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

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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Posts Tagged ‘modern dance’

Additional Play With The Nine Movement Forms (of Nia)

Posted by terrepruitt on October 16, 2014

I am learning a Nia Routine and the focus is the Nine Movement Forms (of Nia).  All routines can be an opportunity to connect with the Nine Movement Forms, but when it is the designed focus of the routine it really helps to emphasize each one.  There are nine songs to the routine and each song was created with the specific movement form in mind.  It is an easy way to practice each form.  It is a wonderful way to learn more.  There are three arts and three movement forms from each art.  The Arts are Healing Arts, Martial Arts and Dance Arts.  The movement forms are the Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais, Alexander Techinique, Yoga, T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, and Duncan Dance.

Each movement form can be used to guide the movements.  Each movement form can energize the moves.

The below is from the Nia Technique (page 101)

(Healing Arts)

“Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais:  Reflective, healing, conscious.  Move with sensory awareness and feel life as it happens.

Alexander Technique:  Transformative, exploratory, natural.  Move as a whole person, connected up and balanced.

Yoga:  Timeless, linked, expansive.  Move in ways that link your body, mind, and spirit to the outer world.

(Martial Arts)

T’ai chi:  Flowing, tender, fluid.  Float like a balloon, and move like a willow tree in the wind.

Tae kwon do:  Sharp, powerful, active.  Move with confidence, and feel* your own speed and strength.

Aikido:  Harmonizing, peaceful, cooperative.  Connect and blend with everything around you.

(Dance Arts)

Jazz dance:  Playful, peppy, sexy.  Move with pizzazz and express your most passionate emotions.

Modern dance:  Languid, moody, balanced.  Create different shapes with your body.  Play with balance and contrasts.

Duncan dance:  Soulful, spontaneous, unbounded.  Move like a child enchanted by life.”

*I believe that should say “feel”

In the song matched up with the Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais we move in the space.  Sensing our bodies and the space around us.  Sensing the space with our bodies.  The T’ai Chi song has us moving fluidly both slow and fast.  The movement is a flow.  The third song takes us to a dance art and it is jazzy.  We do jazz squares and move with pep and we snap our moves.  In the song where we are focusing on Modern dance we make shapes with our bodies.  We also sense the moods created by the different shapes.  In the Duncan dance focus song we play rushing in and rushing out.  The sixth song has moves that are to be done sharp and powerful.  It is presented first slow than fast.  And that gives the participant options to do either speed.  In the song that focuses on Aikido we do a lot of turns . . . Aikido turns or four point turns.  With the eighth song we are doing a cool down and use the idea of “long bones” and “short bones” which allows us to expand and stretch connecting to the sensation of yoga.  The last song inf our floorplay, we explore the Alexander Technique by moving from the top.

Just a different way to experience the Nine Movement Forms (of Nia).  A great way to delve deeper into Nia and its movement forms.

What do YOU think of when you think of these movement forms?  What do you think of when you think of Moshe Feldenkrais?  Are you familiar with the Alexander Technique?  What comes to mind when you think of Yoga?  What do you know of T’ai chi?  Have you ever done Tae kwon do?  Does thinking about Aikido make you dizzy?  What could you show me about Jazz dance?  Are you into Modern dance?  Do you know who created Duncan dance?

 

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More Dance Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 24, 2013

I have stated in previous posts that we do moves in Nia that are not exclusive to Nia.  Since Nia is three different arts; Martial Arts, Dances Arts, and Healing Arts, with three different movement forms in each art there is a large possibility that you have experienced the move before if you have participated in any of the movement forms.  The nine basic Nia movement forms are T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.  Even if you have not practiced any of the movement forms you still might have found yourself doing the cha-cha, a jazz square, a side kick, or sitting cross legged.  Nia does however have moves that are a part of Nia, say the core movements.  We call them the 52 Moves of Nia or Nia’s 52 Moves.  Two of the 52 moves are crosses.  There is the Cross Front and the Cross Behind.  The action of the cross is done with the feet.

The Cross Front is where you step across your body to the other side.  Some what like taking a diagonal step forward.  To practice this you can stand in an open stance and use one leg to step in a forward and diagonal direction.  The ideal of the Cross Front is with a heel lead.  Practice is done with arms and hands swinging freely.

The Nia Technique book states that benefits from this move is the strengthen of your inner thigh muscles.

This is a great practice in stability.  Especially since often when we are doing the cross front it is combined with another move.  We do not normally cross front continually from a standing still open position.  So the cross front often takes on a personality of its own.  Knowing how to do it in it simplest form allows for the energy and playfulness that it is normally supplied while dancing to come out.  This is often a move used to play with agility because in the dance we are moving and there is a start and a stop as we cross front.

The Cross Behind, like all moves, even the one mentioned above, has its proper way to be done.  To practice the cross behind start in an open stance then step with one foot back/behind on the diagonal so the moving foot comes behind and to the side of the stationary foot.  The moving foot lands on “ball of foot“.  The end result is the ankles look like an “x” is being made.  With this further practice can be done to allow for you to sink into a lower position . . . just a little bend in the knees.  But you keep the foot that crossed behind on the ball of foot.  Further practice has you rising on BOTH feet onto the ball of your foot. This move helps with mobility and stability in the legs.

Again, that is the way to do it in practice.  While moving, practicing, and playing with all the moves.  There are routines that call for the movement to be done exactly like stated.  We have our ankles crossed in the X and we are on ball of foot.  That is a true cross behind.  But in dancing it is often adjusted into looking a little different.

It could be that the ankles do not land that close together as we start to sense the music and dance it in our own bodies way.  Could be we land on whole foot.  There are many ways to dance and find this move adjusted.  But as with many things, it is important to learn the base, the correct way to do it and then play from there.

So as you can tell we do a lot of moves in Nia that are familiar.  I would not be surprised at all if you have done these on the dance floor at a club or a wedding reception.  Maybe not exactly as we do in Nia when executing them with precision to allow us the flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability available, but in a way that would make doing it in a Nia class familiar.

So where have you done the Cross Front?  And the Cross Behind?  Are you a grocery store dancer?

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Energy Type the Nia Way

Posted by terrepruitt on July 21, 2011

When we possess a better understanding of things it allows us to work better with them.  By “work” I mean anything from enhancing, to changing, to bettering, to “dealing with”, to molding, to melding, whatever.  It just is that the better we understand something the better “it” can be.  There are personality types, as an example Type A and Type B.  When there is an idea of how a specific personality acts, sometimes there can be ways of interacting with that personality to allow for harmony.  With any “typing” there is variation, so nothing is exact, it just can give us an idea.  In Nia, we have a little bit more in-depth approach to “types”.  It is energy type.  Now no energy is necessarily better than the other.  What is better or “best” is to have BALANCE of all the types.  So this form of “typing” can be utilized to allow you to learn what type you tend towards and give you a chance to work at balancing your types.  The system of energy typing Nia uses is connected with the nine basic Nia movement forms; T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.

In The Nia Technique, a book written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas, there are questionnaires that can guide you to understanding what your particular energy type might lean towards.  They are “True/False” questions. Here are some examples from each energy type:

(T’ai Chi)  “I am often, soft, relaxed, and internally calm” and “I breathe with great ease”

(Tae Kwon Do)  “I love speed and power” and “I am physical, conscious, precise, focused, and directed in my life, getting what I want through hard work and precision”

(Aikido “In life, I am all about win-win” and “I move with grace and seamless dynamics, turning lines into circles”

(Jazz Dance)  “I am impulsive, lusty, sassy, demonstrative, showy, alive, fun, and electrifying to my friends” and “I love to shimmy, get dressed for the party, and be uninhibited”

(Modern Dance)  “I love playing with extremes and contrasts” and “I love contrasts, gravity, surprise, and the start and stop of life, as well as moments of continuity”

(Duncan Dance)  “I am all about the soul, and in life I move in childlike ways”  and “I flow spontaneously through my life”

(Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais)  “I am all about sensation”  and “I am healthy and love anything that is healing”

(Alexander Technique)  “I explore life with ease and flexibility” and “I seek the simple, useful, authentic, and organic ways”

(Yoga)  “I can be gentle, powerful, focused, conscious, and receptive” and “I love lying down, sitting, being prone, and playing with back bend motions.”

