Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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

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

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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  • My Bloggey Past

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Posts Tagged ‘cardio dance’

Working Out Or Working In

Posted by terrepruitt on October 22, 2018

Many types of certifications require continued education. Some jobs require it. In many cases even if it is the employer that requires it, the employee has to pay for it. In the fitness industry there are other expenses that the fitness professional must bear in addition to anything it cost to keep their certifications current. One is insurance and there maybe others, but another one that comes to mind is the cost of a business license. I am just bringing this up because I spent a few hours today taking classes for a required re-certification for one of my employers. Since I was busy doing that I didn’t have any time to let my “creative juices” flow in order to come up with a blog post, so I was going to share some of the things I reviewed today. One thing about fitness classes for re-certification it is often a repeat of information, but I usually pick up at least one new thing. Here I am going to just share the training entity’s general idea from one of the classes I took today.

The training was basically saying that it has now been proven and continues to be proven as science delves more into many aspects of the body – that the body needs rest. The body cannot operate efficiently without rest. The idea was “Working In” versus “Working Out”. So working out is what you may typically think of as working out; running, lifting weights, HIIT, a typical cardio dance class. To put it simply, something that gets your heart rate up, stresses the body, and is a big output of energy. The idea of working in is a more relaxed type of exercise, say, Tai Chi, walking, easy yoga, stuff that is more mellow, doesn’t actually stress the body out, and is more about energy moving in.

The thought process is that we have so much stress in our everyday life, there are times when a hard workout is NOT what the body needs. And not just the physical aspect of the body but our mind. Since the body does not know the difference between scary bad stress and exercising stress, it is good to give it a rest. And a rest could be doing nothing or doing their idea of a “work in”.

I think most people know that in order to build a muscle it needs to be stressed, but it also needs to rest. It actually grows during the rest NOT during the period of time when it is under stress. When the muscle does not get rest it will not grow and it cannot strengthen and that is when the risk of injury occurs. So . . . . it seems logical that sometimes the body needs to rest in order for it to be able to work at its best.

The body is so amazing.  It can heal itself and adapt.  But in order to do both it needs some time to rest.

It is so nice that studies/science are now starting to “prove” this idea because it is so very important.  And so many people, cultures even, have known this for so long . . . it is nice that science is finally agreeing so maybe more people will start listening and take advantage of “working in”.

What about you?  Do you take “rest days”?  Do you do “mellow” workouts – things that might be deemed as “working in”?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Music Arrangement That Helps Me

Posted by terrepruitt on April 29, 2016

I am not organized in all areas of my life.  Who is, right?  But I do find that when I am organized it makes things easier . . . faster . . . quicker.  And, most of us can benefit from that, right?  There is so much going on, if we can do something faster it helps.  Even if it is just to allow us time to slow down.  Hurry up and cook dinner so we can sit and relax.  Hurry up and clean up so we can go off to play.  Whatever . . . hurry in one area of life to make it easier so we can get to the OTHER things in life.  Well, I teach Nia, which is a cardio dance that is done to a variety of music.  Nia Teachers purchase routines from Nia Technique.  They are playlists and choreography.  Ok, really they are A LOT more than that, but if I got into ALL of what the routines are in this post it would be really long and I would probably not even get to the point of this post.  The point is some information on how I “organize” or arrange my music in iTunes.

So, Nia teacher purchase routines and for some reason sometimes the Album is titled the name of the routine and sometimes it is titled “NiaSounds”.  Sometimes it is the name of the routine-NiaSounds.  It is NOT consistent.  The artists are all over the place from the ACTUAL artist to “Nia Technique”.  It is not consistent.  And the genre is spotty too, sometimes it is “Alternative”, sometimes it is “New Age”, and I am not even sure what else.  This inconsistency does not make it easy to organize the music.  And it is very desirable, if not necessary, to have the music labeled consistently so that it can be organized consistently.

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, SJCityFitWhat I do, is I make certain the genre is “Nia”.  The ACTUAL genre could be anything because we dance Nia to all types of music.  So what it REALLY is, is not what I am looking for.  I want my Nia Routine music to come up all in one spot when I look at it if I am looking at it via genre.

I change all the Albums to be the name of the actual Nia Routine so I can find music easily by the name of the routine.

I don’t bother with the artist because I like it when it is the ACTUAL artist, but I am not going to spend the time to correct all the music to be the actual artist.  As I said, the way Nia labels it is not consistent.

iTunes changes the way it functions WAY TOO often for me.  I notice that the length of a song doesn’t show any longer where it used to.  I have to go in and out of playlists to see the length of songs.  When I have a playlist pulled up, I have to go out of it into the list of playlists to see the length.  I have been delaying the update that is currently out there because I can’t even imagine the new changes they have done, the last time an update came out someone on Facebook asked a question about where the total time of the playlists had gone to and that made me think I had better not update because one of the things that makes an iPhone and iPad useful to me is that it can be used to create playlists.  And when you are teaching you need to know how long the playlist is.

One of my devices is on a really old iOS (6something) and the other one is at 9something.  I think my iTunes is a few versions behind.  But I am afraid to update because I don’t want to lose the function that I use.

Another way I organize the music is I have three separate playlists for the Nia music.  One is arranged by Album.  So I can easily see what song goes to which routine.  I can pick out a song that I know is in a routine, or identify a routine when I know the song.  Also, I have a playlist arranged by BPM . . . which means Beats Per Minute, but in Nia we don’t go by BPM we go by the 8BCs.  So once I figure out that count I try to remember to put it in my iTunes (under BPM).  I have not successfully remembered with all the routines, so not all of them show up properly in that playlist but enough to help me when I am trying to put a particular speed song into a routine I am trying to create.  Then I also have a playlist arranged by time because sometimes I need a LONG song and sometimes I need a short song.  When they are all clumped together by time it makes it easier to pick the length of time I need then I can just pop it into the correct Nia Class cycle.  So these three separate “playlists” allow me to see the music in ways that I need, in order to create playlists on my device that I will use in class.

That is what I do to help keep my music organized in a manner that works for me.  I am sure there are different ways that other Nia teachers do it as this is not the only way.

Whether you are a teacher that uses music or not – how do you organize your music?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Equal Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on September 3, 2015

You may be familiar with yoga.  You know those stretching exercises people do?  That is what many people think of as yoga, stretching and bending and making your body a pretzel.  Well, the poses, the postures, the asana are a part of yoga.  That is really only one part of eight.  There are eight limbs of yoga.  Another part is pranayama.  I mentioned one in my post Breath: Quiet and Safe.  In that post I also mentioned why I often compare Nia and yoga.  First of all I believe that Nia has incorporated many things from yoga into Nia, so that is one reason why I talk about yoga and Nia.  But I also talk about them being similar because Nia is a dance exercise and for many people that is all it is.  And since cardio exercise is beneficial I think that is fine, if that is as far as people want to go with it.  The same with yoga.  Yoga is an exercise.  You can just do the moves and, I believe through movement, gain many benefits.  However, if you want to get more out of it, there are these other things that you can practice, and one of them is pranayama.

Now, Iyengar says “attempt pranayama only when the yoga asanas have been mastered.”  Because that is what Patanjali says in the Yoga Sturas.  But for many of us that means we would never do pranayama or if we did it would be years and years AFTER we have been practicing.  Now, I am just starting to learn more about pranayama, so if you want to heed the master, by all means, please do.  I think, however, that pranayama is beneficial so I don’t want to wait until I have mastered the asana, because, quite honestly I might not “MASTER” them at all.

Now some people might hear pranayama and think that is just to woo-woo.  What is that anyway, just a bunch of crossed-legged people breathing?  Well, there are specific pranayamas.  And there are specific ways to do them.  And even specific times.  But let me ask you this:  have you EVER, EVER, just stopped and held your breath?  Perhaps someone said something that made you angry so you stopped and held your breath.  Perhaps someone in a store cut in front of you in line so you stopped and held your breath.  Or have you ever stopped to took a breath?  Perhaps you were just going, going, going and you realized you wanted to slow down so you took a breath?  Perhaps you looked outside your window and realized what a beautiful day it was so you took a breath.  Now, as I said, pranayama is specific so I am not saying THAT or THOSE breaths were pranayama, but I am saying that if you have ever stopped breathing or stopped and taken a breath for any reason you might be able to see how pranayama could be beneficial.

I mentioned the other post I wrote about pranayama, Ujjayi specifically.  Well there is another one that I think of as “easy”.  It is Samavrtti.  Sama means equal so it is a practice of equality in breathing.  But in this type of breath there are FOUR parts.  Typically I think of breathing as TWO parts, inhale and exhale.  Well, with this the other two are retention.  As in holding.  Pausing after the inhale then pausing after the exhale.  The reason I say this is “easy” with quotation marks is sometimes the retention is stress inducing.  Some people don’t like to hold their breath on the inhale and some people don’t like to hold their breath on the exhale.  So while the idea is that anyone can do this at anytime, you want to make sure that this is not something that will cause you anxiety.

With this, the idea is to inhale then hold, exhale then hold.  Keeping the SAMA in mind, the goal is to inhale, hold, exhale, hold equally.  So there are many ways to do it if you are counting as a way of keep track you can inhale 1,2, hold 1,2, exhale 1,2, hold 1,2.  If the holding causes anxiety, it is ok to build up to it.  Perhaps just holding after the inhale.  Or maybe just hold on whichever retention causes less anxiety.  Then perhaps graduating to inhale 1,2, hold 1, exhale 1,2, hold 1.  There are many combinations to do while you work up to EQUAL parts.

Remember that the breaths should be relaxed and even.  So the idea is not to inhale then hold so long that your exhale is a rush of air.  It should all be even and relaxed.

Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar states in his Light On Pranayama to practice in ratios retain only on the inhalation.  Once you achieve his stated ratios THEN move onto the retention after the exhalation.  But he begins that instruction stating you will not be able to retain on the exhale.  So it could be he means to follow the ratios is you really are unable to hold your exhale.  While in general I love to follow the instructions and guidelines of the masters and experts, sometimes if I restrict myself to their instructions I end up not doing it at all.  So . . . my recommendation is to try it and do what is comfortable for you.  Being mindful and cautious.

Some say the samavritt calms the mind and can help to create steadiness and focus even in the most challenging asanas.  And others say it calms the body and focuses the mind.

Do you practice any pranayama?  Do you ever take a deep breath?

 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

What Did Frankie Say?

Posted by terrepruitt on March 28, 2015

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoLast night we had a visiting Nia teacher come to Campbell and present a routine that he has created.  Jason Alan Griffin is a First Degree Nia Black Belt and he created a routine he calls Frankie Say Nia.  He travels around to different places with his dog River and he brings Nia with him.  He has routines he has created and playshops.  Friday night was the Nia class where he did his 80’s Alternative New Wave music routine.  People were invited to dress in 80’s style – bright clothes, animal prints, whatever they think of as 80’s fashion.  It is difficult – for me – to think of dressing up at the same times as wearing clothes I can workout and move comfortably in.  Jason was wearing shorts that reminded me of Saint Patrick’s Day and I was wearing animal print with my hair up in a silly pony.  That was as far as I was able to take my dressing up.  I’ll have to check with Jason about the shorts.  I forgot to ask him about them today.  The dressing up and the clothes were not what makes it fun or 80’s, it was the music.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoJason had us dancing to many familiar tunes.  I was happy to hear all of them that I knew.  I knew all of them until we arrived at the Floorplay portion of the Nia class and then I was just mystified.  I kept thinking I would eventually recognize it, but it was out of my scope of knowledge.  And I don’t even remember what it was.  I believe there was mention of a bar.  It was odd to me.  And, later it was indicated that I had a look on my face (odd) matching what I was thinking.  As I said, I kept waiting to hear something that would spark some sort of little hint that I had ever heard the song before, but nothing came.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoJason’s playfulness and ability to match movements to music is so evident in his routines.  And they are just fun.  I can say that we all had a great time because every commented on having one!  His choreography and the music made for a great time.

I was very happy that he had some FreeDances in the routine because I was looking forward to gleaning some tools from them as he taught.  And I did.  Then the next day he took it to the next level with the FreeDance Playshop.  That has to be a post all of its own.  Perhaps more than one.  We will see.  I am still processing.

As I have recommended before to you, Dear Readers, if Jason comes to your town you should go to his class.  That is, if you like to have a great time while you are getting your dance workout in.  You can always check out his schedule on his blog.

I have included some pictures.  As I have said before, it is not easy to get pictures of moving bodies.  I had help from my hubby.  We had at least three devices taking pictures and videos.

Can you tell from the pictures that we are having a good time?

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoI hope one day we will be able to dance together!

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

Head and Eye Movement In Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on July 31, 2014

One of Nia’s 52 Moves is Head and Eye Movement.  Yes, we intentionally and specifically move our head and our eyes in Nia.  A long time ago when I first started teaching I had a student who had come to about three classes and after the third class she said something to affect of since starting Nia she actually moves her head to look around while driving.  So my first thought was, “Yay!  Nia helps make people better drivers.”  If people are not moving their heads and then start doing so after Nia – YAY! – especially while driving.  Nia really is about full body health and movement.  So we don’t do just a cardio workout that works your heart.  We don’t do just a dance exercise that moves your legs.  We don’t do just some choreography that involves our hands.  We involve the whole body.  As you may have surmised from the post on Creepy Crawlers.  It is very important for people to move their heads.

I see a lot of people with very stiff necks who in fact do not move their heads.  There are a lot of reasons.  I know some reasons include stiff muscles.  They can’t move their head without pain because their muscles are not used to moving or are holding too much stress.  I know some people who can’t move their head because it causes them dizziness.  I also know some people who rid themselves of stiff necks and dizziness by moving their head.  Moving one’s head will not solve everyone’s issues of stiff necks or dizziness, but I do know some people who were helped by it.

In Nia we move our head a lot.  We engage our eyes a lot.  But as with all of the 52 Moves of Nia there is a specific way to do it.  In just practicing Head and Eye Movements you look all around and move your head to match your gaze.  Letting the action of your head follow the intent of your eyes.

Just like with Catching Flies, this move requires looking BEFORE moving.  So LOOK and then move the head so you are facing the direction you are looking.  As I said look in all directions.  Look up, then move your head so you are facing up.  Look down, then move your head so your chin is at your chest.  Look left, then turn your head left.  Look right, then turn your head to the right.  Look in a different direction then move your head so you are facing that direction.  After looking around nod your head “yes”, shake it “no”, roll the head around both directions.  Vary the speed at which you do all of this.  Be aware of any sensations that come up.  Also, if you are not accustomed to moving your head be careful that you don’t get dizzy or too dizzy.

As I mentioned some people get dizzy from lack of moving their head.  It is not because of any condition, it is just lack of practice.  So, be cautious when you first practice Nia’s Head and Eye Movement.  Now, go, look around, move your head.

How do you feel when you move your head?  Do you move your head around?  Do you have a stiff neck?  Do you get dizzy when you move your head?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sweaty Goodness

Posted by terrepruitt on July 22, 2014

When a body moves it expends energy.  The bigger the movements the more energy expended.  The faster the movements the more energy expended.  The longer the body is in motion the more energy it expends.  I teach Nia.  It is not a boot camp where the higher ranked officer is yelling at you to move more, to more bigger to move longer.  It is a cardio dance workout where you get to move your body in your own body’s way.  You move to your level of movement.  You move to the level you want to move at the time you are in the class.  The more you move, the more energy you will use up.  For some of us, the more we move the more we sweat.  Honestly, if you don’t move you will not sweat.  A lot of people equate a “good workout” with sweat.  Not everyone sweats, but most people do sweat when they move.  In Nia we don’t yell at participants to run faster, to reach higher, to go lower, to do more.  We use words to help you move in a way that you want to move.  Some people cannot move their bodies without being told exactly how to move.  Some people just need the time and space and they either know exactly what to do OR they are able to just let go and let their bodies move.  I have experienced the type of person that tells me they don’t sweat in Nia and the type that does.

One time, after teaching a class, I was walking out and mopping my face and neck with a towel.  I was dripping wet.  And a woman approached me and said, “You don’t sweat in Nia, do you?”  I just looked at her and said, “No, YOU don’t.”  She was the one that stood behind me the entire class and I never saw her body.  I never saw her limbs and I never saw her.  Now, I am not the smallest of people so it is perfectly feasible that she could hide behind me and me not see her.  But it is NOT feasible to MOVE and not be seen standing behind me.  If she would have lifted her arm once, I would have seen it.  If she would have lifted her leg once, I would have seen it.  If she would have MOVED, her body MIGHT have produced some sweat.  I cannot tell you why she didn’t move her body except to stand behind me, but I can tell you since she did not she did not get a “good workout.”

Once a woman walked by me and a student talking after Nia class and she asked where the pool was.  We were confused.  Then we realized we were so wet with sweat we looked as if we had been swimming.

Then more recently, I experienced at participant in a class who, when we were done said, “Wow!  I got sweaty.”  And I said, “Yes, yes you did.”  And that was because she moved. She participated.  While she was not standing behind me, I did see her move in her own body’s way to the suggestions such as “dancing big”, “drumming the sky”, “body drum”.  She moved in her own way to all of the suggestions even though she had no idea what Nia was when she entered the dance studio.  But it was obvious she was there to get a “good workout” so she participated.  She moved.  She expended energy.  She got sweaty.

In Nia, as with ALL workouts, you get out of it what you put in.  If you don’t move, you are not going to expend energy.  If you don’t expend energy, you probably are not going to sweat.  You need to MOVE to get a workout.  It is not accurate to say that Nia is not a “good workout” when you do move.  If you don’t actually try it you can’t actually say whether it is good or not.

This is what I experience a lot.  Remember I am a substitute for other classes besides Nia.  So they are not always looking for something new and different.  Some are excellent sports and try it.  Some are not and so they don’t participate.  Again . . . . they get out of of it what they put in.

Have you noticed that you get less of a workout when you move less?  Do you agree that you get out of it what you put into it?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Never Cease

Posted by terrepruitt on May 27, 2014

I teach Nia which is a cardio dance available to any age.  At both the low end of the age spectrum and the high end of the age spectrum, if you can safely move about the floor and follow basic movements you can do Nia.  So there are young and old Nia dancers.  I teach at facilities that have age restrictions, but that is only the facilities, not Nia.  Then I also teach gentle yoga to older adults.  The classes are held at the “Senior Centers” so while some of the classes are open to those 18 years and older the population in class tends to be older.  As I am sure many of you that teach at a facility with older people will attest, it is amazing to work with these people.  They come week after week and keep trying.  In my class I have a wide variety of experience levels.  They come back every week and do the poses to the best of their ability.  I am inspired by their drive to keep doing.

I check in with them to confirm that they are seeing and feeling some benefit to the class.  With many I can see it, but I want to confirm that they recognize it.  Recently one of my students was sharing some things he learned and he said, “I learned that I need to learn how to relax.”  I laughed and agreed.  It is not easy to do for some.  It is not always second nature to breathe and “rest” into a pose.  The corpse pose at the end of the class is one of those poses.  In fact one class asked if we “had to” do it.  I said yes.  To me that is part of yoga.  That is part of my class.  I believe that quieting the mind and relaxing for 5 to 10 minutes after a class is necessary.  For many it is a Challenging Easy Pose, it is difficult to be still.  Just now as I am typing I remember this person not being able to be still at all when we first started doing yoga.  Now there is stillness.  I believe every one can benefit from this moment of restfulness.  I love that even those who think it is unnecessary, keep trying.

A bit ago we did a pose that several students said is “hard”.  I agreed with them.  It is hard . . . that is why we are doing it.  We are doing a very modified version, but it is one of those poses that works many if not all the muscles in your body, so yes, it is “hard”.  And we do it so that they can benefit from it.  In working on so many muscles it is a balance pose, that requires flexibility and strength.  One of those awesome poses that does so much . . . so we do it.  And what spurred me to write this post is that while they were saying it was hard they were not saying, “It’s hard, I don’t want to do it.”  They were just saying, “Wow, this is hard.”  And then they moved into position to do it again.  Love it.  Love those inspiring active people in my classes!

