Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Core Muscles’

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 »

Plank Muscles

Posted by terrepruitt on March 19, 2013

While you are doing your plank you might notice some of the muscles involved in doing the plank.  As I am sure you know, there are many variations to the plank.  Many movement practices/exercise disciplines do planks.  There is a plank in yoga, in Pilates, in weight training . . . you probably have seen it all over.  That alone tells you that it is an exercise/pose worth doing right?  We even do planks in Nia.  If there is a version in so many different disciplines it could be that is because does a body good.  The plank we are doing in our Plank A Day Challenge is the plank on our forearms as opposed to the plank where your arms are straight (the position of the “top” of a push-up).  There are a lot of muscles used in this plank.

The muscles being used in a plank are the abdominal muscles, the back muscles, the muscles in the arms, the shoulders, leg muscles, and butt muscles.  So pretty much muscles in every muscle group.  You can understand why it is such a great exercise.  It is a full body workout.  So, while it might not utilize every muscles it calls upon a lot of them.  If you are participating in the challenge you might even notice that the endurance in the muscles is improving.

I often think of the plank as a great exercise to work on your core.  You might have heard “core” and “core muscles” before.  You might even wonder what they are.  And just like so many things there are so many answers.  I think of the core as a muscle group.  I think of the core muscles as the group that allows your body to remain stable and/or upright.  So sometimes that could include your quads if you are standing or doing a plank.

Having a strong and stable core helps us accomplish everyday things.  From sitting, to walking, to doing things with our arm as in pushing, pulling, carrying, etc.  A strong trunk helps us when we need to work with are arms.  Especially with our arms extended.  If we are do something with our arms out, say opening a window, grabbing a grocery bag and bringing it towards you, or pushing something in to a vehicle for transport, you rely a lot on your torso.  So when it is strong and stable it can support you while you do these task.

On top of the strong core having arms that are able to open windows, grab and hold groceries, pull them towards you or push things help with every day life too.  Be able to do all of these everyday things might be one reason the plank is in so many exercise disciplines.  It is a great functional exercise.  It is understood that it can assist with muscle strength and endurance.  And it is one of the exercises that gets a lot of muscles all at once!

Are you participating in our challenge?  Are you feeling your muscles?  You have probably felt the muscles used in a plank, right?

Posted in Core Muscles, Muscles, Planking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nia and the Core

Posted by terrepruitt on February 18, 2010

Nia thinks of the pelvis, chest, and head as the core of the body.  Nia is not defining the core muscles or a core muscle group, Nia just includes these three body weights as the core of the body.

The core is Nia White Belt Principle #8.

Alignment of these three weights affects so many things; energy, bones, muscles, organs.  If the alignment is not as it should be all of these things could be affected.

Movement can help properly align these three weights.  Often times some areas of our bodies are stiff and/or tight and by moving our body as it was designed to be moved the stiffness gets worked out and the tightness goes away.  Sometimes that is what is needed to assist in proper alignment.  Other times it might be strengthening or just moving your body in a way it is not accustomed to move.
 
As an example of how we guide a body to alignment, we utilize the bow stance in Nia routines.  A great exercise while in the bow stance is to move the pelvis in all directions.  Moving the pelvis in all directions while in this stance allows for the body to gain or retain mobility.  Mobility in the hips and the spine.  Movement of the pelvis releases energy and muscle tension.  This type of movement also requires strength in the torso and leads up to the chest and head.  While circling or waving the hips the body falls on and off balance and the chest and head must be used to stay upright.  All of this contributes to stability, flexibility, and strength.

We often dance our chest in Nia.  We move our ribs to open them and keep the muscles in between mobile.  We breath deep.  We makes sounds.  We use our chest to guide us in our workout, giving us a different way to move.  This releases blocked energy.

Nia encourages movement of the head in our routines.  We are often moving our head on its own or to lead us through a move.  We employ our hands and our eyes to help us move our head.  Not all cardio workout classes employ the use of the head and it seems as if a lot of people are just plain ol’ not used to moving their head.  So caution is always recommended.  Since moving the head stimulates two chakras it is sometimes very powerful and some people get dizzy until they are used to it. 

When these three body weights are in alignment sense calm.  When our body is strong yet flexible and capable of mobility it assist us in keep our body weights aligned correctly even when we move we feel confident and have a sense of wellness.
 
The Nia White Belt Manual* has over 15 pages addressing the pelvis, chest, and head.  I think that means that there will be more posts regarding the core and/or its parts, because Nia has a lot of information that I can share about the core.

*The Nia White Belt Manual was created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas as was Nia (the Nia Technique).  All of this information is based off of information from their trainings and the White Belt Manual and the Nia Technique Book

Posted in Core Muscles, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Core Muscles

Posted by terrepruitt on February 16, 2010

You can look up “core muscles” and find that different people include different muscles in the group considered the “core muscle group”.  But unless you are going to get that specific and train just one muscle in the group then you really don’t need to figure out which person is right.  It would serve you just as well to do a variety of exercises that strengthen your “core” and more than likely you are going to be working the various different sets that the different people are including in the “core muscle group”.  What can help is to think of the “core” not just as the abdominals.  That is very limiting.  If you think of the core as center from which you need to be strong and stable then you will possibly have a larger picture of what the core is and understand that it is more than just your abdominals.

You need a strong center to be stable and balanced while you are manipulating your limbs.  If you keep that in mind you might realize that it is the back of your body as well as the front AND extending further down your legs than you first might have realized.

Doing a variety of crunches and sit-ups, including V-sit-ups and side crunches, will work your abdominals.  Wood chops help with the entire trunk area.  Push-ups are great because they require you to keep your abs tight for a great workout of them.

Bridges (lying on the floor and pushing your pelvis up), work the lower back muscles as well as the hips and glutes.

Lunges are great because they work your quadriceps and glutes.  If you put some trunk twist into it with or without a weight you are adding another dimension to it and getting your trunk area.

Squats can help as they get the quads and glutes too.

Exercises that require you to balance yourself are going to help you with all those stabilizing muscles.  These will strengthen your “core” as well as keeping it trained and at the ready for you when you need them to stabilize you.

So, do you really need to know that in a squat you are using your multifidus and quadratus lumborum (among other muscles) or does it just help to know that if you do them you are strengthening muscles that will assist you in having a strong a stable core?  I believe it is good just to think about the “core muscles” as being the groups and groupings of muscles from the top of your chest down to your knees, front and back.

Posted in Core Muscles, Muscles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »