Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 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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In The Looking Glass

Posted by terrepruitt on June 13, 2016

In Nia we teach facing a mirror with our backs to the students.  The mirrors help me stay connected to the class.  I can look in the mirror and make eye-contact with someone.  I can peruse the room and see what is going on.  It is different from the way it used to be when I took Jazzercise so many moons ago.  The teacher faced us and would do mirror actions.  When the class went left the teacher would actually go to his right.  When we went right the teacher went to his left.  When we moved forward the teacher also moved forward coming toward the class. When the class moved back the teacher would go back.  The teacher facing the class allowed for face-to-face connection.  The other day I was teaching a class and I was doing the “mirroring” and as I was pausing in the movement, I realized why I didn’t like “mirroring” as much as teaching with my back to them.  I couldn’t share my sensation.  I could not teach what I was sensing.

I think part of what makes Nia so joyful and fun is that the teacher is having fun.  We are taught to be in our bodies and dance.  We learn routines, but if while teaching the music motivates us to do something off from the choreography, that is fine.  We get to play.  We get to sense what is happening in our bodies and share it with the class.  Then the class gets motivated to dance what is in their bodies . . . their individual body.

When I was paused in that stretch I wanted to tell them what I was sensing and have them explore their bodies sensation, but I couldn’t.  I had to pause and adjust my mind and my words because we were not bending the same way.  So, yes, I could say, “side” leaving out which side, but it felt less authentic because we were not experiencing the same side.  Silly, I know, but it was a thought that popped into my head as I was teaching.  Sometimes there are no mirrors available in the classrooms I am assigned to teach in, so I have to teach facing the class and that is fine, but I really like having mirrors.

Also, I notice that when I am facing the students even when I used left or right or even use a landmark in the room . . . there are some that pause for a second in confusion.  They are looking at me and seeing me do the opposite from what I am asking them to do and you can just see the internal struggle in the face.   This is especially the case when instructing twists.  Twists are already a little challenge for the brain so when the arm goes up and around and the leg goes up and around, crossing over the mid-line of the body, the brain really likes to see it as the body is to do it.  The mirrored way really has people all twisted.

While we don’t have really complicated steps in Nia, it seems like the students learn them faster when they can see exactly how it is to be done.  They don’t have that extra brain work to do of adjusting for left and right.  They see my left foot going over to the right side and they get it.  It takes a lot to see the right foot going towards them and over to the left while I am telling them to take their left foot front and over to the right.

It is nice to dance without the mirrors sometimes, as I wrote about in my post Mirrorless Inward Reflection.  For some it helps them be less concerned about how they look while they are dancing.  It can allow people to be more introspective.  It can enable people to connect to their own Conscious Personal trainer.  It is a good thing and definitely something I / we can do when we do not have access to mirrors, I just happened upon an insight recently and thought I could share.

Do you like to take classes with mirrors?  Do you find it easier to follow when the teacher has his/her back to you?

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