I just wanted to share with you that I have some amazing inspirations in my life.

What about you?  Do you know any older adults that cause you to think, “I wanna be like that when I am their age”?  Some of those people that just keep trying?  They might not be doing it in a clearly recognizable way but they are still trying?

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Generations Sharing Music

Posted by terrepruitt on May 10, 2014

I imagine I am like all dance exercise teachers, in that when I hear music I enjoy I think about how I can bring it to my Nia class.  I think about creating choreography to it.  I was thinking the other day about what music would appeal to one of my classes.  My train of thought took me on a little journey. First off – before I share my journey – this is not a rant about how modern technology has caused huge chasms between people because while there are some disconnects there are some great connections. This IS a little about how things have changed and how we miss out on somethings but it is more of a ride down a memory rail line then a rant. Many of you that lived through the time period that I am about to mention, have probably heard the “remember when” about when you had to listen to the radio “all” day before you could hear that song (ya know, whichever one you wanted to hear) again.  There was no device to turn to that could play it instantly. Unless you held your cassette recorder up to the radio and recorded it, you had to wait for it to be played on the radio. There was also the accidental sharing of music that today’s technology prevents happening.

When I wanted to listen to my music I had to go into the living room and play my records. I usually had to ask if I could.  Then I would turn on the stereo with the turntable for the whole house to hear. I am not saying that I played it loud, I am just saying that it was played through speakers so everyone had to suffer through me playing my latest obsession over and over and over.  That is why I had to ask permission to play my music.  If I was playing it, the people present would have to listen to it.  So I am sure my mom got to “know” my music. I shared with her that “latest” tune. The pop music. Now-a-days people have personal devices with which to listen to their music, so it could be that parents never actually hear what their kids are listening to. They don’t get to connect on that level.

Not that parents and kids ever connect on the same level when it comes to music, but sometimes it could happen.  I imagine my parents became very familiar with some of my music.  I bet they even learned some of the lyrics via pure repetition.  I bet that they even grew to like some of it.  With these thoughts rolling through my mind, like a leisure train, it made me think that this might be the case with some of my students.  I would love to bring music to my Nia classes that reminded them of connections with their children.  The connections could even be so tenuous as them not even really liking the song but the sense of familiarity and family would allow their bodies to connect to it.  They could move and enjoy the sensation of movement without really thinking about it.  They would be able to associate memories to the music.

Ha.  These are the thoughts of a Nia Teacher wanting to MOVE her students.  But, as I first mentioned, I bet other cardio dance workout teachers think the same way.  What do you think?  Do you think songs like that could get you moving?  Do you think songs with that type of connection could allow you to dance?

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Hang It Like A Ragdoll

Posted by terrepruitt on March 13, 2014

There is a move I do often at the end of my Nia Classes. I learned it as the Ragdoll Pose in yoga. Some say it is just a variation on the Uttanasana or the Forward Fold. Since it is a standing pose where you bend over I can see that. But the Forward Fold is a very active pose. You are using other muscles, you are actively lengthening your spine. Whereas in my classes, the move we do as the Ragdoll pose is just a hang. The idea is to hang, ya know, like a rag doll.

After all the movement we do in a cardio dance exercise class where moving your entire body is the key, it is nice to just hang around for a bit.  This pose made my list of favorite yoga poses but is not one of my sixteen favorites.  Kinda surprised me.

With the Ragdoll, as I said the idea is to hang like a rag doll folded over at the hips.  Your body goes limp.  Your arms can hang.  Your shoulders and hang.  Everything just hangs.  Legs can be straight or bent at the knee.  It is a relaxation pose so doing it to your optimum comfort is advised.  Let the weight of your head help lengthen and stretch your back and spine.  So you are not actively lengthening or straightening, it all comes from the weight of the head.  Even if you are resting you forearms on your thighs you are hanging.

