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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Archive for September, 2012

Inner Thigh – Weighted Bar

Posted by terrepruitt on September 29, 2012

Squats are great for the legs.  The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a squat is sitting in a chair.  So with the legs somewhat close together, the feet about shoulder width apart you then lowering your pelvis/buttocks down as if you are going to sit in a chair.  When in reality a squat CAN be with a wider stance.  I am vaguely remembering a “conversation” via comments on my blog about squats in Nia.  We were talking about Nia squats being different from the squats in my Ten Minute Workout.  I believe squats with weights are different from squats without weights.  And I think that since I was focused on squats with weights I was not really thinking about side squats.  We do side squats in Nia but now I think of that as Sumo Stance.  The routine I am looking at right now has many squats in it.  The squat works the legs, both front and back.  The wider apart the feet the more the movement works the inner thighs.  Since I am looking at a routine that has a lot of side squats or sumo stances it had me thinking . . . In addition to squats a way to get the adductors is to do movements where the leg is brought in towards the midline of the body.  One exercise you might be familiar with is the inner thigh lift/raise.  As with many exercises there are different versions and variations, but the basic of this one is lying on one side of your body with your torso propped up on your elbow.  The “top” leg is back behind you with your foot flat on the floor.  The other leg is straight down and lying on the floor.  Then you lift the leg up toward the sky, keeping it parallel with the earth.  So the inner thigh is being lifted toward the ceiling.

Well, this is a great one to use the weighted bar with.  I had forgotten about my bar until recently.  Then I remembered this exercise.  I would recommend using shoes with the bar.  I did it without shoes and I had to hold my foot at an odd angle to keep the bar from hurting my foot.  I decided to continue my set without putting on shoes – because I didn’t want to stop – but I made a mental note to use shoes in the future.

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, ZumbaOne end of the bar rests on the foot of your straight leg.  The bar runs the length of your body.  The other end is up near your hands where you can secure it to the ground.  Then you simply lift your leg.  Make sure that the bar is resting firmly on your foot so it does not roll off and cause an injury.  This exercise really targets the leg/hip adductors, the muscles that pull the thigh towards your body.

As I stated there are variations of this, some could be:  dumbbells place on the thigh (and held securely!), instead of using the weighted bar.  It can be done without any weights at all.  And/or without weight, the upper leg and be in front.

I think it is a great idea to do different exercises to target the same muscles.  Especially since when you do a different exercise to target a specific muscle or muscle group there are usually different or additional muscles that end up getting used.  So it is nice to switch it up.

Might you switch it up and do thigh raises instead of squats?  Are you familiar with the inner thigh lift?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Going Green

Posted by terrepruitt on September 27, 2012

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, ZumbaYup, I am trying to do the Green Smoothie thing.  Awhile back, I posted about not having time to eat breakfast before my Nia Classes.  It is not that I don’t get up in time, it is that I don’t like to eat right when I get up.  Then I think some time needs to pass after eating before I teach an exercise class.  You might remember my post about how I was eating a banana on the way to class and I was ending up with heartburn.  So I either have to get up an hour earlier or eat right when I get up.  And/or maybe a green smoothie will help.  Although I need to work on getting more protein in them then.  Also, I am not sure about having that much liquid before class.  I have found that the smoothies make about two glasses.  Maybe I can drink one before class and save the other for after class.  Oh, and, yes, I do do a lot of my thinking out loud on my blog . . . . 🙂  My last post was about my birthday present.  So far I have used it five times.  I’ve made three different green smoothies.

My second green smoothie consisted of:

1 Cup water
1 apple chopped
1/2 of a large cucumber (cut up)
2 leaves of rainbow chard (cut up)
4 ice moons

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, ZumbaI started out with only one half of the apple.  But after blending it, I decided that I wanted more flavor so I added another half.  It seems that cucumbers are REALLY good at masking flavor, while they do have a distinct flavor it is very mild so it can somewhat cancel out some harsher flavors . . . . maybe . . . I will have to see.  That seems to be what I have found so far . . . on my SECOND green smoothie.

