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 ‘dance practice’

First Degree Nia Black Belt Guest Teacher

Posted by terrepruitt on May 1, 2014

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga

This class was held in San Ramon on April 30, 2014!

As you probably know I teach a dance exercise called Nia.  It is a cardio workout.  If you have read any of my information on Nia you will also be aware that many of the people who practice Nia consider it to be more than JUST a cardio dance exercise.  But . . . on the surface that is what I call it, in brief, to let people know what it is.  If they are interested then we can discuss some of the other facets of it.  Like many exercise disciplines there are star teachers or celebrities.  I’ve talked about that before.  There is always some people who were there from the beginning and so they have the most experience and often times get categorized into star or celebrity “status”.  Yesterday we had a long-time Nia Practitioner and Teacher do a 007 Nia class.

Jason Alan Griffin is one of the first First Degree Black Belts.  Nia has created an additional training intensive, they have added a “degree” to the black belt.  It is so new that not a lot of information is out regarding that, and I didn’t even think to ask Jason about it.  I am Facebook friends with Jason and yesterday was the first time we met in person.  Jason likes to travel, so he drives around with his dog River bringing Nia to cities around the United States.  He created a routine he called Bond Girls, but recently re-named it to Goldfinger and that is what he is delivering on his current trip.  He was in the East Bay last year (I believe) but he packs his travel schedule so tight he doesn’t stay long and so I missed the classes he had.  Maybe he was in the North Bay too.  I don’t remember.  I couldn’t make it.  So this trip I was very excited to get to take his class, meet him, and his dog.

Jason is one of those dog daddies that takes his pet parenting seriously and he posts a lot about his dog.  So through his Facebook and blog I feel I know both of them a bit so I was happy to finally get to meet him.

Not to use the current happenings in my life as an excuse, but I found myself leaving for the class much later than I intended and also the directions I looked up gave me a different travel time than the day before.  I ended up being late for class.  And while I felt very bad about that . . . I decided to forgive myself which enabled me to jump right in to his already-started-class.  It was so fun.

While the invitation to dress up in something shimmery was there, I completely forgot, but Jason did not disappoint.  He had on some shiny silver pants.  He led us through many of the 52 Nia moves while we focused on pelvis, chest, head.  We used our spear fingers in true James Bond fashion.  We danced in our own body’s way and laughed and sang while doing so.

Every time I take a Nia class I realize I am not a Nia student often enough.  I love being able to laugh at myself because I don’t get the moves on the first (or how many ever it takes) go around.  I love being able to just follow as someone else’s lead.  I love being able to learn new pearls and moves.  It is so fun.  I am so glad that I was able to join the East Bay Nia community while they hosted Jason’s class.  It was super fun.  I want Jason to come to San Jose to deliver his FreeDance Playshop.  🙂

I hope you jump at the chance to dance with Jason when he is in a city near you.  He is really fun to dance with.  And if you are lucky, River will sneeze on you!

Thanks, Jason and River.  I look forward to your next visit!

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga

Jason leading the class in his silver pants!

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga

Janet and I doing our Bond Girl impressions – with spear finger

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga

Jason and River. River was more interested in the grass than posing!

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

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Posted by terrepruitt on September 5, 2013

When I typed in the word practice this is what came up in Google:

prac·tice  /ˈpraktəs/

noun
1. the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.

2. repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.

verb
1. perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.
2. carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.

Nia is a practice.  Yoga is a practice.  Playing a musical instrument takes practice.  One does not just step into a Nia class and do it exactly right the first time.  One does not move into a yoga pose and get it exactly right the first time.  One does not start to play a song and do it exactly right the first time.  It all takes practice.  With Nia the emphasis is on the body’s way.  I have said it before, but I will say it again, there is a right way to do the moves, the body’s way, the way the body was designed to move.  But every body is different.  Some bodies do not move the way they were designed.  Some bodies never will, but some just need time.  Yoga is a little different in that the positions are a bit more exact, but still, if your body does not move or bend that way do not force it.  It could be that your body needs to work toward that pose, it needs to practice or it could be that the actual structure of your body will not allow for the exact post to be attained.  Either way it is a practice.

Nia is more forgiving.  Since it is a dance there is a lot of room for freedom.  With yoga people expect there to be one way to do the pose but again, not exactly true.  The individual’s body needs to be taken into account.  Some bodies will just not bend or fold certain ways.  They might be able to bend more or fold more than the first time a yoga asana is attempted, but it might never look exactly like that magazine picture.  Most pictures of people in yoga positions are just like that of high fashion and/or make up models.  They are the exception not the norm.  They are showing an example of what the pose in its absolute perfection is supposed to look like.  They should be required to disclose how many years that person has been doing yoga or how long they were actually in that pose.  JUST like people are telling young girls to give up the idea of looking like the women in magazines, some people need to go a little easier on themselves when it comes to yoga poses.

The idea is not “to look like the picture” but to be better and more comfortable at doing the pose as time goes on.  In the picture the person might have their elbows on the ground and when you start you can barely touch the floor.  Well, the proper way to learn (at least one way . . . another is props, but for this example we are using progression) is to practice until you can touch the floor.  Practice with good form.  Then practice until you can stay touching the floor – with good form.  Then practice until you can stay longer each time at touching the floor – with good form.  Don’t injure yourself trying to put your elbows on the ground and all the while not achieve good form.

I do not believe that practice makes perfect.  Practice just makes time get used up.  But good practice, practice with good form, practice that allows you to get better than you were is good.  “Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.”  Yeah that.  Being patient with oneself and allowing one to practice and make it good practice will get one further on a the path of proficiency than just trying to get to that pose without working into it.  While we all know this, I was reminded that many of us need to be reminded of this.

Nia is a practice.  Yoga is a practice.  Playing a musical instrument takes practice.

How are you are practicing?  Do you like the process of learning or do you like to just jump right in and do it right and all the way the first time?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Anything Goes Is The Tagline For The First Stage Of FreeDance

Posted by terrepruitt on July 5, 2012

Nia is both a dance exercise and a life practice.  Kind of like yoga.  You can go to a class and get the exercise you want and have it end there or you can learn about its principles and take them into your life.  There are levels of the practice.  Nia has chosen to use a “belt” system as their levels.  Instead of just having numbers or names, they have assigned belt colors to the levels.  There are five levels; White Belt, Green Belt, Blue Belt, Brown Belt, and Black Belt.  The intensives to gain the belts can be taken and enjoyed by people who aren’t teaching. Each belt has 13 principles, except Green. Green does not have its own set of principles because green is the belt level that is actually designed specifically for teachers and helps them hone their teaching skills.  It delves into the 13 principles of the White Belt.  The White Belt’s principle #4 is FreeDance.  FreeDance as a practice has eight stages.  I have posted about eight through two.  This post is about stage one.  Stage #1 of Nia’s 4th White Belt Principle is Freedance – Anything Goes (movement wise).

While you are dancing any movement is great if it is authentic movement.  With Nia there is choreographed moves, but within the patterns of movement there is the ability to freedance.  Also with many routines there is sometimes just freedance where we are allowed to dance free to the music without any choreography.  Stage one:  Freedance, anything goes, allows us the greatest of freedoms.  You can dance using the wall, the mirror, a chair, the floor, or a ballet barre that might be in the room.  You can dance fast, slow, high, low, or in the middle.  Anything that you sense your body wants to do to the music.  It is up to you.

The idea with freedance is to just let the body go.  Don’t think about it.  When you think about it often comes the judgment.  Sometimes the judgment can interfere with movement, especially if it is judgment along the lines of, “Oh I must look silly doing this.”  “Oh that probably isn’t pretty.”  “Oh, I am not graceful enough to spin.”  “Oh, I need to do this or that.”  This is all inner dialog that clogs up the muscles and their movements.

Freedance also, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, in not club dancing.  We are NOT just bouncing or undulating to the beat, we are moving to the music.  We are moving our bodies towards as pleasurable sensation of health and well being.

Freedance is also not patterned dancing, we save the patterns for our choreographed movements.  Freedance is just free.  It is spinning twirling, diving and whirling.  It could be hopping or dropping.  It really is whatever your body does.

Freedance is not easy.  It takes practice.  It is not easy to just be on the floor and not think about how you are going to move and just let your body go.  It is a challenge.  But once you can stop thinking and talking in your head you will find yourself moving to the music.  Sometimes you might even notice that you are moving in a way that you didn’t think about and it is really amazing to have that sensation.  But don’t think too much, just keep moving.

I would like to invite and encourage you to make some space in your home or if you are so inclined find a space to dance outside . . . find a space turn on some music and just dance.  Let yourself go.  Let yourself be free.  Allow the time, space, frame of mind and spirit to freedance.  Remember, anything goes!

Wahoo!  I have to add that in the middle of typing this up I secured another class to sub for the City of San Jose.  So exciting to be able to share Nia through the city!  Yay!

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

Squish Walk – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on June 2, 2012

Nia is the same as many things, the more you do it the more accustomed your body becomes to the movement.  When you first try swinging a bat or a golf club it seems as if there are so many things to think about.  The placement of your feet, the bend in your knees, the sinking of the hips, what your hands are doing, what your elbows are doing, where your chest is facing, to move or not to move your shoulders.  Then there is your head, your eyes, and – oh yeah – the ball.  So much to remember.  Then as you practice you forget that you even were onceDance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia having to remember all that.  You are able to just “let go” a bit and play the game.  Dance exercise is the same way for some.  There are moves in Nia that we do, the 52 moves.  At first the body might be so busy trying to do it correctly it is not allowed to play, but once the moves are learned there is time to play.  In a Nia routine a move is often repeated enough so it can be learned and then the play can begin.  But there is still a technique, there is still a right way to do it in order to get the benefits from it as was the intention of having the move be a part of Nia.

One of the moves that I sometimes find challenging is the Squish Walk, the way Carlos AyaRosas (FKA Carlos Rosas), told us how to do it.  I had thought it was rising on the ball of one foot, then squishing that foot down, then rising on the other ball of the foot, and alternating.  The imagery is that of squishing oranges under the heels.  I had thought it was one whole foot on the ground before bringing up the other, but that is not how he instructed us.

His instructions were to be on the both balls (of the feet) at the same time.  Not all the way up on both feet but one heel HIGH and one lowering and switching like that.  The foot that is flat on the ground (whole foot) is not there long because it comes right back up.  I found this method much more challenging than the one foot down and the other foot up.  The method Carlos had us do tends to work the calves and shins more than the other method.

The Nia Technique Book states one foot is down (whole foot on the ground) before bringing the other foot up.  Both methods work the lower legs, improving strength and flexibility.  Neither method is actually a walk.  We are not progressing forward.  Although the squishy movement could be incorporated into a walk.

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, NiaWith the method in the book, I usually use the image of high heeled shoes.   Lift one heel as if you are showing off a new high heeled shoe.  The concentration is on the lifted heel.   Then switch heels.  With the method Carlos taught I think more of oranges.  The concentration, to me, is more on the squish.

In the Nia routine we have been doing this past month in my Nia Classes we do something they’ve dubbed the “double squish walk” which is rising at the same time on both balls of the feet.  Then the squish is on bringing both heels down at the same time.  Double Squish.  I just call it up on the balls of your feet, since it doesn’t seem very squishy and it is not like either method.

I invite you to try both methods of the squish walk.  Lift one foot onto the ball of the foot, then set it down and lift the other foot.  Alternate.  And try, lifting up on both balls of the feet, then start to lower one to ground, then alternate.  It is as if in one method both feet end up on the ground and with the other method both feet end up on the balls of the feet.  So fun, the different ways to do the moves yet, both ways are to help condition the lower legs to help “you move safely with different speeds and intensities”.  In other words be sturdy on your feet as you move and dance through life!

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Authentic Movement – Change – FreeDance Stage 5

Posted by terrepruitt on January 14, 2012

Nia, the dance exercise that I teach, is a great cardio workout.  Classes are fun and full of energy.  To become a Nia teacher one must take the White Belt Intensive.  It is 40+ hours of intense learning, discovery, play, dance, reading, listening, moving, sitting, and so much more.  A person that is just interesting in learning more about Nia as a practice may also take the intensive.  One does not have to have the intention of teaching to participate in an intensive.  In the Nia White Belt there are 13 Principles.  These principles are what teachers and practitioner use to expand their Nia practice.  Working and playing with the principles actually help bodies to move “better”.  Nia is a body centered exercise so these principles actually help us move our bodies.   The fourth Nia White Belt principle is FreeDance, this principle has eight stages.  The list of the eight stages is in my post Nia Class – Levels 1, 2, 3 – FreeDance Stage 8.  The fifth stage is Authentic Movement – Change.

Nia is “about” many things.  One thing Nia is about is Authentic movement.  Our dance is not a performance.  It is not meant to be pretty.  It is meant to allow us to move in our own body’s way.  The idea is that we will move in our own body’s’ way and we will move as we need to move.  With freedom and authenticity we will be working our bodies as they each individually need to be worked.  Yes, we do have specific steps in a kata or song.  But everyone’s body does the steps maybe a little differently — to their own body’s ability.  With practice the body will be able to do the steps and the moves in the Body’s Way, moving the way the body was actually designed to move.

With authentic movement we are letting the body move to the music in its own way.  We don’t think of how to move it, we just let it sense the music and it moves.  If one is practicing the Nia White Belt Principle #4, stage 5, then the authentic movement is done for two bars, two measures of how we count our music.  After two bars change the movement.  Do this for each song.  The idea is that after a few songs the body will have gone through all of its “normal” movements.  You will have danced out all of your movement tendencies.  You will have danced all of your bodies patterns and your body will seek new moves.  Your body will do things it does not usually do.  You might be one that often moves your hips a lot, but after a few songs and continually changing the way you move your hips you might realize that you are out of hip moves, so your body plants your feet and you end up kicking up one leg at a time.  Maybe kicking is not part of your typical dance move repertoire.  Maybe once your legs start kicking your arms start punching.  And this was not thought out or planned it just seemed natural.  Leg kick, arm punch.

So the idea is to exhaust the normal and journey into new territory.  If you have never done anything like this I want to warn you, you might be a little sore the next day.  If you are a booty shaker and you change to a “how-low-can-you-go-er” you will feel it the next morning.  If you always keep both feet on the ground and you start kicking or even just doing knee lifts to be different, your body will remind you the next day that you did something different.

If you let your body just dance to the music and switch it up, your body will give you great feed back on how you have never moved your foot/arm/head/butt/ankle/knee/whatever-you-moved-that-was-new the next day.  You will go to move foot/arm/head/butt/ankle/knee/whatever-you-moved-that-was-new and probably sense it.  This information will help you learn your movement tendencies and you can learn what new moves might help you improve your body’s movements.

Try it!  Put on some music and dance with Authentic Movement, then change.  Keep doing this through at least five songs and see where you end up.  See what new moves your body comes up with.  Ready?  Go!

Posted in FreeDance, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dance Exercise

Posted by terrepruitt on December 8, 2011

I was talking about Nia with my Nia students recently after our Nia Class.  They were telling me what they think Nia is.  They said that Nia should come up if they were doing a search on the internet using the term dance exercise.  I was really happy to hear that.  I always get stuck when people ask me what Nia is because to me it is a lot of things.  If you have read any of my posts on this blog about Nia you know how its principles can be applied to life and how at its very basic level it is a workout.  But way beyond that it is a practice.  When people ask me about it my enthusiasm takes over and I want to tell them ALL about Nia, when I could just stick to the basic level –  it is dance and dance is exercise.

Even though it is exercise and it is a workout it is fun.  I love that “Dancing With The Stars” really helped show people what a great workout dancing is.  Dancers have always known that dancing is a great workout–both aerobic and strength.  I think people have always known to some extent that PROFESSIONAL dancers get a workout, but I think that show opened the door to more people understanding that dancing even if you aren’t a professional is a workout.  Yes, the “stars” do end up dancing as much as professionals to learn the dances, but still for some reason it seems like it enabled people to see that dancing is exercise—but it is fun!

As with any workout the participants can put what they want into it.  If you really want to get a workout you can move bigger, farther, higher, lower, faster . . . whatever works for you to get the workout you need and want.  The possibility to move small, slow, and just be mellow is always there.  It is very versatile.  It is cardio but if you really move — especially during floorplay — it can be a great strength training workout.

I actually started teaching Nia because it was a dance exercise.  I don’t know if I have mentioned that before in this blog, but I was looking for something to teach that was very dance-y yet was exercise.  I knew a lot of women who said they loved to dance and they would like to dance but their partners didn’t like it, so they thought that a workout that was dance would be great.  It is.  It is very fun.  We dance to all types of music.  There is a lot of opportunity for self-expression.  Even when we are doing specific steps there is a lot of room for one’s own movements.

Nia was created to be fun, to address the entire being.  Debbie Rosas-Stewart and Carlos Aya-Rosas brought us this wonderful movement practice through years of hard work and research, that started in 1983.  Carlos retired at the end of 2010, and Debbie is moving Nia forward in a great direction.  Body-centered, spirit-filling, and mind-blowing.  We are dancing up a storm and loving it.  It is dance, it is exercise, it is dance exercise and if you try it you will love it.

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