One way that people do this pose is with the arms hanging overhead, but bent at the elbows.  The forearms are folded together allowing the hands to hold the opposite elbow.  This variation is just like the bent knees and/or the arms — or even hands — on the thighs, it is up to the individual at the time of the pose.

Bending over or doing an inverted pose is good for the systems in your body.  Such as the circulatory system, turning upside down helps blood flow which helps the respiratory system.  The lymphatic system is assisted by inversions which stimulates the body’s immune system.

It seems as if the body enjoys the break from the normal pull of gravity and it likes to be upside down every once in a while.  Calms the nerves, heightens the sense, and brings a little peace.  Only when done reasonably comfortable.  Poses should not be held if they cause pain or dizziness.  So when you are in any pose especially and inversion stay only as long as it is comfortable.

To me, the Ragdoll is one of those comfortable poses.  Usually just fold over and hanging.  But I do remember at least once when my neck was not aligned properly so the full on hang did not feel good, but bending my knees and resting on my thighs was the ticket.  Always remember that you do a pose for the moment you are in at the moment you are doing it.  So yesterday all the way down might have been the way, but maybe today it is not.  Do what your body wants in the moment.

Enjoy the weight of the head and the arms.  Let it stretch your spine and bring space into your back.  Hang as a rag doll would.

Do you like the Ragdoll pose?  Do you like inversions?  Which ones are your favorite?

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Kicks; Front, Side, Back

Posted by terrepruitt on March 1, 2014

Here is where it is obvious that the moves we include in the 52 Moves of Nia are not unique to Nia. Kicks are part of many dances, martial arts, and movement forms. Kicks can be done in many different ways. They are great for many things. In Nia while we dance we often do kicks. We count each kick as a separate move so the Front Kick, the Side Kick, and the Back Kick are three of the 52 Moves of Nia moves.

I know that we did kicks in country line dancing and in West Coast Swing.  They kick in ballet and jazz dance.  We all know they kick in all types of martial arts such as karate, jujutsu, and kickboxing.  Kicks are even a part of exercise routines and sports.  I know they do kicks in Jazzercize and Zumba.

Each kick requires balance, and that is one of the things that kicks are good for.  The act of kicking helps improve, helps challenge, and helps retain balance.  One must be on one leg and/or foot in order to kick the other leg.

With a Front Kick, in Nia, we balance on one whole foot, we lift the other thigh so the foot is off the ground.  We keep our alignment of our three body weights.  We use our arms to help maintain the balance.  The leg we are standing on is firmly rooting to the earth yet the knee is not locked.  Then we extend the leg of the foot that is off the ground, allowing the shin and foot to move forward, away from the body.  We look where we kick.  We kick at our own level.  It could be that you are able to lift your thigh so it parallel to the ground or possibly your knee is higher than your hip.  Remember it is your kick so it is your balance practice.

The Side Kick starts as the front kick, on one leg, the we lift our thigh, but instead of sending the foot forward and away from the body we shift our hips so the one that has the leg lifted it higher than the other one and our knee crosses the midline of the body, the we push our foot out to the side of the body.  The same side as the foot that is lifted.

The Back Kick has the same start as the front kick and side kick.  Stand on one leg and lift the other thigh up.  As with the front kick your body is in alignment.  The we push the leg that is lifted, back, as if we are stepping on the wall behind us.  For an additional challenge to balance you can look behind you.

Just like all the 52 Moves in Nia, while doing these kicks in our Nia routines we often modify them a bit.  Sometimes the kicks are slow and powerful.  Sometimes they are fast and done with a bit of ease.  Sometimes the choreography allows for the foot to rest on the earth before rising again to kick, sometimes not.  Sometimes the kicks are done in a fast repetitive fashion.  Sometimes they are meant to be done low, sometimes they are meant to be done high.  But all kicks are meant to be done in your own body’s way.

In addition to balance, kicks help with strength.  Both legs, the standing and the kick leg get the benefit of that.  Also kicking is good for exercising your coordination, especially when there is travel involved and/or arm movements.  Kicks are a great addition to many dance modalities and exercise forms.  I would bet you are familiar with kicks.

Do you do kicks in your cardio dance class?  Do you include kicks in your workout routine?

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