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

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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

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Posts Tagged ‘dance steps’

Yeah, Nia Makes You Think

Posted by terrepruitt on January 7, 2014

I had a new to Nia person come to class today.  She called me yesterday to ask about it and showed up to class today.  I like that.  Of course, I asked her about it after class.  She said she liked it because it made her think.  She said that is what she needed.  Nia is amazing because it is one of those exercises that DOES make you think.  There are differences in a Nia routine.  There are times when there is Free Dance, a time where you don’t think.  You just let your body move to the music.  You let it go and see where it takes you.  It is not a trance dance, you are not in a state of trance, but you are letting your body move to the music without thinking.  There is no thinking of what others think or how you look, or of a pattern, you just move.  There is also the choreographed steps.  Some of those steps are described as the actual dance steps there are, say a Jazz Square, a grapevine, a ball change, etc.  And when learning them or even when incorporating them into a routine there may be thinking involved.  There is also the imagery used in Nia.  Where instead of saying reach up we might say pick an apple, instead of just saying walk we might say walk Jazzy, instead of saying get down on the ground we might say melt onto the earth . . . .these things might cause you to have to think for a moment.  What are the movements involved in picking an apple?  What does “Jazzy” mean?  How does a body melt?  Sometimes a routine will have us doing a movement that is out of the ordinary.  Say against the normal “flow” of movement.  And again that is where we have to think.  So sometimes, yes, we do think in Nia.

Right now I have just begun teaching a routine, I have only taught it once and it is making me laugh because when I first saw Debbie Rosas do it on the DVD I didn’t understand why she said left hand on one section and right hand on another.  To me it looked as if she was alternating.  So the first few times I did it, I alternated my hands that I started with.  When I was barring the song and I went to write down the arm choreography I stopped to watch it closely.  She says left when we start with the left ONLY and right when we ONLY start with the right.  There is alternating hands in between, but not alternating starting hands.  This is one of those funny moves that makes me think.  I love that the other teachers on the DVD didn’t quite get it either.  Makes me feel better.  Makes me remember that it is a practice and my brain and body will have to think about this move until I have it engrained.

I love that Nia is Body, MIND, Emotions, and Spirit (BMES).  I love that new people come in and see all that it is and say they love it.  I love it even more when they come back.

I always say that there was a reason Nia was once named Neuromuscular Integrative Action . . . . because that is really what it IS.  I don’t know why they abandoned that, but I can imagine.  It is a mouthful.  And to some perhaps it sounded intimidating.  Once people come to class they get to see it for themselves.  It really was/is an ingenious name, just a bit much, I guess.  As we are thinking we are using our nerves and our muscles.

So, what do you think?

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Slow Clock – 52 Nia Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on July 26, 2012

As I mentioned in my last post about using the clock in Nia, we have a move called the Slow Clock.  Using an imaginary face of a clock on the ground assists us in knowing where to step. The slow clock can be used to incorporate any “hour” on the clock into the dance.  The move starts with the feet in the “center” of the imaginary clock.  The “slow” is in reference to always returning the foot to center before allowing the foot to go to another number on the clock.  To practice the slow clock move begin with a march in place.  If you begin the march with your left foot touching the ground on the one count, then use it first to touch on 12:00, then return it to its original position in the center of the clock.  Then place the left foot at 6:00, then return to center.  Then use the other foot, touch to 12:00, then center, then 6:00, then center.  Hour then center, that is the basis of the slow clock.

As with almost any move it can be done in slightly different manners and still be the same.  The slow clock can be done with just a tap or a touch to an hour, with the foot returning to center.  Or it can actually be a step, where the weight is put full upon the foot stepping to the hour.  To keep it the slow clock the foot would return to center before any other move was made.  So it can be a tap, a touch, a step.  It can even be a slight shift in the weight.  As long as the foot returns to center.

In some Nia routines we do sumos out to 3:00 then return to center, then we sumo to 9:00.  Now if you were thinking about that you would know without me saying,  “Move your right foot to 3:00, then to center, then your right foot to 9:00.”  Remember?  I mentioned how efficient it is to use the clock to help instruct with moves instead of saying directions and which foot to move every time.  With the instruction of sumo 3:00, you know you are stepping your right foot out to the right so you land in a sumo or riding stance.

With the example above you see that the slow clock can be done with opposite feet.  It does not have to be one foot stepping to an hour, then returning to center, and then that same foot stepping to another our.  It can be — as example, the right foot to 12:00, center, left foot 6:00, center.  Add some rhythm and a little bounce and you have the Charleston!  Add some rhythm, a little bend at the knees, and some hips and you have a salsa!

In addition to improving precision and grace, moving with the slow clock does many things depending on how you move with it.  For instance dancing the slow clock to a specific rhythm can also improve coordination because the tendency might be to just skip over returning to center.  Also, sometimes it can be something to help keep your mind focused because sometimes when the mind wanders your foot can forget it needs to return to center unless it is focused.

So that is the slow clock, another one of the 52 Moves of Nia.

Using the tool of the imaginary clock are you able to move in Slow Clock?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »