminder. Also I believe that the whole essence of doing Nia barefoot comes from the Tai Chi aspect.

    Love your blogs!!!



    • Well, Jill it would be a sight to see if the parks were FULL of people doing Tai Chi. (That made me laugh because I pictured it and I was shocked because I had not actually seen that.) I see a few people. I remember when I was young a man used to do it at the bus stop. Then . . . I thought he was crazy. Now I think back and I have a great admiration for him.

      I think that we could benefit from “heel lead” in our everyday walking, yes? And thank you for mentioning that not ALL moves we do in Nia are heel lead, but when we do them we are doing them for a reason. Balance, flexibility, stability . . .

      The book did mention bare feet in the Tai Chi section, but I was thinking the barefeet could be tied to all the martial arts, and the Yoga and also Duncan Dance, right. It is all done bare foot. Even thought the driving force might have been Tai Chi.

      I love your blogs too. I love the way you express yourself.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. It is always so great to receive a comment from you because you add so much to the post!


  3. Michele said

    Yes – very interesting, thanks Terre!


  4. Tina Kiely said

    I have been taking the 24 forms for 5 years now and when I stumbled onto Nia that combined dance, Tai Chi and the other art forms. I was in seventh heaven, it was like the big O. I was so ecstatic! Tai Chi has cured my chronic back pain, opened up my hips and wow! Then I love to dance and I hadn’t danced for years! So, as an instructor, I’ve been Niafying my Tai Chi moves just for the fun of it and it’s been quiet beneficial. Rosas are genius!


    • Tina Kiely said

      P.S. Thanks for helping me increase my vocabulary.

      glean! Terre, I learn so much from you!


    • So Tai Chi has helped with your back pain? Awesome. Did you practice Tai Chi before you found Nia? I have come to respect a lot of the mind-body practices out there.

      I really like the body-mind aspect of Nia. I like that it is based largely on science and the body, so people that aren’t “into” mind-body stuff can still enjoy Nia.


  5. I like to dance (latino style and whatever) and I also practice qigong and tai chi. So, I am wondering if there are any YouTube videos that illustrate nia in combination with these arts. I really am interested in finding out more. I live in Costa Rica and this is not, as far as I know, practiced here. It may be a great way of increasing interest in classes.


    • Hello there. Thenk you for reading and commenting.

      There are a lot of Nia videos on You Tube, in fact, a few of them are on my website Nia videos on HelpYouWell.com (click here) Nia is not done in combination with these arts, Nia IS a combination of these arts. My post, The Nine Basic Movements Forms of Nia touches on this information. My blog is full of post about Nia. My website has information about Nia. You can purchase the Nia Technique book through a link on my site. There is so much information about Nia out there I am sure you can find it. Plus there is always me . . . just ask. I love to share what I know about Nia and I am learning more all the time!

      And I think you are right. I do not see any Nia classes listed in Costa Rica, but sometimes they are not listed on the main site. It could be that they are being taught, but you would have to ask around to find them. I do have a friend that does an annual retreat in Costa Rica. http://www.journeyforjoy.net/3.html In 2012 it is going to be in April. It is at the Luna Lodge adjacent to Corcovado National Park.

      Again, thank you for visiting!


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