Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

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Posts Tagged ‘closed stance’

Lateral Travel

Posted by terrepruitt on February 11, 2014

In Nia we have a base of 52 Moves. Not surprising they are called The 52 Moves of Nia. As I have stated before they are not unique to Nia. You have probably done some of them at one point in your life. If you have taken dance or you participate in a group exercise class that is dance oriented then you more than likely have done some of them. They are just gathered into a group for Nia because of their benefits and fun. So they are included in the Nia Routines. Not all of them are in every routine, but a good portion appear in each routine. Plus whenever there is Free Dance they might make an appearance. One of the base moves . . . . moves we do primarily with the base of our body . . . is Lateral Traveling.

Lateral Traveling is specific and different from Traveling In Directions. Traveling in Directions is a move done in all directions . . . . Lateral Traveling is done to the side. The Nia Technique (have you gotten your copy yet? Click here to go to Amazon to order your copy.) describes Lateral Travel as a step together step or a grapevine. The specifics are to start in a closed stance, then take one step to the side, then place your feet together (moving the other leg to the first leg that stepped), then take one step to the side, then move the leg toward the other one, but instead of placing it next to your leg cross it back.

A grapevine is where you step one leg to the side then the next step is BEHIND, then step to the side, where the next step goes depends. Sometimes you can land on the heel or behind or with the knee up. Grapevines are a nice replacement for four point turns. There are many reasons why people don’t turn so using this lateral move, the grapevine, is perfect.

With both methods the instructions say to use your hands to lead you. Have them out in the direction you are going. The instructions also say, “When you step behind, step onto the back ball of the foot and keep your knees spring loaded and your spine vertical.” For clarification, the “back ball of the foot” is the foot that is in the back or behind.

This is a “two side” move. To practice you do to one side then the other. To the left, then to the right. (Or to the right, then the left.)

So this is the specific Lateral Travel: Step together step or grapevine. I have found my self using the phrase “travel laterally” at times when I am leading my San Jose Nia class (or any Nia class for that matter) and I am not instructing them to do the specific Lateral Travel. But I guess that is the difference. There is “travel laterally” and do the “Lateral Travel” move.

Many moves in Nia are good for the coordination. This is one. Step together step is not necessarily a difficult move but depending on the speed and what comes before it and after it, it can call upon your coordination. Although, I would say this is one of the easier 52 Moves of Nia.

Varying the speed and adding some movement to the body can change it up a bit and perhaps add a some challenge to it.

So there you have it another move in Nia’s 52 Moves.

You probably find yourself doing this one often, huh? Even when you are not on the dance floor?

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The Pelvic Moves Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on December 5, 2013

In the Nia 52 Moves there are moves clumped into groups.  There are moves of the base, which involve the feet, such as Heel Lead, Releve, Closed Stance, Bow Stance, Slow Clock, Fast Clock, front kicks, side kicks, etc.  There are upper extremities which include moves such as blocks, punches, sticks, chops, finger flicks, Creepy Crawlers and Catching flies. Then there is a group called the core which involves Pelvis, Chest, and Head.  Two of the moves that are pelvic moves are Pelvic Circles and Hip Bumps.  Two relatively easy moves, I am confident most people have done them in their life time.  As I said easy, but they pack a wallop!

The Pelvic circle begins in A Stance (feet a little wider than shoulder width apart) and you move the hips in a continuous circle as if you are using a hula hoop.  Just around and around.  Circling the hips.  Don’t forget to circle the hips in the opposite direction.  With this move the arms are free to move in any direction and any way they want.  This particular show belongs to the hips.

Hip circles are a common move both in dance and other exercises.  It is good for the waist and hips.

The other pelvic move is the hip bump.  In Nia we bump our hips in all directions not just to the side.  So for the hip bump stand in the A stance and move your hip to the side, then the other side, and the front and back.  A quick bump.  This is an agility move with the quick start and stop.  The arms involved in this are also freedance . . . they can do what they want.

Again, this move is not unique to Nia at all.

As with all the 52 moves there are ways to do them correctly while in practice.  Practicing them and getting them in the body’s muscle memory help when we incorporate them into a routine.  While doing both the Pelvic Circle and the Hip Bumps the arms are free to move, but it could be the arms have specific choreography tied to the moves in a routine.  Also the hip bump is in general done in all directions, but in a routine it could be part of the choreography that the hip just goes to one side then the other.

I am pretty confident that many, many, many people have done the hip bump.  It is a familiar move.

In the routine I am doing right now there is a hip bump or two.  My favorite is to assign a feeling to them.  Sometimes we do sexy hip bumps . . .kinda goes without saying.  But we also do angry hip bumps, silly hip bumps, and dramatic hip bumps.  Each of those hip bumps brings out a different movement and with each individual it is different.  It is so fun to see people interpret the feelings and emotions in a common move like the hip bump.

So these are two moves that are grouped into the Core moves in Nia’s 52 moves.  I think that you should get up right now and do some pelvic circles and hip bumps.  Your hips will thank you.

So are either of these moves movements you have done before?  When is the last time you bumped your hip?  How about a pelvic circle?  What would your angry hip bump look like?

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Nia’s Routine Pamphlets

Posted by terrepruitt on June 1, 2013

Nia Technique’s Outstanding Routine DVDs (Part 3)

Nia Classes are led by Nia teachers who learn routines.  It is kind that we are only obligated by license to learn four Nia routines a year, because if we dive into the depths of a Nia routine it could easily take three months.  The training information they provide is incredible.  It is multi-faceted and multidimensional.  Three years ago I mentioned in a post that I would specify what came in Nia’s Routine for Teachers DVDs.   Well, in the three years there has actually been changes in how the information is presented.  I am using three posts to explain what I have in the routine packages that I have purchased and I am also sharing to the best of my knowledge what is in the newer ones.  At the basic level you receive a CD and a DVD and a pamphlet is available online.

This is the third post in this series.  In the first post I talked about everything that you get in the package and the sections on the DVD.  I made it through two of the sections:  the Focus and Move the Move.  The second post took us through: Learn the Move, Energize the Move, and the Music.  Here in this post I am taking a quick look at the pamphlet.

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, ZumbaIn addition to the wonderful Nia Class and explanations on the DVD there is a pamphlet.  As I said in post one of this series, the pamphlet used to be included in the routine package.  But now I believe you have to download it yourself.  I am not certain if the older ones still come with the pamphlet or not.  But if you look at the pamphlets online (must be a member) you can see how the material has changed.  I am certain that along with the morphing of the DVDs there has been a greater change over the years than I have even seen.  The routines that I own with pamphlets that came in the package have the focus and intent stated along with the “Routine Description”.  It also contains “Suggested Alternative Foci”.  It lists the 7 Cycles.  Under each cycle is gives a little information.  The cycles in which there is music it lists the song that is in that cycle and information on what it teaches you.  As an example the routine I am looking at states:

“Track 1: Sexy Teaches You To —

Move through the stances of Closed, Open, A, and Riding to ground, warm up the back and core and move from the inside out”

That is one bullet, as you can see each track has more than three bullets with information regarding what the choreography teaches you.  A lot of information!

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, ZumbaThe next section in the pamphlet gives you the 8BC’s.  Just the bars of the 8BC’s.  There is indicators as to what the sections are in the song, but no flowering, no dressing, no choreography.  Just the bars.  There is a lot left to still do with the bars.

With the new routines, the pamphlet is a bit different.  In addition to what I’ve previously mentioned and a lot of information reminding us of what we learn in the Nia White Belt Intensive there is new information.  Such as “Working With the Focus” and that the 7 cycles remain the same, but there is differences within each cycle depending upon different things, say the focus for example.  There is also a section with the shorthand for Nia’s 52 moves because now the bars come with choreography notes.

Now the bars are in color which is used to show the different sections.  The same colors taught in the Nia White Belt Intensive.  And as I mentioned, they have choreography notes.

The pamphlet also states that as of 2012, “videos include on-screen 52 moves choreography text. You will see this appear at the beginning of each new choreography sequence, and repeat throughout the routine.”  Which is great and news to me.  At the time of this writing I have obviously not learned a routine that was created and filmed in 2012 because I have not seen the text on the videos.  Cool.

The last thing that one of the “old” versions of the pamphlet had that I am not seeing on the new ones is the Music Credits.  The ones I have list the name of the number of the track, the name, the artist, and information about each song.  I find some of that information kind of interesting.  For instance the track 1 on Oshun is Sexy, by Illumine which was actually recorded Live at Studio Nia.

So maybe now you can see why the description of a Nia Routine Teacher Training DVD needed to be three posts.  There is a lot of training in each package.  There is a lot of information to absorb in learning a routine.  I will confess that I have not done all of this on all of the routines I lead.  My intent is as I go back and complete more of these steps as I revisit the routines.  Now that I basically know the music and the moves, I can watch the other portions of the DVD and I can read the pamphlet information.  With each section of time I lead the routine I can add something new to my learning.  Nia routines are very multidimensional.  The training has many aspects.  There is so much to learn and so many different ways to do it.  Just like Nia.

I hope this gave you some information you might need or like to know in regards to Nia Routine DVDs for Teachers.

Do you have any questions?  Is there any additional information you would like?

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Nia’s Cat Stance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 10, 2013

There are six stances in the 52 Moves of NiaClosed Stance, Open Stance, “A” Stance, Riding (Sumo) Stance, Bow Stance, and the Cat Stance.  Each stance has a sound associated with it for practice.  There are benefits to doing each stance.  All of them help with balance.  With the cat stance the balance is on one foot.  The cat stance is a stance in which you stand on one leg, using your whole foot.  The leg you are standing on is not rigid, but the knee is soft, as if you were going to pounce.  The spine is upright, hips are level, not pointing down nor up.  The foot that is off the ground is pressing with the side against the standing leg, the foot relaxed, toes hanging towards the earth. Elbows are bent, relaxed.  Either both elbows are at the sides or one slightly forward.  The arms and hands are engaged.  The cat stance is done on alternating legs.  These are the specifics of Nia’s Cat Stance.

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, ZumbaThere are specific ways to do a stance, the body’s way.  But your body’s way is also recognized.  So different bodies will do it different ways.  Some will do it their own way until the body can adjust to the specifics and some bodies will continue in their own way.  For instance some bodies will use the power finger/balance finger hand technique to assist them in standing on one leg.  In addition to each body having its own way to do each move sometimes the way the move is done in a routine alters the specifics.  The specifics stated above are according to The Nia Technique book, however in the routine Birth, the cat stance in one of the katas consists of hooking the bent leg’s foot around the standing leg.  In this particular dance, while we are in the cat stance with our foot hooked around the standing leg, our hands and arms are different from is described in the ideal cat stance stated above.  One of our hands “hooks” around our face.

This is often the case.  There is a specific way to do each of Nia’s 52 Moves, but each individual has their own body’s way that adjust the specifics AND the specifics are sometimes adjusted according to move in the routine.  But it is important to know the specifics and the basics.  It is also fun to practice the specifics and the basics.

The basics of the cat stance help with balancing on one leg.  This can also be considered a strengthener, the standing leg’s muscles can be strengthened through the practice of supporting all of one’s weight.  If this move is being done solely as a practice of the move, then agility can come into play.  The practice of walking then stopping and moving quickly into cat stance would allow for the agility.  Alternating with a light hop from whole-foot-cat-stance on one leg to the other is an exercise in agility.  While this type of movement might also be something we do in a Nia routine it is not always the case.  Sometimes we move into cat stance and from there do kicks.

As with all of Nia’s 52 Moves we play with them.  All of Nia’s routines consist of playing with movement and music.  With the cat stance you have the specific way to do it, then just like a cat you can play as you practice.  You can “meow” and use claw hands.  The cat stance is a fun way to play with balance and sounding.  Practice the specifics then let the animal in you out!

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Nia Stance Sounds

Posted by terrepruitt on January 5, 2013

There are a few posts on my blog about sounding in Nia.  I even have a separate category for it.  See over there to the left under categories, under Nia?  Sounding is what we call making noise in a Nia class.  Sounding is great for many reasons.  Sounding is a release.  It can help release tension, emotions, spirit . . . whatever needs “releasing”.  Sounding is fun.  Sounding can assist in the stabilization of the torso.  Sounding can help ground you . . . physically, emotionally, and your spirit.  Often times when I am doing Nia both when I am teaching and when I am a student, my spirit just makes a sound.  I don’t plan it, I don’t think about it, a noise just comes out.  I “woo” a lot.  But sometimes other sounds comes out.  Sometimes the sound I make makes me laugh because I really don’t think about the sound, something just comes out.  I could be thinking of something, for example, maybe the move we are doing reminds me of a swirling skirt, so then the sound could be a “whosh” as in the sound of a skirt, or it could be a giggle of a girl twirling in a skirt.  I don’t always think about the sound I just let it out.  Sometimes I do think of the sound.  Sounding can be purposeful.  The noise can have a purpose.  I have posted about healing sounds and sounds associated with the chakras.  This post is about the sounds that are associated with Nia stances, which are part of Nia’s 52 moves.

TheDance 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, SJCityFit picture in this post is an approximation of how MY feet would be placed in the various stances.  Remember that your stances would probably be slightly different.  The width would be according to YOUR body and your body’s way.  The picture is just to give you an idea and maybe help remind you of the various stances.  At this time I have a post associated with four of the six stances.

In Nia’s closed stance the sound is the vowel sound “o”.  The sound is made to “create volume in your chest cavity”.

In Nia’s open stance the sound is (to say) “balance” or “ground”.  Saying the word “balance” can assist you in your balance.  The word “ground” can assist with allowing you to feel grounded and sense balance.

The sound for Nia’s “A” stance is “aaaaahh!”.  You say it on an exhale.  Letting out all your breath until you are ready to inhale.

Sumo stance or riding stance (feet as wide apart as if you were riding a horse) has an explosive sound.  Say “ha!”  To me this helps with stabilization.

The bow stance has a sound of “u”.  The bow stance is done with either foot in front, not just with the left foot in front as shown in the example.

The cat stance (standing on one foot, with the other foot pressed against the standing leg) has the sound “wooooooo” associated with it.  This is done on the exhale.  This stance is also done on the other foot and not just the left one as in the example.

So as you are practicing the Nia stances you can use the sounds associated with them for added benefit and fun.  It is just fun to make noise.  To me it adds to the experience.  In my classes I encourage people to make any noise they want.  I also like to play with the noises, sounds, and words associated with the move.

Do you attend a dance exercise class  or exercise that encourages you to make noise?

Information regarding the sounds made with the Nia stances can be found in The Nia Technique book written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas (NKA, Carlos AyaRosas).  The book can be purchased from Amazon.

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“A” Stance – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 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, NiaAnother one of the 52 Moves of Nia is the “A” Stance.  This is the stance where the position of the legs allows the body to look somewhat like the capital letter A.  The legs are placed wider than hip distance apart, even wider than shoulder width.  The legs are far enough apart and wide enough for them to appear to be as the bottom “legs” on a capital letter A.  The feet are parallel, the upper body is relaxed.  The Nia Technique Book states the benefits as:  “Practicing “A” Stance improves hip flexibility and leg strength, which improves agility and mobility.” 

I would like to add that it improves or at least allows the practice of balance.  Not balancing on one leg which we do a lot in Nia, but balance between the body and the legs, balance between both legs, and balance between the legs and feet.  Also balance of weight between the two feet.  This is a stable and balanced stance.  The weight is not on one foot more than the other.  The weight is not on the front or the balls of the feet more than on the heels.  This is a great stance to practice balance in.  To allow the body to rest onto the whole foot. 

Not only having the feet be parallel but even.  If you were to stand at a line would your toes be even, both up to the line?  I had noticed with myself for a while now that when I step into an “A” stance my right foot is ALWAYS slightly back from where my left foot is.  I have been noticing this since I injured my foot in November of 2010.  Just last week as I was teaching my regular Nia Class in Willow Glen, I noticed I stepped into “A” stance and my left foot was the tiniest bit back from the line on which my right foot landed (had there been a line).  I thought that was funny.  I giggled, but I hadn’t thought of it again until now.  I don’t always think about my uneven landings until I have the opportunity to land in a stance where I see my feet several times in a routine.  Then during the routine I focus on having my feet land even.  There are times, of course in a dance where they don’t need to be or aren’t supposed to be even, but when doing a regular closed, open, A, or sumo stance I think the feet should be even.  The “A” stance is a great stance to practice that because you can clearly see your feet and the pose is relaxed enough that there are not other things you might be thinking about.  I feel the “A” Stance is a great way to practice balance.

As with all stances one way to practice the “A” stance is to simple stand in one place and move through the stances.  Another way to practice is to walk and then stop in the “A” stance.  Walking and stopping into an “A” Stance would be a great way to work on landing “even” — as I mentioned before.  Walk, then stop, then look at your feet, notice the sensation in your hips, if your feet are even then that is the sensation you want to replicate, if not, then adjust your feet, notice the sensation in your hips and try to replicate it again as you step into “A” Stance.

The “A” Stance is just one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves.

What do you sense when standing in the “A” Stance?  When you step into the “A” Stance do your feet land “even”?

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Closed Stance in Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on May 3, 2012

Nia has a different closed stance than some other dances and exercises I know. In Pilates the stance is heels touching and toes apart. I’ve heard it called a Pilates V. The Pilates V is done in more positions than standing. Sometimes there are exercises done while on the reformer where we will place our feet in Pilates V. It is nice to have positions that are specific. It helps a lot. I as a teacher can just say, “Closed stance.” and the Nia students will know what that means. Instead of forming a V as in the Pilates stance we form more of a rectangle. A basic closed stance is simple. It is stable. Nia’s closed stance is the side of the big toes touching and heels apart. It is as if all four corners of a rectangle are in contact with the edge of the foot. This allows for a very stable base. In the basic closed stance the arms hang. The back is straight, we are standing tall, lengthening the spine. Knees are relaxed as well was the feet. Weight is balanced evenly on both feet. Simple closed stance.

Dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, NiaClosed stance is one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves. There is Closed Stance, Open Stance, A Stance, Sumo (or Riding) Stance, Bow Stance, and Cat Stance. I believe that in its basic form closed stance is the easiest. But when other elements are added that might not hold true.

We can practice our agility by walking quickly then stopping in closed stance. We might choose to be in closed stance while we allow just our arms to be agile . . . moving around in a starting and stopping fashion. We could just let our closed stance be stable as our arms are mobile. We could do an entire body dance . . . close stance dance. For some this is a challenge, even though our feet are formed into a rectangle and the idea is of a stable base it is still a practice in balance to have your feet secured to the earth while the rest of your body moves around.  As I said, what we do with a close stance might not be so simple.

Practicing walking and stopping in closed stance is a good check to make certain you are not landing in “toes in“. The heels shouldn’t be that far apart as if you are doing toes in. Yet the toes should be touching. Coming from other stances to closed is good for conditioning the legs. Moving from Sumo to closed, or from at to closed is something to practice. Again we don’t want our heels to land too far apart making us pigeon toed.

I know of several routines that have us going through the stances. We start out in closed, then go to open stance, then go to A stance, then go to sumo. In some routines we work back through the stances, but in some we do move right into closed from sumo.  I can’t think of one where we go from closed to sumo, but I bet there is one and I just can’t put my finger on it.  Nia loves to mix up the moves to get the most out of the workout.

Can you sense the stability in the Nia Closed Stance?

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