Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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

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

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Posts Tagged ‘core’

Balancing Like A Cat

Posted by terrepruitt on November 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you do the Extended Cat Pose in your practice?

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

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?

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

Continuing Education – Nia White Belt Principle #12

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 2011

Nia’s training, the Nia Intensives are something that anyone can take. If you are not planning on teaching you can still attend the intensives. Nia is a practice that can be applied to life without ever having to teach it. Nia has several different ways of helping with continued education both for the livelihood member and for teachers. First for a person that is planning on teaching, #12 of the White Belt principles is continued education. There are instructions and ideas on how to learn Nia routines.

There are three stages to learning a routine. When I took my White Belt Carlos was very adamant about not skipping any of these steps. I am glad I have decided to post this because I am being reminded that there are a few steps in each stage that I could be better about doing. In the first stage we are reminded to just simply do the DVD. With each routine we have a DVD and we are instructed to just do it. Do it as if we are taking a Nia class. Do it as you would do any exercise DVD. Move, listen, and enjoy the workout. This is obviously one step that can be done several times.

Another step is to listen to the music all the time.  Listen and allow it to seep into the body. Then we are encouraged to FreeDance to the music. We are instructed to dance six of the eight stages. Keep in mind this can be over the course of days or weeks, whatever it takes. Then they advise us to just WATCH the DVD without working out to it. The last step in Stage 1 is to do the bars.

Stage 2 is where we watch the DVD and note the separate portions of the body’s choreography. Three separate steps, first we watch and note the legs, then the core, then the arms.

Stage 3 of learning a Nia Routine is where we start to go deeper into the routine by starting to have an awareness of the musical cues that signal a change in movement. By now, with having danced the routine to the Nia DVD as a student, listened to the music, mapped out the music, noted the choreography, and become aware of the sounds that tell us when there is a movement change coming we are ready to pretend. We call that teaching or dancing with your bears. It is the example used when you are at a point in the learning process where you are ready to do the workout and pretend there are students. During my Nia White Belt Intensive Carlos said something like set up stuff bears or spoons or pillows, just set up something so you can have a focus. I think the bear scenario is used in all intensives because we all call it “teaching/dancing with your bears”. Step 3 of stage 3 is to even go deeper into the music. It is amazing how the music will sound different after you have taught your bears. I might realize I need to pick a different music cue because while I am moving the one I originally chose gets lost, or I hear a better one. Sometimes I stop and don’t move at all to make sure I am hearing the music correctly. More advice includes being the student, doing the routine again, but as the student and not the teacher and getting more technical with the moves. Once you have the basic choreography down it is time to get technical and make certain you have all the levels of intensity familiarized in your body. The Nia Routine training DVD also has many other tools on it to help us learn the routine. They have a portion where they talk about the energy that goes with each move and more about the technical aspect of each move. One of the last steps is the recommendation to dance the routine with a different focus. That is a great way to learn a routine because it becomes practically brand new and you discover so much. The last stage encourages us to change the music. Because we have mapped out music and know the count of it we can pick songs that match and put the choreography to different music.

In addition to these great stages and steps they have mapped out for us to assist us in learning a routine, Nia’s continue education includes articles and telecourses. They also film classes that they hold at Nia HQ so that people can watch and learn about more ideas that delve into Nia. In 2010 the course of study was the 13 Nia White Belt Principles. The course of study for 2011 is “Becoming A Sensation Scientist”, learning about senses of the body. I am not sure of what the course of study’s name is for 2012, but it looks as if it has to do with the body itself with title such as, “Awareness of Muscles” and “Awareness of Ligaments and Tendons.” So this is part of what I mean when I say Nia is so much more than a workout.

YES, Nia is a cardio dance workout where you can go to a class and move your body to music get sweaty and get exercise for your body. But if you want, it can be a practice, where you learn more about your body. Even if you are not a teacher or a livelihood member Nia does a monthly telecourse call where everyBODY can listen, I would like to encourage you to check it out. Go to the main website for Nia and see all the education they have to offer. You might be just amazed as I always am.

Posted in Nia, Nia White Belt Principles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Nine Basic Movements Forms Of Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on March 31, 2009

Niais about joyful movement.  Move with joy.  Move for joy.  Move to joy.

A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts:

From the martial arts, we use moves from T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, and Aikido.
From the dance arts we embrace styles from Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, and Duncan Dance
And from the healing arts we are mindful of teachings from Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.

At times we might move slow focusing on movements centered around the body’s inner core, as in T’ai chi.  We might kick or punch as one might do in Tae kwon do, and these movements might flow into a spiral motion that is associated with Aikido.  We could decide to play the showman and do the entire routine with a jazzy flair or just add movements of creating shapes, dropping and then recovering the body’s own weight as a modern dancer might do.  There is always a chance we could give in to our inner child and run free and honest with the playfulness of a Duncan dancer.  While we’re doing one these things we are keeping in mind the teaching of Moshe Feldenkrais and being conscious of sensations.  We could stretch to the top with utmost concentration one might contribute to the Alexander Technique, then move onto a dance of bone alignment increasing awareness, relaxation, and balance the could be thought of as Yoga.*

So in one workout you can experience all those things.  Strength is balanced with grace.  Fun is balanced with seriousness.  Body is balanced with mind.

The music is varied and is intended to promote the movement of the routine.  There is no doubt something for everyone.

*based on information from The Nia Technique by Debbie Rosas & Carlos Rosas

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

My First Zumba Class

Posted by terrepruitt on March 21, 2009

I took my first Zumba class recently in Willow Glen (San Jose).  I want to say it was fun.  The instructor was awesome, just fabulous.  She would do the move at least once slow so that we could learn it, then she would crank it up!  Now don’t let that scare you.  If you have been thinking about taking Zumba, but have been intimidated, don’t worry, it is very similar to Jazzercise, except it is to Latin music.  Once you get the “Jazzercise part” down, then you can Zumba it up with all the moves that make it Zumba, like the hip gyrations, the Latin motion, the “Orange Julius”, the shimmy, the shake, the hip bumps, and all the things that make it Latin.

Since I have taken Jazzercise in my past and I am currently practicing Nia, I think I did well.  Nia has actually helped me find the confidence to just go into a class and shimmy, shake, and gyrate! 

The music is club-pumping loud, but the instructor either shouts above it or uses hand motions to try to get you going the right direction.  I honestly hadn’t thought about blogging about it so I wasn’t paying attention to the other participants that much—aside from giving them enough space and trying not to run into them–so I can’t report much there, except they were having a good time.  I was so intent on the instructor AND trying to make sure that I was doing it in “my body’s way” that I didn’t focus much on the others.  Even though I was in a Zumba class doing Zumba I still wanted to make sure that I was doing what my body needed.  So I have to say that the three minute cool down was not enough for me and that I didn’t follow it because I needed to stretch in different ways in order to properly facilitate my cool down and recovery.

As for the rest of the class, it is a great sweat inducing cardio workout.  But I didn’t feel as if any of my muscles or my core got any work, but I did get very sweaty jumping around to the music.  I want to get two for the price of one, so I want a workout to make me feel as if I have worked my muscles and did some cardio.  So, it’s not what I am looking for in a regular workout, but I will probably make it to a class every-once-in-awhile to throw some change into my workout regimen.   And like I always say, find something you like and do it.  Zumba might be right for you.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »