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

    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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Posts Tagged ‘asanas’

Yoga’s First Two Limbs

Posted by terrepruitt on January 25, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitIn my post earlier this month about there being More To Yoga Than Just Asana, I listed the eight limbs of yoga.  Two of those limbs, the first two limbs have five principles or observances associated with them.  The first limb is the yamas and they, as I mentioned in the other post, are sometimes thought of as restrictions.  The second limb, the niyamas, are sometimes thought of as rules.  But to me rules and restrictions are somewhat the same things.  Many rules seem to be made to restrict people from doing things.  So I am not sure that is a clear enough distinction for me.  Yoga is so ancient and many of the text have been lost, so there are many translations to things.  Another way of looking at the first two limbs: are the yamas are our attitudes toward our environment and the niyamas are our attitudes towards ourselves.  That is from T.K.V. Desikachar’s translation of the Yoga Sutra in The Heart of Yoga.

The five yamas are:

Ahimsa – non-violence, non-harming
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – celibacy, chastity
Aparigraha – non-possessiveness, non-coveting, non-hoarding, non-clinging

The five niyamas are:

Sauca – purity, cleanliness
Santosha – contentment
Tapas – discipline
Svadhyaya – study of self
Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender to the Divine

These rules, restrictions, attitudes, whatever you choose to think of them as, are meant to be applied to our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  So, I am not really even sure there needs to be a distinction between whether it is a rule or a restriction.  But I do like the idea that one is related to an attitude towards our environment and one is related to an attitude towards oneself.  Although, I think all ten can be related to both.  Sigh.  I guess I will just stick to there really doesn’t need to be a distinction.

Each of these can be talked about in detail.  I am definitely going to be writing more posts on these.  Whether it is one post for all the yamas and one post for the niyamas, is yet to be seen, but I do want to share some of the ideas that were shared with me regarding them.  I would like to shed some light on how they can be applied to life both on and off the yoga mat.

Do you want to share any ideas about them?

 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Outside Yoga – Easier Said Than Done

Posted by terrepruitt on May 23, 2015

I decided to go outside today to do some asana.  I needed to get some sun on my hair because yesterday I put developer on it.  I thought that I could get two things done at the same time:  sun on my hair and yoga practice.  Usually I think to do this when it is way too hot and my preparation for going outside takes longer than I actually last outside.  Today, I kept that in mind.  But I could tell there was a breeze outside, so I thought it would be ok.  Also, it was the latter part of the day so the sun wouldn’t be beating down on me directly or for that long.  So, I went outside.  I had a list of yoga poses that I was going to do.  It went pretty well, except for a few things.

The list starts out with standing poses.  I realized that our windows would serve as a mirror in case I wanted to do some X-Ray Anatomy and check my alignment.  Both proper alignment and improper alignment.  Sometimes it is helpful for me to do the pose incorrectly so I can sense it and see it, and then teach to it better.  So, the reflection was great today.

But . . . . my mat got hot.  I would move to step into a pose and the mat was too hot.  I could stay, it cooled down eventually, but it would leave my foot burning.  A distraction I decided I didn’t want after a few poses.  So I got a towel.  Ok.  Solved that little issue.

I did good on the standing poses.  I was aware of the unhappy birds.  I would see one come flying into the yard, and swoop out.  I figured they had their eyes on the feeder and were heading in then they saw me and would pull up at the last minute.  There was a bunch of tweeting, chittering, and squawking going on.  I even managed to stay in Anjaneyasana longer than I intended.  I was just about to move out of it when two little birds landed close to me.  One on the bird bath and the other on the brass ornament we have out there.  I stayed because I didn’t want to move and scare them.  This was a momentary distraction.  But I managed to stay pretty much focused.

The list of asana, then goes over some prone poses.  Again, not too bad.  I was able to ignore the bugs crawling around on the ground, while I was on my belly. . . for the most part.  They were just ants.  I was even so focused that I only allowed the multitude of strawberries to distract me for a moment.  There are A LOT of strawberries out there.  So tiny and bright red!

Then I got to the supine poses.  As I was lying there looking up at the sky I noticed the wispy clouds.  So I just stayed there a moment in Supta Baddha Konasana looking at them.  As I watched they disappeared.  I thought, “Well, that was so pretty, but I better get back to my poses.”  Then I realized I could just stay in the Reclined Bound Angle and enjoy the sky for a bit.  So I did.  Then a cloud started to form and I thought, “Ooooo, what a cool video that would make.”  So I jumped up to get my phone.  I came back to my mat and got back into the pose and waited.  Then I felt like I really wasn’t doing yoga or getting the point to it, if I were in a pose but holding my camera.  So I put it down.  I finished my list with focus.

THEN, I shot more video.

I am gonna share, you might not be able to appreciate the beauty of the day, but perhaps.  The first one might even be able to be used as a little respite from a busy day.

The other two are me just pointing the camera in the general direction of the bird.  I couldn’t actually see what I was videoing because of the sun.  But it turns out in the second one, I actually captured the hummingbird on top of the stand.  You MIGHT be able to see him.  Then he flies toward the lemon tree, I think he was not happy that he had not intimidated me enough to go away.  Then he flew off in a huff!  Or he could have been upset because I moved one of the feeders.

I enjoyed my yard and got some yoga in.  Oh, and let’s not forget, hopefully the sun helped my dingy hair color!  Hopefully you will enjoy a bit of my yard, too.

Do you ever manage to get any yoga done outside?

 

 

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

Breath: Quiet And Safe

Posted by terrepruitt on March 14, 2015

There are a lot of different aspects of yoga.  Just like there are a lot of different aspects of Nia.  As I have said before you can do Nia without getting involved in all of the principles and aspects of it.  You can treat it like a workout and not take it any further.  The same goes for yoga.  That is why I always compare the two.  You can go to a yoga class and go through the poses without giving any of the other aspects a second thought.  I believe that both Nia and yoga can be more beneficial, more satisfying when you do think about the other parts of it . . . but we all have different goals and different ideas.  One of the “aspects” of yoga or limbs of yoga – is pranayama.  There are different pranayamas.  A common one – Ujjayi is typically done while doing the yoga poses, and it might be helpful in reducing or stopping snoring.

So, pranayama is the practice of controlling one’s prana (life force) through breath or the practice of controlling one’s breath.  There are many forms of this type of practice and many ways in which to perform them.  But as I said, a common one is ujjayi breathing.  It is what many recommend be done while doing the asanas.  Some call it the Victory Breath, the Warming Breath, the Ocean Breath, Snake-breathing, throat breathing, or even the Darth Vadar Breath.  It is done through the nose, both the inhale and the exhale.  Some of the names stem from the fact that when you do it you may sound like the ocean, a snake, or Darth Vadar.

This breath “exercise” is done by closing the glottis partially on the exhale.  This post is not to get into the mechanic of how to do ujjayi breathing.  But a quick way to give you an IDEA of how to do it, is to think Felix Unger.  Remember him?  Remember that annoying noise he used to make?  Well, that is a lot more sound than you want, but that gives you an idea of what needs to be going on in your throat / nasal area.

I am excited by the prospect that this type of breathing could help stop snoring or even more importantly sleep apnea.  The idea behind this thought process is that the muscles need toning.  People snore because stuff in there gets to relaxed and it makes noise as the person breathes.  So, it kind of makes sense that if it can be toned or trained then it could help stop the snoring or the life threatening sleep apnea.

Yoga Therapy.com says:  “In fact, this snoring is the sound that occurs when air passes through stenosed nasopharynx, caused by vibration in the air flow of compliant structures of the pharynx (tongue, soft palate, etc.). The main reason that causes vibration of the said formations is impairment of muscle tone of the pharynx and soft palate, structural anomalies and functional abnormalities of the pharynx and soft palate.”  Like I said the stuff in there makes noise.

Again, as I said, this makes sense to me . . . as in, why not try it, it can’t really hurt, but if it did help . . . Oh man, for some it would be a life saver.  I think it is worth a try.  Just another reason to practice pranayama.

Do you think a breathing practice is worth trying if it would stop snoring and/or sleep apnea?  Do you know anyone that snores?  Do you know anyone with sleep apnea?

 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Worst Part Of My Job

Posted by terrepruitt on October 7, 2014

I often tell my students at the end of class that making them get up is the worst part of my job.  I have posted blog posts about savasana.  The restful period of time at the end of a yoga class where you take time to relax letting the body and mind absorb the benefits to be had from the asanas that were just practiced.  Let the body remember the stability and strength.  Give the body time to become accustom the space that was created.  Allow the mind to reflect on the stillness.  Well, in Nia we often end the routine in Floorplay.  Floorplay is either playing with gravity to experience the muscles or stretching or . . . it can be a combination of both.  There are a lot of ways to play on the floor.  There are a lot of ways to end the class.  Our Nia training DVDs have floorplay and ending movements, but they are not choreographed.  So there is a lot of freedom in the last songs.  Nia teachers can either duplicate what the trainer does on the DVD or they can create their own movements to the songs and end the class in their own way.  I know I sometimes do what I sense the class needs so sometimes I lead the class through movements and sometimes I instruct them to do their own free dance.  Often times we end by lying on the floor in a restful pose.  Just like in my yoga classes I don’t like to have to make my students get up.

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classesIn the studio I rent, I think that I should rent an extra 30 minutes so we can just lie there.  Sometimes I sense the class could easily just stay there for an extra 30 minutes beyond the one hour Nia class.  In the classes I teach for the San Jose Park and Recs Department, I sense they could do that too, but we need to end on time.  Sometimes there is a class right after us so our restful period is interrupted.  But when it is not, it is a challenge to know when to interrupt the peace.

Recently I taught a class and I really didn’t want to tell them to get up.  The clock in the room was not working so I snuck up to check my phone and as I was returning to the circle I saw such peace and relaxation I didn’t want to bother them.  I toyed with the idea of just letting them stay an extra 5 or 10 minutes.  But without having planned that in advance, I didn’t want someone lying there past the hour and not knowing it.  Many people workout on their breaks so they need to get back to work.  Or they just need to get on with their day.  So as much as I don’t like interrupting their peace and as much as I would like to just let them relax, I need to keep to our schedule.  But it really is the worst part of my job when I feel they would love to just stay.

But, on the other hand, it really is a great part of my job when I can be in the presence of those that can just relax and let go.  After dancing and getting all sweaty it is so nice that they can just take a deep breath and melt into the earth and relax.  I get a huge sense of peace when I am in the presence of their stillness . . . . that is why it is so hard to disturb them.

Do you take moments out of your day to just relax and experience peace?

Posted in Nia, Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

For A Taller You

Posted by terrepruitt on August 27, 2013

There are a lot of things I like about yoga, one thing that I really like is that many of the asanas or poses are executed with a lengthening of the spine. In many poses the idea is to reach with the top of your head, or the crown of your head, in the opposite direction of your tailbone.  Often the cue is to reach with the crown of your head to the sky while reaching with your tailbone into the earth.  I feel as if the reaching and stretching in the opposite directions really help the body be taller.

While standing, sitting, bending the motion or action is to reach. Reach in opposite directions.  Create space in between each vertebra. While consciously stretching the backbone, you are pulling your shoulders back and down. Create a long neck by reaching. Push the shoulders away from the ears.  The ribs lift upwards, and off and away from the hips.

One motion or thought to help straighten and lengthen is to extend your sternum skyward.  This somewhat juts the chest out and the shoulder automatically go back and down.  With this as an image there might be some adjusting that needs to take place, but it can help move you in the right direction.   With the lengthening of the spine comes the separating of the ribs.  Allowing space in between each rib can sometimes help increase lung capacity.  If your lungs have more room to move in they might expand further.  This all lending to bigger, deeper breaths.

In the Gentle Yoga class I am currently teaching I am continually reminding the students to lengthen their spine.  I, myself, have a habit of scrunching.  I think I have mentioned this before.  I both scrunch my shoulders up to my ears and round my back.  I liken my posture to that of a spoon.  So it is very easy for me to fall into that even while I am leading a class because I begin to shift my concentration.  So the reminder is for all of us.  A reminder is nice because then you can check to make certain you are doing all the things involved in lengthening the spine.  Although sometimes I feel a bit repetitive, I think it is worth it.  In addition to myself I usually see at least one participant make an adjustment.

In Nia while we might not always be lengthening and reaching with our spine throughout an entire routine there is often at least a moment.  If not in one of the dances itself in the cool down or the floorplay.  I often include imaging space in between each vertebra as we sit or bend over in a stretch.  The Nia routing might not include yoga poses by the idea of it is included.  Part of the yoga inclusion “is the conscious alignment of bones and joints”*  While lengthening the spine we are lining up the bones and the joints.  Our posture is intact.

I really enjoy the growing taller sensation that yoga can offer through a variety of asanas where we are reaching and lengthening.  To me it makes for a taller me.

Do you sense you are taller after doing yoga?  Do you sense your spine is more straight after yoga?  Do you do a pose that really has you feeling you are taller after?

*The Nia Technique, page 276.  A yoga focus.

Posted in Nia, Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Sun Salutation – My Way

Posted by terrepruitt on May 4, 2013

The Sun Salutation is a sequence of asanas.  I have not yet included it in any of my Nia classes, but I am thinking about doing so.  In general modern day usage “asana” is what people call a yoga pose.  So the Sun Salutation is a sequence of yoga poses.  Now, if you look up Sun Salutation on the internet you will find a lot of variations.  There are certain asanas that you will consistently find in all of them, but then not all of the Sun Salutations will include the same EXACT ones.  I’ve seen anywhere from 9 to 13 poses in a single salutation.  Since yoga is considered a practice associated with religion, a meditation, a prayer, a movement form, and/or a straight out exercise it makes sense that there are so many difference ways to do the Sun Salutation.  If you are chosing to do the movement as a form of worship it might have different movements than if you are doing it to get a specific physical benefit.  Most of the instructions on how to do it agree that the movements are based on breath.  Inhale here, exhale there.  I have decided on a combination of what I have been trained with, what I have practiced in classes, what I practice at home, several applications, and things I have learned along the way.  I have decided on thirteen movements.  I move using the right leg through 11 asanas, then through them again using the left leg.  Two of the poses making the sequence 13 are only used only in very beginning and the end.

I start in Anjali mudra then go to the
Mountain Pose, then arms move out and up into an
Upward Salute, then I swan dive into a
Forward Bend, up into a
Standing Half Forward Bend, then I place the left leg back into a
lunge then the right leg back into a
plank then I move down onto knees into
knees, chest, chin/Ashtanga Namaskara or chaturanga up into
cobra, then I push back into
downward dog, I stay here longer than any other pose.  I breath.  Then I bring my right leg forward, so I am in a
lunge, then I bring my left leg forward then I
forward bend, then I come up a little into
Standing Half Forward Bend then lift my arms out and up as I rise into an
Upward Salute which I consider the start of the right sun salutation.  I go through the sequences again this time place my right leg back into the lunge.  When it is time to lunge again, I bring my left leg forward.

I find that as I move through the salutation, I like to change my Upward Salutes into more of a little back bend.  Only bending back as I warm up and it feels good.

Since this is my Sun Salutation, and I am not worshiping the sun . . . in fact I don’t even think of the sun at all, I just do it my way.  I do it in the way I feel like doing it that day.  Sometimes I time it with my breath inhaling on this move and exhaling on that move, sometimes I stay in each pose longer and while I am aware of my breath my movements are not dictated by it.  I do somewhat feel that is WAAAAAY contrary to the way it is “supposed” to be done, but then again it is MY movement.  It is MY practice.  It is MY meditation.  So I do it the way MY body feels like doing it that day.  I don’t usually decide how I am going to do it when I begin, I just begin and however I seem to move is how I do it that day at that time.  Sometimes I even time it to the music I am listening too.  Sometimes, unfortunately, I am in a hurry and I just want to get a few in so I do them.  It all depends.  That is why I think it is nice because YOU can do it how you want to do it to match the reason you are doing it.  After doing at least six, I end with the Mountain Post and the Anjali mudra.

Do you do a version of the Sun Salutation?  What asanas do you include in your salute?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Standing Still

Posted by terrepruitt on February 23, 2013

Just as there are specific moves in Nia (Nia’s 52 Moves), there are different asanas or poses in yoga.  There is an asana (pose) in yoga that is standing still, but it is called Mountain Pose.  In Sanskrit, what I think of as the language of yoga, it is Tadasana.  While this pose is a still pose and the body is standing erect, it is an active pose.  The body is not just upright and relaxed, there are muscles engaged and energy moving.  It is more than likely that there is no straining involved and one might look relaxed and even feel relaxed yet there is more than just standing there happening.  Mountain Pose is an active pose often used as a transitional pose.  Yet can stand on its own, no pun intended.

In Tadasana toes touch and feet are parallel.  Of course, as with many things, there are many variations, and people have their own way of doing them.  In this post in the pose our toes touch, feet are parallel forming a stable base.  For some the heels might need to be fanned out a bit or feet may need to be separate.  The goal is to have a stable base so adjust the feet as necessary in order to ensure stability.  One way to assist with stability is to relax your feet allowing the toes to spread.  Imagine your feet becoming wide and open.  The feet do not grip the earth, they spread out.  Weight is evenly distributed.  Take time to sense all points of the feet.

The ankle joints remain open.  The shins and calves are rooted into the floor.  The knees are not locked, yet they sense stability because the quadriceps are reaching up lifting the knee caps.  The thighs are turned ever-so-slightly in.  The buttocks are lifted yet there is no arching in the lower back.  The belly (abdominals) are engaged.  The spine is long.

With the crown of your head reach for the sky, lengthening the entire back.  Keep the chin parallel to the earth and your head in alignment with your chest, hips, knees, and feet.  Shoulders are gently pulled back with shoulder blades down, the chest does not stick out, yet the sternum is presented up allowing the collar bones to open wide.  Arms are along the side of the body, not hanging, not touching the body, not rigid, but active.  Hands are active with fingers gently fanned open.

Energy is moving up allowing for the lengthening of the entire body, yet there is a sense of being rooted and stable.  As I mentioned this pose is often used as a transition.  You might see it performed in between standing poses.  It is perfect to reset the body in order to correctly move into another position.  It can also be used as a resting pose.  Even though it is an active pose, it still can be a rest for the body.

As you can tell, if you got up to try it, this is not a passive pose.  There is a lot of muscle engagement, so maybe you can see why this pose could be practiced on it’s own and not just used as a transition.  It is not just standing still, it is a strong, stable pose, like a mountain.

So if you didn’t already do it, are you ready?  Get up and try it!

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Stretching BEFORE Workout

Posted by terrepruitt on June 10, 2010

When I was young the thing to do, what we were taught to do, before exercise was to stretch.  Static stretching, moving into a position that stretches the muscle, then hold it for about 30 seconds.  The idea was to stretch every muscle in the body, from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top.  This was considered a proper warm-up.  This was the correct way to get our bodies ready for exercise.  This we were told would prevent injury. Research and knowledge has changed that.

With advances in exercise technology and body knowledge, it is now a popular belief that this type of stretching, static stretching could actual harm the muscles or in the very least keep them from operating at their peak.  Some researchers believe that stretching before exercise actually causes the muscle to contract and tire, therefore not perform as efficiently.

A study done by the University of Nevada found that athlete’s muscle strength was decreased by as much as 30%.  If a muscles strength is decreased you are either going to be able to do less or injure yourself trying to do more than you muscle is able to do at the time.

So many of us have been taught to warm up this way for so long it is difficult for us to let go and to move on to the correct way to warm up.  This type of stretching — static stretch — is best left for the purpose of improving flexibility (and strength in the case of asanas) and is best done after a workout (unless it IS your workout as in the case of a yoga).  What type of warm up do you do?  Do you stretch before or after a workout?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »