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 exercise’

Bringing More Fun Into Class

Posted by terrepruitt on July 25, 2018

Sometimes we end Nia class with the laughter “exercise”. You know that saying “fake it ’til you make it?” Well, since the brain can’t tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter it releases the “happy hormones” regardless. There are many additional benefits to laughter:

–it can trigger the release of endorphins (the “happy” hormones mentioned)
–it can help lower your blood pressure
–it can reduce stress hormone levels
–it can give your abdominal muscles a workout
–it can help improve cardiac health
–it can improve your immune system by boosting T-cells
–it can give you a sense of well-being and help you look at the world more positively
–it helps relax the body
–it burns calories
–it may even help relieve pain

What better way to end an exercise class than laughter?

There are a lot of ways to do it, but one way is by laughing and “cooking all four sides”. Debbie Rosas uses that saying when referring to being on or using the “sides” of the body; front, back, left, right or tummy, back, left side, right side.

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, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise ClassesSometimes in Nia class since we are already on the floor for the Floorplay cycle of class we will do the “exercise”. It is simple actually. While lying on your back just start to laugh. It doesn’t even have to be “real” laughter. Just start to chuckle or giggle. Or even just begin by saying, “Ha!” One loud HA! Then keep going. Pretty soon your “ha-s” will change into something else – again, it might not yet be real, but someone who has joined in will make a noise that will cause real laughter. Once one person has started, it just goes from there and the next thing you know everyone is really laughing. Even if or when it starts to die down something will happen, someone will think of something funny and start up again, or someone will snort (that is always good for a laugh), or someone will do that long sigh that always happens after a good laugh session and it will start back up again.

After about one minute roll to a side. Stay there and laugh for a minute. Just keep it going even if there are moments when it is not that real-from-the-belly kind of laugh. Then after a minute, roll to the other side. Stay there laughing for about a minute. Keep it going. Then roll to your tummy. Here is where you might start really sensing it in your belly, after three minutes of laughter your abs might already notice and when you roll on the belly and laugh more, they probably will be getting your attention a bit.

This is a really fun way to end the class. It reminds everyone that participates how fun laughing is. It reminds everyone how contagious laughing is. It reminds everyone that no matter what is going on there is a chance for laughter. It also reminds everyone that laughter can be a bit physical.

Of course you don’t have to be in a class to do this exercise. Perhaps there is someone in your home that would like to participate with you. Also you don’t have to do it for a minute on each side.

So what do you think? Is this an exercise you can enjoy?

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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 »

Nia Shines

Posted by terrepruitt on January 21, 2014

Nia is a cardio dance exercise . . . . yes, it is much more than that, but that is sometimes where we start.  The Nia Technique produces DVDs that teachers use to learn the Nia routines that have been choreographed by the Nia Trainers.  The teacher-learning-routines process is similar to many exercise formats that are taught in group exercises classes across the board.  Most often the music is adored by my students.  They don’t like every song, but I would begin to wonder if they did.  Nia uses a large variety and I would think it odd if EVERY SINGLE SONG was liked by every student.  Every so often though there is a song that someone asks about.  They want to know who sings it.  They want to know the words.  All of Nia routines are available for purchase as an album*, but sometimes it is just a song.  Currently I am teaching a Nia routine with one of those songs.

The song is Shine by Joshua.  The lyrics are as follows:

People want freedom in life
People want freedom in life
come seek a, come seek a
People want freedom in life

Verse I
(Shine within)
My sun is blossoming my dreams
aloft amidst the winds and the promises they sing
walking in the stream
lovin’ runs often in my veins
become light
so I breathe softly when it rains
crossing over phases of the moon seas change in a whisper
risen from the chambers inner wisdom
painted with the pigments of a vision(ary)
dancing in the plumage of illuminary
I ruminate the way that newness carries me towards my selfness fragrances in praises form a shelter
waves of vibrations pour over relics saturated in wellness precious moments envelope me so my language is angelic
tell it – like a picture spoken in scripture
listen – to the morning born from hope in the mists of enigmas ocean of rhythms sweet ambrosia of beginnings openness is living

Chorus
People want freedom in life
come seek a
way of living, breathing the light
it’s gonna be the
eve before the dawn song before the rhyme
open up and let your love shine
(love shine)
(repeat)

Verse II
Rays of sun trickle down my throat coated with sounds of growing abound
and hope flutters on a melody telling me to develop these heavenly grounds of mine
*Shine* *Shine*
Soul surfing the divine
nurturing intuitions relearning to visualize the moment’s gift it’s open like an infant’s mind
an intimate design a wish up in the sky wisps by “Spread your wings! Come let your spirit fly!” (fly fly)
Ascending inside levity mending the mind states to befriend a sublime face of a love you always knew and present beside waves of benevolence, rise, bathe and through cleansing your eyes you’ll see:
that love was always you!
flow through the mirror to embrace your destiny it’s beckoning so hold it dearly to your breast and feel the blessings the fibers of your being vibrant reasons to let me be me – free
a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love shining to eternity, a love me to . . .