I read on one website (I can’t remember which one I have looked at so many) the idea that green smoothies taste better cold.  I think that is a valid opinion.  I tend to agree.

I am laughing as I look at my pictures though because the amounts and ingredients listed yield two glasses and have you ever seen people make smoothies?  And have you ever seen the pictures?  The blender container is full to the top.  Now I would say that two leaves of rainbow chard and a half of a cucumber is one serving of vegetables if not more, but AT LEAST one.  And a whole apple is one serving of fruit.  I think that is pretty good.  I am not sure I can DRINK more.  Plus I do still love to EAT my fruits and veggies.  I am just curious as to who actually drinks a full blender container full.  But we will see, maybe I will be that person. But for now I will drink my additional serving (or so) of veggies and my additional serving of fruit in my 24 ounces of green smoothie.

Would adding more veggies and less water yield as much?  Is that how on shows, cookbooks, and websites the blender container is so full?  Less water more vegetables?  What do you think?  Do you drink green smoothies?

Posted in "Recipes", Food, Smoothies, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Birthday Puts Me In The Green

Posted by terrepruitt on September 25, 2012

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, ZumbaThis year my husband was really on the ball.  In July he started asking me what I wanted for my birthday.  Since going out of town isn’t something we have in our budget, I thought about it for a bit, then decided that is what I wanted to do for my birthday.  I wanted to go to a bed a breakfast place on the coast that we both love.  So I got my heart set on a weekend at THAT particular bed and breakfast. When I looked it up on the internet I was happy to see it is still there, however, it is no longer a bed and breakfast establishment.  The house is for rent as a vacation rental, but it is no longer a place to rent a room for the weekend.  I was sad.  I was so bummed that one of our places is gone.  Plus I was bummed because I had to come up with something else for my birthday.  He asked me every month.  I thought I had found something, but then circumstances changed and so that didn’t work out.  Then I remembered there was a time when I entertained the thought of one of those super blenders.  But really, to me that is an outrageous purchase unless you are really going to use it.  Having it sit in my cupboard would be a waste.  In my opinion there are a lot of things that are outrageous if they just sit and not get used, but when I use things often I feel I get my money’s worth.  I would like to include more vegetables in my diet.  I like to serve a green salad every night and a vegetable, so I was thinking another way to add fruits and vegetables would be to make green smoothies.  I don’t drink fruit smoothies so I really wanted to TRY a green one before I had my hubby make the investment.  I hear that green smoothies are an acquired taste and I don’t just want to blend fruit.  I want more veggies than fruit.  But then I started looking at some recipes online of other things I could make in a “super blender”.  I think I have posted about how my hummus is not smooth.  I made a joke about being the inventor of “whole bean” hummus — which is basically just chickpeas.  So I thought I could use the power of a super blender to make hummus.  So I decided to ask for a blender for my birthday.

When I received my blender I didn’t have any greens, but I was going to get some delivered the very next day.  In my box I received a new-to-me veggie.  The box contained Rainbow Chard and so I thought I could put that in my first smoothie.  I think of it as a fruit smoothie with some green since it really didn’t have that much green.  I am breaking myself in slowly — as has been suggested.

Another suggestion that I have seen on various website is that if it is an “ugly” green smoothie put it in a mug and if it is a “pretty” green smoothie use a pretty glass.  I think that is just the type of silly suggestion I can follow.  It makes an odd kind of sense.

Well so far I have used my blender four times.  I am sure you are going to hear about each time in future posts.  Well, perhaps not all four times . . . but maybe, we will see.

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, ZumbaSo my first fruit/”green” smoothie was:

1 Cup water
1/2 of apple chopped
1 banana (sliced)
1 leaf of rainbow chard (cut up)

My blender has a smoothie button so I just used that and it worked great.  There were NO chunks at all.  What I really love and was somewhat surprised to see is, it comes out frothy!

I think my first “green” smoothie was pretty good.  Although, I think that one leaf of green and 1.5 “fruits” is a larger fruit ratio than I want to stick with.  I am going to work my way up to more greens and less fruit.  My idea is to like and drink the more-veggie-than-fruit smoothies, but also enjoy the more-fruit-than-veggie smoothies when I feel the desire.

I am thinking I might have a smoothie before Nia, but I am not sure.  I usually try not to drink so much liquid before class.  🙂

Have you heard of these blenders that blend SMOOTH smoothies?

Posted in "Recipes", Food, Smoothies, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Beets Have Better Overall Nutrition Than Dirt

Posted by terrepruitt on September 22, 2012

Since I am still busy with my Nia classes and I have my Zumba teaching debut coming up, it really helps to have produce delivered.  I know Nia and Zumba instructors that can learn a routine in an afternoon and teach it that night.  I am not one of those teachers.  It takes me a long time, so something that saves me a trip to the store is awesome.  But then I do spend a little time trying to figure out what to do with the new-to-me produce.  I also like to look up the nutrition.  One thing I didn’t remember when I received my beets is that the beet greens can be eaten.  I forgot about my own post Borscht Is Beets and I just chopped them off and threw them away.  Now I know.  I do have faith that beets have more nutrition than dirt, but I don’t actually know the nutrition value of dirt, so I really am just going off of faith.

As a reminder beets have anti-inflammatory affects along with antioxidant properties.  According to World’s Healthiest Food website here are some numbers on a cup of raw beet:

1.00 cup rawDance 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, Zumba
136.00 grams
58.48 calories
folate 148.24 mcg
manganese 0.45 mg
fiber 3.81 g
potassium 442.00 mg
vitamin C 6.66 mg
tryptophan 0.03 g
magnesium 31.28 mg
iron 1.09 mg
phosphorus 54.40 mg
copper 0.10 mg

The website states that the phytonutrients in beets are called betalains and the longer the beets are cooked, the less there are in the root.  They “recommend that you keep beet steaming times to 15 minutes or less, and roasting times under an hour.”  So some of the nutritional value is higher the less they are cooked.  I had mentioned something similar in my Borscht post.

The paper that comes with the produce I have delivered states that the beets were gold beets.  Being unfamiliar with beets I say, “Ok.”, but they were not yellow.  They were deep red/purple — as you can see.  And I KNOW, I have seen yellow beets before.  I had a co-worker who loved beets and she would eat them in all the colors.  Maybe the yellow ones aren’t called gold beets and these really were gold beets?  I don’t know.  The red and yellow pigment in beets lose their “super powers” the more the beets are cooked.

Since I have had my first foray into cooking beets and making something with beets I think I can do it again.  I know I just made a salad, but it wasn’t terrible.  I think I need to move onto something my husband just loves.  In fact when I asked him if he liked beets he said yes and he reminded me that he loves borscht.  I forgot he loved borscht and I forgot I posted about it.  So I think I will actually purchase some beets and give it a try.

This is exactly one of the reasons I chose to have a produce box delivered.  I never would have bought beets — obviously since back in January 2011 I talked about them and STILL haven’t done it.  So now it is one of the things I can add to our list of vegetables for us to eat.  I have the tendency to buy the same vegetables over and over even though I know variety is good.  I just don’t buy it if I don’t know what to do with it.  But when it lands on my doorstep, I feel as if I have to find something to do with it.  I am so excited to be expanding my produce horizons.  I also love that so many people have ideas on what to do with these new-to-me items.

Do any of you like Borscht?  Do you have a recipe for it?  

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dirt Is A Flavor

Posted by terrepruitt on September 20, 2012

You might have read in my blog I am having an organic box of produce delivered to us.  I love it.  It is so nice to have produce and not have to go to the store.  It is nice to have organic produce.  So far I really like this.  You might also know that part of the reason I decided to have a box of fruits and vegetables delivered is because I was hoping I would be “forced” to use produce that I normally wouldn’t buy.  The last box I received had figs in it.  Turns out I am ok with figs.  I so enjoyed the salad with figs I had made, I tried to order the next box that had figs but I waited too long.  I only have delivery every other week.  Farm Fresh To You posts what will be delivered in a week the week before so I had known for a whole week, but I waited until the day before to decide that I actually wanted an additional delivery.  It was not enough time for them to do it.  So I missed out on another delivery of figs.  But . . . in addition to the figs you might have noticed in the picture I posted on the first fig post that I had beets delivered.  Now, I KNOW I don’t like beets.  I have tried them, and I don’t like them.  They taste like dirt.  For those of you that don’t know what dirt tastes like, eat a beet and then you will know.  So here I was with dirt to deal with.  I was wondering, “WHAT DO I DO WITH A BEET?”

In the same conversations I had with people about figs I had asked about beets.  One person said to boil them, peel them (the skin will come right off), and then put them in a salad.  I think she said she cooks them then uses them as she needs them (within a reasonable amount of time.  A couple of days or so.).  Another person said she didn’t like beets, so she had no suggestions.  Again, I was faced with a salad.  That was the only thing I found that sounded remotely appealing.  I was thinking I would boil the beets and then put them on a salad with goat cheese.  Goat cheese seemed to be what I was finding as the cheese of choice with beets.

But you might have read that I was thinking about making a salad with figs.  The recipes I was finding for figs in salads called for feta.  But for me, I was thinking that the goat cheese would go better with the figs as it is creamy and mild — almost flavorless.  And the feta — which to me is firm and much more flavorful — would go better with the beets.  I was thinking the beets needed a strong flavor to help drown out the “dirt” taste.

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, ZumbaOne recipe I spotted said to roast the beets.  Well, heck, why didn’t I think of that?  Perhaps you know roasting is my prefered method!  Geez, can’t understand why I didn’t think of that.  Especially since I mentioned roasting beets in Borscht is Beets!  Well, just as I did with the figs I didn’t read the recipes because I thought I could figure it out.  I skimmed them and I saw some say, roast on a pan without foil and some say use foil.  One recipe said the skin will come right off.  Well, it didn’t so much for me, but it turned out ok.

I roasted them until they felt somewhat soft.  I think it was at least 50 minutes, but I am not sure because I just kept resetting the timer and would run off to do whatever it was I was doing.

I had roasted the beets with olive oil and salt and a little garlic salt and I have to admit that even though while I was cutting them they smelled like dirt, they didn’t taste overwhelmingly like dirt.

Salad with beets:

mixed greens
pecans
beets (roasted with olive oil, salt, garlic salt — 375 degrees F for about 50 minutes)
feta cheese
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Yay!  Another produce item that I had not eaten before and I NEVER would have bought at a store or farmer’s market.

How about you?  Do you like beets?

Posted in "Recipes", Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Fresh Fig Nutrition, Greens, And Cheese

Posted by terrepruitt on September 18, 2012

Figs are considered a fruit. Most fruit has a lot of sugar.  As I had explained in my Fresh Figs So Unlike Fig Newtons posts, most of the recipes I found for figs were dessert recipes that actually had additional sugar in the recipe.  I didn’t want to make a dessert, so I ended up making a salad.  It was very good.  But as usual after having eaten something I don’t know much about I get curious as to what type of nutrition it has.  Sometimes I actually am curious BEFORE eating it and I take the time to look it up, but this time it was after the fact.

Figs are a good source of potassium and fiber.

According to Calorie Count Two large figs (2-1/2″ diameter) contain about 100 calories and roughly the following:

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, ZumbaTotal Fat – 0.4g

Cholesterol – 0mg

Sodium – 2mg

Total Carbohydrates – 24.6g

Dietary Fiber – 3g

Protein – 1g

According to an article in 1999 by Dr. Sheldon Margen and Dale A. Ogar:

Figs “have the highest fiber and mineral content of all common fruits, nuts or vegetables. They also have as much as 1,000 times more calcium than other common fruits and by weight they actually have more calcium than skim milk.

Figs are 80% higher in potassium than bananas, and are extremely easy to digest. They also have more iron than any other of the common fruits and are extremely high in magnesium. All of this for about 20 to 40 calories per fig.”

I had an idea I would make a salad when I bought the crumbled goat cheese.  I know, not exciting, but it was really good!

When I went to make the salad I realized I didn’t know what to do with the figs.  My husband said he peeled them and ate the inside.  So I tried doing that, but when I peeled off the purple he said that I needed to peel off the white part too and only eat the inside.  So I tried that and as I was doing it I decided that it was ridiculous and could not be right.  Maybe opening them and eating the flesh works, but it does not work when trying to add them to a salad.  Then I remembered all the pictures I saw having purple (to me it is purple) on them.  So I Googled them again and figured out that they just need to be cut up the way they were and we could just eat the whole thing.  Unfortunately I waited too long to use them and we ended up only able to eat about half.  The other half had gotten moldy.

I just made a simple salad:

chopped up figs
lettuce
crumbled goat cheese
fig balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt
pepper (for my husband)

I wish I would have taken pictures.  It was nice.  Simple and yummy.  Just enough sweet, creamy, and savory.

I saw recipes that said to use feta but I thought the creaminess of the goat cheese would go better with the figs.

Did you know figs are often referred to as the “perfect” fruit?

Posted in "Recipes", Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fresh Figs So Unlike Fig Newtons

Posted by terrepruitt on September 15, 2012

As you may know I’ve been having an organic box of produce delivered every other week.  My hope was in addition to getting fresh, yummy produce I would receive some new things that I normally would not have come home with from the grocery store or farmers market.  Well, up until last week, I think I had received some pretty basic things.  Different varieties of fruits and veggies, but nothing too new, right?  I am asking because I don’t remember.  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, ZumbaI am thinking I did receive something else I hadn’t had before, but I can’t remember what it was.  Oh, except those Shishito peppers that did end up being thrown away.  After I tasted one every time I just looked at the container I felt like I needed something to drink to get that bitter taste out of my mouth so I couldn’t bring myself to cook them.  In my last box I received a container of beautiful figs.  Mission figs.  I remember I tried some figs last November.  I remember it was November because we had gathered to watch V for Vendetta and one of the snacks was figs on goat cheese.  I don’t remember have eaten figs before because they just seemed icky to me.  I think I had only been presented with dried figs and I don’t like dried fruit.  I actually KNEW I didn’t like figs because of fig newtons.  Now, I know that a fig newton really isn’t a fig and I should have not based my liking of the fruit on such a thing, but I had.  So here I was with a container of figs.  I had no idea what to do with them.  What do you do with a fig?

So I asked a few people.  Believe it or not their response was the same, “Just eat ’em.”  Um . . . no thanks.  My husband likes to just eat them and he ate one.  When I told him I didn’t know what to do with them he said to just give him the go-ahead and he would eat them.  He said they were good.

The bulk of the recipes I found online seemed to be tarts, pastries, desserts, and ooey-gooey things.  And salads.  Sigh.  I thought I would go to the store and get some goat cheese and try making that dish that I had eaten before, but when I went to the store I found crumbled goat cheese and not a “brick” for slicing.

I can’t remember exactly, but I believe the snack was a piece of fig on top of a slice of goat cheese, with honey drizzled on it.  Really rich, but very yummy.  Kind of desserty.

I was happy and excited I received something I hadn’t had before, but I was stumped as to what to do with it/them.  Even though I bragged about Farm Fresh To You having recipes on their site, I kept forgetting to look at it.

Do you like figs?  How do you eat them?  Do you know a savory dish that uses figs?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

The Zumba Fitness Program Really Is a Program

Posted by terrepruitt on September 13, 2012

Zumba is astronomically popular.  The marketing and “it’s a party” advertising has attracted MILLIONS of people.  My first few Zumba classes were fun but I left feeling as if Zumba was not a very safe product.  Not all the classes contained a warm up and a cool down.  Most had no instruction, just the teacher pointing and making other hand signals I was not familiar with.  After having taken the required Zumba Instructor Training, I see that the Zumba Fitness Program is constructed to be safe and meets with the general fitness guidelines.  It could have been that the classes I had taken were not following the program with the prescribed class format.
 
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, ZumbaA standard guideline for fitness classes that is considered safe for the general pubic is 10 to 15 minutes warm-up and at least a 5 minute cool down. Since Zumba is marketed as being something everyone can do, the program incorporates these guidelines. Zumba instructors are trained to follow this set formula for the safety of all participants.  It is understood that many people who attend a workout class come in “cool”, it could even be that their muscles and bodies have been in one position for most of the day.  Muscles need to warm up and get blood flowing in order for there to be less risk of injury.  A warm up is necessary for the body, it is also nice for the brain so that one can “shake off” the happenings of the day and embrace the workout that is ahead.

In addition to the Zumba Fitness Program following the standard fitness guidelines in regards to a warm up, a “formula” for the warm-up section of the class was created.  The formula has three components, and if they are used correctly they should allow for a nice smooth transition into the remainder of the class.  The warm up is built into the Zumba Fitness class model to prepare you for the bulk of the class.  The bulk of the class, as you may know, has a very unique formula.

Zumba was not created to be an elite fitness class, it was meant for everyone to enjoy themselves.  There are moves and steps to follow, but each participant is allowed to add their own style and their own “flavor” — as it is called in the Zumba world.  That means not everyone will be doing it the exact same way.  Not everyone can shake their hips as the instructors do on the training DVDS and I don’t think anyone is as loose a Beto. 

While I was taking the Zumba Instructor training I kept wondering if the creator of Zumba, Alberto “Beto” Perez and the co-creator of Nia, Carlos AyaRosas know each other, even though one is from Columbia and the other one is from Mexico.  Some of the same ideas and philosophies are in both exercise/fitness programs.  To me they have a lot of ideas in common.  I had no idea how similar the programs were until I attended the Zumba Instructor training.

I have posted a bit in the past about Zumba because people are familiar with what Zumba is but not with what Nia is so they often ask me for comparisons so they can understand.  Well, in the past my answers were coming from the perspective of a Nia Teacher who had taken a few Zumba classes.  Now my answers and my comparisons will be from an instructor of both Nia and Zumba.  So I will be posting more about Zumba in the future.  I will be sharing and clarifying a bit about the actual Zumba Fitness Program.  I will also be doing my best at delivering the Zumba Fitness Program making my Zumba Fitness classes fun and accessible for everyone.

I’ll see you in class!

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

Nia Classes Don’t Always Have To Be About The “Happy”

Posted by terrepruitt on September 11, 2012

I might have mentioned this about Nia before, but it came up again today so I am posting about it.  If I posted about it before, I can’t find it.  Nia is unique in many ways.  One way that Nia is unique is that we don’t shy away from issues or situations.  I have been instructed in other types of trainings to “always remain positive”.  As an instructor “to leave your problems at the door”.  I’ve been told it is the instructor’s job to create a positive atmosphere.  And while, I understand that, and I believe it to a certain extent, there are times when other feelings and life situations can be acknowledged.  Today is September 11th.  It is the anniversary of a very horrific attack that has affected the entire world.  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, NiaEveryone has their own opinions and feelings about the attack, the results, the anniversaries, and all, but for many it can be a time of sorrow.  Whether you knew someone who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers or you just know that many things were taken away when those planes crashed into the towers, it is sad day to remember.  With many exercise classes it would not be in keeping with the training to bring that memory into the class.  I was teaching a new class today.  It was only my second time at this new location and with these new students.  I thought that maybe bringing something so “heavy” into the class (the second class!!) might not be the right thing to do.  But it crossed my mind that this is Nia, and in keeping with what Nia is, I could do that, because dancing and moving to issues and life events is something that we do in Nia.  We can dance our emotions, whether they are happy or sad.  We can dance our sorrow or our joy.  We can dance for people who have died or are in need of positive thoughts.  We can dance for beloved pets that are no longer here.  We can dance whatever we want.  We can dance our hearts.  We are not confined to being the “happy-up-beat-don’t-let-any-emotions-but-happy-show” type of exercise.  And my heart, my heart really, really, really, wanted to remember.  I wanted to remember all the lives that were lost in connection with the event.  I wanted to remember what we all lost on that day.  I wanted to remember what we still have.  I wanted to remember, to honor, to grieve, to rejoice, to share, to sense, to feel . . . . . I wanted to do Nia.

So I took my concerns to my class and I asked them if it was ok with them that we dance a dance of remembrance.  I explained to them how this is something unique to Nia, that we can dance anything.  I suggested a focus of remembering with an intent of doing so in our own way with our own feelings, I suggested feelings of both sorrow and joy.  Because as we all know it was tragic to have lost so many lives and so much freedom, but many did survive and many freedoms are still ours to enjoy.  The students were free to dance their own version of remembering.

As I said, this is a new class with mostly new-to-Nia students, having such a vague and “non-physical” type of focus is something I usually do with people who are not new to Nia.  I have found that many participants especially people new to Nia, appreciate having a physical or body related type of focus.  By physical or body related type of focus I mean a body part/area (“Let’s focus on our feet with the intent of sensing our whole foot.”).  But I also believe that people can do what they can do.  So if a non-physical focus and intent works for the participant then they will be able to incorporate it into their workout.  With a focus on something that affected everyone, even though it was non-physical, I sensed the participants could tap into the remembering that was significant to each as an individual.

I love that Nia allows for us to not only dance what we SENSE, but also what we feel when we feel the need to do so.  Today, I felt the need to dance what I feel.  I feel the need to honor the victims of September 11, 2001 — ALL of them, even the ones that are alive — because everyone was affected in some way and for some of us dancing is a great way to express it.  Nia classes don’t always have to be about the “happy” we can dance what we need to dance at that moment.

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“A” Stance – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 2012

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, NiaAnother one of the 52 Moves of Nia is the “A” Stance.  This is the stance where the position of the legs allows the body to look somewhat like the capital letter A.  The legs are placed wider than hip distance apart, even wider than shoulder width.  The legs are far enough apart and wide enough for them to appear to be as the bottom “legs” on a capital letter A.  The feet are parallel, the upper body is relaxed.  The Nia Technique Book states the benefits as:  “Practicing “A” Stance improves hip flexibility and leg strength, which improves agility and mobility.” 

I would like to add that it improves or at least allows the practice of balance.  Not balancing on one leg which we do a lot in Nia, but balance between the body and the legs, balance between both legs, and balance between the legs and feet.  Also balance of weight between the two feet.  This is a stable and balanced stance.  The weight is not on one foot more than the other.  The weight is not on the front or the balls of the feet more than on the heels.  This is a great stance to practice balance in.  To allow the body to rest onto the whole foot. 

Not only having the feet be parallel but even.  If you were to stand at a line would your toes be even, both up to the line?  I had noticed with myself for a while now that when I step into an “A” stance my right foot is ALWAYS slightly back from where my left foot is.  I have been noticing this since I injured my foot in November of 2010.  Just last week as I was teaching my regular Nia Class in Willow Glen, I noticed I stepped into “A” stance and my left foot was the tiniest bit back from the line on which my right foot landed (had there been a line).  I thought that was funny.  I giggled, but I hadn’t thought of it again until now.  I don’t always think about my uneven landings until I have the opportunity to land in a stance where I see my feet several times in a routine.  Then during the routine I focus on having my feet land even.  There are times, of course in a dance where they don’t need to be or aren’t supposed to be even, but when doing a regular closed, open, A, or sumo stance I think the feet should be even.  The “A” stance is a great stance to practice that because you can clearly see your feet and the pose is relaxed enough that there are not other things you might be thinking about.  I feel the “A” Stance is a great way to practice balance.

As with all stances one way to practice the “A” stance is to simple stand in one place and move through the stances.  Another way to practice is to walk and then stop in the “A” stance.  Walking and stopping into an “A” Stance would be a great way to work on landing “even” — as I mentioned before.  Walk, then stop, then look at your feet, notice the sensation in your hips, if your feet are even then that is the sensation you want to replicate, if not, then adjust your feet, notice the sensation in your hips and try to replicate it again as you step into “A” Stance.

The “A” Stance is just one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves.

What do you sense when standing in the “A” Stance?  When you step into the “A” Stance do your feet land “even”?

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