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

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle 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 ‘balance’

The Difference Between Yoga And Stretch

Posted by terrepruitt on September 9, 2016

Currently I am lucky enough to teach yoga classes and a stretch class.  And I say “lucky” because I was asked to do these classes but they can be cancelled at any time.  Class attendance needs to stay up or the classes can get cancelled.  This is the case with pretty much any type of exercise class at any type of place . . . a gym, a club, a parks and recs department, etc.  Ok, but where I am actually going with this post is: people ask me all the time what the difference is between yoga and stretch.  Well, my first thought is my post “More To Yoga Than Just Asana,” but that would only help to explain what yoga is and not what we do in a stretch class.  Because I teach gentle yoga classes people are curious about the difference.  It makes sense since they seem the same, but there are differences.  In addition to breathing yoga is different from stretch by a few points.

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 regards to the way I do my gentle yoga and my stretch classes here are some of the differences:

In yoga we work on more than just flexibility, we also work on balance and strength.  In stretch we focus mainly on STRETCHING muscles and, to a lesser extent, connective tissue.  We are not working either in a stabilizing or strengthening capacity.

The poses in yoga have names, at least two, the English name and a Sanskrit name.  In stretch my instruction is usually something like, “move your arm here or there” as I show them how to get into the stretch.  Sometimes I do refer to an asana by name that is similar because many of the students do take yoga also, so they know what to do when I say the name of a pose.

Some people “can’t do” yoga, but they CAN stretch.  🙂  Seriously, invite someone to a yoga class and they will say, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough.”  Invite them to a stretch class and they say, “Oh!  I need to stretch.”

With yoga, people seem to want to “get” somewhere.  They want to be able to “do” a specific pose.  With stretching, even though they might be able to bend deeper or more fully as time goes on, there doesn’t seem to be the urge or need to “get there”.  With stretch the journey seems more important than the destination.  Although it really is supposed to be the same way for yoga.

Another question I am always asked is, “Are you on the floor the whole hour?”  No, but we don’t go up and down as much as in my gentle yoga classes.  In both my gentle yoga classes and my stretch classes we do poses/stretches standing up and on the floor.

Stretching is so good for you.  We all should be doing it, even if we don’t weight train or run marathons, it is really good to stretch the muscles.  But many of us need a class, something we are committed to doing in order to actually take the time to stretch.  I am happy to help in that area and teach a class.

Do you stretch?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Balancing Like A Cat

Posted by terrepruitt on November 20, 2014

Ok, not really, but it seems as if many of us are always seeking balance.  Balance in our diets.  Balance in our lives between work and play.  Balancing our budgets.  Balance between saying yes and saying no.  Balance within the body between all of the delicate (yet amazingly strong) systems.  There is a lot in our lives that require the act of or the state of balance.  In Nia we practice balance a lot, in all of the realms:  physical/body, mental/mind, emotional/emotions, spiritual/spirit.  Yoga practices that balance too.  When I ask the students in gentle yoga what they would like to focus on, they often say balance. When we think of balancing or when we think of balance poses we might think of standing poses, but not all balance poses are standing poses.  I’ve already posted about the Gate pose in my post titled Finding Balance In The Gate.  That pose is done on one knee and one foot.  There is also the Extended Cat pose or Utthita Marjaryasana.  That is a great balance pose.

One of the reasons Utthita Marjaryasana is such a great balance pose is that being so close to the ground and being on two limbs helps alleviate the fear of falling.  Yet it is a balance pose.  The two sides of the body have to work together.  This pose is done on one hand and one knee, the opposite hand from the knee.  We are using opposing limb extension to create a situation in which we need to balance.  So if extending left foot, you extend right hand.  If extending right foot you extend left hand.

This pose starts on the hands and knees.  Often times I have my students start on JUST their knees with their body upright and their thighs lengthened.  I like for them to position their knees directly under their hip joints.  I also want them to see their thigh bones perpendicular to the floor.  When they come down onto their hands I want that 90° angle to remain in the knee joint.  So with knees directly under the hip joint and the knee bent at a 90° angle we are on our hands and knees.  The wrist are directly under the shoulder joint, palms on the earth.  The spine is in neutral position.

