Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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Archive for July, 2020

Nessa In The Ripple Rug

Posted by terrepruitt on July 31, 2020

Such a silly kitty. She had just finished attacking her sister, she had dived into the hole and crouched there waiting for Teagan to come. Teagan ran up and swatted and Nessa popped her head out for the attack. They really love their Ripple Rug. I thought I would share for today’s Friday Photo.

So which do you prefer “dived” or “dove”?  (I went back and forth!)

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8 Stages Of Nia White Belt P4 – FreeDance – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 29, 2020

As you know different people learn different ways and as we were only on stage 5 with just 20 minutes left in class on Monday, I was wishing that we had more time to explore the principles. I wanted to be able to be with each stage longer. This is my first time re-taking the Nia White Belt. After class, Debbie stays after to answer additional questions and receive comments and, funny enough, one person said she liked how fast we went through the stages. She felt she got more out of it instead of spending so much time on them. Someone else spoke up and “mirrored” that sentiment. I don’t think it was their first re-take. I would have loved to spend more time with it. For my blog, I thought I would at least separate the introduction of the principle from the stages, since for many people exercising without specific instructions is a new and challenging concept. Being able to move one’s body in their own body’s way in a dance exercise class is not the norm – unless you are in a Nia class. The Nia White Belt Principle #4 is FreeDance and it has eight stages.

With Nia FreeDance participants can dance what their body needs at the time they are in the class, but not everyone knows what to do with that freedom. Not everyone knows what their body needs. So there are eight stages we use in our practice that can help. I am not going to do a language comparison (between when I took it in 2008 and now) I am just going to say the verbiage has changed a bit but the message is the same. Here is the 2020 Nia White Belt Principle #4 8 stages with their tag lines and explanations, as usual there is a lot more, I am just sharing a bit.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, San Jose Virtual classes, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yoga, City of San Jose online exercise, live classes via Zoom1 – FreeDance ~ Anything goes movement-wise: this really means, just move your body. A lot of people have a strict idea of what “dance” means so unless someone is doing ballet or waltzing across the floor they will say, “that’s not dance”. But in Nia we kick, we punch, we shimmy, we bob our heads . . . . pretty much ANYTHING GOES MOVEMENT-WISE. Granted in a class we will make certain that is it safe.

2 – Being Seduced By The Music ~ The Art of Listening: this is where you can stop moving. You may be surprised at what you hear when you are just listening to the music. And then once you start dancing again you may be moving differently because you actually heard something you hadn’t heard before. Or you may just have a different sense of the music.

3 – Feelings + Emotions ~ Pretend, Fake it, Act “as if”: this is where you pretend. You can pick an emotion . . . and act as if you are XXXX. You can pretend to be mad, angry, happy, sad, tired, bored, flirty . . . whatever and then you dance that. You let your body MOVE that emotion.

4 – Creative Source ~ Real You: here you remember a story and allow yourself to feel that emotion and dance that. You may find that you use less energy when you are actually tapping into a real emotion than when you are acting and the emotion is coming from your head. Dance your story and see where that emotion takes your movements.

5 – Authentic Movement ~ Change!!: this is about the way your body moves. We dance and as we are “forced” to change we find authentic movement. For those that know how to count the bars we change every two bars, but until you know that, just change often . . . let’s just say you should change about 15 times in an average speed 5 minute song.

6 – Witness ~ Neutral Observer: this is where we just notice what our body does. We aren’t supposed to change it we are just noticing what it does.

7 – Accidental Click ~ Music + Movement Integration: this is where we have a “click”, when we really feel our body move to the music and we know that that is how it is supposed to be moving. Something “clicks”. Once you sense that keep doing it.

8 – Body-Centered Choreography ~ Levels 1, 2, 3: this is where you can take that movement tendency or that click and dance through the three levels. The three levels are what we want to demonstrate in a Nia class so that everyBODY can have fun and get the workout their body needs at that time. Level one is less, smaller movements, two is more, and then three is the biggest and something you may not even be able to (or want to) maintain throughout the class. It is nice to visit all the levels so that you can experience the different sensations in the body.  Also, it is important to keep in mind that these levels relate to YOUR body.  My level one might be your level three, that person over there . . . their level three might be my level two . . . . so do YOUR BODY’S levels.

I wrote out the main things that I want to remember (pictured here) and posted here.

There you have a bit about the eight stages of the 2020 Nia White Belt Principle #4 – FreeDance. These can help people with their FreeDance practice.

I could go on and on, but I need to stop here.  I hope this gave you an idea about Nia FreeDance and maybe if gave you some ideas on how you can play and practice with dancing in order to stimulate your BMES.

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Nia White Belt P4 – FreeDance – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 27, 2020

I have several posts regarding Nia FreeDance. When I was teaching often there was a period when we had FreeDance Fridays. That was fun. I feel when I am teaching multiple times a week it is really great to have one class be FreeDance. I have posted about the 8 stages of FreeDance. There are a couple of posts about a FreeDance Playshop I produced once and one about the tools for the eight stages of FreeDance that we can use to help us “to stimulate movement creativity”.  We just had our class regarding FreeDance, Nia White Belt Principle #4. I am happy to report, not much has changed. Again, some of the language used has changed and certainly the way it is presented. I want to clarify that the training is always evolving, Nia is always finding new and better ways to deliver the information, but the core information is not changing. That is a great comfort to me and it makes sense. I want the organization I am involved with to grow and improve, but I don’t want it to change the core of what it does. So, 2020 Nia White Belt Principle #4 is FreeDance.

Now in my previous documentation of it, you may see FreeDance written different ways and that is because I understood Carlos (one of the original creators of Nia) to have different ways of writing it. The principle was one way (FreeDance) and then the first stage was another (Free dance). So, if you see differences that is why. And moving forward I will endeavor to keep it FreeDance.

This term sometimes confuses people because they think the class is free. I have experienced this many times. But FreeDance is something that Nia participants do, it is a practice, it is a principle of Nia. It is “stimulating movement creativity”.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia online, San Jose Virtual classes, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, Nia Technique, Yin Yoga, stretch classes, online exercise, Zoom classes, virtual yoga, City of San Jose online exercise, live classes via ZoomDebbie said something today that clarified something for me, she was talking about form and freedom, we have a lot of that in Nia. In light of the 2020 Nia White Belt, we have form in the way of choreography and we have freedom in the way of dancing free. Debbie equated form with “structure” and how that makes people feel safe.  Freedom could be compared to “no structure”, which sometimes makes people feel unsafe. The freedom in an exercise class can be intimidating for many people. Being told what to do and how to move the body is the way most people are taught to exercise, so when they come to a Nia class and they are told, “Move your body.” They don’t know what to do. It is just like the story Debbie tells about when she first when to a Dojo. People can be told to focus on moving their arms, but they want to know HOW to move their arms, they want specific movement instruction. We have language to guide people to move in FreeDance, but there is still a lot of freedom in that and for some people that is a huge challenge.

There is a triad for this principle, like with all of the principles, it consists of Move, Explore, and Create. They put the numbers for the 8 stages going counter clock-wise on the triad, but have created a separate graphic with the stages going clockwise. Instead of drawing the triad and creating the graphic I chose to write out the eight stages. We can use the eight stages to helps us move. Here I am just going to list the stages:

1 – FreeDance
2 – Being Seduced By The Music
3 – Feelings + Emotions
4 – Creative Source
5 – Authentic Movement
6 – Witness
7 – Accidental Click
8 – Body-Centered Choreography

The next post will contain the tag lines for each stage and the information I wanted to high-light for myself.

So, Dear Reader, how do you feel about dancing with no instruction?  How do you feel about dancing with little to no instruction in a cardio exercise class?

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Friday Photo Question

Posted by terrepruitt on July 24, 2020

So, purple flowers for today’s Friday Photo. What are these?

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Still Zooming – More On Sound

Posted by terrepruitt on July 22, 2020

Well, many of us are still teaching classes via Zoom. In my area indoor exercise is not allowed and even when they thought they were going to allow it they had restrictions on indoor cardio and dance. And Nia is a cardio dance exercise. Because it is full of playfulness, taps into many types of movement forms, energies, and challenges and satisfies the BMES we don’t like to call it just a cardio dance exercise, but when classifying it for indoor activity purposes, that is what it is. So many of us are still doing it online. Some have moved outdoors, but that gets into all types of possible liabilities and issues I am not ready to take on just yet . . . so I continue to try to improve my delivery of the virtual class.

In my last “Zoom” post I wrote about how at the point of class starting my mic and music failed. That was a bummer. Then I had a great week and then it failed again. Some of it, I know is user (me) error, but sometimes I think it is internet or software error. As an example, last week I used a different USB port for my microphone and speaker and in doing so the transmitter was hanging and I think was not plugged in all the way. But then when we were doing our little chat after class, I couldn’t hear one of my students, the other students could, but I couldn’t. I didn’t do anything to fix it, but she exited the meeting then came back on and I could hear her. So it is crazy.

My students continue to be kind and understanding so I continue to try.

Lately I am using iTunes directly through Zoom. Zoom allows the host to share the screen and in this case the “screen” is just audio. This eliminates the issue of the music cutting out as would happen when I used a speaker and a microphone to pick up both my voice and the music. My fans would create background noise and interfere with music transmission.

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Here is the advanced screen where you can choose to just share sound.

The Kimafun microphone I got (box shown in my “struggles” post) came with a USB converter that allows me to plug the transmitter into it so it feeds directly into the computer/Zoom and it allows me to have a speaker attached so I hear the music that is being played through Zoom to my students.

I still have to rely on my students telling me if they can hear me and the music, but that will always be the case. I record myself and the music to test it, but it really boils down to what the students hear. So whoever shows up first gets to set the volumes because I adjust according to what they say.

I still feel I need more practice with the microphone. I usually teach without a microphone so I am used to projecting my voice and allowing myself to exhale with all the lovely sounding techniques that Nia encourages, but that gets LOUD with the microphone in my face. The recommendation I saw said to keep it two fingers away from your face and I am using three. Next week I am going to try four. Part of the issue is that it moves around as I dance so the set up changes. I readjust it when I remember. For the most part it is working out, but I will keep in mind that I need to keep trying to improve.

So . . . what do you do when you are teaching a class?  Or, if you don’t teach, what experiences have you had in regards to sounds when in a Zoom class or meeting?

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This is the basic screen share screen

 

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Zoom reminder and “stop” sharing

 

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Nia White Belt P3 – Music + 8BC System – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 20, 2020

We are on our fifth week of the Nia White Belt Training via Zoom. We have reviewed Principle 3. From my previous posts, when I first took the White Belt, it was treated like two parts. Now, in 2020, while Principle 3 is called Music & 8BC System it is broken down into three parts. While our triads go from bottom left corner, to right, to top, I feel like the book and the training do not follow that order:  Principle 3’s triad is made up of RAW, Sound, and the 8BC System.

Following that triad, we have RAW, which is truly R.A.W. and stands for Relaxed, Alert, and Waiting. This is how we are supposed to listen to our music. Eleven years later and I still get so sleepy I often stop and take a nap. The original instruction was always to sit and most of the time, halfway through a song I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, so I think I will start standing in RAW. It really is an amazing way to listen to music. Maybe I just take the “relaxed” part too far. We relax, but we are (supposed to remain) alert, and we wait for the sounds and the silence.

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There are so many ways to do this it can be fun, if you can stay awake! You can listen to the sounds of the song as a whole or you can pick out one instrument or sound and follow it through the whole song . . .that is where the waiting can come in because it might not be a constant throughout the entire song so you are left waiting.  It could be actual silence you are waiting through.  Once you are familiar with the sounds and silences they can become cues when the choreography is added.  You can do this with songs you have never heard or songs you have been listening to your entire life.  Sit in RAW and listen to a song you are familiar with and see if you hear any new-to-you sounds.

On another corner of the triad, we have sound, the anatomy of the music; the rhythm, the melody, and the harmony. This is listened to in RAW. Instead of listening to just one sound/instrument, perhaps you focus your attention on just the harmony and listen to the entire song that way. Or the rhythm or the melody, it is another way to become familiar with the music.  Again, a fun way to listen to music.

And finally we have the 8BC System which is the way we Nia teachers learn our music. We count it to “bar” it and the result is a map that helps us to move to it. Again, eleven years later and I am still learning with this. I love really studying the music and mapping it well because I always hope to “do my own thing” to it, but then, more often than not, I am in awe of the choreography and end up trying to stick to it. So . . . I am still learning to play with Nia music that has choreography.  Perhaps this time through the white belt I will grasp “playing more” with Nia music and become more flexible.  When dancing to music that has not be choreographed by the Nia choreographers I can play just fine, but it is stepping away from the moves that are timed and planned so well that I am still learning.

My previous posts on Nia White Belt Principle 3 Music & the 8BC System are still pertinent so I am not going to go further into it. As I have said over and over, to really understand the richness of the material and training you have to take it for yourself. I have barely scratched the surface on what Debbie went over in class and the triad graphic is incomplete, there is more to each triad. As I have also said about Nia, 98% of this can be applied to your life.

If you approach listening to people in RAW, where you are relaxed but alert and just waiting for them to share with you what they are saying, how fabulous would that be? If you were to stop and listen to the rhythm of life around you and notice the melodies and harmonies that accompany it, what would be able to notice? Now, the 8BC System might be a little more challenging to add to your everyday life, but I bet there is a use for it. If not the ACTUALLY “barring” of life, but the idea of when you hear a certain sound you can attribute a move to it or a sensation.  Perhaps a surge of excitement when a familiar ring tone sounds on your phone.  A move to rise when you hear the doorbell.  A move towards the kitchen when you hear family coming in for a meal.

Can you think of ways you can listen in RAW?  Can you listen to life in the form of rhythm, melody, and harmony? 

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Dragonfly

Posted by terrepruitt on July 17, 2020

So, I found three more watercolors from the community center in San Jose where I used to teach gentle yoga. At least I think they are watercolors, two of them are different than the others. One is really bright and one is really dark so it could be they are not watercolors. But they are for different Friday Photos, today we have this lovely dragonfly.

Do you like dragonflies?

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Panini Pressed Eggs And Cheese Tortilla Wrap

Posted by terrepruitt on July 15, 2020

I saw this really easy idea for breakfast (well they called it a snack) in a Cookist video on Facebook. As usual. it looked so easy, I didn’t even look at it a second time when I went to do it. Hmmmmm . . . can you see where this is going already? Yeah, I should have watched it before I did it because it had some key things in there that I am going to say make a big difference. But, if I ever try this again, I know to cook it longer. When I made this for my hubby I needed to put in a pan and cook it more because apparently he does not like his eggs yokes that runny. I don’t eat any type of egg except scrambled so I don’t usually cook his eggs. Anyway, if you try this follow the way they do it in the video.

The only way to see the video is through FB.

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two flour tortillas – burrito sized
1 Cup of shredded cheese
two eggs
salt pepper
2 slices of lunch meat

optional things:
salsa, avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, more cheese, onions

Place the tortillas on the cold grill so they cover the whole grill with one side of one tortilla over lapping the other, put the cheese across the tortillas. Crack each egg into its own separate pinch bowl. Then carefully slide each egg on top of the cheese.   Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper.  Places the lunch meat on top of the eggs, sprinkle more cheese. Fold the edges of the tortillas to form a wrap. Close the press. Then turn it on to cook. My press has a medium setting so I used that. Cook the wrap until the tortilla is golden brown, making sure to cook it as long as you would like your egg to cook.

You can serve it with any optional topping you would like.

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The first mistake I made was I was using smaller tortillas. The second mistake I made was I cracked the eggs directly onto the tortillas/cheese. Sliding them from their own bowl allows you to place them more precisely so they don’t start to run off the tortilla. Another mistake (I have to stop counting because I made so many) was I turned the grill on while I was doing the assembling so the tortillas were cooking the whole time and I was concerned about browning it too much and did not let it cook enough. Also, with the grill on it made the tortilla too hot to handle and fold correctly.  But if you do not do ANY of the THINGS I just mentioned as mistakes, you can do it.  I thought this was really cool.  And my husband enjoyed it once I cooked the eggs a tad bit more.

What do you think? 

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Nia White Belt P2 – Natural Time and Movement Forms – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 13, 2020

Principle 2 of the Nia White Belt has two parts. Nia White Belt Principle 2 is Natural Time and Movement Forms. As you may have seen, I am re-taking the Nia White Belt training online and so far, the information, the bones of this principle has not changed . . . and that is comforting. It is nice to know that we – from the first Nia White Belt that experienced these principles to now – are all still moving from the same point of reference. Back when I took the Nia White Belt training in December 2008 they were developing new images called triads. We were the first class to get a glimpse of them and be shown how they “worked”. Nia is still using the triads to help students learn and embody information, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we are being presented with the latest langage to be used by Nia, but so far the core of the principles have been the same. In addition to the BRAND NEW (not even been printed) Nia White Belt “Sense” Book (the training manual) we are also reading The Nia Technique Book. The Nia Technique Book has pages and pages devoted to Nia White Belt Principle 2 – Natural Time and Movement Forms.  It is a vast principle.

First of all, I want to remind you that Nia is amazing. It is a holistic model for movement and life so it has A LOT of depth. The training material they put out is ALWAYS mind blowing. And over the years they have added more and more things to the toolbox. So, I am not disclosing everything we learn, I am not sharing all of the information because it really is something one needs to experience for themselves. All of the stuff I share – ok, most of it – comes from the publicly available book The Nia Technique Book.

The first part of the principle: Natural Time. I don’t have much to add to my first post on Nia Natural Time. There is a triad for this, but, again, not sharing ALL of our training with you because that just wouldn’t be fair. The first part of P2 is about moving in your own time and using the 13:20, your 13 major joints and your 20 digits, for movement, and about what Nia calls measure which I equate to proprioception, where you know where your body is in relation to things around you and to your own body.  This is very helpful when you are dancing with a lot of people.  It is also VERY helpful nowadays when you are observing social distancing. You use movement and measure to move in your body’s way.

The second part of the principle is Movement Forms. There are three arts that each contain three different movement forms. Now, I say we may use moves from each art because when exercising and/or dancing you are probably going to do a punch or a kick and/or a shimmy or a cha-cha-cha. But I do need to be clear that we are not actually DOING any of these forms. We just use elements from each form or even more accurately we use the energy of each form.  Since we are still using The Nia Technique Book in training, I feel that my previous posts can serve as information regarding each art and its included form.

The “Arts” are Martial Arts (MA), Dance Arts (DA), and the Healing Arts (HA).  Within each art is the form from which we use energy.

T’ai chi is the slow dance
Tae Kwon Do is the dance of precision
Aikido is the dance of harmonious spherical motion

Jazz Dance is the dance of fun, showmanship, and expression
Modern Dance
is the dance of creating shapes in space
Duncan Dance is the dance of free-spirited, honest movement

Feldenkrais is the dance of conscious awareness of sensation,
the Alexander Technique is the dance of movement from the top
Yoga is the dance of conscious alignment of bones and joints

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I am sharing the hastily drawn triad regarding the movement forms because it helps with understanding the organization of them.

For our homework we spent time discovering our energy personalities in relation to the nine movement forms.  In our training we spent time dancing each movement form to see how the different energy allowed our bodies to move.  It is fun to explore and maybe learn new ways to move.

And there you have it Principle 2 of the Nia White Belt hopefully it gives you a little insight as to how we dance Nia and even how we move through life.

Might you play with dancing using one of the movement forms?  See what is your favorite form of expression?

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A Loving Path

Posted by terrepruitt on July 10, 2020

About this time last year some friends were visiting from out of state and they were staying at a place that had the cutest yard. I was very entertained by the yard. I walked around and took a lot of pictures. I have posted some but have a few more I could share.  Here are some stepping stones for my Friday Photo. I thought it would be nice to use these . . . perhaps on a path to more love and kindness in the world.

 

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