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

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

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Posts Tagged ‘exercise routines’

Kicks; Front, Side, Back

Posted by terrepruitt on March 1, 2014

Here is where it is obvious that the moves we include in the 52 Moves of Nia are not unique to Nia. Kicks are part of many dances, martial arts, and movement forms. Kicks can be done in many different ways. They are great for many things. In Nia while we dance we often do kicks. We count each kick as a separate move so the Front Kick, the Side Kick, and the Back Kick are three of the 52 Moves of Nia moves.

I know that we did kicks in country line dancing and in West Coast Swing.  They kick in ballet and jazz dance.  We all know they kick in all types of martial arts such as karate, jujutsu, and kickboxing.  Kicks are even a part of exercise routines and sports.  I know they do kicks in Jazzercize and Zumba.

Each kick requires balance, and that is one of the things that kicks are good for.  The act of kicking helps improve, helps challenge, and helps retain balance.  One must be on one leg and/or foot in order to kick the other leg.

With a Front Kick, in Nia, we balance on one whole foot, we lift the other thigh so the foot is off the ground.  We keep our alignment of our three body weights.  We use our arms to help maintain the balance.  The leg we are standing on is firmly rooting to the earth yet the knee is not locked.  Then we extend the leg of the foot that is off the ground, allowing the shin and foot to move forward, away from the body.  We look where we kick.  We kick at our own level.  It could be that you are able to lift your thigh so it parallel to the ground or possibly your knee is higher than your hip.  Remember it is your kick so it is your balance practice.

The Side Kick starts as the front kick, on one leg, the we lift our thigh, but instead of sending the foot forward and away from the body we shift our hips so the one that has the leg lifted it higher than the other one and our knee crosses the midline of the body, the we push our foot out to the side of the body.  The same side as the foot that is lifted.

The Back Kick has the same start as the front kick and side kick.  Stand on one leg and lift the other thigh up.  As with the front kick your body is in alignment.  The we push the leg that is lifted, back, as if we are stepping on the wall behind us.  For an additional challenge to balance you can look behind you.

Just like all the 52 Moves in Nia, while doing these kicks in our Nia routines we often modify them a bit.  Sometimes the kicks are slow and powerful.  Sometimes they are fast and done with a bit of ease.  Sometimes the choreography allows for the foot to rest on the earth before rising again to kick, sometimes not.  Sometimes the kicks are done in a fast repetitive fashion.  Sometimes they are meant to be done low, sometimes they are meant to be done high.  But all kicks are meant to be done in your own body’s way.

In addition to balance, kicks help with strength.  Both legs, the standing and the kick leg get the benefit of that.  Also kicking is good for exercising your coordination, especially when there is travel involved and/or arm movements.  Kicks are a great addition to many dance modalities and exercise forms.  I would bet you are familiar with kicks.

Do you do kicks in your cardio dance class?  Do you include kicks in your workout routine?

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Knee Sweep – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on August 30, 2012

Now, I know that I’ve been doing the knee sweep a lot longer than I have been doing Nia.  So it is true that Nia’s 52 moves are not necessarily unique to Nia, but they are part of the core of Nia.  You will find a large portion of Nia’s 52 moves in every routine.  There are correct ways to do them, but Nia allows for the body’s way and also, I believe Nia allows for the move to be incorporated into the dance.  For instance, The Nia Technique book states that the starting position for a knee sweep is the sumo stance.  I am sure that I have done a knee sweep from a sumo stance at one time, but the first dance that pops into my head where we do the knee sweep it is not from a sumo position.  But the by the book (oh, yeah, that reminds me, “BUY THE BOOK!” 🙂 ), anyway, the by-the-book version of the knee sweep starts from a sumo position, complete with arms in ready position and everything.  Then the body rises as you come up on one leg bringing the other leg up with a bent knee.  The knee crosses the midline of the body, the opposite hand “pushes” the knee out.  The knee swings out so the pelvis is open.  Then the leg comes down and the foot lands on the earth.  That is the knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves.

The book does not indicate that when your foot comes down it is in the toes-to-the-front position, but that is how I teach it.  I don’t want my students landing on their foot with their knee out to the side.  If we are just doing knee sweeps as an exercise, maybe I would have them do that, because they would be aware of the torque in their hip, but probably not.

When I was first doing this move in Nia I was trying to do it as the book shows and as many of the people on the Nia instructional DVDs do and as the instructor does (whether it be Debbie Rosas or Carlos AyaRosas).  And that was with the knee out to the side very wide.  REALLY opening the pelvis.  But when I did that I noticed a “something” – I don’t know what it was, but it was something – in my lower back.  So I decided that opening my hip that wide and having my leg out that far was not MY body’s way, so I do not do that.  I share with my students that I found the comfortable spot to be about as far as my forearms can reach.  I “glue” my elbows to my sides and hold my forearms out to the side.  As far as they can go is as far as I allow my knee to go.  That is what works for me.

Some of the time that we are doing the knee sweep it is at the end of a “up-two-three-four (knee sweep), back-two-three-four (knee sweep)”.  So that would not allow for the sumo position to be the start.  Other times we are standing upright.  As I said, I am sure I have done it from the sumo position because I bet it is in a routine I am not thinking of.  But the ones I am thinking of it is done from a walking or standing position.

The amazing thing about the knee sweep is that it calls for the knee to cross the midline of the body.  So that means that if you were doing a left knee sweep (with your left leg) your left knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  If you were doing a right knee sweep (with your right leg) your right knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  It is a great thing when your limbs cross the midline.  It helps stimulate the brain.  So there is a reason in many exercise routines and cardio classes that we have you do “cross overs”.

The knee sweep is one of those moves that requires balance.  Since at one point you are standing on one leg, you will be able to improve your balance or practice what you have.  Also the moving of the leg helps with that stability.  Standing on one leg helps with strength and opening the hip helps with mobility and flexibility.   The knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves does a body and brain good!

Are you familiar with this move?  Have you done it before in your exercise class?  Did you give it a try?

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