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!

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

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Archive for the ‘Movement Forms of Nia’ Category

Post regarding/relating to the different movement forms that help make up Nia.

Additional Play With The Nine Movement Forms (of Nia)

Posted by terrepruitt on October 16, 2014

I am learning a Nia Routine and the focus is the Nine Movement Forms (of Nia).  All routines can be an opportunity to connect with the Nine Movement Forms, but when it is the designed focus of the routine it really helps to emphasize each one.  There are nine songs to the routine and each song was created with the specific movement form in mind.  It is an easy way to practice each form.  It is a wonderful way to learn more.  There are three arts and three movement forms from each art.  The Arts are Healing Arts, Martial Arts and Dance Arts.  The movement forms are the Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais, Alexander Techinique, Yoga, T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, and Duncan Dance.

Each movement form can be used to guide the movements.  Each movement form can energize the moves.

The below is from the Nia Technique (page 101)

(Healing Arts)

“Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais:  Reflective, healing, conscious.  Move with sensory awareness and feel life as it happens.

Alexander Technique:  Transformative, exploratory, natural.  Move as a whole person, connected up and balanced.

Yoga:  Timeless, linked, expansive.  Move in ways that link your body, mind, and spirit to the outer world.

(Martial Arts)

T’ai chi:  Flowing, tender, fluid.  Float like a balloon, and move like a willow tree in the wind.

Tae kwon do:  Sharp, powerful, active.  Move with confidence, and feel* your own speed and strength.

Aikido:  Harmonizing, peaceful, cooperative.  Connect and blend with everything around you.

(Dance Arts)

Jazz dance:  Playful, peppy, sexy.  Move with pizzazz and express your most passionate emotions.

Modern dance:  Kanguid, moody, balanced.  Create different shapes with your body.  Play with balance and contrasts.

Duncan dance:  Soulful, spontaneous, unbounded.  Move like a child enchanted by life.”

*I believe that should say “feel”

In the song matched up with the Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais we move in the space.  Sensing our bodies and the space around us.  Sensing the space with our bodies.  The T’ai Chi song has us moving fluidly both slow and fast.  The movement is a flow.  The third song takes us to a dance art and it is jazzy.  We do jazz squares and move with pep and we snap our moves.  In the song where we are focusing on Modern dance we make shapes with our bodies.  We also sense the moods created by the different shapes.  In the Duncan dance focus song we play rushing in and rushing out.  The sixth song has moves that are to be done sharp and powerful.  It is presented first slow than fast.  And that gives the participant options to do either speed.  In the song that focuses on Aikido we do a lot of turns . . . Aikido turns or four point turns.  With the eighth song we are doing a cool down and use the idea of “long bones” and “short bones” which allows us to expand and stretch connecting to the sensation of yoga.  The last song inf our floorplay, we explore the Alexander Technique by moving from the top.

Just a different way to experience the Nine Movement Forms (of Nia).  A great way to delve deeper into Nia and its movement forms.

What do YOU think of when you think of these movement forms?  What do you think of when you think of Moshe Feldenkrais?  Are you familiar with the Alexander Technique?  What comes to mind when you think of Yoga?  What do you know of T’ai chi?  Have you ever done Tae kwon do?  Does thinking about Aikido make you dizzy?  What could you show me about Jazz dance?  Are you into Modern dance?  Do you know who created Duncan dance?

 

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Energy Type the Nia Way

Posted by terrepruitt on July 21, 2011

When we possess a better understanding of things it allows us to work better with them.  By “work” I mean anything from enhancing, to changing, to bettering, to “dealing with”, to molding, to melding, whatever.  It just is that the better we understand something the better “it” can be.  There are personality types, as an example Type A and Type B.  When there is an idea of how a specific personality acts, sometimes there can be ways of interacting with that personality to allow for harmony.  With any “typing” there is variation, so nothing is exact, it just can give us an idea.  In Nia, we have a little bit more in-depth approach to “types”.  It is energy type.  Now no energy is necessarily better than the other.  What is better or “best” is to have BALANCE of all the types.  So this form of “typing” can be utilized to allow you to learn what type you tend towards and give you a chance to work at balancing your types.  The system of energy typing Nia uses is connected with the nine basic Nia movement forms; T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.

In The Nia Technique, a book written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas, there are questionnaires that can guide you to understanding what your particular energy type might lean towards.  They are “True/False” questions. Here are some examples from each energy type:

(T’ai Chi)  “I am often, soft, relaxed, and internally calm” and “I breathe with great ease”

(Tae Kwon Do)  “I love speed and power” and “I am physical, conscious, precise, focused, and directed in my life, getting what I want through hard work and precision”

(Aikido “In life, I am all about win-win” and “I move with grace and seamless dynamics, turning lines into circles”

(Jazz Dance)  “I am impulsive, lusty, sassy, demonstrative, showy, alive, fun, and electrifying to my friends” and “I love to shimmy, get dressed for the party, and be uninhibited”

(Modern Dance)  “I love playing with extremes and contrasts” and “I love contrasts, gravity, surprise, and the start and stop of life, as well as moments of continuity”

(Duncan Dance)  “I am all about the soul, and in life I move in childlike ways”  and “I flow spontaneously through my life”

(Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais)  “I am all about sensation”  and “I am healthy and love anything that is healing”

(Alexander Technique)  “I explore life with ease and flexibility” and “I seek the simple, useful, authentic, and organic ways”

(Yoga)  “I can be gentle, powerful, focused, conscious, and receptive” and “I love lying down, sitting, being prone, and playing with back bend motions.”

There are nine questionnaires with nine statements you mark as true or false.  After answering each one there is information for those with “mostly true” answers and “mostly false”.  The idea is to be able to identify which energy is stronger and which one is weaker.  Then you can work on strengthening the weaker energy during your Nia workout and in your life.  It is interesting to find out where your tendencies lie.  If you are interested in finding out what your Energy Type done the Nia way is, get a copy of The Nia Technique.  It is a great way to get to know Nia and you’ll probably learn a lot about yourself on the way.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | 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 »

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.

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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.

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Nia and Feldenkrais

Posted by terrepruitt on December 12, 2009

Now Feldenkrais in Nia is not so much a movement as it is the feeling, the sensation of movement.  With this technique as our guide we slow down, we become aware, we witness our movement.  The creators of Nia wanted a movement form that resulted in health, both physical and mental.

The Feldenkrais technique is specific and Nia does not claim to practice this technique, instead the idea of being able to create change in the body, by moving it and by focusing on the movement is what is incorporated into Nia.  The idea of change being possible.  The idea of slowing down and paying attention.   Or even if going fast—the idea is to pay attention.

I like to refer to Nia as a body-mind* practice/exercise/workout, because in White Belt we are instructed to go to the body.  Moving in the body’s way and in our own body’s way in particular is one reason why I think of it as body-mind.  But even though we go to the body that does not mean that we are not being aware.  We need to use our mind to listen to the body.  If a movement is being done in class and you copy it exactly, you need to be aware of the sensation your body is returning back to you.  Is doing the move EXACTLY how the teacher is doing it really what YOUR body needs?  Do you need to do it bigger?  Or smaller?  What is it that YOUR body is telling you?

Adding some of the concepts of Moshe Feldenkrais adds body awareness to Nia.  We feel the body as it moves.  We respond to it, we are aware of it.  We are connected to our bodies.  It is somatic movement.  It is movement with ease.

This is how a Nia workout includes elements from Feldenkrais.

The Nine Basic Movements Forms of Nia

*I think that is how Carlos Rosas (AyaRosas) refers to Nia also

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Nia and Modern Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2009

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three different movement forms from three different arts. One of the arts is the dance arts and one movement form is Modern Dance.  With Modern Dance concepts added to Nia it allows us to play with balance, play with shapes, and play with space.  We can form any shape we want.  We can use arms and legs, fingers and toes, torso and head to make the shapes we envision.  We can allow gravity to pull us to the ground, or gravity to pull us heavenward.  With all that Modern Dance inspires us to do we can gain strength and flexibility.  Agility plays a part also as we shift our weight and change our speed.

Jazz Dance allows us to play and be showmen, and Duncan Dance allows us to play and use our imagination, and Modern Dance allows us to play and in addition really use our bodies.  Muscles get a great workout as we expand and contract, shifting our weight, and making shapes.  An invitation to experiment with all planes, directions, and levels only helps to confirm that our muscles will be used as we dance and play.  Bringing Modern Dance into your workout can also be an exercise in timing and speed.  Modern Dance can be the encouragement to make different combinations.  For example, walk across the floor, walk high, walk low, walk fast, walk slow, stumble and recover.

This movement form is a great way to explore the floor, you could fall gently to the earth, then rise up slowly, fall gently and spring up.  Again, multiple combinations can be a result of letting Modern Dance into the workout.  This form also suggest moving one body part and allowing others to follow, so maybe as you are on the ground your hand rises into the air and your body follows and your hand takes you around the space you are in.

Modern Dance really allows for freedom in Nia.  It gives you permission to mix things up and make the steps of a routine your own.  It is another form that gives us permission to play and make the workout fun.
 

The Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual have additional information regarding the movement forms that were blended to create Nia. The books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

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Nia and Tae Kwon Do

Posted by terrepruitt on November 28, 2009

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the martial arts, we borrow from Tae Kwon Do. Not just “moves” from Tae Kwon Do but also some of the other elements of it. With its kicks, punches, blocks, and stances it helps allow Nia to be a great leg workout and provide a stable base for some of our other moves.  Tae Kwon Do can also contribute to one’s confidence by providing exercises that allow one to become strong and stable.  These are the things Nia gains from Tae Kwon Do.

Nia calls Tae Kwon Do the Dance of Precision.*  So when delivering a punch, block, kick, etc. with the energy of Tae Kwon Do, it is done with precision and intent.  However, Nia likes to play so at times even though we might not be executing a punch or a kick, but we might choose to energize our movement with “Tae Kwon Do” like energy, and be forceful and aggressive even adding sound to our movement.

Adding the energy of one form to the moves of another is one of the things that make Nia fun and keeps is challenging.  It takes different muscles to skip with force and authority than to skip like a child without a care in the world.  That is an example of how Nia incorporates different moves with different energies.

In Nia we don’t “DO” Tae Kwon Do, things have been gleaned from it and brought into Nia and mixed in with aspects of  Tai Chi, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the teachings from Feldenkrais, and the combination from each form is Nia.  A lot of Nia routines include moves and concepts from each discipline, but not always.  In an effort to keep each workout fresh, fun, and joyful teachers often mix things up.

If you are near San Jose, come to one of my Nia classes.  If not, I hope that you will find a Nia class near you and give Nia try.

*Both the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual state this. Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas. **V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual

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Nia and Yoga

Posted by terrepruitt on October 3, 2009

A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.

From the healing arts, we use moves and ideals from Yoga.  As with all the movement forms incorporated into Nia, Nia does not claim to be practicing Yoga.  It is understood that years of studying and practice can be involved in the practice of Yoga, and Nia respects that, that is why I say that we “use move and ideals”.  Nia recognizes the benefits that can result from Yoga and with that does its best to utilize some of its amazing power.  Nia calls Yoga “The Conscious Dance of Alignment”.*  It helps with the proper alignment of the bones. It also assists in increasing flexibility for all fitness levels.

We use the aspects of Yoga to help find balance in the body.  In Nia we can also call upon the focus that is evident in Yoga.

The White Belt Manual 3/2001 V3 states:

Witness the value this form provides to increasing and restoring the natural flow of energy throughout the entire body.  Recognize the specific principles that help to clear and calm the mind, bring balance to the nervous system, improve breath and posturing, and strengthen specific body parts.  Acknowledge the way Yoga unifies the body, mind, spirit, and emotional being, and how the internal, core body becomes soft and supple to provide real “energy” strength from the inside out.

So we might do some exercises of twists, bends, and poses in our workout, it is to help increase strength, flexibility, alignment and our conscious connection.

The breathing in Nia reminds me more of Pilates than to Yoga.  We inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, often times sounding.  I have not participated in a Yoga class that does chanting or is vocal so that is why I am reminded more of Pilates than Yoga.

Many of Nia’s teachers are also Yoga instructors or they attend Yoga classes.  I sometimes attend a Yoga class in San Jose.  The two forms of movement are a great compliment to each other.

***V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas

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Nia and Jazz Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on September 29, 2009

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 Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.

From the dance arts, one dance we call upon is Jazz Dance.  Jazz Dance allows us to bring in the fun!  With Jazz it is about fun, showmanship, and expression.  It is about big and little.  Many elements from Jazz are incorporated into Nia.  Isolations, syncopations, combinations, rhythm steps.*  We could do a little flick of the wrist or full body shimmy, enabling us to exercise our intrinsic muscles and show the playful side, the sexy side.  We could do a jazz square, a hip bump, or big arm circles allowing us to express ourselves.  Bringing Jazz Dance into Nia helps bring in the rhythm and it can be a lesson in agility–where we start or move a body part and quickly bring it to a stop.

There is also facial expressions that can be associated with Jazz Dance; the big smiles, the teeth, the pout, the laugh, the wink—all can be jazzy!  And of course, the hands, can’t forget “jazz hands” for one.  With that it can be an expression of self, or beats of the music, or whatever you want.  We can also do a lot of finger motions, pointing, flicking, “come here, Sexy!” gestures—all assisting in the health of the hand.

Jazz Dance brings a lot to Nia, it helps us be playful and have fun.

What moves, gestures, steps, etc. make you think “jazzy”?  What movements do you do that you could add a “jazzy sparkle” to?  And how?

Some of this information is from the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual, V3.  Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

*V3 – White Belt Manual.

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