Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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  • My Bloggey Past

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Archive for January, 2010

Bow Stance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 30, 2010

One thing about a blog on WordPress, I can see search terms.  My blog statistics show me terms used in a search that led people to my blog.  One thing I noticed was bow stance came up a lot in the search terms.  People want to know what it is, how to do it, what is it for, etc.

So I thought I would post another post on the Bow Stance.  I am familiar with the stance from other exercises and other exercise classes.  It is not unique to Nia, but Nia includes it in the Nia 52 Moves.  I feel it can be compared to a lunge. 

The bow stance is one leg bent with the foot flat on the ground, the other leg is bent and out behind with the heel lifted and the ball of the foot on the ground.  The feet are not aligned, so if you were to bring your back foot forward it would not collide with the foot in front.  Can you picture it?  It is kind of like a lunge. 

The Nia Technique book states that the benefits are conditioning for walking and dealing with changing levels as the body’s center moves up and down. 

My feelings about the bow stance are that it is great for working out the lower body and for practicing balance. 

The bow stance can be done with many variations.  The typical bow stance is that described above, but, when the feet are place wider apart as if on two railroad ties the stance actually becomes more stable, but if you add moving arms to that it become less stable.  If you were to raise and lower your entire body, it changes the dynamics yet again.  If you were to add motion to the hips, it changes it again.  If you were to place the back foot further back it changes it again.  Another way to challenge the muscles is to change which foot holds the weight, leaning the weight to the front or to the back. 

This stance is used a lot in Nia routines and I imagine that is because it is such a great exercise and it can be used so many different ways.  It fits into many different songs and adds to the dance.  Sometimes we move in and out of it quickly, sometimes we stay and play.  It is a great movement.

Previously I mentioned it being good for the lower body that is because you can see how it is very good for the feet and ankles too.  When the back foot it resting on the ball of the foot, it helps with both strength and flexibility of the foot.  When movement is added to the stance it helps with both strength and flexibility of the ankle.

So we answered the question originally stated:

    the bow stance is somewhat like a lunge
    one foot is in front flat on the ground, the other is in back with the heel up, both legs are bent
    it helps with strength, balance, and flexibilty

I hope that helps.  If you have anything to add or ask, please do so.  And, as always thank you for stopping by. If you want to see how the bow stances is added to a dance workout and you want to try it yourself, join me in a class.

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

My Twitter Advice / Tips

Posted by terrepruitt on January 28, 2010

I am not a Twitter expert.  I’ve said that before.  I learn something everyday.  I have learned a few things and I thought I would share them with you since some of the people that read this are actually new to Twitter.

Twitter allows 140 characters.  My advice:

1—When you tweet a link to something, give a little explanation of what readers will find once they click that link.  If not a description, some words that might give them a clue as to what kind of link it is.  As an example, “I love animal videos.” or “Don’t you love dance videos?”  or “Here’s an article on fitness.”

2—If you want to type something along with your link you might want to use something that shortens the link.  I use TinyURL.com or bit.ly.  The link can be copied into the site and the site shortens it for you, and you copy and past it into your tweet.

Some programs like HootSuite and TweetDeck have “shorten links” built into them.  On HootSuite you have to copy the link into the field (highlighted in the picture in pink) and click “Shrink It’.  With TweetDeck you can opt to have links shorten automatically (see the little box next to “Auto Shorten URLs?”).

HootSuite

TweetDeck

Which brings me to #3.

3—Sometimes you might not want to shorten a link.  Sometimes I don’t like to shorten the link because the link itself helps explain what the user will see when they click on it.  Or I want people to see the name of my blog (http://terrepruitt.com) or the name of my website (http://www.helpyouwell.com/).  I think it is good to put the names out there so people can remember it.

I believe there are reasons to shorten and reason not to, but, if you never knew you could shorten you wouldn’t be making a decision for yourself, right?  So I am sharing with you here.

4—Don’t send auto DMs* when someone follows you.  Even when you try to make them look personal, they are not.  Everyone knows it.  Especially when you are following the person because they followed you first, then you get a DM that says, “I’ll follow you back.”  Uh, yeah, right.

Anyway, these are just a couple of things that have come up recently with new Twitter users so I thought I would share it with you.  What URL shortening program or site do you use?  Are you an auto DMer?  Thanks for stopping by.

*DM = Direct Message

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

One Of My Favorite Snacks

Posted by terrepruitt on January 26, 2010

Edamame.  I first learned of edamame about 25 years ago.  I was working at a mortgage company and one of the secretaries (that’s what they were called back then) introduced us.  I can’t even remember where we had it whether it was a restaurant or if she made it, but I have loved it ever since.  And that was before I knew it was a complete protein* or that it has isoflavones**.

I like it served warm, salted, and in the pods so you can pop the soybeans out into your mouth.  It is fun.

I stopped by sushi restaurant tonight for a friend’s birthday on my way home from my San Carlos Nia class and since I don’t eat sushi I had a whole bowl of edamame.  Yum.  Perfect for after teaching.

I don’t really think of edamame as low in fat, but I do think of it as high in protein.

A 1/2 cup of in-the-pod edamame is about 75 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber.

I don’t often think of eating them on salads, but when I get a salad that has the soybeans on them, I really like it.  Once I had a vegetable dish with them in it.  I really liked that, but forget to do it myself. I usually just eat them out of the pods.  But there are so many other ways you can eat them.  I need to remember to add them to salads or put them in with other vegetables to make a vegetable medley.

Do you like edamame?  Do you like it served hot or cold?  What do you do with edamame, do you add it to other dishes?  Do you have edamame recipes?

Writing about it makes me want more.

*complete protein -contains all eight essential amino acids in appropriate quantity

**isoflavones – antioxidants that are believed to have health benefits

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Nia and Duncan Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 23, 2010

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the dance arts, we borrow from Duncan Dance. Duncan Dance was brought to us by Isadora Duncan.  Isadora believed in the freedom movement.  She did not care for the stucture of ballet opting for movement of a more natural flowing nature. 

Duncan Dance, like Modern Dance, helps bring freedom to Nia.  For me I think of “child-like” when I think of Duncan Dance in Nia.  It encourages us to skip, run, do somersaults, jump, hop, giggle, growl, laugh out loud, kick balls, jump rope, catch a balloon, and just release our adult contraints and enjoy movement for the sheer joy of moving.  We are not moving to get to one place or the other.  We are not moving to build a muscle or burn calories, in this modality we are moving because it is fun.  Because, like a child we have so much engergy inside we need to skip-run-jump-hop-hop-hop across the floor.  Then, while we are having so much fun we will be moving our muscles and burning calories, but we don’t THINK about that.  We imagine we are chasing a balloon and trying to catch it.  We imagine that we are playing kick ball or blowing bubbles and chasing them, we imagine we are having fun and we end up having fun.  We let out our inner child that gets tucked away during our normal busy day.

While infusing our workout with this energy one might notice their ankles joints and spine opening and moving more freely.  With the “child mind” one might tend towards being more “open”; standing tall, reaching up, reaching out, and standing on tippy toes.  With these movements come exercises in balance, while standing on tippy toes reaching for your red balloon you are not even going to notice that you are having to balance.  With being more “open” physically it sometimes helps with being more open mentally, this can assist with releasing the stress and tension of the our adult lives. 

The form also encourages spontaneity, like that of a child.  With less stress and tension you might find yourself giving in to your inner child and you might find yourself racing across the floor.  Nia encourages it!

I think with all of the different ideas, concepts, movements, and energies that are woven together to form Nia, there is something for everyBODY.

Please note:  The photo is a portion of the “Nia Energy Type Questionnaire” in The Nia Technique, by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dynamic Ease

Posted by terrepruitt on January 21, 2010

With every Nia routine there is an original focus and intent.  On the Nia DVD either Debbie or Carlos* explain the focus and intent that was originally intended for the routine.  With the routine Sanjana Debbie explains the focus as being Dynamic Ease.

I remember Dynamic Ease as being Dynamic and Ease.  It can either be a stretch as one might do in Yoga or could be the sensation of the muscle squeezing the bone as in an isometric contraction.  When I do the routine with Dynamic Ease as the focus I often borrow Debbie’s words and explain it as: “the energy moving out as in flexibility or the energy packing against the bone as in strength”. 

The way we play with this is that we do a lot of the moves with one quality then the other.  So while we are moving arms upward we could be calling upon the dynamic energies of strength and really squeezing the bone with the muscle.  And the next time we can move our arms up with a big stretch move the energy out.  A punch could be done strong as if we were really punching something or could be done more like a stretch. 

The ease is just moving in a relaxed yet ready type of way.  When moving arms upward, as mentioned above, we can change the quality to a nice flowing easy movement.  Or a “punch” could just be the arms moving away from the body in a soft motion.  Its fun to play and try any exercise with the different energy qualities. 
 
We can do the same moves all three ways.  Practicing going back and forth between these qualities assists in both balancing the energy in the body and balancing the body itself.  An isometric contraction calls upon big muscles and small muscles and the combination is what is used in balancing. 

I believe that it helps with the flow of fluids and energy in the body.  I know that it leaves me feeling very energetic.  I did this routine with this focus twice this week, once for my San Jose class and once with my San Carlos class and both times I felt very great energy afterwards.  In addition to the energy I feel it brings me, I think dynamic ease can serve to add another element of challenge to the Nia workout.  Dynamic Ease is one of my favorite foci for this Nia routine.

*Debbie Rosas (Stewart) and Carlos Rosas (AyaRosas) the creators of Nia

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Muscle Contractions

Posted by terrepruitt on January 19, 2010

Muscles contract.  An isotonic muscle contraction is when the length of the muscle changes.  The isotonic contraction could be a concentric contraction where the muscle shortens or an eccentric contraction where the muscle lengthens.

As an example, your arm is hanging at your side, when you lift your hand to touch your shoulder that is an isotonic contraction.  Your biceps muscles are shortening, pulling your hand up to your shoulder in a concentric contraction, your triceps are lengthening in an eccentric contraction.  Lowering your arm the biceps muscles are lengthening in an eccentric contraction and it is actually your triceps contracting in a concentric contraction that is pulling your arm down.  But since gravity is helping the triceps don’t have to work very hard.

An isometric contraction is when the muscle contracts but the length of it does not change.  For instance, when you sneeze or cough. Your abdominal muscle contracts, but unless you bend into the sneeze/cough the length does not change.

To strengthen the muscles resistance needs to be added to the contraction.  Muscle must be challenged and learn to overcome the challenge in order to become stronger.  Tension/resistance needs to be added to movement/contraction.

There are many forms of resistance; gravity, weights, bands, tubes, immoveable objects (that you try to push or pull), all of it can assist in strengthening the muscles. 

The muscles can gain strength from both the concentric contraction and the eccentric contraction.  So lowering the weight after having lifted a weight toward your shoulder in a biceps curl can contribute to strength.

When the muscles contract in a concentric contraction they are pulling on bone. But that is not be be confused with a push workout or a pull workout.  Even when you are working your “pushing muscles” your muscles are actually contracting and pulling on the bones to complete the exercise.

Muscles contract, it is the added resistance that makes them stronger.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nia and Aikido

Posted by terrepruitt on January 16, 2010

As you might now be aware Nia is a wonderful mix of elements from three different movement forms from three different arts. Martial Arts is one of the art forms.  Aikido is one of the movement forms from the martial arts.

According to the Nia White Belt Manual that I received during my Nia White Belt Intensive Aikido was the martial art that Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas enjoyed the most.  The spirit of it that was added to Nia was the translation of “the way of harmony”.  Conflict is resolved lovingly.  During the intensive I remember the idea was mentioned of using the opponents own weight and energy to take control of the situation.  While in Nia we don’t have opponents or enter into competitions with each other, the example was intended to express the idea that a blending of energies makes it easy to move.  Aikido in Nia is the notion of a peaceful warrior. 

As with all of the art forms that have been studied in order to create Nia, it is ideas, concepts, and moves that have been integrated.  All of the movement forms are understood to be something that takes practice and maybe even years of training.  That is respected when we talk about forms being added to Nia. 

Aikido brings grounded energy to Nia.  We practice spiral swirling motion blending the energies outside with the energies inside.  Focusing on our center, the hara, we practice grace.  We also exercise our awareness and embrace the moment.  We hone our skills of moving from lines into spirals and spirals into circles with the energy surrounding us.

Aikido somewhat reminds me of Nia itself, they are both a blending of energies and movements.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When I Sense It

Posted by terrepruitt on January 14, 2010

Recently I had a brief conversation with one of my Nia buddies regarding a routine. She had asked if it was easy to bar. I admitted to her that barring for me was difficult, but that some songs were easier to bar than others.

Later that same evening I was listening to music from a routine I have not learned yet.  I found myself stopping what I was doing and starting to do the dance that was associated with the song that was playing. I laughed because I realized that I was ready to learn the moves to the song. That is how it is with me. I will listen to the music over and over and over again. When I find myself saying, “What? What is this song? There is a kata to it?” When I don’t even recognize the song, then I know I am no where near ready to learn that set of movements. So I keep listening to the music over and over.  When I find myself stopping what I am doing to do the moves or at least going over the moves in my head as the song is playing then I know that is when my body, my brain, and my spirit is ready to learn the moves. Otherwise it is a struggle for me.

It is so much easier to learn the routine well, when you can sense the moves.  It is like you already basically know them and all you have to do is map out the music and put the moves on the paper where they actually belong.  Doing the workout to the routine DVD over and over is one of the steps in the first set of steps in learning the routine.  And I see why.  Listening to the music over and over is one thing that is recommended too.  And I see how these two things are important in learning a routine.

I also have learned that not only do I benefit from listening to it over and over, it helps to listen to the music on a variety of devices.  I teach in two different facilities and the sound system at the Park and Rec building in San Carlos is very different than the sound system at the studio in San Jose.  It it almost as if I need to learn different musical clues for each facility because the systems are so different.

As I said some music is easier for me to learn than others, but when I stick to learning it when I sense it, when I am ready to learn it, it works for me.

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Nia In The Mirror

Posted by terrepruitt on January 12, 2010

I went to San Carlos today to teach my first Nia class for the City of San Carlos Park and Recreation Department.  I wanted to get there at least 30 minutes early.  I was late, not for the class but for my getting there 30 minutes early.  The man at the desk was on the phone when I arrived and there was a woman in front of me needing assistance.

He was kind enough to get off the phone since he wasn’t able to help the person.  Sounded like a co-worker he said he would call back.  And he asked us if we needed help. The woman that was before me asked where the Nia class was and he asked her if she was the instructor at which time I pointed to myself.

So he took us to the room, helped with the music and the people started coming in.   (Thanks, Nick!)

There is always “business” to handle in a class.  Either signing in, or making sure everyone is signed up, or checking passes, or something.  So we handled that as people were coming in.

This class room was different as it has no mirror.  I have talked to a lot of people who prefer the teacher to face away from the students as we do in Nia, but I was not certain about that without a mirror to look at my participants in.  So I started off facing them.  Then when we got to a point when we would be moving right and left, I turned.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Community Center Classes

January 2010

Nia is so fun and amazing because even though I could not see the people in the mirror I could sense they were there and moving as I was.  When I turned around to look they were doing it just beautifully.  Was every doing it exactly the same?  No.  Was everyone perfectly on step?  No.  But it is so beautiful because when I turned to make sure everyone was ok, they would smile.  They would laugh.  They were ok, they were doing Nia.

Most of them were new to Nia.  We had a good time.  When we did some moving around the room using the space people were smiling and sounding.  It was good.  I felt as if even though I didn’t have a mirror in which to see my own face and my own body, I was still seeing my reflection.  I was seeing joy in movement.  Fun in exercise.  Happiness in the workout.  Nia.

Will all nineteen people come back?  Well, some of them will because they had registered.  Will the all thirteen that came for the “Try It”?  No, probably not all of them.  I know for a fact that one won’t because she has signed up for school with a class on that same night and she just came to try it.  And other people will not have the time, but at least we danced together.  We had fun.  I shared Nia with some people who didn’t know about it.  I am sure that even though they might not be able to make my class, they will be at others in the future.  I think that is good.

Next week I will leave San Jose a few minutes earlier and get there 30 minutes early!

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nia and The Alexander Technique

Posted by terrepruitt on January 9, 2010

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three different movement forms from three different arts. One of the arts is the healing arts and one movement forms is The Alexander Technique. When I think of evoking the energy of The Alexander Technique as I lead the Nia workout, I always think of moving from the head and allowing heaven’s gravity to pull up.  With the pull from above it enables a sense of lightness, of not being heavy and of moving from the top.  Also this pull helps open the vertebrae and lengthen the posture. With the sensation of lightness and lengthening might come a sense of freedom and openness to be silly.

While we experiment with the lifting of the head from the body, we can observe how our posture might be more upright.  I have a habit of hunching my shoulders.  I call it scrunching because I tend to hunch and round my shoulders at the same time.  With some borrowed concepts from the Alexander Technique I am reminded to straighten and lengthen and use the muscles of my back to pull my shoulders down.  Even though the focus is on the head and it moving upward, it allows me to think of the rest of my posture.

With these ideas we look as we move, again moving our head away from our bodies.  Sometimes we move our hands and allow our head to follow by looking at our hands.  But we MOVE our head to watch our hands, we don’t just let our eyes follow, it is a movement.  The movement of the head gets our spine moving too.

When I first started teaching I had a student move her hands around and had her follow them with her head and eyes.  She would practice this during class.  After a couple of classes she came back and said she was a better driver now because she had never moved her head before and now she was actually turn her head to look as she drove.  Funny, I had never thought about Nia helping people be better drivers.

If you are not accustom to moving your head and you want to try it, I recommend that you first try this exercise  sitting down.  Just sit and move your hands as if they were a bird or a butterfly, and allow your head and your eyes to follow them as they fly around you.  Once you feel comfortable with that, try it standing up.  But be careful because if you are not used to it you may get dizzy.

Since the head is the heaviest part of the body it is important that we can stay on balance when it moves.  It is important to build the strength to move it and muscle memory of what it is like when it is moved.  All of this will help your dance and your general everyday movement.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »