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 ‘Garland Pose’

Squatting Does A Body Good

Posted by terrepruitt on February 8, 2014

One of my Blue Belt Sisters (a woman I attended the Nia Blue Belt Intensive with) posted a link on Facebook to an article about 5 reasons to do a full squat.  I love when I see information like that . . . information about why it is good to do “something”, something we do in Nia.  I love that.  I love when people confirm and promote Nia movement.  As you know, if you have read some of my Nia posts, Nia is not new.  Nia has been around for 30 years.  Nia incorporates moves and ideals from different modalities so most of it is not new.  HOW they incorporate it is often unique, but we use a lot of movements used in other exercise and workout programs.  Which is a great thing.  Not that just because something is done commonly makes it good, but since Nia is based on how the body was designed to move it makes sense that we do movements done in other practices and vice versa.  So I was excited to see an article talk about something we do in Nia.  Nia knows the benefits of squats.

I posted about the Garland Pose and I posted about what Nia 5 Stages calls “standing“.  Here I am going to touch upon some benefits of doing full squats.  A few of mine are different than the 5 mentioned, so check that out too.  First, the article reminds us that children squat to reach for things on the ground and will get into that position when playing on the ground.  Many things that children do we understand to be beneficial yet we no longer do them as adults.  In addition to the many physical benefits of a full squat, it can possibly help us remember that child-like position of play.  A Nia workout includes “exercising” the BMES (Body, Mind, Emotion, and Spirit) and many people claim that the play we do in Nia is great for their spirit.  Squat like a kid!

Small children have all that yummy flexibility.  Their bodies have not yet sat in chairs for years or worn shoes that either keep their ankles from moving in a full range of motion or even keep their foot in one position, possibly even shortening their calf muscles.  So they can easily squat with both feet fully on the ground, and their legs folded, and their chest to their thighs with their bum low to the ground.  So a squat allows for all of that.  Mobility and flexibility in the ankles.  Flexibility in the knee.  And balance.  Being able to squat with flat feet and stay stable is proof of good balance.  Think of all those muscles you use to stay tush down and upright . . . (if you need help “thinking”, do it now and just sense all of that).

If you are doing the “Garland” type squat with the wide knees you are really opening the hips and groin area.  It is important to have flexibility and mobility in the hips because those things help make walking more comfortable.  A body is able to stand more upright when the hip flexors aren’t tight.  So squatting can help the body allow for good posture.  The squat also helps with stretching the back of the legs.  Squats target the hamstrings and the glutes.

And if you push up to standing you are using your glutes, so standing up from a squat is a good bum strengthener/toner.  Sometimes we move into a deep squat position in Nia as part of a Nia routine.  We do squats as part of the Nia 5 Stages and we push up into a walk.  So as I said Nia knows the benefits of squatting.  What about you?

Are you a squatter?  Do you find yourself squatting during the day?  Is the squat something your body needs practice doing?

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Nia “Standing”

Posted by terrepruitt on February 6, 2014

My last post was about the Garland Pose or Malasana.  That is a yoga pose.  The Garland Pose post was long enough so I didn’t talk about the advanced positions of that pose.  In Nia the pose could be compared to “Standing” which is the fourth stage in Nia’s 5 Stages.  In Nia it is also a little different. Nia’s 5 Stages is a movement practice through the five stages of human development.  While I have mentioned Nia’s 5 Stages before in my blog I have not written about them in depth and this post will not be in depth either.  I am just touching upon the fourth stage, including it in my little series about squatting.  Squatting is important and Nia knows that.  Nia recognizes it as a stage of human development.  Although Nia does not believe it should be abandoned and that is why we have the 5 Stages as a movement practice and why we include squatting in many of our routines.  As I said standing is the fourth stage and it is somewhat like a squat.

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 YogaThe Nia 5 Stages are the stages we go through in development.  Stage one is Embryonic.  Stage two is Creeping.  Stage three is Crawling.  Stage four is Standing.  Stage five is Walking. First we are in the womb, then most of us creep, then we crawl, we stand (squat), then walk.  Stages of human development.  Stage four, “Standing”, is a low or full squat.

I have posted about squats before.  In fact when I did I mentioned that we don’t do them in Nia.  And we don’t — or I hadn’t done the type of squats I was writing about.  I was writing about squats done in a way that is more in line with weight training.  Using weights and other equipment.  I believe there are weight lifting competitions where people do really low squats with weights, but . . . I am not going to go there.  There are a lot of things that elite athletes do that I would STRONGLY recommend the average person NOT do . . . . EVER.

I DO recommend full squats (without weights) . . . providing your body is able to do them I believe you should.  And by able I mean there is no medical reason you can’t, you have joints and body parts that will allow you to do them.  Doing squats will help you in so many ways.

With Nia’s fourth stage – standing – we are coming from a crawling position.  The way we move from crawling to “standing” is we open our feet wider than our knees while our knees are still on the ground.  Then curl our toes then push back onto our feet.  Since the 5 stages of human development are based on the way the body was designed to move and how we develop ideally, the idea is to push back onto feet that are flat on the ground.  However, Nia is a practice done in YOUR OWN BODY’S WAY so it is possible that both feet cannot be flat on the ground.  So we take the stages in stages.  What works for many is to have ONE foot flat on the ground while the other one has a heel up.  Then we just alternate.  This allows for each foot to engage in ankle flexibility.

The next stage in this stage is to raise the torso up, have the chest facing forward and not down . . . if you are doing the alternating of the feet.  If both feet are flat on the earth the chest is probably already facing mostly forward because the buttocks are lowered and the legs are folded over so the chest is somewhat up against the thighs.  In both positions lift the chest up further, sternum to the sky.  When ready the arms also come up, reaching to the sky.

We stay in this stage as long as the present workout dictates.  Could be just a second or two . . . could be a bar (of a song) . . . whatever is appropriate for the moment.  Then we rise up – nose leading the way – onto our toes and into the fifth stage which is walking.

Squatting is important because of the benefits it provides.  Being able to come up from a squat provides even more benefits.  Like push-ups and/or planks, squats could easily be one of the “must haves” in ANY workout or exercise program.  Nia understands the benefits.  So when I said we didn’t do squats in Nia, I wasn’t talking about this type of squat or what Nia’s 5 stages calls standing.

What benefits can your body receive from Nia’s standing/squatting? 

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Get Down On It

Posted by terrepruitt on February 4, 2014

Did you sing it?  When I began to write this post the first thing I thought of is what I often think of when I sit down to share something on my blog and that is WHICH way do I want to describe it.  As I have said numerous times there are different ways to do things and you can check the web, books, magazines, and other places and you will see different instructions.  So while I was glancing at the different pictures what popped into my head was “GET DOWN ON IT!”  There really is no “it” in this position.  That is just what popped into my head, then as I was typing it . . . I was singing.  Of course, you were singing too as you read it right?  Please stop here and take a few minutes to Get Down On It!

Ok, now that you are back.  Let’s talk about the Garland Pose.  This is an instinctive position for the human body and one that gets abandoned as we age.  As I type, I see myself writing at least three posts about it, not the Garland Pose specifically, but this position.  I am starting with the Garland Pose.

The Garland Pose or Malasana is a yoga asana.  This pose can easily be described as a low, deep, or full squat.  I have posted about squats before, but the squats I was talking about previously were not full squats.  I think of those ones more as “weight training” squats.  Either doing them with weights or on a BOSU and not going all the way down.  The legs are not fully “folded” in that type of squat.

In the Garland Pose the legs are folded to where the back of the calf touches the back of the thigh.

Remember there are different ways to do this, the main goal for ankle and hip flexibility is full foot on the floor, legs folded with knees wide.  So these instructions are going to start with feet flat on the floor.  Place your feet about shoulder width apart (not wider than).  Have your toes pointing just slightly out on the diagonal.  Then lower your buttocks down, keeping your knees wide.

If it is not just a matter of “lowering your buttocks down” as in, this is not easy for you there are things to do to allow you to practice getting into that position.  One way is to fold over, bending at the hips, and place your hands on the ground then lower your tush down.  If that is not a comfortable option you can put your hands on the seat of a chair and lower your butt until it is comfortable.  With each try, go lower.  Eventually you will be using elbows on the chair.  With this method you have to be cautious with the chair.  If you are using it to hold your weight you have to make certain it will not move or tip over on you.  So use a secure chair.

If not the fold over or chair technique, you can use a strap or something secured around a door knob.  Hold onto that as you learn to lower yourself down.  There are many precautions to take when using a door knob so make sure you think about all of them (strap not slipping off, door knob not popping off, door secure – not opening, no one walking in the door you are using — and more, so please be careful if using this technique).  With a secure strap you can work your way down slowly or in increments.

Once down, center your torso in between you knees and thighs.  Your knees are wide.  Place your elbows at your knees hands in Añjali Mudra or prayer position.  Embrace the beauty of posture that is yoga and lengthen your spine.  Lift the crown of your head up, reach the neck longer, lower the shoulders as they pull back, lift the ribs off of the hips, all the while your tail reaching for the earth.  Stay as long as you are comfortable.

Another modification to practice is to put a folded towel or blanket under your heels until you are able to put your heels down.  One of the reasons this position gets abandoned as we get older is our calf muscles get shortened and/or tight.  In some people high heels are the cause of that.

This pose is beautiful for some many reasons.  To name a few; it helps with balance, it opens the hips, it improves flexibility in the ankles, it can transport you back to when you were a child and did not hesitant to squat to see what was on the ground!

When you are done push up to standing.  If that is not an option, I recommend getting up any way that is comfortable for you.  Eventually with practice you will get stronger and find many ways to rise.  Also with practice you might find yourself using the squat to pick things up instead of just bending over.  Remember it is a practice so you don’t have to save all the moves for the mat, incorporate them into your day.

So did you sing?  When practicing this pose how far can you get down?  Are you utilizing either the chair or the door knob technique?

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