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Palm Directions

Posted by terrepruitt on September 28, 2013

We dance Palm Directions all the time in my Nia classes. It is an easy thing to do. Palm Directions is a great move to incorporate into freedance. It is also often one of the moves choreographed into a Nia routine. Palm Directions is one of Nia’s 52 Move.

It might not be something you think about, but the direction the palm is facing affects the shoulder joint. When the palm is facing down (or towards the body) the shoulder joint is closed and when the palm is facing up (or away from the body) the shoulder joint is open. When your arm is straight that is when the shoulder joint gets the open and closed action.  Along with the shoulder joint, the entire arm is affected. The arm bones are twisted with the movement of the palm.

It really is as simple as facing your palms in one direction then another. Unlike Webbed Spaces – another move in Nia’s 52 Moves (you can read about it by clicking here) – in Palm Directions the fingers are kept together. If practicing to affect the shoulder joint, lengthen the arm straight out in front of your body or straight down next to your body, then turn the palms up/face them out away from the body to open the shoulder, then turn the palms down/turn them towards your body to close the shoulder joint. You can observe the radius untwisting as it switches places with the ulna. You can sense the movement of your humerus, the upper arm bone.

In addition to opening the shoulder joint, the Nia Technique book reminds us that, “Palm Directions also express emotion. Palms up, for example, is a universal body language indicator of openness.” So it can open things other than the shoulder joint. Changing palm directions also moves the energy around. In Nia classes we move the arms all around the space around us, changing the palm directions, pushing and pulling and mixing up the energy.  Also, while we are dancing and our arms are moving around us with the palms facing different directions we vary the speed of our movement.  When Varying the speed that are arms are moving and our palms are changing direction allows us to play with agility – one of Nia’s five sensations (click here for more information on that).

This type of movement helps us connect with the space around us.  Palm Directions, the Nia Move, also helps with keep the shoulder joint mobile.

This move is also a great move with which Nia participant’s can practice their own body’s way.  The body was designed so the humerus rotates in the glenoid fossa or shoulder socket.  But life sometimes affects the body so that it cannot move the way it was designed, so all of us have different levels of how much we can move the arm.  So while playing with Palm Directions and dancing the arm around the space each individual can do it in their own body’s way.  This will allow them to get the work that their body is capable of and needs.

Ready?  Straighten your arms then change the direction of the palms.  Are you able to sense your arm bones twisting/untwisting?  Are you able to sense the action in the shoulder joints?  What do you sense when you move your arms around while playing with Palm Directions?

6 Responses to “Palm Directions”

  1. When playing with palm direction and moving the arm up and down I noticed that my shoulder joint opens and closes. Before I have not noticed this action in my joint. It is a great exercise and I love doing it. I also did not know that palms up means openness. Thank you for sharing such great information with us. Take care and have a lovely day.


    • Great! I am happy you were able to notice all that! Sometimes it just takes someone to point things out.

      I am thinking you did know that palms up means openness, but in a different context. Ya know, have you ever opened your arms, palms up and told someone to come to you, say a child, a friend, or a pet? It is a gesture of openness. Yes?

      Thanks for being here.


  2. niachick said

    Love Palm Directions. I use this particular one of the 52 Moves alot in my classes. There’s a routine, can’t remember which one at the moment, in which Debbie says Palm Directions directs energy. Palms down brings the energy down, Palms Up brings the energy up; push palms out directs the energy away from us (say NO!) ; palms facing in brings the energy in (say AHHHHHHH). Thanks for sharing. And yes, I know what you mean when you asked one of the folks who commented, “have you ever opened your arms, palms up and told someone to come to you…” Good visual. Like a traffic cop – palm out STOP or palm up gesturing for traffic to “come on”. 🙂


    • Holy Moly! I am just getting to this now! Palm directions are fabulous. I use it a lot too. I am probably thinking of the same routine you are when I say that moving the palms around moves the energy, but maybe not because I don’t remember her being that specific . . . but it could be that I just don’t remember that much of it! 🙂

      The opening your arms and BEING open is one of the things that Nia points out to me that I do and understand, but had never thought of it that way. How I always say that a lot of what Nia teaches us is stuff we know and do, but they explain it a certain way or connect it to things in a certain way, so it often has be saying, “Oh yeahhhh . . . ” So I might not have thought of that action as an opening of . . . but it is. (Oh yeahhhhhh!) 🙂

      Thanks for the reminder of those visuals they are so perfect!


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