In our example we will use the left foot and right hand.  Extend the left foot back with the ball of foot on the floor, raise the right arm bringing the hand in front of you to shoulder height.  Use the “karate chop” position, so the side of the hand is towards the floor with the thumb side to the sky.  Then move your foot so you are only balancing on your big toe.  Then, if you are able, use your glutes to lift your leg keeping it in the straight position.  Your leg is stretched out behind you, your foot is flexed.  Gently reach with your heel away from your extended hand.  Gently reach with your extended hand and the crown of your head away from your extended foot.

The hips remain squared to the floor.  One reason we slowly move the leg into the lift position is to ensure that the hips remain facing the floor.  The top of the foot, along with, the knee faces the floor.  The ankle, the knee, and the hip are aligned.  I prefer the foot that is on the supporting leg to be top-of-foot on the floor.  But you can curl your toes and be on ball of foot.

It also might help during your set up to bring the supporting hand in a little towards the heart center.  It should still be even with the shoulder joint; not higher or lower, but it can be toward the center if that gives you more stability.

This is a balance pose so if you looking at one spot on your mat it helps.  Also remember to breath.

Once you are comfortable with the pose and can balance on opposing limbs the foot can be lifted off of the floor without going through the steps of “ball of foot” to toe positions.

This pose engages the core, the arms, and the legs.  It is great pose to activate the stabilizing muscles.

Do you do the Extended Cat Pose in your practice?

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

Finding Balance In The Gate

Posted by terrepruitt on September 14, 2013

In Nia we have the five sensations that we dance and move with. I always feel that one of them is a personal favorite of one of the co-founders of The Nia Technique. I think that Debbie Rosas really loves stability. I imagine she loves them all because she does a superb job of ensuring they are all included in a each Nia Routine, but sometimes I just get this feeling that practicing balance is her favorite. It could be because sometimes stability, being balanced, requires flexibility and/or agility and/or mobility and/or strength. So you can practice and play with all of the five sensations when practicing balance. In yoga there is at least three of the five sensations we experience in Nia. In yoga there is flexibility and/or strength and/or stability/balance. In the Gentle Yoga class I am teaching I really like to put a huge emphasis on balance. I think balance is very important and yoga is a great way to practice it. There are many poses in yoga that are balance poses. Not all of them are standing poses.

One pose I really like to use for enhancing balance is the Gate pose. This pose is a kneeling pose, somewhat.

In the gentle yoga class we start on our knees. Up off our calves, as in we are not sitting on our legs. Then we lean forward and over to one side, say the left. We lean forward to the left placing both our hands on the ground in front of the left knee. Then we swing our right leg out so it is pointed out to the side. The heel of the right foot is aligned with the left knee or slightly in front. The right foot is flat on the ground and the toes are pointed away from the body. We then lift up so we are kneeling on our left leg with our right leg posed out to the right of our body. Then the left arm comes up reaching straight over the head. Palm towards the right. The right hand is palm up resting on the right thigh. If stability and balance is achieved then those that are comfortable lean over to the right, allowing the right hand to rest lower on the leg, at the shin, not the knee. If comfortable we turn the head to gaze past our left arm. All the while the crown of the head is moving away from our body and the tail is moving in the opposite direction. We are lengthening our spine. The shoulders are being drawn back and down. Even though one arm is up we still keep the space between the ear and the shoulder open and large. The same with the side we are leaning towards.

Whether you are staying up right or leaning over to the side, keep your body from leaning forward. Stay in the pose for a few breaths. After you perform this pose on one side, do the other.

Parighasana, the Gate pose, is a nice way to pursue balance.  The foot that is out can be adjusted to a parallel (to the body) position if that allows it to be more comfortable or stable.  Or the foot can be lifted leaving just the heel on the ground.  The depth of the side bend is always a point that can be adjusted for the individual’s needs at the moment.

I love all the poses in yoga that allow for balance practice.  I think this is a great post with which to practice balance.

Are you familiar with the Gate pose?  Do you like this pose?

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

What IS PiYo?

Posted by terrepruitt on July 9, 2013

I am very shocked and somewhat embarrassed that I have had this blog for over four years and I have never written a post explaining PiYo™.  PiYo is a combination of Pilates (Pi) and Yoga (Yo), brought to us by Chalene Johnson.  Chalene is the creator of Turbo Jam®, Turbo Kick®, TurboFire®, Hip Hop Hustle®, and ChaLEAN Extreme®.  These programs are put out by either Beachbody or her company, Powder Blue Productions.  With PiYo the idea is to combine the two mind/body practices in order to appeal to a large audience.  Pilates and yoga are somewhat similar to begin with, both have a component of connecting the mind and the body in conscious movement.  Both have ideals on breathing and breath.  Both are a way to improve flexibility, stability, strength, and balance.  Depending on which type of yoga practice there could be agility and mobility involved as in Pilates.  Now this might sound familiar if you know about Nia.  In Nia we have the five sensations flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability (FAMSS) which we play with in our dance.  In PiYo the same sensations can be experienced.  The manual states:  “PiYo is considered a ‘Western’ approach to the practices of mind/body fitness.”

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, PiYoI believe that many people think yoga has been “Westernized”.  Since there are so many types of yoga there might not always be a spirituality in the yoga class or chanting, meditating, or even the Sanskrit terminology.  That is true with a PiYo class.  It is more about the physical with an awareness.

PiYo combines yoga breathing and Pilates breathing.  In general a yoga pose is done with yoga breathing and a Pilates exercise is done with Pilates breathing.  Of course, students are encouraged to breath in a way that is comfortable to them and that works with their individual body, the aforementioned is just a general guide.

The PiYo class follows the tried and true module of a typical exercise class.  There is a section for warming up, a section for general strength and balance, a section with more of a focus specific area of the body (say a core, upper body, or lower body), then a cool down and relaxation section.  While yoga poses could meet all the requirement of each section and Pilates exercises could also, it is often the case that each section will have a majority of one or the other.  Although, you might be like me and think that there is such a huge cross over it is difficult with some moves to claim it is only a yoga move or only a Pilates move.  While I am certain the move did originate from one or the other practice specifically it seems as though currently there is a huge cross over.  That is one reason why I think Pilates and yoga marry ups so well.  They can be considered very similar.

So throughout the class there will be yoga poses and Pilates exercises.  It is up to the instructor and the make-up of the class as to whether the yoga poses will be held for a measured amount of time or done in a flow.  No matter which is chosen it will be a sequences of poses.  Whereas the Pilates exercises are done in repetition.  Generally sequences of repetitions.

A PiYo class is allowed the freedom of design.  As mentioned there is a class format, but then the way it is carried out is dependent on the instructor and students.  The consistence of a PiYo class is that it is for the body and the mind using both yoga poses and Pilates moves.

Do you practice yoga?  Do you practice Pilates?

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

Faking It Is Easy

Posted by terrepruitt on August 28, 2012

My husband and I used to dance.  We danced “Country Western”, we did the two step, the cha-cha, the waltz, and the west coast swing.  We liked to dance.  I sometimes would fake it though.  Yeah, I would.  We would go to a lesson and they would show us a move.  We would practice it during the lesson then usually there was a dance party after.  We would join the party.  My husband would always DO THE MOVE WE JUST LEARNED.  I would say, “Ack!  You’re doing the move we just learned!”  And he would look at me with a look that said to me, “Of course, Silly Woman, that is why we are here.  To learn stuff and then actually DO IT.”  But for me the time spent in the lesson was never enough to actually learn it.  Even though the leader’s part is much more difficult than the follower’s, I still couldn’t get it in one lesson.  So a lot of the times I would fake it.  And by fake it I mean, that if you were to look at my feet and KNOW where there were supposed to be, you would know my feet were not correct.  I could move in a way that if you were just casually looking you would think I was doing it right.  I would always make sure I was facing the right direction so you wouldn’t really know my feet were not doing the move correctly unless you knew the move yourself!  Since most people don’t stare at your feet the entire time I often got away with it.  I was good at faking it.  Faking it was easy in the fast songs.

