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!

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

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Posts Tagged ‘Nia 52 moves’

Chop Cut, One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on February 22, 2017

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, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitWell, it looks like I haven’t posted a Nia move from the Nia 52 Moves in a long time.  When I started my blog and website I wasn’t actually planning on posting about each and every move, but with only nine left that I have not posted about, I really might as well finish the list.  It might not be done quickly, but I will get to them all.  Why not, right?  Only nine, well, eight after this one, to go!  So today I am posting about the Chop Cut.

As with most, if not all, of the 52 Moves of Nia there is a specific way to do it, but then a lot of different ways it is done.  I will go out on a limb to say this move, the chop cut, is a common move.  I am sure many, many people have done this move whether they are dancing, practicing martial arts, or not.  It is just a common move.  Or at least I think of it as a common move.

To practice it as a Nia move, one of 52, we chop the air with the edge of our hands.  The edge of the hand we refer to as the blade side.  Using one hand at a time, raise the arm from the shoulder and bring it down.  Slice, with the blade, from up to down.  Allow the elbow to be slightly bent.  All fingers are extended.  Keep the hands active and engaged even the one that is not doing the slicing.

The Nia Technique book states the benefits as:

an excellent exercise for affirming your personal power.  This move is effective for building strength in the arms and shoulders, and it is superb for releasing stress.

The move itself can release stress but when combined with sounding it can be really effective.  The book recommends saying, “because.”  I usually have my class say, “HA!”

The ideal Chop Cut is using the whole arm and the blade of the hand.  Sometimes we might use straight arms.  At times while we are dancing, we might just make the movement from our elbows.  Just letting our forearms move, chopping at the air in front of us fast.  That kind of movement can be done faster than using the entire arm.  At times the chop can just be from the wrists.  So just the hands move.  It requires loose wrists.  This move can be done really fast.  Sometimes when we chop with our hands, we move them in the space around us, so we are moving more than just our wrists.  So the chop is coming from the wrists so it is more of “just a chop” than a “chop cut”.  The Chop Cut when done according to “specs,” is a power move.  The other ones are great and sometimes they fit better into the dance.

So, am I right?  Have you done a Chop Cut before?  Were you dancing?

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Claw Hand – Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on January 20, 2015

As you may know if you have perused my blog or website, Nia has moves called the 52 Moves of Nia or Nia’s 52 Moves.  Moves concentrated and focused on.  Generally moves included in all of the routines.  Not all the moves are included in all of the routines, but the routines are jam-packed with most of the moves.  The moves on the list have physical benefits.  Some are fun or silly so they can have mental or spiritual benefits.  And in this case I am talking about your spirit or inner child, the part of you that likes to have fun, the part of you that you might not get to display in your regular everyday work life.  So not the religious type of spirit but the kind of spirit that you think of when you say or hear “school spirit” or inner child.  The fun playful side of you.  To me, one of those moves is Claw Hand.

Claw Hand is a great move.  It is super easy.  It can be done all on its own.  You can just stand or sit and do claw hand.  You can add it to some foot work.  You can add it to some complicated choreography.  You can make it soft or hard.  You can do it fast or slow.  It is very versatile.

You can even make noises when you do it.  You can growl like a big cat or a bear.  You can meow like a kitty-cat.  You can make any noise you want.  It is fun stuff.

As I said you can do it standing or sitting and this moves gets done in to all the stances and steps in the Nia Routines.  The Nia Technique Book (by Debbie and Carlos Rosas) recommends it be practiced in all the stances and steps.  And that is a great idea since we use it with all of them.  The routine I am doing now even add it to blocks.  We block in with claw hand and we block out with claw hand.  Why not?

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, PiYoYou can probably figure out what this move is from the description but I tell you what the book says:

“Mimic a claw with your finger and claw the air, as if you were in a cat fight.  Keep your wrists relaxed, and sound a cat’s hisses as you do the move.  Use both hands.”

The benefits can include strengthening your fingers and hands.

In addition to keeping a relaxed wrist I like to use the claw shape to bring tension into my entire arm.  I imagine I am really clawing something.  I figure I would need strength to do that so I put my entire arm into it.  You can use one had to “claw” and the other hand to feel the muscles in your arm (forearm and upper arm) contract.

The book states that this move can increase your sense of power.  When I am doing it with muscles contracted as if I am REALLY clawing something I do have a sense of power.  I imagine that is how an animal feels when they wield their claw.

This move allows you to practice bending your fingers too.  That helps with the mobility of the joints.  I like this move.  I like to add sounding to it.

Ok, so stop and try it?  What sound do you like to do best with your Claw Hand?

 

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Something New To Something Old

Posted by terrepruitt on November 18, 2014

I have posted about Nia’s 52 Moves.  They are moves that Nia has decided to include in the Nia Routines.  They are moves that work the entire body.  They exercise the brain and the nervous system.  As I have explained before they are not moves unique to Nia.  Many dance modalities and exercise modalities incorporate them into their practices. It is somewhat like Bikram Yoga in that they have a set number – 26 Postures – that they move through.  The moves are yoga moves, but if you were to practice Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga) you would know which poses you are going to be doing.  That is what Nia has done.  They have just gathered 52 Moves and we use them in our Routines.  Of course, not ALL moves we do in a Nia Routine are part of Nia’s 52 Moves.  We do more than just those 52 movements.  Sometimes we do other dance moves.  Sometimes the movements we do can be likened to actual dance moves.  There is one move that we do that I compare to a Pas de Bourrée.  Or more accurately what I learned as the Pas de Bourrée.

Today one of my students asked me what I was saying and I said it so fast and learned it so long ago I never really thought about it.  So I decided to look it up and give it a little attention.  After class I was thinking about when I first learned it and it was so long ago I don’t even know where I learned it from.  It could have been my brief foray into tap and ballet.  I am going to assume so.  It seems like I don’t know where I learned things like Kick Ball Change, grapevine, Cha-Cha, and the Pas de Bourrée.  I am also thinking that I learned it when I was young because I don’t remember ever researching it.  Where I think I would be more intimately familiar with the name had I learned it as an adult.  But then . . . I really remember also learning it as a “drunken sailor” so . . . I don’t know.

Carlos Aya-Rosas (Nia’s co-founder and the choreographer of the Aya Routine) does not call it a Pas de Bourrée in the routine Aya he actually just puts his feet together then out and that is how he describes it.  I instruct it as a Pas de Bourrée.  But it is not a Ballet Pas de Bourrée which has one lifting up on ones toes.  So that could be why I think of it more as a “drunken sailor”.  That visual really helps people do it.  Although in some venues that might not be the best of descriptions.  It is also like trying to walk on a swaying ship.

So as I said, Carlos, brings his feet together then steps out.  When I do it I cross my foot behind, shift my weight and come up a little bit on one foot then step out.  It is more of a Jazz Pas de Bourrée than a ballet one.  So three steps (Jazz) as compare to four to five steps (Ballet), with no pliés or pointes.

The Free Dictionary says:

pas de bour·rée  (pä d b-r, b-)
n. pl. pas de bourrée
“A small stepping movement, often executed on pointe, in which the dancer either skims smoothly across the floor or transfers the weight from foot to foot three times as a transition into another movement.”

I am grateful for my students who remind me to revisit things I know, in order to refresh or learn something new.  It is somewhat like the beginners mind when I go back and revisit something.  I know how I learned to do the step, but it is nice to take it further and learn more about it.

Are you familiar with the Pas de Bourrée?  Have you taken Ballet?

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Dead Bugs, Well, Actually, Creepy Crawlers

Posted by terrepruitt on March 11, 2014

In other forms of exercise I learned the dead bug.  Where you lie on your back and put your limbs up in the air as if you were a dead bug.  In Nia one of our 52 moves is called Creepy Crawlers.  I ALWAYS call it Creepy CrawlIES and sometimes I say, dead bugs. In Nia the move is part of the Upper Extremities in the Nia 52 moves, the hands to be exact.  It is where we turn our hands to allow the palms to face up and we wiggle our fingers.  Truly NOT a dead bug because dead bugs don’t wiggle there legs . . . in general.  I will work on calling it by the correct name Creepy CrawLERS.

This is a simple, simple move that provides great benefits.  I don’t know how often you are around the elderly if ever, but losing the use of their hands, losing the dexterity is a very common issue.  So as the Nia Technique Book says, “Practicing Creepy Crawlers helps your fingers, hands, and forearms remain strong, flexible, and agile.”  It is very important to move your hands.  And not all of the things we do in everyday life allows for that type of flexibility and agility.  So this move is so great.

To practice it according to the Nia Technique Book you just wiggle all of your fingers, including your thumb.  Keep the elbow bent which helps keep the shoulders and next relaxed.  Change palm directions.

This is one of those moves that is pretty much always teamed up with another move.  Usually we have a foot pattern while we do the Creepy Crawlers.  Or we are moving around the room.  Usually, but not always.  Sometimes it is nice to concentrate on the movement on the fingers.  Really wiggle them with intent.  Make certain ALL ten fingers are moving.  Notice how it affects the tendons in your hands and arms.  Watch the movement in your arms.

If you are constantly moving your fingers in a wiggly motion while doing choreography with your feet you are allowing that brain to work.  Most people understand that the brain needs to stay active . . . just like the body . . . in order to function well, so we consider it fun to get our brains going as part of our movement, as part of our dance.

So as with all of the Nia 52 Moves that I have explained.  Sometimes we do them a little different from perfect as described in the book.  Doing Creepy Crawlers in a routine might have us straightening our arms.  Or we might even be moving the hand all around while the fingers are wiggling.  But the point is the fingers.  Moving the fingers, wiggling the fingers.  Bending each and every joint in the finger.

This is also a really fun move to do with kids.  They love the idea of Creepy Crawlers, bug legs.  You know kids?  So many of them love anything to do with bugs.

So, I encourage you to do some Creepy Crawlers.  Especially if you work at a computer or do repetitive motions with your hands.  This will help keep them moving in different directions/ways.

So, did you try it?  See how easy it is?

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Shimmy From The Back

Posted by terrepruitt on September 3, 2013

I was looking for something to post about today and I thought, “Hmmm . . . . let’s check out the Nia 52 Moves list on my site and see what I have yet to write about.”  Much to my HUGE surprise, I have not posted about the shimmy.  I am shocked.  The shimmy is a very often used move in Nia Routines. . . heck, the shimmy is an often used dance move in many, many, many dances.  So I am shocked I have not addressed this before.  I think that the shimmy is somewhat misunderstood.  I believe, from what I have experienced, that many people think of the shimmy as a chest move.  I have sensed great hesitation in many people when it comes to executing the shimmy.  It seems as if people might consider it a boob shake.  Some women don’t want to do it and neither do some men.  I mean, why would either want to shake their breasts in a cardio dance exercise class?  To me, thinking it is a frontal shake is a misconception.  While, yes, for many people the front DOES shake and move in a shimmy, that is NOT where the concentration of the movement is.  The shimmy comes from the shoulder blades/back.

The Nia Technique Book* says:  “Vibrate and shake your shoulders, standing upright or moving front and back, as if you are shaking water off.”**

I think that once the focus of the move is taken off of the chest, some people feel more comfortable with the move.  It is not primarily moving your chest/breasts/boobs around.  It is moving your shoulders and your back.  Since our front is connected to the back, then, yes, our chest will move but the movement will be different than if you are purposefully just moving what is on the front side of your body.  There are several ways to learn and/or practice the shimmy, here is one.  First of all think: “BACK/SHOULDERS” not front of body.

With your thoughts and your intent shifted from the front to the back you can apply the correct motion.  One way to start from scratch with this move is to lie down.  Lie on your back, then lift one shoulder off the ground.  Push your shoulder blade forward, jutting your collarbone out.  Then bring that side back to the ground.  Then do the other side.  Push, jut, back down.  Now push the first side again and as you allow the shoulder to come to the earth push the other shoulder forward.  Continue to alternate.  Only allow one shoulder up at a time.  While you are pushing forward keep your shoulders down toward your hips (not down toward the ground).  Keep the space between your ears and your shoulders open.  So you are not shrugging your shoulders up to your ears, you are pushing them from the BACK to the sky.  Do this until you feel you have the sensation in your body that when you sit up you will still have the correct motion.  Vary the speed.  Play with the size of the movement.  Go for smooth and not jerky.

If you are not starting that far back, from scratch, then stand and concentrate on the shoulders going forward and back.  Again, keep the shoulders down.  This helps me with the forward back motion, otherwise they might start creeping up into that scrunching posture.  Eventually you will be able to just move your shoulders forward and back with nice relaxed (down) shoulders.  But in the beginning it might be something you have to think about in order to ensure the front back motion and not up and down.

This move is great for isolating the muscles that assist with good posture and balance.  It is also a great stress reliever.  It is fun to let out sound while you are shimmying.  You don’t even have to waver your voice if you are shimmying vigorously enough, the movement causes the waver.  FUN stuff!

As mentioned we do the shimmy a lot in our Nia Classes.  Since we do it a lot we do it in many different ways . . . fast, slow, by itself, with other moves . . . it is just one of those great moves to throw into the mix.

I see many, many, many people who are challenged by this move.  There are many reasons for that.  I also see a lot of people’s movement change once they adjust the focus from the front to the back.  I see those proverbial light bulbs come on!  Shift the focus and let your body move!

When you shimmy, where is your movement focus?  Did this post alter your movement focus?  Can you shimmy so vigorously that your voice wavers with your movement?

*written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas / **page 138, The Core

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Webbed Spaces

Posted by terrepruitt on August 6, 2013

In Nia we use specific hand techniques.  There are seven moves considered “Hand” moves in the Nia 52 Moves.  There are eight moves that are “Finger” moves.  So fifteen moves in all out of 52 that are specifically hand/finger moves.  You can read about “Spear Finger” and “Balance Finger” in previous posts.  The hands are such a large part of our lives.  In addition to the many things they do they help us communicate.  Whether we are using them to make gestures as we speak, using them in place of speaking (in the case of sign language or something as elementary as “the finger”), or using them to comfort by touching.  They are very powerful.  Nia does not neglect that hands.  All fifteen of the 52 Nia moves that have to do with the hands/fingers assist in moving energy.  It could be moving the energy within our bodies or outside of our bodies.  Some of the hand/finger moves can be done both with positive tension or in a relaxed state.  When done with tension the muscles in the hands and arms maybe felt more readily.  While done with a relaxing flow they might allow us to sense the outside energy.  One of the hand moves is called Webbed Spaces.

Webbed Spaces is where your open you hand spreading your fingers wide.  I imagine it is called Webbed Spaces because it shows the “webs” between each finger.  I have also thought it is called Webbed Spaces because I imagine my fingers being spider webs.  I actually don’t know why it is called Webbed Spaces, but those are the things I think about when doing and talking about Webbed Spaces.

After you have already opened your hand and spread your fingers wide.  The Nia Technique book says to practice extending each finger and creating even more space in them.  Usually in a Nia Class we are moving our arms with our hands in Webbed Spaces.  Sometimes we keep our fingers extended while moving our arms or we relax them and move into Webbed Spaces.  Either way it is a great way to keep flexibility in the hands.

Do this: put one hand in the Webbed Spaces position, flex and extend your fingers.  Put your arm out in a gesture of, “STOP!” Allow the flexing sensation to travel all the way up your arm.  Take your other hand and feel the muscles.  Then keeping the tension, point your fingers to the ground . . . feel the muscles in your forearm move.  Then do the same stop motion and fingers-pointing-to-the-earth move while your hand is not in Webbed Spaces position.  Feel the difference.  In both cases with Webbed Spaces the muscles are working differently than doing the same wrist movement without Webbed Spaces.

Webbed Spaces is just another way that Nia engages the entire body.  This move is also comparable to Jazz Hands so I think of it as showy and dramatic.  It can be a great emotional move allowing you to express what you FEEL.  It is another way to add fun and pizzazz into our cardio workout.

What do you feel when you do the little exercise stated above?  What do you sense when you do this move?

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Nia – Sink and Pivot Table Wipe

Posted by terrepruitt on June 22, 2013

One of Nia’s 52 Moves is the Sink and Pivot Table Wipe.  Ha!  Sounds funny.  I always think of cleaning when I say this move in class, but not many people LIKE to clean so I don’t like to remind them of cleaning while we are in our Joy!  There are many other ways to describe the movement, but “table wipe” really gets the point across.  It could be a dramatic sweep of the table.  Regardless of what spirit might have me say in the midst of the move there is a particular way to do it.  As with all of Nia’s 52 Moves there is a specific way to do it.  And . . . as I have said . . . often times the specifics are adjusted to work into the song and the moment’s choreography.  To me the Sink and Pivot Table Wipe is a combination of an arm movement and a bow stance.

To practice the Sink and Pivot Table Wipe you start in an A Stance.  Doing one side at a time, say the left, you would place your left arm out.  As you lift up your left foot you turn your body towards the right, your left arm sweeps across the horizon to the right.  Your left foot lands gently on the earth on the ball of your foot and your left leg is bent.  Your right leg is also bent.  The bent legs become the “sink” part of the move.  Your arm sweeping is the wiping part of the move.  That “table” part is the imaginative part of the move to assist in knowing how the arms sweeps.  The arm is straight out and just moves parallel to the ground.  Doing the other side, you would you would place your right arm out.  As you lift up your right foot you turn your body towards the left, your right arm sweeps out and around to the left.  You place your right ball of foot gently on the floor with your right leg bent.  Your left leg is also bent.  The legs are similar to a bow stance.

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, ZumbaIn most instances — the ones I can think of — in the choreography, I usually do a tiny hop so that my front foot ends up with the toes facing the same direction as the foot in the back, the foot that is “ball of foot”.  So as I continue to say, the instructions in The Nia Technique book* show the exact perfect way to do a move.  Which is the way to learn it, but then once you know the move the choreography dictates the exact way it is done.

The book recommends the word “Whoosh” be said while doing this move.  Of course that is just one of many words and sounds that can be made.  Sounds are dictated by so many things.  The “Whoosh” can be used in the practice of the move, if you would like.  When in a Nia class anything goes!

I believe this move is a great stability move because as I said I am normally moving both feet in order to sink, pivot, and wipe the table so I need to “land” stable.  Also, I think it is great for the legs because any sink type of move helps condition them.  It is also good for coordination because you are moving both the upper body and lower body at the same time, but in a little different manner.

Tee hee . . . . it is really great for a lot of things, depends on what you put into it.  The last couple of times I did it in the current Nia routine I am doing I had the class stretching the arm as far as they could reach as they wiped that table.  It was a HUGE table and we wanted to wipe it all in one pass!

So what do you imagine you are doing when you do this move?

*The Nia Technique written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas

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Music, Movement, Magic, Nia Blue Belt Principle #11

Posted by terrepruitt on January 24, 2013

Regular reader?  Familiar with Nia?  Then you know that Nia has different levels and that they use belt colors to distinguish between.  White, Blue, Brown, and Black.  Each belt has thirteen principles (except Green Belt*).  The trainings for the levels are called intensives and the intensives can be attended by people who just want a to explore self growth and/or learn how the body is connected to many things.  If you are a new reader and/or not familiar with Nia . . . . there you have it.  In November 2011 I took the Nia Blue Belt Training and I am using my blog to make notes on it.  It is taking me some time to get through the principles, but I am jotting down my thoughts that come to me as I thumb through my notes.  My intent is to continue to work and play with the 13 Nia Blue Belt Principles after my initial posts and come back to some of them and share some more.  The principles can be deep because they are very rich.  So like many things they have layers and the layers can be peeled back to expose more and more.  This post is about Nia Blue Belt Principle #11, Music, Movement, Magic – Manifesting the Ultimmmate Nia Experience.  Yes, ultimate is spelled with three m’s, representing music, movement, magic.

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, ZumbaOne of the ways we learn to bring this to class is to use objective and subjective descriptions.  We can do this for many things.  We can do this when stating the class focus and intent.  We can do this when leading the class through a move.  We can do this when talking about music.  The following are examples:

Focus and Intent:

Objective  –  Today we are going to focus on the rhomboid muscles.  These are muscles in your upper back that assist with shoulder blade movement.  They pull your shoulders back and down.

Subjective  –  I like pay special attention to my rhomboids so I feel as if I am standing upright and not hunched over.  I feel they need extra love.  We can give them that during class with the intent to stand tall.

Move:

Objective  – Pull your shoulder blades down.

Subjective  – I feel as if my shoulder blades are in my back pockets!

Music:

Objective  – This music was part of an Oscar Winning Score.

Subjective  – This music makes me want to close my eyes and ride the peaceful notes to happy.

This objective and subjective way of looking at things is a key to Nia.  It can be compared to THE Body’s Way and Your Body’s Way.  There is a way the body was designed to move — objective.  There is a way that YOUR body, and my body moves — subjective.  There are specific ways to do the Nia 52 Moves — objective.  There is a way that each individual Nia participant does the Nia 52 Moves — subjective.  All of this helps to create the “magic” that is part of Nia.

The Music is the core.  We dance to the music.  The Movement is what we do.  We move.  We dance.  We play.  The Magic is what we bring, which with all of it put together there is resulting magic.

This is just a tiny portion of Nia Blue Belt Principle #11, just off the top of my head.  There is much, much more to Music, Movement, Magic – Manifesting the Ultimmmate Nia Experience and I look forward to delving into it more.

Have you experience the Nia Music, Movement, and Magic yet for yourself?

*Green Belt is specifically for Nia teachers.

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“A” Stance – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 2012

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, NiaAnother one of the 52 Moves of Nia is the “A” Stance.  This is the stance where the position of the legs allows the body to look somewhat like the capital letter A.  The legs are placed wider than hip distance apart, even wider than shoulder width.  The legs are far enough apart and wide enough for them to appear to be as the bottom “legs” on a capital letter A.  The feet are parallel, the upper body is relaxed.  The Nia Technique Book states the benefits as:  “Practicing “A” Stance improves hip flexibility and leg strength, which improves agility and mobility.” 

I would like to add that it improves or at least allows the practice of balance.  Not balancing on one leg which we do a lot in Nia, but balance between the body and the legs, balance between both legs, and balance between the legs and feet.  Also balance of weight between the two feet.  This is a stable and balanced stance.  The weight is not on one foot more than the other.  The weight is not on the front or the balls of the feet more than on the heels.  This is a great stance to practice balance in.  To allow the body to rest onto the whole foot. 

Not only having the feet be parallel but even.  If you were to stand at a line would your toes be even, both up to the line?  I had noticed with myself for a while now that when I step into an “A” stance my right foot is ALWAYS slightly back from where my left foot is.  I have been noticing this since I injured my foot in November of 2010.  Just last week as I was teaching my regular Nia Class in Willow Glen, I noticed I stepped into “A” stance and my left foot was the tiniest bit back from the line on which my right foot landed (had there been a line).  I thought that was funny.  I giggled, but I hadn’t thought of it again until now.  I don’t always think about my uneven landings until I have the opportunity to land in a stance where I see my feet several times in a routine.  Then during the routine I focus on having my feet land even.  There are times, of course in a dance where they don’t need to be or aren’t supposed to be even, but when doing a regular closed, open, A, or sumo stance I think the feet should be even.  The “A” stance is a great stance to practice that because you can clearly see your feet and the pose is relaxed enough that there are not other things you might be thinking about.  I feel the “A” Stance is a great way to practice balance.

As with all stances one way to practice the “A” stance is to simple stand in one place and move through the stances.  Another way to practice is to walk and then stop in the “A” stance.  Walking and stopping into an “A” Stance would be a great way to work on landing “even” — as I mentioned before.  Walk, then stop, then look at your feet, notice the sensation in your hips, if your feet are even then that is the sensation you want to replicate, if not, then adjust your feet, notice the sensation in your hips and try to replicate it again as you step into “A” Stance.

The “A” Stance is just one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves.

What do you sense when standing in the “A” Stance?  When you step into the “A” Stance do your feet land “even”?

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Common Dance Turn – Four Point / Aikido

Posted by terrepruitt on July 9, 2012

In Nia there are 52 Moves that run through the Nia Routines.  One move that we do quite often is not on the list of 52 moves.  I call it a four-point turn because we take four steps to do it.  In one of the routines I recently learned the instructor calls it an Aikido turn.  Since Nia borrows moves and ideas from Aikido and associates Aikido with circular, spiral, and spherical motion, it makes sense this turn would be called an Aikido turn.  As with many dance exercises the moves can sometimes be done fast or slow depending upon the music.  Sometimes in a Nia routine we can do the same move at different speeds.  With the four-point – which is four step – or Aikido turn – the best way to accomplish it is by starting with the first step being a “toes out” type of step.  Point the foot out, away from the body in the direction you want to turn.  Allow the entire thigh to turn out.  Whether you are going to do a fast or slow turn, this first step is key in making it all the way around.  Another key is to LOOK!  Look the direction you want to turn.  Also helpful is hands and arms.  Allow your hand to follow after the eyes.  The order would be eyes/head, hand/arm, foot/leg.  While this is one arrangement of the order, sometimes your arms might actually be doing something else and that is fine too.  It could be that the hands and arms lead, but whatever the case your eyes can be a part of the turn.  Nia is a dance workout so sometimes we might have our arms dancing in another way to the music.

For a beginner learning the turn, I would make the previously mentioned suggestion of the order.  Eyes/head, hand/arm, foot/leg.  The thigh bone/foot turned out.  Then step on that “toes out” foot, weighting it 100%, as you step all your weight on it your body will turn in the direction you want to go.  Your free leg can be swung around to what seems like in front of your “toes out” foot, but by the time you step onto it, it will end up being besides the toes out foot because you will put all your weight into your second step and take the weight off the “toes out” foot so for a moment they will be side-by-side.  Then you will swing your free leg behind to land about in line with the heel of your weighted foot.  You will weight the foot that just was swung, and turn the other foot to parallel . . . making that the fourth point or step.

Maybe left and right indications will work better for you:  The order:  Turn your head/eyes to the left , allow your hand/arm to follow.  Move your LEFT FOOT to “toes out” turning your left thigh bone to the left.  Then step on your LEFT FOOT in a “toes out” position, put your weight on it 100%.  As you are stepping all your weight on your LEFT FOOT, allow your body to turn to the left, in the direction you want to go.  Swing your RIGHT LEG (free leg) around to what seems like in front of your LEFT FOOT.  Step onto your RIGHT FOOT,  toes pointing to the back of the room (or what started off as the back of the room), take the weight off the LEFT FOOT (“toes out” foot).  Swing your LEFT FOOT (free leg) behind to land about in line with the heel of your RIGHT FOOT (weighted foot).  You will stand on the LEFT FOOT, and turn the RIGHT FOOT to parallel . . . making that the fourth point or step.

Right to left works the same but start with your right foot.

To me, it is actually easier to do it fast than slow.  But either way the hips get great rotation in the sockets.  I was taught that we do not slide on our feet or spin on our feet.  We dance barefoot so it is very different than if you have dance shoes on.  There is not a nice layer of material that allows for easy sliding and spinning.  We pick up our feet so as not to get blisters and to better condition the feet and the legs.  So when we turn we are not spinning on the balls of our feet.  That is one reason why I call it a four-point turn because we are hitting “points” in our dance.  Points, steps, either way it is not a spin on the foot.  This is another reason why it is important to start the turn with the toes already turned out because we also always want to be gentle on our knees.  Also in Nia we are always reminded to remember our own body’s way.  It is more important to protect and love our knees than it is to make it all they way around when doing a turn!

This is a pretty common dance move in dance exercise classes, but it is not always easy and can present a challenge.  I believe it becomes particularly challenging when the person doing it wants to keep their eyes on the instructor.  The best way to do it is to allow the eyes to move with the turn.

This is also a very fun move because you never know what we are going to do at either end (after the 4th step).    Now that you got the turn down come to a Nia class and see what could be waiting at the end!  You got the turn down, right?

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