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I had the great pleasure of first meeting & dancing Nia with Ann in the UK in 2009. Since then I have trained with Ann at Nia HQ in Portland for my Brown and Black Belts. For me Ann is an incredible teacher, master trainer and mentor. Experiencing Nia with Ann is for me a profound experience. I am inspired by her precision, dedication, enthusiasm and pure love for the art form which is the Nia practice. Whenever I dance Nia with Ann I feel completely in safe hands, a master who teaches everything with ease and freshness. Ann’s teaching takes me to new levels, expanding my knowledge and my potential beyond anything I had felt was possible. Ann compassion and heartfelt support encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and be the best I can be. I am honored to have trained with Ann and to share a deep passion for the work of Nia. I highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to dance Nia and train with Ann Christiansen, go for it, step in! It will be an incredible gift for your body, mind, spirit and LIFE!
Deep gratitude to Ann for her continued support and love and for sharing her wisdom with me, I am thrilled to share with you this exclusive interview with Ann Christiansen, the 2012 Sacred Athlete.
“For me, Nia is an exhilarating culmination of the joys I have pursued throughout my life – movement, music, healing, world cultures and connecting to humanity. Nia has given me the opportunity to fulfill my life’s purpose as a Sacred Athlete and guide to healing. As a Nia teacher and trainer, I inspire people all over the world to enhance their life experience with Music, Movement and Magic. Nia invites everybody to love and accept themselves fully, and to develop their full potential.” ~ Ann Christiansen
Bio ~ Ann Christiansen
My path to becoming a Nia trainer can be traced back to my early passion for swimming. Growing up on the west coast of Sweden, I spent entire days playing in the ocean, enjoying a sense of comfort and delight in my body and oneness with the world. My dedication to swimming opened doors to travel, adventure, and deep appreciation for athleticism and the human body.
In 1984, I had the honor of swimming in the Los Angeles Olympic Games and in the European & World Championships. In 1998 I became a World Champion in masters swimming in the 400 and 800 freestyle, and in the 400 IM.
Following the 1984 Olympics, I enjoyed a modeling career that took me around the world to Paris, Milan, Zürich, Hamburg and Tokyo. I lived in Tokyo for five years, from 1987-1992 and I taught swimming, wrote four books on swimming techniques and hosted a weekly TV show.
After returning to Europe, I began to study applied kinesiology, massage therapy and alternative healing techniques covering subjects like sound therapy, 7-Chi.keys, chakra balancing, and nutritional kinesiology to mention a few. I also had a ten year career as a physical therapist, serving on the staff of the Swedish National Swim Team between 1996-1997.
Little did I know that my Olympic swimming career and subsequent study of kinesiology, physiology, and energy healing would all be excellent preparation for my first encounter with Nia! I experienced my first Nia class in 1997. I did not know what to expect, but I immediately sensed a fusion of all of my learning and interests up until this point. The intelligence and depth with which The Nia Technique connects body, mind, emotions and spirit felt amazing. I knew I wanted to dive in. The following year I experienced the life-changing Nia White Belt Intensive, and immediately began teaching.
My vision was to share and grow Nia in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and throughout Europe. Though I had no previous experience leading group activities of this kind I was excited to guide people in a class where they could be seduced by the music, and to experience physical fitness with emotional expression. The beauty of Nia is that it conditions your whole being – not just your body.
In 2001 I received my Nia Black Belt, and in 2003 I became a Nia Trainer. I am now certified to teach all five belt levels of the Nia educational system: White, Green, Blue, Brown and Black. In 2008 the Nia co-founders, Debbie Rosas and Carlos Aya Rosas selected me as the first Nia Teacher of the Year. I currently share the magic of Nia with communities worldwide, offering Nia Intensive Trainings and classes in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, UK, Italy, Australia, and Bahrain.
1) How did you first discover Nia?
Through a friend of mine in 1997, Isabella. She invited me to a class in Stockholm. She found Nia during an IDEA fitness conference in America in 1996 and brought it to Sweden. My first class was a special experience, I don’t remember liking the music very much, the room was quite cold and yet the movements had an impact on my whole being. I sensed something very special through my feet dancing barefoot and being allowed to repeat the movements enough time to get into sensation, it was intriguing and I knew I had to come back for more and find out what Nia is about!
2) What are the benefits of Nia?
Oh, there are so many for me. It started with the physical sensations of connecting to my body and the endless possibilities to enhance pleasure and well-being through the design of the workout. The chemistry of the 9 movement forms, the joy, plus my discovery of my own dance, my own personal expression in the moves. Now I know more about all these benefits and over the years Nia´s language has given me more and more access to learn about The Body’s Way. To move the way the body is designed and then to add what we call “your Body’s Way” each student is encourage to bring in their own expression and to adapt the movement. This enhances awareness and the ability to move safely and to condition the body. Nia also conditions us holistically, not only does the body get trained, the mind, the emotions and the spirit as well. How it works? In the class experience the students are invited to move, to sense, and then to enhance the experience in a multidimensional way using so called “pearls” words that are crafted by the teacher so that the movement comes alive! I get to “reach for the clouds” to enhance my flexibility and balance. I get to express “joy” to move emotional energy that conditions and shapes my arms. I get to “express Jazz-energy” so my Spirit can play and have fun. All this can enhance my overall awareness and my nervous system ability to adapt. In Nia our slogan is “Through Movement We Find Health” this allows me to take the practice into daily life, stay connected to sensation and enhance pleasure of living in my body. All this can happen while taking regular Nia classes and if there is a wish for more Nia offers educational programs like the White-Belt Intensive or the 52 Moves training that teaches Nia’s basic moves.
3) Do you think that being an athlete has helped your Nia practice?
Maybe, I love to move and the knowledge I bring with me from having trained and conditioned my body in many different ways may influence the way I move and dance Nia. I was not very grounded in my feet when starting with Nia it was all new to me to be up on land , not swimming, and to find grounding and stability in my posture.
4) By dancing Nia how has that changed your life?
It has become my livelihood now, the first 5 years with Nia it was an extra added to my two other careers and jobs. After running 10-13 classes per week and many workshops I could take the step and the risk to offer the intensive trainings and do Nia full time. It has changed the way I move, the way I now can meet like-minded people all over the world.
5) If you could describe Nia using only 3 words what would they be?
Music, Movement, Magic
6) Who or what has inspired your practice, your journey?
The first introduction came from my dear friend Isabella. I continue to become inspired every day by the people I meet and who take my classes and intensives. The founders of Nia have always kept my motivation and inspiration alive. It seems to have no end and I continue to become inspired by the music and how the movements develop and refine themselves. With the years of practice I can choose and find joy in all I do.
7) Any tips for someone new to Nia?
New to Nia! The program is design so that anybody can join at any stage of their lives, young-old fit or not yet fit, people who search for “something” that includes dance, fitness, simple choreography and expressive movements. When new, I recommend to keep coming to class and feel no pressure to get it “right”. The integration and coordination will be trained and one can experience moments of growth and new skills developing for many many years.
8) What is the biggest misconception about Nia?
I don’t know, maybe someone who has not yet been in a full class from beginning to end to feel it´s complete effect can have a misconception that it is “to slow” or we just run around in a circle and laugh, that that is not “fitness” or training. It depends what one has seen or heard. Today there are so many good you-tube clips around that explains what Nia is. I have myself produced several movies together with a professional movie-maker to illustrate what Nia is and to prevent misconceptions.
Watch Ann dance Nia
Nia is not emotional therapy, Nia is fusion fitness and yes we use emotional expression to condition the body and this can feel like it works therapeutically. People generally feel this alchemy after the first minutes of the class, and the feeling afterwards is that energy has moved and I can say “I feel better”. We connect this with the concept of becoming body literate, connected to sensation and the persons ability to sense life-force. Our first Principle is “Joy of Movement” and this is present in every Nia class.
9) What do you love about Nia?
The elegant blend of Form and Freedom, the invitation to Stimulate Movement Creativity, the intelligence and philosophy behind Nia, how it developed out of a desire to create sometime based on love and joy for the body, that our door is open for everyone who wants to come and join in.
10) What are you working on right now, what’s next for you?
I am at the moment assisting and giving my input to the White Belt manual and material that is being revamped and updated. I just finished a White and Green Belt in Switzerland. This weekend I will go to two German cities to promote Nia sharing a Nia class in Lpüneburg and Kiel and teach my lovely Saturday and Sunday morning classes here in Hamburg. I am learning new Nia routines! Next week I will be in Portland , USA for more training with Debbie Rosas (Co-Creator of Nia) and the first training called “The Body’s Way” at Nia Headquarters.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Ann for sharing her inspiration & knowledge with us. Please click here to see behind the scenes at a Nia Training with Ann and Debbie Rosas (Co-Creator & Founder of Nia). To experience a Nia Class experience and /or Nia Training with Ann Christiansen please click here.
Dancing has been part of Tracey’s life since the age of 3 years. Tracey left home at 16 years to attend the Northern Ballet School in Manchester, England. After extensive classical training Tracey graduated & danced professionally for a number of years. Tracey now has almost 2 decades of teaching experience, traveling extensively worldwide. In 2007 Tracey discovered Nia, a path that would change her life forever. Tracey is trained by the Co-Creators of Nia, Debbie Rosas & Carlos Rosas as well as International Master Trainers Helen Terry & Ann Christiansen. Now based in Hong Kong, Tracey has been instrumental in introducing the Nia Technique to the city, and is currently the only Certified Nia Black Belt in Hong Kong. Tracey is the Founder and Artistic Director of Nia Hong Kong and facilitates transformational Nia class experiences, workshops, & retreats around the planet at renowned yoga conferences, academies for performing arts, multi award winning health resorts & destination spas, creating a sacred space for her knowledge & wisdom to inspire others.
Website: Nia Hong Kong
Facebook: Nia Hong Kong
Twitter: Tracey @ Niahongkong