Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach yoga, Nia, and stretch online!

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Posts Tagged ‘Neuromuscular Integrative Action’

Nia Crosses The Line

Posted by terrepruitt on September 27, 2014

I teach a cardio dance exercise called Nia.  But it is more than that.  At one point in its history Nia was NIA and stood for Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  I have mentioned this before.  I have also mentioned that I am not sure why the name has gone through many changes.  I personally think that Nia has changed its name trying to find a wide audience.  Trying to become more popular.  It is sometimes the way with things that there has to be a catchy name or something in order to get people’s attention.  Sometimes the name that best describes something is not catchy or marketable enough to attract people.   Neuromuscular Integrative Action is really a great name.  It describes Nia very well.  But I don’t think it is very catching.  It is difficult for some to remember, perhaps, and it might not come easy to understand to many people.  But it really is a perfect name for Nia.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states:

Full Definition of NEUROMUSCULAR:

of or relating to nerves and muscles; especially : jointly involving or affecting nervous and muscular elements

 

A Google search shows the following:

integrative:

serving or intending to unify separate things.

[In]  •    Medicine — combining allopathic and complementary therapies.

So the actions during the workout will have to do with nerves and muscles.  The movements, in addition to moving the entire body, also bring together the Body, Mind, Emotions, and Spirit (BMES).  So it truly is Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  But that truly is a mouthful.  Even though it is a great, descriptive name, I think it might have been decided it was too difficult.  I don’t know.  I am just speculating.

I mentioned in my post about Knee Sweeps how it is beneficial to the brain for our limbs to cross over the midline of the body.  I want to write a little more on that . . . . imagine you have a string that starts at the top of your forehead and it fall down the middle of your forehead, down the middle of your nose, in between your breast down the middle of your chest, over your belly button, continuing down in between your legs.  That is the MIDLINE of your body.  So when your cross your left hand/arm or foot/leg over to the right side of that line you are crossing the midline.  And vice-versa.  This type of action is good for your brain.  This type of action is good for your nervous system.  It is action relating to nerves and muscles.  You use your muscles in action and this stimulates your nervous system.

I often remind my class how we are “working” the brain when we cross the midline of the body, when it really is so much more than that.  Because, as you know, the each side of the body are controlled by opposite sides of the brain so when you cross the midline both sides of the brain are forced into working.  Both sides must communicate with each other.  This communication with the nerve-cell pathways linking both sides, but strengthening them.

Many exercise classes do this.  That is because it is important (I believe I have said this before.)  Even yoga does it in some of its asanas.  So the crossing does not have to happen in a cardio class or during a cardio exercise.  Crossing the midline in stretches also helps “stretch” the brain.  So even if you don’t participate in Nia, you can do things to help your brain.  But I just wanted to share again – I know I’ve mentioned some of this a few times – how Nia is a lot more than a dance exercise, it really is neuromuscular integrative action.

So, with the reminder that it is good for your brain and nervous system, are you gonna cross that line?

 

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Yeah, Nia Makes You Think

Posted by terrepruitt on January 7, 2014

I had a new to Nia person come to class today.  She called me yesterday to ask about it and showed up to class today.  I like that.  Of course, I asked her about it after class.  She said she liked it because it made her think.  She said that is what she needed.  Nia is amazing because it is one of those exercises that DOES make you think.  There are differences in a Nia routine.  There are times when there is Free Dance, a time where you don’t think.  You just let your body move to the music.  You let it go and see where it takes you.  It is not a trance dance, you are not in a state of trance, but you are letting your body move to the music without thinking.  There is no thinking of what others think or how you look, or of a pattern, you just move.  There is also the choreographed steps.  Some of those steps are described as the actual dance steps there are, say a Jazz Square, a grapevine, a ball change, etc.  And when learning them or even when incorporating them into a routine there may be thinking involved.  There is also the imagery used in Nia.  Where instead of saying reach up we might say pick an apple, instead of just saying walk we might say walk Jazzy, instead of saying get down on the ground we might say melt onto the earth . . . .these things might cause you to have to think for a moment.  What are the movements involved in picking an apple?  What does “Jazzy” mean?  How does a body melt?  Sometimes a routine will have us doing a movement that is out of the ordinary.  Say against the normal “flow” of movement.  And again that is where we have to think.  So sometimes, yes, we do think in Nia.

Right now I have just begun teaching a routine, I have only taught it once and it is making me laugh because when I first saw Debbie Rosas do it on the DVD I didn’t understand why she said left hand on one section and right hand on another.  To me it looked as if she was alternating.  So the first few times I did it, I alternated my hands that I started with.  When I was barring the song and I went to write down the arm choreography I stopped to watch it closely.  She says left when we start with the left ONLY and right when we ONLY start with the right.  There is alternating hands in between, but not alternating starting hands.  This is one of those funny moves that makes me think.  I love that the other teachers on the DVD didn’t quite get it either.  Makes me feel better.  Makes me remember that it is a practice and my brain and body will have to think about this move until I have it engrained.

I love that Nia is Body, MIND, Emotions, and Spirit (BMES).  I love that new people come in and see all that it is and say they love it.  I love it even more when they come back.

I always say that there was a reason Nia was once named Neuromuscular Integrative Action . . . . because that is really what it IS.  I don’t know why they abandoned that, but I can imagine.  It is a mouthful.  And to some perhaps it sounded intimidating.  Once people come to class they get to see it for themselves.  It really was/is an ingenious name, just a bit much, I guess.  As we are thinking we are using our nerves and our muscles.

So, what do you think?

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A Look Back

Posted by terrepruitt on February 7, 2013

I found Nia back in 2008.  I was looking for an exercise that was more like dance.  I had several people in my life at that time that loved to dance, but their partners wouldn’t dance with them.  They claimed they would love to do exercise if it was more like dance.  I also had people in my life at that time that were younger than me, my age, and just slightly older and they couldn’t move very well.  They moved with pain and/or it was an extreme challenge for them to balance and just a mixed bag of things.  I believed that movement could help some of the issues facing them and many others.  I also loved to dance and thought it would be great to have an exercise class that was dance.  I looked at doing Jazzercise, but I think at the time the franchise thing (or however they did it/do it) was not something I wanted to do.  And back then Zumba was not yet the rage and I had thought it was ALL Latin music (I know better now).  I remember I came across a website that was talking about Trance Dance.  So I researched that a bit.  That sounded interesting, moving your body in your own way to music.  But the information I found said that you kept your eyes closed and/or were blindfolded while dancing and someone would watch to make certain people didn’t injure themselves.  That part and the fact that some sites stated there actually was a form of “Trance” that people entered into kept me from wanting to do that.  But somewhere there was a mention of Nia.  So I tried to find all the information I could on this Nia.  Back then it might have even been NIA.  I don’t remember when it changed and even now some places still call it Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  It has gone through a few name changes, but at present it is just The Nia Technique or Nia.

It IS non-impact aerobics and it IS Neuromuscular Integrative Action, but the name is Nia and it no longer “stands” for anything.  And in the four years that I have been doing it and learning about it, it has changed.  It was originally created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas in the early 1980s from a desire to help people exercise in a different way, a way that addressed more than just the physical body.

When I joined Nia there were really starting to talk a lot about the next phase of Nia.  You see, even though Nia remains true to the original concept of a Joyful workout, it does change and it does grow.  Anything that wants to survive has to change or at least be flexible enough to endure the change that happens around it.  Nia changes, they change the way they deliver training from the routines to the intensive — so the continued education changes. Nia’s training material is phenomenal.  When you read through a newsletter or a manual or listen to a conference call you can sense the care taken in creating the material.  It is nice to be a part of Nia.

It is interesting.  It is amazing to see how far Nia has come and how much is has changed in the short time that I have been a teacher.  The roots of Nia are still there they are just always finding new ways to share it.

As with any an all certifications I have earned I did my research beforehand.  It is important to know how much the initial training cost and how the licensing and/or certifications works.  It is important to know about continued education and re-licensing or re-certifiying.  I liked everything I saw about Nia.  It took me four classes before I decided to invest the time and money needed to teach.

I took the training in December of 2008.  I started teaching in February 2009.  I have been teaching Nia ever since.  I have had the same Monday and Wednesday class since February 2009.  I have had other classes at other studios and gyms on different days and different times.  At this writing I am teaching Nia five times a week in San Jose – not including subbing dates.  I have three classes for the City of San Jose; a Tuesday morning and a Tuesday evening class.  I also have a Thursday evening class.  My schedule is update regularly on www.HelpYouWell.

I took a second Nia training in November 2012.  I just finished posting my way through the #13 principles of that belt (Blue Belt).

I am excited to have so many opportunities to share Nia with people each week.  As I said, I have five classes and as I said things change.  So when you are ready to join me in one check my site to confirm time and place and all those details.  I would like for the number to grow.  Just as Nia is growing, in leaps and bounds and for the better.

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Nia is Play

Posted by terrepruitt on September 4, 2010

Nia, at one point, was called NIA or Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  Neuromuscular pertains to both nerves and muscles.  Our movements involve both muscles and nerves.   In a Nia cardio class, we stimulate and activate both during the workout.   While leading a group of elder adults in a mobility-enhancement exercise (in a job unrelated to Nia) an observer commented, “It is like kindergarten.”  My response was, “Yes, and isn’t it fun?”  As I continued to watch these 90+ year olds toss around the ball, she said, “Yeeaaaahhhh!”

Adults just lose it.  The stigma that comes with adults playing just to play is too great.  Yes, there are competitive teams that adults can join, and those that do are exercising their inner child and having fun, but what about playing just to play.

If a suited adult were to skip down the cubbed corridor they probably would be put on leave of absence.  If an adult were to be alone, without children, and were to walk down the street balancing on the curb, they would receive stares from others.  Breaking out in song is only acceptable for children and actors in musicals.  As adults society does not generally allow us to let out our inner child in everyday life without thinking we are a little off balance.

That is where Nia comes in.  In a Nia class we get to play.  Also our dance is something that allows you to release that inner child.  Nia invites and encourages you to skip, jump, run, walk, shout out, crawl, and move as you did when you were a child.  In a non-judgmental freely accepting atmosphere we get to play.

Does that sound like something you could enjoy?  Doesn’t it sound like something your body longs to participate in again?  Come to a Nia class and find out.

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