There are nine questionnaires with nine statements you mark as true or false.  After answering each one there is information for those with “mostly true” answers and “mostly false”.  The idea is to be able to identify which energy is stronger and which one is weaker.  Then you can work on strengthening the weaker energy during your Nia workout and in your life.  It is interesting to find out where your tendencies lie.  If you are interested in finding out what your Energy Type done the Nia way is, get a copy of The Nia Technique.  It is a great way to get to know Nia and you’ll probably learn a lot about yourself on the way.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Wearing Weights During Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on February 2, 2010

Weighted Hand Gloves from Beachbody

I have heard people ask about this a few times.  Sometimes people want to wear ankle weights or wrist weights while in a Nia class.  I personally would strongly recommend against this.  Nia is not like other types of movement forms, where you can wear weights.  In Turbo Jam for example, Chalene Johnson is wearing weights in one of the workouts.  And her crew is wearing them in other workouts but the movements in the Turbo Jam workouts are different.  They are very linear. When you move in lines the chance of injury is less.  Chalene’s workouts are designed to be done with weights and even then she cautions on using the correct weight and using them carefully.  In Nia we move in spirals, circles, we bend, we stretch, we practice falling off balance in order to practice catching ourselves.  With weights added to that it could be dangerous.

In Nia we do have punches and kicks which are linear and could possibly be done with weights, but in our routines right after a punching sequence we might have a spiral spinal movement where we use our hands to help activate our spine and this is the type of movement that could easily lead to injury if there were extra weight on our hands/wrists.

I also think since Nia is so body centered weights would interfere with the connection to the body.  While you could sense the sensation of weight on your wrist it does not seem the same as connecting to your own body without the added weight.  I believe one of the purposes of Nia or one of the exciting aspects of Nia is that we strive to learn to sense what our body’s messages are.  What does our body FEEL like . . . not our feelings, but our sensations.  And if we add weights to that is could be distracting.  It could keep us from being able to truly sense the different energies that we are bringing into the workout.

As an example, and I have stated something like this before, if you move your arm gently you could say it is energize with Duncan Dance or Modern Dance.  If you do the same movement, but apply the energies from one of the Martial Arts the sensation would be entirely different.  Yet with a weight attached to your wrist it might be difficult to go back and forth between the gentle and the strong. The message being transmitted from the limb would be very different with a weight attached.  To me it would seem as if the connection was to the weight and not my body.

So, my conclusion and recommendation when it comes to using weights and Nia is: don’t do it.  The risk of injury is too great, plus, I believe you would miss out on one of the fundamentals of Nia and that is connecting to the body . . . . YOUR body.

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Nia and Duncan Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 23, 2010

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the dance arts, we borrow from Duncan Dance. Duncan Dance was brought to us by Isadora Duncan.  Isadora believed in the freedom movement.  She did not care for the stucture of ballet opting for movement of a more natural flowing nature. 

Duncan Dance, like Modern Dance, helps bring freedom to Nia.  For me I think of “child-like” when I think of Duncan Dance in Nia.  It encourages us to skip, run, do somersaults, jump, hop, giggle, growl, laugh out loud, kick balls, jump rope, catch a balloon, and just release our adult contraints and enjoy movement for the sheer joy of moving.  We are not moving to get to one place or the other.  We are not moving to build a muscle or burn calories, in this modality we are moving because it is fun.  Because, like a child we have so much engergy inside we need to skip-run-jump-hop-hop-hop across the floor.  Then, while we are having so much fun we will be moving our muscles and burning calories, but we don’t THINK about that.  We imagine we are chasing a balloon and trying to catch it.  We imagine that we are playing kick ball or blowing bubbles and chasing them, we imagine we are having fun and we end up having fun.  We let out our inner child that gets tucked away during our normal busy day.

While infusing our workout with this energy one might notice their ankles joints and spine opening and moving more freely.  With the “child mind” one might tend towards being more “open”; standing tall, reaching up, reaching out, and standing on tippy toes.  With these movements come exercises in balance, while standing on tippy toes reaching for your red balloon you are not even going to notice that you are having to balance.  With being more “open” physically it sometimes helps with being more open mentally, this can assist with releasing the stress and tension of the our adult lives. 

The form also encourages spontaneity, like that of a child.  With less stress and tension you might find yourself giving in to your inner child and you might find yourself racing across the floor.  Nia encourages it!

I think with all of the different ideas, concepts, movements, and energies that are woven together to form Nia, there is something for everyBODY.

Please note:  The photo is a portion of the “Nia Energy Type Questionnaire” in The Nia Technique, by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

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Nia and Modern Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2009

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three different movement forms from three different arts. One of the arts is the dance arts and one movement form is Modern Dance.  With Modern Dance concepts added to Nia it allows us to play with balance, play with shapes, and play with space.  We can form any shape we want.  We can use arms and legs, fingers and toes, torso and head to make the shapes we envision.  We can allow gravity to pull us to the ground, or gravity to pull us heavenward.  With all that Modern Dance inspires us to do we can gain strength and flexibility.  Agility plays a part also as we shift our weight and change our speed.

Jazz Dance allows us to play and be showmen, and Duncan Dance allows us to play and use our imagination, and Modern Dance allows us to play and in addition really use our bodies.  Muscles get a great workout as we expand and contract, shifting our weight, and making shapes.  An invitation to experiment with all planes, directions, and levels only helps to confirm that our muscles will be used as we dance and play.  Bringing Modern Dance into your workout can also be an exercise in timing and speed.  Modern Dance can be the encouragement to make different combinations.  For example, walk across the floor, walk high, walk low, walk fast, walk slow, stumble and recover.

This movement form is a great way to explore the floor, you could fall gently to the earth, then rise up slowly, fall gently and spring up.  Again, multiple combinations can be a result of letting Modern Dance into the workout.  This form also suggest moving one body part and allowing others to follow, so maybe as you are on the ground your hand rises into the air and your body follows and your hand takes you around the space you are in.

Modern Dance really allows for freedom in Nia.  It gives you permission to mix things up and make the steps of a routine your own.  It is another form that gives us permission to play and make the workout fun.
 

The Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual have additional information regarding the movement forms that were blended to create Nia. The books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

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Nia and Tae Kwon Do

Posted by terrepruitt on November 28, 2009

As you might now be aware Nia includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts. From the martial arts, we borrow from Tae Kwon Do. Not just “moves” from Tae Kwon Do but also some of the other elements of it. With its kicks, punches, blocks, and stances it helps allow Nia to be a great leg workout and provide a stable base for some of our other moves.  Tae Kwon Do can also contribute to one’s confidence by providing exercises that allow one to become strong and stable.  These are the things Nia gains from Tae Kwon Do.

Nia calls Tae Kwon Do the Dance of Precision.*  So when delivering a punch, block, kick, etc. with the energy of Tae Kwon Do, it is done with precision and intent.  However, Nia likes to play so at times even though we might not be executing a punch or a kick, but we might choose to energize our movement with “Tae Kwon Do” like energy, and be forceful and aggressive even adding sound to our movement.

Adding the energy of one form to the moves of another is one of the things that make Nia fun and keeps is challenging.  It takes different muscles to skip with force and authority than to skip like a child without a care in the world.  That is an example of how Nia incorporates different moves with different energies.

In Nia we don’t “DO” Tae Kwon Do, things have been gleaned from it and brought into Nia and mixed in with aspects of  Tai Chi, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the teachings from Feldenkrais, and the combination from each form is Nia.  A lot of Nia routines include moves and concepts from each discipline, but not always.  In an effort to keep each workout fresh, fun, and joyful teachers often mix things up.

If you are near San Jose, come to one of my Nia classes.  If not, I hope that you will find a Nia class near you and give Nia try.

*Both the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual state this. Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas. **V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual

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Nia and Tai Chi

Posted by terrepruitt on September 26, 2009

A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.  

From the martial arts, we use moves from T’ai chi.  Actually it is not just “moves” from Tai Chi but also some of the “ideals” from Tai Chi.  Nia calls Tai Chi “The Slow Dance”.*  Tai Chi allows for the elements of grace, ease, precision, power, and lightness to be accessed and brought in to our dance that is our workout. 

So while we do not do the sequences of postures that form a Tai Chi routine or exercise we might have some of the Tai Chi moves incorporated into a routine.  And/or we might take a portion of the routine and execute it “Tai Chi like”, moving slow and graceful.  Being mindful of our movements and moving from the feet with relaxed joints establishing that fluid Tai Chi like flow.  We might also incorporate circular movements and shift our weight to assist in balance, all the while sensing the gentle flow of chi. 

Some things we do in class to assist us in moving “Tai Chi like” is leading with our heels when we step, using our eyes to allow for our head to be included in our movement, keeping our joints open and soft, focusing on moving from our energy center, using our breath to generate power and support for movement, and moving systemically.** 

Hopefully this post will serve to address some of the inquires about the aspect of Tai Chi in Nia. This will give you an idea of how Tai Chi is brought into Nia. 

I love to watch the people in the parks of San Jose doing Tai Chi.  I actually see them all over the Bay Area.  In Nia we don’t “DO” Tai Chi, we glean from it and allow what we’ve gleaned to mix with aspects of Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance, Yoga, the Alexander Technique and the teachings from Feldenkrais.  It is all combined to be Nia.

 
*Both the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual state this.  Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

**V3 of The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual

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The Nine Basic Movements Forms Of Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on March 31, 2009

Niais about joyful movement.  Move with joy.  Move for joy.  Move to joy.

A Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts:

From the martial arts, we use moves from T’ai chi, Tae Kwon Do, and Aikido.
From the dance arts we embrace styles from Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, and Duncan Dance
And from the healing arts we are mindful of teachings from Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga.

At times we might move slow focusing on movements centered around the body’s inner core, as in T’ai chi.  We might kick or punch as one might do in Tae kwon do, and these movements might flow into a spiral motion that is associated with Aikido.  We could decide to play the showman and do the entire routine with a jazzy flair or just add movements of creating shapes, dropping and then recovering the body’s own weight as a modern dancer might do.  There is always a chance we could give in to our inner child and run free and honest with the playfulness of a Duncan dancer.  While we’re doing one these things we are keeping in mind the teaching of Moshe Feldenkrais and being conscious of sensations.  We could stretch to the top with utmost concentration one might contribute to the Alexander Technique, then move onto a dance of bone alignment increasing awareness, relaxation, and balance the could be thought of as Yoga.*

So in one workout you can experience all those things.  Strength is balanced with grace.  Fun is balanced with seriousness.  Body is balanced with mind.

The music is varied and is intended to promote the movement of the routine.  There is no doubt something for everyone.

*based on information from The Nia Technique by Debbie Rosas & Carlos Rosas

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A Brief Look At Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on March 7, 2009

I want to talk to you about Nia.  I was looking for a different form of exercise when somehow (in the vastness that is the internet) I came across Nia.  I had never heard of it.  It has been around for 25 years.  At one point it was known as Non-Impact Aerobics, then it was called Neuromuscular Integrative Action, then at one point it was the Nia Technique, now it is just Nia.

Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas created it in the early 1980s from a need and a desire to help people exercise.  When I read the book and listen to Carlos, I believe that they wanted more than just traditional exercise because they really wanted to help people feel good.  They were being drawn towards something that addresses the whole body.

Nia is a teacher led dance workout that allows you the freedom to get exactly the workout that your body needs.  Nia is really awesome because it is done in bare feet to all kinds of music.  With the absences of shoes, we are reminded that we do not have to have harsh impact to get a great work out.  With Nia, the level of intensity is regulated by the participant.  A workout includes movements of all of the 13 major joints and I believe that this is one of the key factors that make people feel so good after they do a Nia workout.  Throughout our day we don’t always move each joint as it was built to move, so sometimes they can become stiff.  In a Nia class you move them throughout the routine and it helps the balance in the body’s systems.

Nia is similar to Jazzercise in the sense that there are segments or cycles to the routine:  warm-up, cardio, strength, floor, and a cool down.

A lot of people just want to go to a workout class and be told what to do, I am going to be honest with you because I want you to enjoy your experience, you need to concentrate a little.  What you are concentrating on is not so much what the teacher is doing, but more what you are sensing.  You are encouraged to listen to your own body and do what it is telling you it needs.  It might not need what the teacher is doing.  And with Nia, that is fine.

In a Nia class there is no judgment if you cannot bend, stretch, jump, kick, shout, shimmy, shake, punch, chop, cha-cha-cha, hula, jazz square, modern dance, or anything like your teacher or neighboring participant, because it is all about YOU and whatever you can do.  You must seek your own Body’s Way and what gives it pleasure.  With Nia you can get a great workout at the same time.

Does your present workout invite you to seek pleasure during your workout?

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