Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 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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  • My Bloggey Past

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Posts Tagged ‘freedance’

Signs You Are Dancing In A Nia Class

Posted by terrepruitt on May 9, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitSo, I was so blessed yesterday to have two fellow Nia Teachers attend the class I was teaching.  There are three of us that teach a Sunday Nia class at the Northwest YMCA in Cupertino on a rotating basis.  We have general “dibbs” on Sundays; Anita likes the first Sunday of the month, I like the second Sunday of the month, and Joan has the fourth Sunday of the month.  At one point we had a fourth teacher and she usually took the third Sunday.  But now that it is just us three, we each take the third Sunday when we are available.  It seems to work out amazingly well that when one (or even two of us) is not available the other two or at least one is.  So it works out.  Sometimes there is even a fifth Sunday and we make sure one of us is available.  Plus we work together when something comes up and we have to switch Sundays.  The class is at 12:30 so it is late enough that one can get up and enjoy a nice Sunday morning and not have to rush off to teach.  Then we teach and are home in time for a late lunch.  🙂

Well, after class yesterday we were talking about Nia, of course . . . and Anita asked us if we had seen her list of top ten signs you are dancing in a Nia class.  I had remembered seeing it, but I didn’t remember them until she started reading them.  Then I remembered I saw the list.  I had glanced at it, but saved the e-mail to read later.  When she brought it up I had asked her if I could share the list on my blog and she kindly agreed.  So here ya go:

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Anita Christensen’s top ten signs you are dancing in a Nia class:

1.    They like to freedance without judgement of themselves or others.

2.    They are the nicest people.

3.    They are all so grateful for the day she, Debbie*, took off her shoes.

4.    They make claws with their fingers and scratch the air….sounding grrr…healing emotional issues related to power, abandonment, fear, and anger.**

5.    They shimmy and shake their shoulders to express sassy gestures that play with each other in seductive and joyful ways.**

6.    They fully acknowledge and embrace that this is THEIR adult play time!

7.    They kick to the front, side, and back with authority settling on a supportive leg.

8.    As a collective group they yell out “yes” or “no” for all to hear.

9.    They choose, sustain, and tweak their JOY of movement to sense life force energy….

10.   They invite you to come and be open to a life affirming experience.

It is true Nia is fun, healing and joyful! Do you have anything to add to my top ten list? How I would enJOY hearing your top ten list! The bay area teachers are THRIVING and we want you to join us.”

*”Debbie” is Debbie Rosas is the founder and co-creator of Nia.

**Referenced from the Language of Nia

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Anita Christensen is Nia Black Belt and she teaches several classes in the South Bay and the Peninsula.  Check out her profile on NiaNow.com.

This is such a great list!  I am going to use some of these as focuses and/or intents in my Nia classes!!

As Anita invited readers at the end of her list . . . do you have any signs to add to the list?  Please share!

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

Using Your Middle Finger

Posted by terrepruitt on May 4, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitIf you have ever taken a moment to look at the list of the Fifty-Two Nia Moves you might have wondered what the “Power Finger Crossover” is.  You probably figured out it has something to do with fingers as the name contains “finger” but perhaps that is as far as you had gotten.  You may have thought, “What is crossed over what?”  Well, the middle finger is considered the power finger in Nia.  It has a lot of power.  In some cultures it is considered a finger of communication ;-).  In Nia it is also called the balance finger.  With the power finger crossover in the 52 Nia Moves it can be used at many different times during a Nia routine.

First: how to – the way you do the power finger is to cross the middle finger, the power finger over the index finger.  Then you release the index finger and cross the power finger over the ring finger.  The arms remain long and extended.  The cross of the fingers is small.  Use both hands, doing the crossover at the same time on both hands.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitGo ahead, try it.

I can do the middle finger crossed over the index finger on both hands.  I can do the middle finger crossed over the ring finger on the left hand with out help.  But I have to use my left hand to cross my right middle finger over my right ring finger.  As you can imagine it takes a little strength and dexterity to cross the fingers over each other unaided.  It is obvious to me I need to practice more.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitThere is a routine in which we cross the ring finger over the pinky finger and for the longest time I could do it on my left hand, but had to help my right hand out.  But now I can cross both ring fingers over both pinky fingers without help.  So it really is just a matter of practice.

If you can do the crossing without helping great!  But if you can’t, it is fine to help your fingers until you can do it without the help of the other hand.  The fingers still get the benefit of flexibility.  And your brain gets the benefit of your digits being crossed.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitAccording to The Nia Technique (page 164) “practicing this move helps you extend energy along your arm bones and out through your hands, which keeps your neck and shoulders relaxes.  It creates positive tension in the hand and adds to awareness of the integration of the hand and arm.”

And as I said it helps strengthen the hands/fingers and brings dexterity to them.

This move is part of the moves of the upper extremities and is grouped under “Fingers”.  It can be done in combination with many of The Fifty-Two Nia Moves and during many of the Nia Routines.  It can be done at almost anytime in a Nia class.  During FreeDance or as part of a routine.   It can also be practiced throughout your day.

So did you try it?  Can you do it?  Can you do it on both hands without the help of the other hand?

 

 

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

A Puzzle And Two Websites

Posted by terrepruitt on June 25, 2015

I am venturing a declaration, that we have all heard that exercising the brain helps it.  Whether it helps stave off memory loss, helps keep our memory sharp, or just helps keep our brain sharp, I bet we have all heard “exercising” it helps.  I bet one of the “exercises” you’ve heard suggested is puzzles.  Brain puzzles, as an example and as suggested in my last post.  Well, as I was trying to come up with a picture for the post, I was thinking I wanted to have a Nia puzzle.  I came across a cool website where you can create a word search puzzle.  I quickly decided NOT to use the puzzle I made as a picture because I wanted to make it a blog post!  I decided to make a picture for that last post, so I turned to another website that I have been using lately to create collages.  So this post is like a “Three-fer”, a puzzle, the website where you can create your own puzzle, and the website where you can create collages.

And, yes, you can Google all of this for yourself, but you know me, I like to share.  I know that I learn things from blogs I read.  I learn things that are common knowledge to a lot of people, but are new to me, so I like to share because I have faith that sometimes I am sharing something new to someone!

So, here is the Nia Word Search Puzzle.  The words all have to do with Nia:Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique

 

Aikido – one of the nine movement forms
Awareness – a goal of Nia, to bring awareness to your body, awareness to your movements
Cardio – what Nia is, it is a cardio dance workout
Chakras – energy points danced in Nia
Crawling – one of the Nia 5 Stages, and something sometimes included in Floorplay
Creeping – one of the Nia 5 Stages, and something sometimes included in Floorplay
Dance – what Nia is
Embryonic – one of the Nia 5 Stages, and something sometimes included in Floorplay
Exercise – what Nia is
Fitness – what Nia encourages
Flexibility – one of the Nia 5 Sensations, something you will experience in a Nia class
FreeDance – a technique/practice used in Nia
Jazz – one of the nine movement forms
Joyful – what Nia can help you feel
Mindfulness – a goal of Nia, to bring mindfulness to your movements, mindfulness to your body
Mobility – one of the Nia 5 Sensations, something you will experience in a Nia class
Movement – something we do in a Nia class
Nia – the Technique, the form of cardio dance
RAW – a technique/practice used by Nia teachers when learning a Nia routine/music
Stability – one of the Nia 5 Sensations, something you will experience in a Nia class
Strength – one of the Nia 5 Sensations, something you will experience in a Nia class
Technique – Nia Technique
Workout – what Nia is, it is a cardio dance workout
Yoga – one of the nine movement forms

The website to make your own is: http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/code/BuildWordSearch.asp

The collages are super easy to make, you just drag the photos you want to your browser.  You can pick a background if you want.  You can turn the photos, you can resize them, you can bring them to the front or the back.  All basic things.  I have several of these types of applications on my iPhone, but I didn’t have anything, but MS Word on my computer.  So this website is a great help to me.  Easy, quick, and free.  And I am not loading my photos onto their site. Website for the collages is:  http://www.photocollage.net/

Yay!  Exercise your brain!  Go create stuff!

 

The solution is at on my website (click here).

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

Messing Up Is Fun

Posted by terrepruitt on October 24, 2013

After Nia class once a month we meet for a visit.  We walk to a coffee house and get a beverage.  Some of us have coffee, some of us have tea, some of us have nothing, but that is not the point.  The point is that we visit.  It took almost two years for me to learn one of my students is a Naturopathic Doctor. As the teacher, often times I am busy with “teacher/business” duties.  I miss some of the interaction and conversations that my students have.  It is so fabulous to see friendships formed and conversations happen.  But I wanted to be in on some of the conversations and I wanted my students to be able to share with each other as a group.  I love when I can make a connection . . . when one person can meet the needs or desires of another.  So, so, so fulfilling.  It is difficult to learn about people while dancing . . . so an after-class visit is just the thing.  Students can share what they do and what is going on in their lives and we can get to know each other a bit off of the dance floor.  Also, I learn a lot of other things about my students and what they like about Nia.

I was sharing with one of my students something about the moves.  I was using a specific example and I said, “You know when I am talking about because you were giggling.”  And she said, “I was giggling because I messed up.”  She said after we did the move over and over and over she was still getting it wrong and so she was laughing.  She said messing up is one of her favorite parts of Nia.  I LOVE that.  I love that she “gets” that part of Nia.  Nia is not about doing it right.  Nia is about moving.  Nia understands that sometimes for so many reasons, you just don’t get it.  It could be a move you can normally do in your sleep but for some reason at that moment it is escaping you.  Instead of getting upset and frustrated with yourself and STOPPING, embrace the mistake and keep moving.  Use the opportunity to do the move in a totally different way.  If you are still able to move with the count, but the choreography is escaping you for the moment, move in a different way but with the same count.  If you are able to do the movement, but it is the count that you are having issues with, vary your speed even MORE.  Go faster or slower . . . what have you got to lose, not the count because you’ve already lost that!  Just IN JOY it, be in joy.  Have fun.

I love, love, love that my student loves messing up.  She embraces so much that is Nia.  She takes that as an opportunity to play.  To “be a kid again” and just not care.  You know how kids are — before they are taught differently — they just move and dance in their own way and they don’t care what opinion people have.  Also in the messing up and going with it, it is a lesson in letting go . . . . letting go of judgment, letting go of feeling you have to be perfect, letting go of making your body do something it is clearly not doing well – at the moment.  It is freeing to just move the best you can.

Now this is different from Nia Free Dance.  I mean Free Dance is where we are purposefully dancing to stimulate movement creativity, not dancing in a choreographed way.  Where we don’t think and we just move.  This, when you just can’t get a move and give into NOT getting it, is you dancing what you are capable at the moment in the choreography.  Get through it then join back in.  I would think you would keep trying to do it or continue with the modification you made, but it is not free dance.  It is more of a embrace-the-mess-up-and-have-fun kind of dance.

I was just very happy to hear that she was ok with messing up.  She was ok with allowing herself the freedom to not be perfect.  She was embracing and celebrating movement for Joy and not for moving exactly like the choreography.  She was having fun.  Awesome!

So do you enjoy messing up in a situation like an dance workout class?  Can you laugh it off and keep going?  Can you allow yourself to dance your way and get back on track when you are able?  Can you see the difference between this and Free Dance?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Palm Directions

Posted by terrepruitt on September 28, 2013

We dance Palm Directions all the time in my Nia classes. It is an easy thing to do. Palm Directions is a great move to incorporate into freedance. It is also often one of the moves choreographed into a Nia routine. Palm Directions is one of Nia’s 52 Move.

It might not be something you think about, but the direction the palm is facing affects the shoulder joint. When the palm is facing down (or towards the body) the shoulder joint is closed and when the palm is facing up (or away from the body) the shoulder joint is open. When your arm is straight that is when the shoulder joint gets the open and closed action.  Along with the shoulder joint, the entire arm is affected. The arm bones are twisted with the movement of the palm.

It really is as simple as facing your palms in one direction then another. Unlike Webbed Spaces – another move in Nia’s 52 Moves (you can read about it by clicking here) – in Palm Directions the fingers are kept together. If practicing to affect the shoulder joint, lengthen the arm straight out in front of your body or straight down next to your body, then turn the palms up/face them out away from the body to open the shoulder, then turn the palms down/turn them towards your body to close the shoulder joint. You can observe the radius untwisting as it switches places with the ulna. You can sense the movement of your humerus, the upper arm bone.

In addition to opening the shoulder joint, the Nia Technique book reminds us that, “Palm Directions also express emotion. Palms up, for example, is a universal body language indicator of openness.” So it can open things other than the shoulder joint. Changing palm directions also moves the energy around. In Nia classes we move the arms all around the space around us, changing the palm directions, pushing and pulling and mixing up the energy.  Also, while we are dancing and our arms are moving around us with the palms facing different directions we vary the speed of our movement.  When Varying the speed that are arms are moving and our palms are changing direction allows us to play with agility – one of Nia’s five sensations (click here for more information on that).

This type of movement helps us connect with the space around us.  Palm Directions, the Nia Move, also helps with keep the shoulder joint mobile.

This move is also a great move with which Nia participant’s can practice their own body’s way.  The body was designed so the humerus rotates in the glenoid fossa or shoulder socket.  But life sometimes affects the body so that it cannot move the way it was designed, so all of us have different levels of how much we can move the arm.  So while playing with Palm Directions and dancing the arm around the space each individual can do it in their own body’s way.  This will allow them to get the work that their body is capable of and needs.

Ready?  Straighten your arms then change the direction of the palms.  Are you able to sense your arm bones twisting/untwisting?  Are you able to sense the action in the shoulder joints?  What do you sense when you move your arms around while playing with Palm Directions?

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

Floorplay

Posted by terrepruitt on January 22, 2013

One of Nia’s magic toys!  Floorplay.  This is where we actually get on the floor and play.  The most common comment I receive from people about floorplay is, “I don’t like to get down on the floor because I can’t get up.”  And sadly that is the most important reason one SHOULD get on the floor is so that they can LEARN to get up.  Even though most often with Floorplay we stay ON the floor, there is a time when we do get up.  Floorplay is both Nia Class Cycle #6 and the Nia Blue Belt Principle #10.  The tagline or second part of the principle is Movement on the Floor.

Floorplay can bring up all kinds of fun stuff.  It can bring up memories of infancy.  With the scooting, the crawling, the getting up to walk, and the falling.  It can bring up memories of childhood.  Children often play on the floor.  They do somersaults and gymnastic moves.  They drive their cars around and roll and play.  It is a fact of life that most adults lose their playful connection to the floor.  Watch a group of children when they are told in a room to go play.  The first thing most of them do is get down on the floor.  They go to their knees and start to play.  Most adults I know don’t ever think of the floor as a place to be.

Floorplay allows us to reconnect to the earth.  It allows us to reconnect to the ground.  It allows us to sense gravity and the strength and energy of the earth.  There is a pull that we can play with.  There is the sense of falling that we can use.

Floorplay is a way to explore.  It is a safe place and a safe time to move and sense the body.  Sometimes the floor can assist in a particular movement.  The gravity can work to enable additional flexibility.  It is truly a place of wonder to let go and move.  Rolling around, letting limbs fall to the earth, pushing and pulling, stretching and yawning . . . . floorplay is a magical toy in the Nia toy box.  It is a powerful time in the Nia workout for body, mind, and spirit.

Floorplay in a Nia class can be a choreographed cycle or a FreeDance.  Either way it is an important time to explore both The Body’s Way and Your Body’s Way.  It is an opportunity to play with movement and to progress to your ideal.  Even when the routine being done in class has choreographed Floorplay participants are free to do their own FreeDance.  I often encourage my Nia students to do a “body check” asking their body what desires attention.  If they want they are free to do what they need in order to give their body what it needs.

Because most Nia routines include this cycle.  It is recommended that Nia participants bring a mat to class in case they are more comfortable moving on a mat.  A mat sometimes is exactly what is needed to ensure bone comfort and let the student move more freely on the floor.  Most places I teach in San Jose have mats, sometimes there are just a few.

The Nia Blue Belt reminds us that being on the floor is not just about static postures and stretches, it is truly about movement on the floor.  That is why this cycle is called Floorplay and with the Blue Belt lens, the way we look at things, we are reminded to play and have fun.  We are encouraged to use all of Nia’s 5 Sensations along with gravity and the energy from the earth to connect to the vertical, horizontal, and spiral and to connect with our bodies in a dance on the floor that we call Floorplay.

So when is the last time you got on the floor and rolled around?  When is the last time you got on the floor and played?  What is stopping you?

Posted in Blue Belt, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Form & Freedom, Yin & Yang

Posted by terrepruitt on January 17, 2013

I participated in a Nia Blue Belt Intensive in the beginning of November 2012.  Nia trainings are accurately named as intensive because they are intense.  They are intense because it is 50 plus hours of moving and thinking and learning and listening and exploring, etc.  It is a lot.  Nia is a great cardio dance workout, but if you want, it is a lot more.  The way things are connected is pretty amazing.  I am writing posts somewhat off the top of my head as to what my initial thoughts are in regards to the 13 Nia Blue Belt Principles.  After I get through all 13, I want to go back and write more as I read about each one and live with each one.  I also want to review the 13 Nia White Belt Principles.  At this time, I am on Nia Blue Belt Principle #9.  The principle is Form & Freedom.  The tagline is The Yin and Yang of Nia.  As I have stated in my other posts about the principles there is a lot more to them than I am writing about.  Nia is deep.  This is just off the top.

There are forms in Nia.  Some of the forms are:

-The 52 Nia Moves
-The Nia Routines
-The Seven Cycles of a Nia Workout
-All the PrinciplesDance 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
-All the Triads
-The music
-The movement forms
-The Nia 5 Sensations

Some of the freedoms are:

-The energy variety
-Personal creativity
-Silence
FreeDance
Natural Time
-Adapting the Choreography
-Movement variety
-Mixing routines
-Transubstantiation

We have a lot of things that give us form.  We have a lot of things in which we have freedom.  There is yin and yang.  The form and the freedom can be separate . . . we could just dance a song entirely FreeDance with no form at all.  Just everyone dance their own way, no choreographed steps, no guidance, no form.  Or we can marry the two.  I love that.  I love sharing with my Nia class that we are free in our form to do what we want.  We can think about what we are doing and the moves we are doing or just let the music dictate to us.

Right now the routine I am doing is full of places to have the form and the freedom.  There are many places in the routine where our feet have a specific form.  The moves, according to Carlos AyaRosas (FKA Carlos Rosas), are precise.  Our feet have a specific place, but our arms are free to move.  While our arms are moving when the concentration is on the feet you can sense the form, the structure, the precision.  But when the concentration is on the arms . . . .even if you are just letting them dance on their own to the music . . . you sense the freedom.  You can sense your spirit.  When you’ve had enough practice you can do both, have the form and the freedom.

The form is what many of us are accustomed to having, it is what we were trained to have in an exercise class. The freedom is what helps Nia be unique.  With the Nia Blue Belt Principle #9 – Form & Freedom -The Yin and Yang of Nia we get to play and it makes the possibilities endless.

Have you ever played with form and freedom?  Why don’t you try it?  Put on some music you like to dance to and get your feet moving in a specific pattern.  After a few rounds of the pattern just allow your arms to go.  Let them move freely.  Can you see how that can add up to an amazing workout?

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

Nia Classes Don’t Always Have To Be About The “Happy”

Posted by terrepruitt on September 11, 2012

I might have mentioned this about Nia before, but it came up again today so I am posting about it.  If I posted about it before, I can’t find it.  Nia is unique in many ways.  One way that Nia is unique is that we don’t shy away from issues or situations.  I have been instructed in other types of trainings to “always remain positive”.  As an instructor “to leave your problems at the door”.  I’ve been told it is the instructor’s job to create a positive atmosphere.  And while, I understand that, and I believe it to a certain extent, there are times when other feelings and life situations can be acknowledged.  Today is September 11th.  It is the anniversary of a very horrific attack that has affected the entire world.  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, NiaEveryone has their own opinions and feelings about the attack, the results, the anniversaries, and all, but for many it can be a time of sorrow.  Whether you knew someone who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers or you just know that many things were taken away when those planes crashed into the towers, it is sad day to remember.  With many exercise classes it would not be in keeping with the training to bring that memory into the class.  I was teaching a new class today.  It was only my second time at this new location and with these new students.  I thought that maybe bringing something so “heavy” into the class (the second class!!) might not be the right thing to do.  But it crossed my mind that this is Nia, and in keeping with what Nia is, I could do that, because dancing and moving to issues and life events is something that we do in Nia.  We can dance our emotions, whether they are happy or sad.  We can dance our sorrow or our joy.  We can dance for people who have died or are in need of positive thoughts.  We can dance for beloved pets that are no longer here.  We can dance whatever we want.  We can dance our hearts.  We are not confined to being the “happy-up-beat-don’t-let-any-emotions-but-happy-show” type of exercise.  And my heart, my heart really, really, really, wanted to remember.  I wanted to remember all the lives that were lost in connection with the event.  I wanted to remember what we all lost on that day.  I wanted to remember what we still have.  I wanted to remember, to honor, to grieve, to rejoice, to share, to sense, to feel . . . . . I wanted to do Nia.

So I took my concerns to my class and I asked them if it was ok with them that we dance a dance of remembrance.  I explained to them how this is something unique to Nia, that we can dance anything.  I suggested a focus of remembering with an intent of doing so in our own way with our own feelings, I suggested feelings of both sorrow and joy.  Because as we all know it was tragic to have lost so many lives and so much freedom, but many did survive and many freedoms are still ours to enjoy.  The students were free to dance their own version of remembering.

As I said, this is a new class with mostly new-to-Nia students, having such a vague and “non-physical” type of focus is something I usually do with people who are not new to Nia.  I have found that many participants especially people new to Nia, appreciate having a physical or body related type of focus.  By physical or body related type of focus I mean a body part/area (“Let’s focus on our feet with the intent of sensing our whole foot.”).  But I also believe that people can do what they can do.  So if a non-physical focus and intent works for the participant then they will be able to incorporate it into their workout.  With a focus on something that affected everyone, even though it was non-physical, I sensed the participants could tap into the remembering that was significant to each as an individual.

I love that Nia allows for us to not only dance what we SENSE, but also what we feel when we feel the need to do so.  Today, I felt the need to dance what I feel.  I feel the need to honor the victims of September 11, 2001 — ALL of them, even the ones that are alive — because everyone was affected in some way and for some of us dancing is a great way to express it.  Nia classes don’t always have to be about the “happy” we can dance what we need to dance at that moment.

Posted in 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!

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Four-wall or Cooking – An Experience In All Sides

Posted by terrepruitt on April 7, 2012

In Nia we do something that is called cooking all four sides.  When I first learned this I thought it to be just when we were on the ground.  “Cooking” to me was the “side” of the body that was on the ground.  When you “cook” all four sides you allow your belly, your back, your left side, and your side to “cook” on the ground.  So basically you are lying on a different “side” at one point in the dance.  In one routine, I can’t remember which one, while we are standing we turn and face one wall, then turn again, then turn again, then turn again and Debbie called it cooking all four sides.  I thought, “Wow!  I hadn’t thought to call THAT cooking all four sides, because (as I mentioned) I think of ‘cooking’ as being on the floor.”  But it works.  We are “cooking” or facing all sides, all walls.  In country line dancing we call it a four-wall dance.  Often times there are a few steps then a turn, a few steps, then a turn, and so on, eventually you face all four walls.  There are two wall dances and maybe even three, but the point is you face a different direction.  Generally the back becomes the front and the front becomes the back.

ance 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,I’ve posted about Nia Routines before.  I explained a bit about how the routines are created and teachers can purchase them.  Nia routines used to be choreographed and performed on the training DVD by Debbie Rosas or Carlos Rosas or both.  I’ve also posted about the fact that Nia morphs and changes.  At the end of 2010 Carlos AyaRosas, the male co-creator of Nia retired.  As with any company that wants to continue on after a founder retires Nia had to make some changes.  To me it seems as if Nia had been thinking about this for a while.  I know when I attended my Nia White Belt Intensive both Debbie and Carlos talked about Nia continuing on after they leave.  So it seems to me that they had plans and ideas for how Nia will change.  I think it is evident in the way that Nia does not seem to be a flag flapping in the wind, it has true direction.  With the exit of Carlos a new era has been born.  Debbie is now co-creating routines with Nia Black Belt Trainers.  I love Nia and enjoy both the routines Debbie created and the ones Carlos created.  There are some I like more than others.  I am not saying that I like the new one I have seen more than I liked the “old” ones, I am just saying, “Yay!  Nia is not disappointing me.”  The new routine I have looked at is just as fabulous as the old routines I love. 

As a little background:  In order to teach Nia we must pay a licensing fee.  When we pay the fee we are purchasing the right to teach, continued education, and four Nia routines.  We are free to purchase additional routines when they are available, but four are included in the licensing fee and we are obligated to learn at least four a year.  I just recently renewed my license and ordered my routines.  I ordered two that are older (from 2007 and 2008) and two that are considered our new ones, dated 2011.  Usually I skim through all four before deciding which one to learn next.  One of them I ordered I have done once before in a class so I know that I like it and I was planning on learning that next, but my curiosity about one of the new ones got to me.  I decided to learn it next after having watched it.

I am very excited about this routine because it has the “four-wall” or cooking all four sides technique in it.  The routine I am currently teaching has it too but only briefly, this new routine has this technique in more than one song.  Since a Nia class is not a dance lesson we just lead follow like other cardio workout classes the cooking all four sides is to not a series of complicated steps, but it does allow us to face other directions.  In FreeDance there is always opportunities to face many directions and sometimes in the Nia movements alone one can be turning far enough to achieve facing another wall, but this is choreographed to have the entire class turn.  It allows the class to see a different perspective.  I think it is fabulous.
 
It could be making me nostalgic and thinking of country dancing days . . . but more so, I am excited to have this technique used in a Nia routine so my students can see things from the front if they are always in the back or the back, if they are always in the front.  It will help move the class in new directions and Beyond!

Have you ever thought about the fact that a cardio dance class is pretty much like a line dance? 

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