Eventually I would learn the move correctly, but there were some moves that took me a long time to get.  Then somewhere along the way we decided to compete.  I mean, competing really is the only way to know if you are really improving and to spend all that money on lessons and not improve can be a silly thing.  So we decided to compete.  Do you know what that meant?  No more faking it.  I mean the whole point of competition is to have someone look at you and judge — among other things — your feet.  So I had to stop faking it.

I am learning a lot as I sub for different exercise classes.  I recently subbed a class and I was reminded of the faking it.  It is easy to fake it in some classes.  Let’s say Zumba for example, I’ve posted before about how Zumba is all agility (I have since learned otherwise, but I will reflect on that in a post at a later time).  Zumba is the fast start and stop.  Move stop the move and move the other direction, move stop, move stop.  The full range of motion is usually not achieved, you are moving to another move before you really get to finish the first one.  Start, stop, start, stop, start stop.  It is easy to fake.  The fast dances were always easy for me to fake. The good thing about faking it is you are still moving and that is good in a sense.  Even if you are not doing the move correctly you are moving and burning calories and often it is so fast the casually observer or someone standing next to you is not going to notice.  I think this is one of the things that people like about Zumba . . . you are moving and dancing even when you are faking it.

It is the slow dances that are difficult.  With Nia it is not as easy to fake.  With Zumba a move could be hopping from one leg to the other.  With Nia we might actually balance on one leg.  No speed to it, just lifting one leg off the ground and standing on one leg.  Strength and stability.  No faking.  I always invite participants to use a chair, a wall, the barre, or even their other foot, but either way you cannot FAKE standing on one leg.  Sadly, I think for some, not being able to fake it keeps them from joining in the joy of Nia.  The judgment from themselves is so great that they can’t let go and just do what they can because what they can do is not blurred by the start and the stop.  What they can’t do is not blurred by speed.  And they don’t give themselves the chance to learn how to do the moves.  They don’t allow themselves the time to get the muscles in a condition where they can move slow and controlled.  Faking it is easy, it is actually doing a move slow, controlled, and correctly where the difficulty comes in.

When I take a Zumba class I know I fake it often because I don’t know the move so I concentrate on being at the right place and/or facing the right direction at the right time.  Eventually I get the moves . . . well, most of the time.

I know this is my opinion, I don’t really KNOW, but it is coming from a place of judgment based on some things I have seen and heard.  You know I am always trying to figure out the differences between Zumba and Nia and why people like them.  And recently this was a thought because of something I heard and observed . . . the speed, the faking, the judgment.

Do you fake until you make it in your exercise class? 

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

Ball of the Foot

Posted by terrepruitt on June 29, 2010

We often step on the ball of our foot.  We often call it the toe.  The Ball of the foot is one of the 52 Moves of Nia.  Ballerinas are actually on their toes and they do it in special shoes that have a support in them where their toes are.  We usually are stepping onto the BALL of our foot when we step on the “toe”.  It is the ball portion of the foot that supports the weight when we are “on our toes”.

This is plantar flexion and assists with keeping the ankle joint flexible.  If you are standing on the foot you are flexing it can also assist with strength.

In a Nia workout class we do all types of movement and sometimes we are using the ball of our foot.  We could be stepping or standing.  The moment might call for us stepping ONTO the ball either forward, back, or even laterally.  Or it could be that we are standing and just rising up. This could be a position where we stay either in a display of balance or it could be a display of agility, a temporary place where we quickly move onto another move.  Either way it is all part of how the body was designed to be moved.

It might be a nice idea to keep in mind that moving and working the foot in different ways than it is used to being worked might cause some muscle soreness or tenderness through the entire leg.  If you are never on your the ball of your feet and suddenly your dancing a few moments on them, your calves might remind you of it later that day or even the next day.  Same goes for the whole foot, if you are not in the habit of moving on the whole foot your ENTIRE leg could end up letting you know you worked some leg muscles.

As with the whole foot, the ball of the foot can be used in the stances of Nia.

Just as I have done with the heel lead and the whole foot, I am going to suggest that you take note of this foot position.  As you walk notice when your stride gets to the point of the ball of your foot.  As you reach for something on the top shelf and you balance on your toes, notice the flex of your foot and the muscles in your calves.  As you walk through your day notice the ball of your foot.

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »