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

    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 ‘lunge’

Sun Salutation – My Way

Posted by terrepruitt on May 4, 2013

The Sun Salutation is a sequence of asanas.  I have not yet included it in any of my Nia classes, but I am thinking about doing so.  In general modern day usage “asana” is what people call a yoga pose.  So the Sun Salutation is a sequence of yoga poses.  Now, if you look up Sun Salutation on the internet you will find a lot of variations.  There are certain asanas that you will consistently find in all of them, but then not all of the Sun Salutations will include the same EXACT ones.  I’ve seen anywhere from 9 to 13 poses in a single salutation.  Since yoga is considered a practice associated with religion, a meditation, a prayer, a movement form, and/or a straight out exercise it makes sense that there are so many difference ways to do the Sun Salutation.  If you are chosing to do the movement as a form of worship it might have different movements than if you are doing it to get a specific physical benefit.  Most of the instructions on how to do it agree that the movements are based on breath.  Inhale here, exhale there.  I have decided on a combination of what I have been trained with, what I have practiced in classes, what I practice at home, several applications, and things I have learned along the way.  I have decided on thirteen movements.  I move using the right leg through 11 asanas, then through them again using the left leg.  Two of the poses making the sequence 13 are only used only in very beginning and the end.

I start in Anjali mudra then go to the
Mountain Pose, then arms move out and up into an
Upward Salute, then I swan dive into a
Forward Bend, up into a
Standing Half Forward Bend, then I place the left leg back into a
lunge then the right leg back into a
plank then I move down onto knees into
knees, chest, chin/Ashtanga Namaskara or chaturanga up into
cobra, then I push back into
downward dog, I stay here longer than any other pose.  I breath.  Then I bring my right leg forward, so I am in a
lunge, then I bring my left leg forward then I
forward bend, then I come up a little into
Standing Half Forward Bend then lift my arms out and up as I rise into an
Upward Salute which I consider the start of the right sun salutation.  I go through the sequences again this time place my right leg back into the lunge.  When it is time to lunge again, I bring my left leg forward.

I find that as I move through the salutation, I like to change my Upward Salutes into more of a little back bend.  Only bending back as I warm up and it feels good.

Since this is my Sun Salutation, and I am not worshiping the sun . . . in fact I don’t even think of the sun at all, I just do it my way.  I do it in the way I feel like doing it that day.  Sometimes I time it with my breath inhaling on this move and exhaling on that move, sometimes I stay in each pose longer and while I am aware of my breath my movements are not dictated by it.  I do somewhat feel that is WAAAAAY contrary to the way it is “supposed” to be done, but then again it is MY movement.  It is MY practice.  It is MY meditation.  So I do it the way MY body feels like doing it that day.  I don’t usually decide how I am going to do it when I begin, I just begin and however I seem to move is how I do it that day at that time.  Sometimes I even time it to the music I am listening too.  Sometimes, unfortunately, I am in a hurry and I just want to get a few in so I do them.  It all depends.  That is why I think it is nice because YOU can do it how you want to do it to match the reason you are doing it.  After doing at least six, I end with the Mountain Post and the Anjali mudra.

Do you do a version of the Sun Salutation?  What asanas do you include in your salute?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Simple Stretches Could Bring Relief

Posted by terrepruitt on May 12, 2012

We move our hips A LOT in Nia.  With all the hip movements we do I say we have juicy hips.  Not only do we shake and shimmy our hips we take time to stretch and open our hips.  Hip flexors are a group of muscles that move the thigh towards the chest.  These muscles can get short and tight, especially from sitting.  Office jobs usually mean sitting in a chair all day while at work.  Add the commute time to the sitting on the job and many people end up sitting over eight hours a day.  Sometimes the hip flexors can become so short and tight they can keep an individual from standing up straight.  In addition, the origin of one of the muscles in the hip flexor group is in the lower back, if this set of muscles is short and tight it can sometimes result in lower back pain.  For many individuals stretching and lengthening these muscles can bring relief from back pain and help individuals stand up straighter.

There are a lot of stretches that can help lengthen this group of muscles.  The yoga Pigeon Pose comes to mind.  This is a great pose because the leg that is straight out towards the back get the lengthening benefit and sensation, while the bent leg assist in opening the groin area and stretching those muscles.  The butterfly stretch really stretches the groin area, too.  The closer you can get your feet to your pelvis the bigger the stretch, and the close the knees to the ground the bigger the stretch.  This is a great stretch you will definitely feel in the inner thighs.  The spinal twist both supine and seated can bring great relief.  So whether you are laying down and allowing your legs to be on one side of you or whether you are sitting up with one leg out and hugging one bent knee, you still get a nice stretch for the pair of muscles whose origins starts in the lower back.

One stretch I love to do is somewhat like a spinal twist in that you let the legs twist to one side, but instead of bringing them over to one side as a pair you let one leg start its journey to the other side of your body and the other one follows in its own time.  Think of your legs as pages in a book.**  One leg goes then the other leg flips (as a page) slowly.  No rush.  Also if you allow one leg to fall to one side while the other is on the first side (think open book) it is similar to the butterfly stretch but with hips completely open.  Then “close the book” having your legs end up on one side while gently twisting to the other, you get the nice gentle stretch in your back.  In Nia our floorplay cycle often includes many of these.

Swinging your leg from front to back either in a standing position or lying down on your side can stretch the muscles.  Let the leg swing as far to the front as comfortable and then as far back as is comfortable.  In both the standing and lying position you want to keep you back straight.  Don’t let it get into the swing of things, just let your leg swing.

Some exercises can assist in stretching the muscles too.  The lunge, especially a long lunge, helps stretch and lengthen the muscles and open the hips a bit.  The leg that is stretch back with get the stretch in the front.  You can either do the lunge stepping forward or back, but the longer the step the bigger the stretch.

These are just some simple stretches that might help loosen up your hips if you have tight hip flexors.  If you tend to sit at a desk that could be something that is happening.  Make your hips juicy and happy by stretching them a bit.  It might even help you walk taller and with more ease.

**This image I learned from Debbie Rosas at my Nia White Belt Intensive. I use it all the time in class.

Do you ever sit so long when you stand up you kind of are bent over at the hips?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence

Posted by terrepruitt on March 15, 2012

While Nia is not yoga nor is it a yoga class we do borrow from Yoga.  We borrow some of the ideas and sometimes some of the poses. In one of the Nia routines we do the Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II).  We do it both static where we just rest into it and we move in it, we bend our bent leg more and sink into it and come up.  Then we do the Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), then a version of the lunge, which depending upon your body could be a variation of the Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or the High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or the Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) – all without the backbend.  Then we straighten our leg into the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana).  With these poses we are using a lot of muscles.  The muscles can be challenged in strength, stability, and/or flexibility.  It all depends are your body at that moment.

When we do the Warrior II pose in this Nia routine the arms are extended out to the sides, opposite from each other, the hips, torso, chest, and shoulders are facing the mirror/front, while one of the legs is bent at a 90 degree angle and the foot is in line with the arm.  The other leg is straight and the foot is slightly turned with the toes pointed toward the body and the heel pointed away.  Of course participants have the option of having the foot at a right angle, but for this dance it is led with a slight angle.  Even with that slight variation it is working the glutes (all of them), the thigh muscles:  inner, outer, hamstrings, and the quadriceps, and your calf muscles.  And for some, like me, who have a habit of scrunching the shoulders, it works the rhomboids while holding up the arms and keeping the shoulder blades down and pulled back.  This is true for many yoga poses, that is why it is so great for encouraging straight posture.

Then for our Extended Side Angle Pose the arm, on the same side as the bent leg, is lowered, forearm to the thigh, the opposite arm is raised towards the sky and extended to a position that puts the arm next to the ear.  There are options to stay in this modified Extended Side Angle or to move to another modification by removing the forearm from the thigh and placing that hand on the earth next to the inside arch of the foot.  With this pose the primary work is in the bent leg.  It is another pose that works the hamstrings and thigh muscles.  Through the back of the straight leg and all along that side of the body there is a wonderful stretch, which is greater and more wonderful the better the body is as keeping the shoulder blades down and the back straight (not leaning forward).

We then move into a lunge with many options.  As with all movements in Nia the responsibility falls on the participant to decide what it is their body is able to do and needs to do at that moment.  We start off by placing the hands on the ground and straightening the foot on the leg that was straight in the Extended Side Angle Pose to be parallel with the foot on the bent leg.  Then gently bring the back leg down resting the knee on the ground.  As I said, many options so many places to go from here.  One can stay here in Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or do a moving lunge by moving up and down, or go to High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or come into an extended Warrior Pose I (Virabhadrasana I) with the arms up but with a parallel back foot and a straight back.  Here the body receives the benefit of a lunge no matter which one the body does.  If doing the extended Warrior Pose I like pose, the glutes and thigh of the bent leg are getting a great deal of work, while the straight leg’s foot parallel to the other foot results in a slight change in the muscles being worked and stretched than with the angled foot position of a traditional Warrior I.  The inner thigh gets less work while the work and stretch shifts almost entirely to the back of the leg, the hamstrings and calf.  The arms extended up in the extended Warrior Pose I allows for work in the spinal extensors, deltoids, lats, and traps . . . . basically a lot of muscles in the back, including the ones that keep your shoulders down.  With the crown of the head reaching towards the sky abs get a stretch too.

Moving from whichever lunge was done to the pyramid where the bent leg is straightened and the crown of the head is reaching over the leg while back is straight and chest is on or close to the straight leg.  Of course, variations are offered and participants do what is right for their body to remain in the sensation of Joy.   With this pose the sensation experienced is a great stretch.  The leg to which the head/chest is close to get the largest stretch in the back.  If the body is active with the leg and working to keep the knee cap up then the quadriceps will be engaged.  The spine gets a nice stretch because the crown of the head is being reach over and down.  The back leg might also feel a stretch in the hamstrings if the body is like many people’s and has tight hamstrings.

This is a small yoga-like sequence that we do as part of the cool down cycle of one of the Nia routines.  Again, since Nia is not a Yoga class there are many options and variations that are offered that might not be part of a yoga class teaching strictly yoga.  With all classes whether it be Nia, Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise, whatever, the goal should be to give your body what it needs at that time.  Bodies are constantly changing so the needs do too.  The idea is not to force the body into a pose, but to allow the muscles and bones to sink into the pose, finding strength and flexibility along with openness in the joints and that constant sensation of Joy.  This is a little review of movements that are Yoga or are very similar to Yoga, to explain some of the muscles we use in Nia.

Can you see how Nia can improve strength, stability, and flexibility?

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

Bow Stance – Nia 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on October 10, 2009

Here is the bow stance.  Now there are a lot of practices and movement arts that do the bow stance—at least I knew it before I came to Nia, so . . . please keep in mind that I am presenting it as one of the Nia 52 Moves because we do it in Nia and that is what I teach primarily.

I consider this somewhat of a deep bow.  One does not need to come down this low.  Usually with the bow stance we are placing a leg back, placing the ball of our foot on the ground and leaving the heel up.  But there are times when we will step forward into a bow stance.  Even if we are stepping forward into the bow stance, we are leaving the heel of the foot that is in the back off the ground.  It is somewhat like a lunge, but the back foot remains on the ball of the foot.

The bow stance can be deep or not, and it can be a stance that we move quickly into or out of or a stance where we settle in and move our arms.  It all depends on the music and the workout routine.   It is great exercise for increasing balance and strength in the core and lower body.

Keep in mind that the feet are not in line.  There is stability by keep the apart, at least hip joint distance apart.

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