Posts Tagged ‘yoga poses’
Posted by terrepruitt on February 23, 2013
Just as there are specific moves in Nia (Nia’s 52 Moves), there are different asanas or poses in yoga. There is an asana (pose) in yoga that is standing still, but it is called Mountain Pose. In Sanskrit, what I think of as the language of yoga, it is Tadasana. While this pose is a still pose and the body is standing erect, it is an active pose. The body is not just upright and relaxed, there are muscles engaged and energy moving. It is more than likely that there is no straining involved and one might look relaxed and even feel relaxed yet there is more than just standing there happening. Mountain Pose is an active pose often used as a transitional pose. Yet can stand on its own, no pun intended.
In Tadasana toes touch and feet are parallel. Of course, as with many things, there are many variations, and people have their own way of doing them. In this post in the pose our toes touch, feet are parallel forming a stable base. For some the heels might need to be fanned out a bit or feet may need to be separate. The goal is to have a stable base so adjust the feet as necessary in order to ensure stability. One way to assist with stability is to relax your feet allowing the toes to spread. Imagine your feet becoming wide and open. The feet do not grip the earth, they spread out. Weight is evenly distributed. Take time to sense all points of the feet.
The ankle joints remain open. The shins and calves are rooted into the floor. The knees are not locked, yet they sense stability because the quadriceps are reaching up lifting the knee caps. The thighs are turned ever-so-slightly in. The buttocks are lifted yet there is no arching in the lower back. The belly (abdominals) are engaged. The spine is long.
With the crown of your head reach for the sky, lengthening the entire back. Keep the chin parallel to the earth and your head in alignment with your chest, hips, knees, and feet. Shoulders are gently pulled back with shoulder blades down, the chest does not stick out, yet the sternum is presented up allowing the collar bones to open wide. Arms are along the side of the body, not hanging, not touching the body, not rigid, but active. Hands are active with fingers gently fanned open.
Energy is moving up allowing for the lengthening of the entire body, yet there is a sense of being rooted and stable. As I mentioned this pose is often used as a transition. You might see it performed in between standing poses. It is perfect to reset the body in order to correctly move into another position. It can also be used as a resting pose. Even though it is an active pose, it still can be a rest for the body.
As you can tell, if you got up to try it, this is not a passive pose. There is a lot of muscle engagement, so maybe you can see why this pose could be practiced on it’s own and not just used as a transition. It is not just standing still, it is a strong, stable pose, like a mountain.
So if you didn’t already do it, are you ready? Get up and try it!
Posted in PiYo | Tagged: active pose, asanas, Mountain pose, Nia, Nia's 52 Moves, PiYo, poses, sanskrit, standing still, Tadasana, Yoga and Pilates, yoga poses | Leave a Comment »
Posted by terrepruitt on March 17, 2012
When I was younger I remember many people saying that “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go”. Maybe you have heard that. I still hear people say that. Back when I was young I don’t think a lot of thought was given to that statement. I know I didn’t think about it much, I just had heard it so often I believed it was true. At one point in my life back then I considered myself to “have a bad back”. Being in so much pain once I found myself at a chiropractor. This was all a very long time ago so I don’t remember all the details. I guess they did SOMETHING to make me feel better because I left and must have felt ok. But before I left he prescribed something outrageous like I would need to visit him three or four times a week in order to take care of it. Again, fuzzy on the details, but I know I never went back to that guy. I do remember having medical insurance at the time that would pay for a portion of my visits if I visited a doctor on their list. So, I found one, I believe he was on the verge of retiring and was not interested in seeing people more than he really felt was necessary and he did not think I needed to be seen more than once a week. But I do remember that by the time my next appointment came around I was ready. I think my issue was, and still is, stress or tension. I don’t have a “bad back”. I hold my stress in my upper back. Well, after I had seen a chiropractor I came to believe the saying “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go” is true. It is because that once you go and you get relief then you always want to feel that good so you “have to go”. But now I also know that there are a lot of things we can do ourselves to either bring relief or make sure we don’t get in a state where we need it in the first place.
One of the things I was doing back then was holding the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder when talking on the phone. I worked in the mortgage business and like many businesses when you get a phone call you don’t stop working, you keep working because you are having to look at information while talking. After I had been to the doctor I decided I was not going to hold the phone like that any longer and every place I worked after that I got a headset. Ever since then I’ve had had headsets for my home phone, too. That ONE thing alone brought HUGE changes in my back. I never hold the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder.
But occasionally I still allow the tension to rest in my back. I have been fortunate enough to have someone help me with my back when she is available, but she is not always available and so I try to work on it myself. As I said, I believe a lot of it is making sure we don’t allow our bodies to get into a state where it needs work, but that is not always possible, but there are still things we can do. If you have read a few of my posts you know I have a tendency to scrunch my shoulders up towards my ears. That is a major thing that causes my back to hurt, so I really work on keeping my shoulders down. Also, I work at sitting up straight, which is not easy for me because I like to sit on a leg folded under me.
Aside from plain ol’ not doing things that cause issues I have been doing some things that tend to help my back by keeping the muscles loose and the vertebrae lengthened and relaxed. Often the floorplay in Nia helps with keeping my back loose, but the Nia routine that I have been doing the past few weeks does not have that type of floorplay in it so I am doing other things. My old friend the Downward Facing Dog is a great help for opening the back and releasing the spine. Doing the Downward Facing Dog at least a dozen times as part of a sequence is a great help in keeping my back loose.
Also the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana), which I mentioned in my Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence post. When stretching the crown of the head out and over it really does a great job of creating space in the spine. Since my discomfort seems to manifest in my upper back, moves or poses that have me hanging over do a fantastic job of opening my cervical and thoracic spine.
Another “hanging” pose that I feel does a nice job of relaxing my joints and muscles is the simple fold. Just folding over and letting the body hang. Either the ragdoll or the forward fold. Doing both types of hangs, with a relaxed back and a straight back, works to create the sensation that I want – space, space, space, and more space in my spine. The space in my spine helps to relax the muscles that hold the tension.
As I was doing some side bends today, I actually heard my back crack. On each side I heard it crack. While I am not a fan of hearing my body snap, crackle, and pop, I take my back making that noise as the vertebrae getting back into place. When I can move my bones back into place and not have someone else do it, that makes me happy. It is what I have come to think of as self-healing. One of the side bends I have been doing consist of bending to the side while holding my arms over my head with my hands clasps. The other is holding my wrist as I bend.
So I am excited that I am working on my back myself. I have to say that I have not had back pain, tension, or even discomfort in the last two weeks. Yay. I know that I am not the only one that holds stress and tension in the back. So I was hoping sharing some of the things I have been doing to give me relief might help you too.
Do you have issues with your back? Do you hold stress in your back? What do you do to bring yourself and your back relief from your discomfort?
Posted in Nia | Tagged: back pain, back pain relief, back stress, back tension, bad back, chiropractor, Downward-Facing Dog, hanging poses, Nia, Nia floorplay, Nia routines, pyramid pose/intense stretch, yoga poses, yoga sequences | 8 Comments »
Posted by terrepruitt on March 15, 2012
While Nia is not yoga nor is it a yoga class we do borrow from Yoga. We borrow some of the ideas and sometimes some of the poses. In one of the Nia routines we do the Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II). We do it both static where we just rest into it and we move in it, we bend our bent leg more and sink into it and come up. Then we do the Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), then a version of the lunge, which depending upon your body could be a variation of the Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or the High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or the Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) – all without the backbend. Then we straighten our leg into the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana). With these poses we are using a lot of muscles. The muscles can be challenged in strength, stability, and/or flexibility. It all depends are your body at that moment.
When we do the Warrior II pose in this Nia routine the arms are extended out to the sides, opposite from each other, the hips, torso, chest, and shoulders are facing the mirror/front, while one of the legs is bent at a 90 degree angle and the foot is in line with the arm. The other leg is straight and the foot is slightly turned with the toes pointed toward the body and the heel pointed away. Of course participants have the option of having the foot at a right angle, but for this dance it is led with a slight angle. Even with that slight variation it is working the glutes (all of them), the thigh muscles: inner, outer, hamstrings, and the quadriceps, and your calf muscles. And for some, like me, who have a habit of scrunching the shoulders, it works the rhomboids while holding up the arms and keeping the shoulder blades down and pulled back. This is true for many yoga poses, that is why it is so great for encouraging straight posture.
Then for our Extended Side Angle Pose the arm, on the same side as the bent leg, is lowered, forearm to the thigh, the opposite arm is raised towards the sky and extended to a position that puts the arm next to the ear. There are options to stay in this modified Extended Side Angle or to move to another modification by removing the forearm from the thigh and placing that hand on the earth next to the inside arch of the foot. With this pose the primary work is in the bent leg. It is another pose that works the hamstrings and thigh muscles. Through the back of the straight leg and all along that side of the body there is a wonderful stretch, which is greater and more wonderful the better the body is as keeping the shoulder blades down and the back straight (not leaning forward).
We then move into a lunge with many options. As with all movements in Nia the responsibility falls on the participant to decide what it is their body is able to do and needs to do at that moment. We start off by placing the hands on the ground and straightening the foot on the leg that was straight in the Extended Side Angle Pose to be parallel with the foot on the bent leg. Then gently bring the back leg down resting the knee on the ground. As I said, many options so many places to go from here. One can stay here in Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or do a moving lunge by moving up and down, or go to High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or come into an extended Warrior Pose I (Virabhadrasana I) with the arms up but with a parallel back foot and a straight back. Here the body receives the benefit of a lunge no matter which one the body does. If doing the extended Warrior Pose I like pose, the glutes and thigh of the bent leg are getting a great deal of work, while the straight leg’s foot parallel to the other foot results in a slight change in the muscles being worked and stretched than with the angled foot position of a traditional Warrior I. The inner thigh gets less work while the work and stretch shifts almost entirely to the back of the leg, the hamstrings and calf. The arms extended up in the extended Warrior Pose I allows for work in the spinal extensors, deltoids, lats, and traps . . . . basically a lot of muscles in the back, including the ones that keep your shoulders down. With the crown of the head reaching towards the sky abs get a stretch too.
Moving from whichever lunge was done to the pyramid where the bent leg is straightened and the crown of the head is reaching over the leg while back is straight and chest is on or close to the straight leg. Of course, variations are offered and participants do what is right for their body to remain in the sensation of Joy. With this pose the sensation experienced is a great stretch. The leg to which the head/chest is close to get the largest stretch in the back. If the body is active with the leg and working to keep the knee cap up then the quadriceps will be engaged. The spine gets a nice stretch because the crown of the head is being reach over and down. The back leg might also feel a stretch in the hamstrings if the body is like many people’s and has tight hamstrings.
This is a small yoga-like sequence that we do as part of the cool down cycle of one of the Nia routines. Again, since Nia is not a Yoga class there are many options and variations that are offered that might not be part of a yoga class teaching strictly yoga. With all classes whether it be Nia, Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise, whatever, the goal should be to give your body what it needs at that time. Bodies are constantly changing so the needs do too. The idea is not to force the body into a pose, but to allow the muscles and bones to sink into the pose, finding strength and flexibility along with openness in the joints and that constant sensation of Joy. This is a little review of movements that are Yoga or are very similar to Yoga, to explain some of the muscles we use in Nia.
Can you see how Nia can improve strength, stability, and flexibility?
Posted in Muscles, Nia | Tagged: back muscles, butt muscles, Extended Side Agnle Pose, Jazzercise, lunge, Nia, Nia class, Nia Moves, Nia routines, Pyramid, thigh muscles, Warrior I, Warrior II, Yoga, Yoga class, yoga poses, yoga sequence, Zumba | 2 Comments »
Posted by terrepruitt on November 28, 2009
As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the martial arts, we borrow from Tae Kwon Do. Not just “moves” from Tae Kwon Do but also some of the other elements of it. With its kicks, punches, blocks, and stances it helps allow Nia to be a great leg workout and provide a stable base for some of our other moves. Tae Kwon Do can also contribute to one’s confidence by providing exercises that allow one to become strong and stable. These are the things Nia gains from Tae Kwon Do.
Nia calls Tae Kwon Do the Dance of Precision.* So when delivering a punch, block, kick, etc. with the energy of Tae Kwon Do, it is done with precision and intent. However, Nia likes to play so at times even though we might not be executing a punch or a kick, but we might choose to energize our movement with “Tae Kwon Do” like energy, and be forceful and aggressive even adding sound to our movement.
Adding the energy of one form to the moves of another is one of the things that make Nia fun and keeps is challenging. It takes different muscles to skip with force and authority than to skip like a child without a care in the world. That is an example of how Nia incorporates different moves with different energies.
In Nia we don’t “DO” Tae Kwon Do, things have been gleaned from it and brought into Nia and mixed in with aspects of Tai Chi, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the teachings from Feldenkrais, and the combination from each form is Nia. A lot of Nia routines include moves and concepts from each discipline, but not always. In an effort to keep each workout fresh, fun, and joyful teachers often mix things up.
If you are near San Jose, come to one of my Nia classes. If not, I hope that you will find a Nia class near you and give Nia try.
*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
Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: Aikido, Carlos Rosas, Dance of Precision, Debbie Rosas, disciplines, Duncan Dance, exercise class, exercise classes, Feldenkrais, Jazz Dance, joyful, leg workout, martial arts, Martial Arts Disciplines, mind, modern dance, movement, movement class, Nia, Nia Classes, Nia Movement, Nia Practice, Nia San Jose, Nia Teacher, Nia Technique, Nia White Belt, Nia workout, Nia Yoga, San Jose Nia, San Jose Yoga, sounding, T'ai chi San Jose, Tae kwon do, Tae kwon do San Jose, Tai Chi, the Alexander Technique, White Belt, White Belt Manual, workout class, Yoga, yoga classes, Yoga Exercise, Yoga Nia, yoga poses, yoga pracitce, Yoga San Jose, Yoga workout | 4 Comments »
Posted by terrepruitt on October 3, 2009
A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.
From the healing arts, we use moves and ideals from Yoga. As with all the movement forms incorporated into Nia, Nia does not claim to be practicing Yoga. It is understood that years of studying and practice can be involved in the practice of Yoga, and Nia respects that, that is why I say that we “use move and ideals”. Nia recognizes the benefits that can result from Yoga and with that does its best to utilize some of its amazing power. Nia calls Yoga “The Conscious Dance of Alignment”.* It helps with the proper alignment of the bones. It also assists in increasing flexibility for all fitness levels.
We use the aspects of Yoga to help find balance in the body. In Nia we can also call upon the focus that is evident in Yoga.
The White Belt Manual 3/2001 V3 states:
Witness the value this form provides to increasing and restoring the natural flow of energy throughout the entire body. Recognize the specific principles that help to clear and calm the mind, bring balance to the nervous system, improve breath and posturing, and strengthen specific body parts. Acknowledge the way Yoga unifies the body, mind, spirit, and emotional being, and how the internal, core body becomes soft and supple to provide real “energy” strength from the inside out.
So we might do some exercises of twists, bends, and poses in our workout, it is to help increase strength, flexibility, alignment and our conscious connection.
The breathing in Nia reminds me more of Pilates than to Yoga. We inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, often times sounding. I have not participated in a Yoga class that does chanting or is vocal so that is why I am reminded more of Pilates than Yoga.
Many of Nia’s teachers are also Yoga instructors or they attend Yoga classes. I sometimes attend a Yoga class in San Jose. The two forms of movement are a great compliment to each other.
***V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas
Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: Carlos Rosas, Debbie Rosas, exercise class, movement class, Nia, Nia Classes, Nia Movement, Nia Practice, Nia San Jose, Nia Teacher, Nia Technique, Nia White Belt, Nia workout, Nia Yoga, Pilates, Pilates breathing, Pilates class, Pilates San Jose, San Jose Nia, San Jose Yoga, sounding, White Belt, White Belt Manual, workout class, Yoga, Yoga chanting, yoga classes, Yoga Exercies, Yoga exercises, yoga instructor, Yoga Nia, yoga poses, yoga pracitce, Yoga San Jose, yoga stretches, yoga teacher, Yoga workout | 2 Comments »
Posted by terrepruitt on September 12, 2009
I have only taken two yoga classes. One was this evening and throughout the entire class, while the teacher was instructing I kept thinking, “Oh that is so Nia. Oh this is so Nia. . . . . .Oh THAT is so Nia.” Even though earlier in the class I realized that maybe Nia was “so Yoga”.
Yoga was first. It has been around for thousands of years. For some it is rooted in religion, where as Nia has been around for 25 years and is rooted in the body. I just couldn’t help thinking that this yoga class was so like a Nia class, except much slower. Slower, in the sense that in this class the movement wass not to the music, but to the breath. There was no rhythmic quality to the movement, just the flow of your breath. Every once in awhile I would hear the music and to start sway to it and realize that I was supposed to be holding a pose so I would stop my body from moving but my spirit continued to boogey away.
This yoga class is about joy in yoga, allowing for another comparison, comparing to the first principle of the Nia White Belt which is the Joy of Movement. The Joy of movement is actually found as a sensation and not a feeling. In Nia it is something that is sensed in the body and not felts as an emotion.
The teacher started the class with the suggestion that you set an intention. I actually wiggled with happiness at this because in every Nia class we set a focus and an intent (in cycle one).
This yoga class made me realize why so many people that practice yoga also practice Nia because there are many things in common. In yoga there are poses that open areas of the body, in Nia we have movements and poses that open the body and get the joints juicy. Yoga has muscle strengtheners and ligaments and tendon lengtheners and so does Nia. But with yoga it is a pose and in Nia it is primarily movements linked together in a more cardio-dance fashion. In the cool down we do poses or stretches and sometimes there are yoga poses. It just amazed me how similar they were. With the request of awareness that the teacher was giving during the ending meditation, something that we request during the entire Nia workout, I was extremely delighted to realize that yoga and Nia aren’t competing practices, but companion practices. They are so similar that you can apply a lot of the principles to both. You can have a non-impact booty shaking cardio and strength workout (Nia) that you balance with the complete stretching and strength workout (yoga).
I truly was amazed at how Nia has taken so much of what is “yoga” and created a practice that can be such a great companion. With so many similarities it really allows for an expansion of exercise and workout possibilities for so many people who do yoga in San Jose and in the Bay Area.
Posted in Nia | Tagged: Bay Area Exercies, Bay Area Nia, Bay Area Workout, Bay Area Yoga, cardio, cardio dance, cardio yoga, dance class, dance exercise, Dance Workout, exercise class, Joy of Movement, juicy joints, movement class, Nia, Nia cardio, Nia Classes, Nia Practice, Nia principles, Nia Teacher, Nia White Belt, Nia-like, San Jose exercise, San Jose Nia, San Jose Workout, San Jose Yoga, workout class, Yoga, yoga classes, yoga flow, yoga instructor, yoga meditation, yoga poses, yoga pracitce, yoga religion, Yoga San Jose, yoga stretches, yoga teacher | 6 Comments »