Chorus

Let your light shine, let your light shine
Let your dreams shine, let your light shine
Let your heart shine
Let it all shine, shine, shine
Shine now, shine now
(repeat)

Chorus

Heart shine, dreams shine, mind shine
I shine, you shine, we shine… we shine… we shine…

Composed, written, arranged, performed,
produced, and engineered by Joshua Seaman.

Give it a listen at:  http://music.relicpro.com/shine/  You can buy it from this site for a dollar, or you can *buy the album that this song is on from: http://www.nianow.com/product/music/r1-cd

I first looked up the words when I heard the part I have in bold.  I love that.  I hope you enjoy this song.  It is a look into some of the music that we dance to in Nia.

What type of music do you like to workout to?  Do you have a favorite song that really helps you get your “exercise on”?

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

Sounds – Singing – Its All The Same

Posted by terrepruitt on January 14, 2014

You might have read my post about Sounding in Nia.  That is what we call it when we make noise in a Nia class — sounding.  You might have read my post about Reasons for Sounding in a Nia Class.  Even if you did not read that post, I bet you are aware of some of the reasons to make noise in an exercise class.  One of the biggest ones is to ensure breathing.  If you are making noise you are breathing.  Knowing the students are breathing is a HUGE relief to an instructor.  Some of the other reasons sounding is good are it can help stabilize your core, it can act as an emotional, spiritual, or physical release, and it can be really fun.  Sounding can be noises/words such as HA, HI, HEE, HOO, WAH, WAHOO, etc.  Sounding can also be singing. With “Nia Music” sometimes singing is just sounds.

I always invite the Nia participants to sing.  Often times I tell them it is really easy because there are no words.  I have often wondered how the singer sings.  I have often pondered how it is done.  Then Nia put out this video*.  It is an interview with Carl Tietze whose song Am I The One, is on the Sanjana Album.  Sanjana is the first Nia routine I learned.  In the interview Carl talks about how he invited a vocalist, Jen Folkner, to listen to the song.  He said he put the headphones on her and most of what we hear on the song is from her first time hearing the music.

She is sounding.  Granted, she is doing is beautifully.  I don’t want to put the pressure on and say this is what we do or need to do in a Nia class.  No, not at all.  I am just saying that it is fine to MAKE NOISE.  I did laugh when I heard this interview because I kind of imagined that songs that have no real words but are just a singer making noise was done like this.  I imagined the musicians just saying, “Go!” and the singer just letting her/his voice come out.

I was recently very amazed and in awe of a woman who had never been to a Nia class before – in fact, before class she asked me what it was.  So she didn’t even know what type of exercise/workout it was.  And yet, while she was moving to moves she had never done, she was singing.  The song was one of those songs without words, but she was just making noise in a “singing voice”.  It was great!  I was very impressed.

Making sounds or singing in a group workout class is not something that comes easy to everyone.  Sounding while learning moves doesn’t come easy to people who normally make noise, so it was especially fun to have her in class.  Plus she had that much more fun and received the benefits of sounding.

I hope this interview helps give you a glimpse into making sounds.  I hope you are able to experience the benefits of making noise while do your cardio dance.  You know it is fun.

Do you sing while you dance in your fitness dance class?  Don’t you love the way singing and dancing makes you feel?

*Click here to go to Nia’s website to sign up for the monthly newsletter!

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

Webbed Spaces

Posted by terrepruitt on August 6, 2013

In Nia we use specific hand techniques.  There are seven moves considered “Hand” moves in the Nia 52 Moves.  There are eight moves that are “Finger” moves.  So fifteen moves in all out of 52 that are specifically hand/finger moves.  You can read about “Spear Finger” and “Balance Finger” in previous posts.  The hands are such a large part of our lives.  In addition to the many things they do they help us communicate.  Whether we are using them to make gestures as we speak, using them in place of speaking (in the case of sign language or something as elementary as “the finger”), or using them to comfort by touching.  They are very powerful.  Nia does not neglect that hands.  All fifteen of the 52 Nia moves that have to do with the hands/fingers assist in moving energy.  It could be moving the energy within our bodies or outside of our bodies.  Some of the hand/finger moves can be done both with positive tension or in a relaxed state.  When done with tension the muscles in the hands and arms maybe felt more readily.  While done with a relaxing flow they might allow us to sense the outside energy.  One of the hand moves is called Webbed Spaces.

Webbed Spaces is where your open you hand spreading your fingers wide.  I imagine it is called Webbed Spaces because it shows the “webs” between each finger.  I have also thought it is called Webbed Spaces because I imagine my fingers being spider webs.  I actually don’t know why it is called Webbed Spaces, but those are the things I think about when doing and talking about Webbed Spaces.

After you have already opened your hand and spread your fingers wide.  The Nia Technique book says to practice extending each finger and creating even more space in them.  Usually in a Nia Class we are moving our arms with our hands in Webbed Spaces.  Sometimes we keep our fingers extended while moving our arms or we relax them and move into Webbed Spaces.  Either way it is a great way to keep flexibility in the hands.

Do this: put one hand in the Webbed Spaces position, flex and extend your fingers.  Put your arm out in a gesture of, “STOP!” Allow the flexing sensation to travel all the way up your arm.  Take your other hand and feel the muscles.  Then keeping the tension, point your fingers to the ground . . . feel the muscles in your forearm move.  Then do the same stop motion and fingers-pointing-to-the-earth move while your hand is not in Webbed Spaces position.  Feel the difference.  In both cases with Webbed Spaces the muscles are working differently than doing the same wrist movement without Webbed Spaces.

Webbed Spaces is just another way that Nia engages the entire body.  This move is also comparable to Jazz Hands so I think of it as showy and dramatic.  It can be a great emotional move allowing you to express what you FEEL.  It is another way to add fun and pizzazz into our cardio workout.

What do you feel when you do the little exercise stated above?  What do you sense when you do this move?

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

Breathing – It’s A Good Thing

Posted by terrepruitt on July 11, 2013

Many people hold their breath while working out.  Or even just concentrating.  I was recently learning something and concentrating really hard and my husband said, “Are you holding your breath?”  I burst out laughing because I was in fact holding my breath.  I didn’t even realize it until he asked.  I thought it was funny that I was holding my breath and I thought it was extra funny because I remind people to breathe all the time.  Exercising and concentrating are two things that make people hold their breath so if they are concentrating while exercising it makes sense that it happens.  Also people tend to hold their breath when lifting something heavy.  This type of  maneuver or effect is called the valsalva maneuver or valsalva effect.  While some people who do heavy lifting claim it is good to do the valsalva maneuver and that it helps with the lifting others say it is not good and it does not help.  For me and my students breathing is ALWAYS in order.  How you breathe depends on what you are doing.  If you are lifting weights or doing exercises your breathing is different from when you are doing a cardio workout, such as Nia.

Breathing allows oxygen get to the muscles.  The muscles need that.  For me, I find that when I breathe I can move better.  That was actually the point of my husband asking me if I were breathing.  He could tell by the way I was moving that I was not breathing.  He was across the room and he could tell.  Even though the movement I was doing was very small by holding my breath my movements did not flow and were very sporadic.

One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “If you do not breathe correctly, you do not move correctly.”  He got that from a campy film called  Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins from 1985, but, I’ll be darned if it is not 100% accurate!

One way trainers and instructors ensure breathing is to have the client/student talk.  When you are talking you are breathing.  In Nia we sing, laugh, shout, and in general make all types of noises.  In Nia we call it sounding.  By engaging in sounding we are ensuring we are breathing.  It is necessary for the body, but it is also fun for the spirit.

A sound made my a sharp exhalation helps both with stabilization of the core, but to me it seems to do a better job of engaging the core muscles than just holding my breath.  This method could be utilized during lifting or an agility move.  Sometimes when doing an exercise that is challenging it can help to pant with either your tongue out as an animal would or with semi-pursed lips.  Also when a muscles seems fatigued it often helps to take that extra deep breath.  No matter how you breathe remember it really is important to do so.  And even though it might sound silly that we “forget” to breathe, it is a common occurrence.  So practice remembering to breathe.  Breathing is a good thing!

Do you ever find yourself holding your breath?  When?

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

Measuring Instead Of Weighing

Posted by terrepruitt on August 21, 2012

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, ZumbaSo if you are participating in the little challenge of not getting on the scale for either 21 days or 30 days, today is the 21st day.  I assigned 21 days so that is would land on a posting day (I post Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays).  I will let you know that due to more “stuff” as I had posted about before, I got off to a late start on my own challenge!  So how is it going for you?  Has it been a challenge to stay off the scale?  Have you noticed that you are not obsessing about the number the scale displays because you are not looking at it?  Now the thing with measuring with a measuring tape instead of scale means you need to keep doing what you’re doing.  So if you were doing some type of cardio three times a week and adding some strength training in and weighing yourself, looking for that number to change when you stop using the scale it doesn’t mean to stop doing the other stuff.  It is just a different way to track progress.  And for some it could be a little bit of a reprieve IF they allow the scale to affect their mood.  I found it funny that today on FaceBook someone posted about the scale stealing motivation and she reminded people it doesn’t tell the whole story.  That is what I am saying too.  That is why I thought it would be nice to change it up.

I know that some people don’t even have a scale.  Some people don’t even use one.  Everyone is different.  I just hear a lot about people being upset because they didn’t lose a pound “today” and they’ve been trying so hard.  So I think that maybe for those people it is nice to try a different way to track progress.

My schedule is a bit “off” this month as I am spending time dealing with “stuff” and I have picked up a lot of classes that I am subbing for the City of San Jose.  I picked up eleven classes which is great but I have not been able to concentrate as much on my resistance training as I would like.  My numbers did not change as much as I was hoping to see when I thought of this challenge.  What about you?  Did you see a change in numbers?  Are you stopping at day 21 or going to continue on and see what 30 days will do?

Not only do I have the added class times to do I have a little bit of added prep time for each class and the travel time to and from each class.  Since I am subbing in Nia for other classes such as Zumba, Zumba Gold, Pilates, Kick Boxing, and Cardio Toning, I do try to pick Nia routines that will fit.  I am not changing Nia to fit the class, because I explained how that turned out in a post earlier this month, but I do try to pick routines that might fit a little better.  With a Zumba Gold class I might do a Nia routine that is a bit mellow or doesn’t have a lot of bow stances.  And with subbing a Zumba class I might put together a lot of the higher energy “get moving songs”. So all of that cuts into my plan.  But I’m going to buckle down a bit because I have some stuff that I needed to get done this month behind me.  I am going to keep up with this little challenge myself and see where that tape leads me.

Well?  How are you still with me?  Are doing the challenge?  How is it going?  Doing it for 21 days?  Doing it for 30 days?

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

South Bay Nia Jam

Posted by terrepruitt on August 7, 2012

Well, Palo Alto seems to be as close to as to what I consider the South Bay as we have gotten since I have been attending Nia.  I really want to have a Nia Jam in San Jose.  I am going to work on that for 2013.  The Nia Jam for San Francisco Bay Area Nia Association in the South Bay in 2012 was at a Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.  As I have described before, a Nia Jam is a Nia class only longer with multiple teachers.  It is like a Nia class on steroids.  A typical Nia class is 60 minutes, a Nia Jam is usually 90 minutes.  In a Nia Jam there is a group of teachers who take turns teaching.  As with all Nia classes the Nia Jam had a focus and an intent.  The focus of this Nia Jam was Yin & Ying of Creative Play, with the intent of providing both a high energy experience and a quieter, more reflective experience as Nia can support either or both.  I have to be honest, I didn’t get a quiet, reflective experience out of this jam.  We were on fire!  The energy was so high it was tangible.  It was amazing!

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 I am so glad that the energy is always so high because I had taught my Saturday morning class in San Jose.  Then I stayed at the studio and took a class, then I raced over to Palo Alto to teach at the Jam.  The energy energized me!

There were six teachers who taught.  It is so fun to dance and be led by a variety of teachers.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to experience a song, a kata, that you know, in a different way.  While usually the basics are there, there is often a little nuance that the teacher adds to the song.  It could be just a sound that is not normally made, a word not usually spoken, or it could be the addition of a different step or the removal of a step, it could just be their way of cueing that makes it different.  Whatever the difference it is so invigorating to do what you know a little differently.  I also love doing the unknown.  I don’t know all of the Nia routines and I love to get to dance katas I don’t know.

At the same time a Nia Jam is perfect for someone new to Nia because they get to dance with many different teachers and experience different styles.  They also can witness the warmth of the Nia community.  New participants can also enjoy the astronomical energy that is present at Nia Jams.  They can also confirm that Nia students and Nia teachers do sweat as Nia is a moving grooving cardio dance exercise.  They can corroborate what I have been sharing — a great workout does not have to be done extremely fast and hard it can be done with movements of the whole body.

Monday in class my students were still talking about the Nia Jam.  It was THAT fun!  It was THAT energizing.  It was great!  I know Nia is a great workout.  I invite you to go to a class, one of mine (click for schedule) or one you find near you (click for worldwide listings), but I implore you to go to a Nia Jam.  If there is one not far from you, go.  You will enjoy it for all the reasons I mentioned above, for reasons I have not mentioned, and for reasons of your own.  Nia Jams are always fun and the Nia Jam for the South Bay on the Peninsula did not disappoint!

For more pictures go to: http://www.helpyouwell.com/nia-jams.html

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Open Stance In Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on September 15, 2011

Nia is a cardio dance workout (it is really much more, but on the surface, that is what I call it).  As with many cardio workouts done to music there are a lot of moves.  Since Nia is basically a dance workout there are a lot of common dance steps and movements that many of us were taught in different forms of dance.  Some are even from different forms of martial arts or other exercise classes and modalities.  Nia has a base of 52 moves.  We call them the 52 Nia Moves.  What Nia has done is put them into categories to allow you to see what areas of the body are most associated with the move.  One of the most common moves we use in Nia classes is the Open Stance.  I have been familiar with the open stance for as long as I can remember.  I took ballet and tap when I was young.  I have done Jazzercise and other types of dance exercise classes.  Many of these types of things have an open stance.  From the first time I can remember being taught the open stance it was taught as “feet hip width apart”.  Some of you might be familiar with that.  Well, I don’t know if other modalities meant it actually that way or if I had been misled, but in Nia the open stance is actually hip JOINT width apart.

dance exercise, Nia teacher, Nia class, Nia San Jose, Nia Los Gatos, Nia cardio dance workout, So you might be saying, “What?”  Well, go ahead, if you can . . . . stand up and into open stance.  I’m going to guess most of you don’t have a mirror in front of you . . . so look at your feet.  What do you see?  A somewhat wide stance?  Are your feet hip WIDTH apart?  Probably, because I believe that is the common instruction for “open stance”.  Stay there.  Touch your hips and thighs.  Sense how that stance feels.  Make note of the sensation of your leg muscles.  Picture your leg bones.  Are they at a slight angle?

dance exercise, Nia, Nia practice, Nia 52 moves, Terre Pruitt Nia teacherNow bring your feet closer together.  Picture your stance being hip JOINT width apart.  Most of us have hips that are larger than where our legs meet our hip socket.  Try this:  Imagine someone gently lifting you off of your feet by you head, imagine your legs are just hanging down from your hip JOINTS.  Then the huge hand that lifted you sets you gently down.  Your legs exactly in the same position as when you were hanging.  Your leg bones come straight out from your hip joints.  That is what Nia open stance is.

For me, it is much more narrow than I was taught open stance was.

My pictures are showing the difference between what I thought was open (the first one) and what I now think of as open (the second one).  I stood on the rug so the pattern would help show the difference.  Please keep in mind that everyone, everyBODY is different so the width of your feet will differ from mine, but if you keep in mind that open is not really hip WIDTH apart, but hip JOINT width apart then you too, might have an adjustment in your “open stance”.

Well, did you?  Were you taught open is hip width apart?  If you stand hip width apart is there a noticeable difference when you stand hip JOINT width apart?

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If it doesn’t fit, try Again

Posted by terrepruitt on January 11, 2011

As I was putting Christmas Ornaments away (yes, I am still putting “Christmas” away) I was reminded of Nia. My thoughts then morphed to working out and exercise.  Ya see, I was trying to put an ornament in its box. I have trouble with this ornament every year.  Do you have any of those ornaments where you store them in the box they came in?  I have a lot of those ornaments and every year there are some that give me trouble.  I try putting it in this way, then I have to take it out and turn it, then try again, and try again, and after a few tries finally get it in the right way with a resulting “Ahhh . . . . . .”

That is what made me think of Nia.  Nia is made for everyBODY.  The exercises we perform, the movements we do, the entire workout is designed around the design of the body.  Often times people are not accustomed to moving their body in the way it was designed.  Some people don’t turn their heads which can loosen the spine and muscles in the back or gyrate their hips which can loosen the hips and possible allow you to stand up taller.  It might not be for everyONE, because in Nia participants are not told exactly how to move.   It IS one of those things that you have to ACTUALLY try.  It also helps to try it more than once.  Try going to classes when they have different routines.  Try it with different teachers.  Try treating it differently; treat it as a cardio workout, treat it like an exercise, or treat it like a dance.  Try all different ways.  If you don’t love it instantly, then don’t give up, try again.  You could find that when you keep trying and do it a different way you’ll be saying, “Ahhhh . . . ”

If not, Nia, there are so many other things that you can try.  Find something you like.  Keep trying.  Don’t give up and think you don’t like exercise or working out because it comes in so many different forms, I am sure you can find something you would like.  You can always contact me and we can talk about it.

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