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

    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 ‘Nia choreography’

FreeDance Fridays

Posted by terrepruitt on March 20, 2017

Ahhh, I don’t think I talked about Friday FreeDance.  In November of last year we there were four Fridays.  Two of those Fridays were holidays for SJCity Fit.  So out of the four Fridays in November we were only going to have a Nia class for two of them.  So I had decided that we could do Friday FreeDance.  Now for some people who sounds totally awesome, but for some people it sounds totally scary or icky, as in not fun.  Not everyone is a fan of FreeDance.  I understand that.  Not everyone is comfortable dancing on their own especially in a dance exercise class.  Many people go to exercise classes to be told what to do.  A majority of the students that attend my Nia classes have been dancing Nia for years now, so I knew they would be able to FreeDance for an entire hour.  We did it, and I received some interesting feedback and information.

First of all, I do want to explain that it wasn’t an ENTIRE hour of strictly FreeDance.  I think for both Fridays I started with a choreographed first song.  And I ended with instructions in the last song.  Then the rest of the songs were mainly GUIDED FreeDance.  So there were some suggestions on what to do, but it was left up to the participants to do it in their own body’s way.  And in some case in their own mind’s way.  They might have had to think of what some of the suggestions would be moving like.

I might have suggested that they move as if they are skiing.  With that one usually has to think about it and then do it.  The fun part is, of course, that everyone does it different.  With no clarification as to what type of skiing there is so much room for interpretation.  Someone could be water skiing, some people down hill skiing.  Some people might be cross-country skiing.  And then of course, even with those qualifications it could look wildly different.  That is the fun of FreeDance.

I was very happy that most people liked it.  I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think they would like it and they could do it.  It took me four and half years to feel confident enough in the students love of Nia and FreeDance to do it.  And most people liked it. I am thinking they liked it as a Friday thing . . . I mean, they still like the choreography so they wouldn’t want to do FreeDance for the hour all the time.

There are a few people who wear pedometers in class and the majority of them reported that they got over 1,000 MORE steps in with FreeDance.  One student said she averages about 4500 steps in regular Nia class, but in the FreeDance class she was at 5700.  There definitely is the possibility to get in more steps.  But if you are one who needs instructions more than just a guide you would probably get less steps in during FreeDance.

I thought I had posted about this because I was really happy and excited that I finally did it AND that the class really enjoyed it.  And I was also really excited and happy that many people got more steps in.  I couldn’t find the post I thought I did.  So here.  And if this is a repeat, oh well.

I have been putting in more FreeDance into our routines because people do really enjoy it.  I think I will be doing a Friday FreeDance once a month.  I love how Nia brings joy through dance.

So how would you feel about Friday FreeDance?

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

In The Looking Glass

Posted by terrepruitt on June 13, 2016

In Nia we teach facing a mirror with our backs to the students.  The mirrors help me stay connected to the class.  I can look in the mirror and make eye-contact with someone.  I can peruse the room and see what is going on.  It is different from the way it used to be when I took Jazzercise so many moons ago.  The teacher faced us and would do mirror actions.  When the class went left the teacher would actually go to his right.  When we went right the teacher went to his left.  When we moved forward the teacher also moved forward coming toward the class. When the class moved back the teacher would go back.  The teacher facing the class allowed for face-to-face connection.  The other day I was teaching a class and I was doing the “mirroring” and as I was pausing in the movement, I realized why I didn’t like “mirroring” as much as teaching with my back to them.  I couldn’t share my sensation.  I could not teach what I was sensing.

I think part of what makes Nia so joyful and fun is that the teacher is having fun.  We are taught to be in our bodies and dance.  We learn routines, but if while teaching the music motivates us to do something off from the choreography, that is fine.  We get to play.  We get to sense what is happening in our bodies and share it with the class.  Then the class gets motivated to dance what is in their bodies . . . their individual body.

When I was paused in that stretch I wanted to tell them what I was sensing and have them explore their bodies sensation, but I couldn’t.  I had to pause and adjust my mind and my words because we were not bending the same way.  So, yes, I could say, “side” leaving out which side, but it felt less authentic because we were not experiencing the same side.  Silly, I know, but it was a thought that popped into my head as I was teaching.  Sometimes there are no mirrors available in the classrooms I am assigned to teach in, so I have to teach facing the class and that is fine, but I really like having mirrors.

Also, I notice that when I am facing the students even when I used left or right or even use a landmark in the room . . . there are some that pause for a second in confusion.  They are looking at me and seeing me do the opposite from what I am asking them to do and you can just see the internal struggle in the face.   This is especially the case when instructing twists.  Twists are already a little challenge for the brain so when the arm goes up and around and the leg goes up and around, crossing over the mid-line of the body, the brain really likes to see it as the body is to do it.  The mirrored way really has people all twisted.

While we don’t have really complicated steps in Nia, it seems like the students learn them faster when they can see exactly how it is to be done.  They don’t have that extra brain work to do of adjusting for left and right.  They see my left foot going over to the right side and they get it.  It takes a lot to see the right foot going towards them and over to the left while I am telling them to take their left foot front and over to the right.

It is nice to dance without the mirrors sometimes, as I wrote about in my post Mirrorless Inward Reflection.  For some it helps them be less concerned about how they look while they are dancing.  It can allow people to be more introspective.  It can enable people to connect to their own Conscious Personal trainer.  It is a good thing and definitely something I / we can do when we do not have access to mirrors, I just happened upon an insight recently and thought I could share.

Do you like to take classes with mirrors?  Do you find it easier to follow when the teacher has his/her back to you?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Music Arrangement That Helps Me

Posted by terrepruitt on April 29, 2016

I am not organized in all areas of my life.  Who is, right?  But I do find that when I am organized it makes things easier . . . faster . . . quicker.  And, most of us can benefit from that, right?  There is so much going on, if we can do something faster it helps.  Even if it is just to allow us time to slow down.  Hurry up and cook dinner so we can sit and relax.  Hurry up and clean up so we can go off to play.  Whatever . . . hurry in one area of life to make it easier so we can get to the OTHER things in life.  Well, I teach Nia, which is a cardio dance that is done to a variety of music.  Nia Teachers purchase routines from Nia Technique.  They are playlists and choreography.  Ok, really they are A LOT more than that, but if I got into ALL of what the routines are in this post it would be really long and I would probably not even get to the point of this post.  The point is some information on how I “organize” or arrange my music in iTunes.

So, Nia teacher purchase routines and for some reason sometimes the Album is titled the name of the routine and sometimes it is titled “NiaSounds”.  Sometimes it is the name of the routine-NiaSounds.  It is NOT consistent.  The artists are all over the place from the ACTUAL artist to “Nia Technique”.  It is not consistent.  And the genre is spotty too, sometimes it is “Alternative”, sometimes it is “New Age”, and I am not even sure what else.  This inconsistency does not make it easy to organize the music.  And it is very desirable, if not necessary, to have the music labeled consistently so that it can be organized consistently.

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, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitWhat I do, is I make certain the genre is “Nia”.  The ACTUAL genre could be anything because we dance Nia to all types of music.  So what it REALLY is, is not what I am looking for.  I want my Nia Routine music to come up all in one spot when I look at it if I am looking at it via genre.

I change all the Albums to be the name of the actual Nia Routine so I can find music easily by the name of the routine.

I don’t bother with the artist because I like it when it is the ACTUAL artist, but I am not going to spend the time to correct all the music to be the actual artist.  As I said, the way Nia labels it is not consistent.

iTunes changes the way it functions WAY TOO often for me.  I notice that the length of a song doesn’t show any longer where it used to.  I have to go in and out of playlists to see the length of songs.  When I have a playlist pulled up, I have to go out of it into the list of playlists to see the length.  I have been delaying the update that is currently out there because I can’t even imagine the new changes they have done, the last time an update came out someone on Facebook asked a question about where the total time of the playlists had gone to and that made me think I had better not update because one of the things that makes an iPhone and iPad useful to me is that it can be used to create playlists.  And when you are teaching you need to know how long the playlist is.

One of my devices is on a really old iOS (6something) and the other one is at 9something.  I think my iTunes is a few versions behind.  But I am afraid to update because I don’t want to lose the function that I use.

Another way I organize the music is I have three separate playlists for the Nia music.  One is arranged by Album.  So I can easily see what song goes to which routine.  I can pick out a song that I know is in a routine, or identify a routine when I know the song.  Also, I have a playlist arranged by BPM . . . which means Beats Per Minute, but in Nia we don’t go by BPM we go by the 8BCs.  So once I figure out that count I try to remember to put it in my iTunes (under BPM).  I have not successfully remembered with all the routines, so not all of them show up properly in that playlist but enough to help me when I am trying to put a particular speed song into a routine I am trying to create.  Then I also have a playlist arranged by time because sometimes I need a LONG song and sometimes I need a short song.  When they are all clumped together by time it makes it easier to pick the length of time I need then I can just pop it into the correct Nia Class cycle.  So these three separate “playlists” allow me to see the music in ways that I need, in order to create playlists on my device that I will use in class.

That is what I do to help keep my music organized in a manner that works for me.  I am sure there are different ways that other Nia teachers do it as this is not the only way.

Whether you are a teacher that uses music or not – how do you organize your music?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Taste Of The Nia 5 Sensations

Posted by terrepruitt on April 25, 2015

Today we had a workshop to talk about and discover the Nia Five Sensations.  Just like a lot of things we do and use in Nia, the five sensations are not unique to Nia, but they are tools we use to enhance our dance exercise.  In a Nia class we strive to be in sensation.  Being aware of the sensations allows us to choose and dance what we need at the time of the class.  We had a small turn out, but the number of attendants is never the measure of success.  One of my Nia Students and fellow Nia Blue Belt’s helped me present the workshop.  This workshop was held at the request of the Camden Community Center.  Our participants shared that they felt they had a better understanding of the sensations and would be able to apply awareness to them either in a Nia class or just in everyday life.

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, PiYoFirst we started off moving right away.  The participants walked in, we said hello then started dancing.  We danced to two songs.  Then we did a brief introduction of Nia then we shared the five sensations and how we experience them everyday.  We shared how they could be helpful to know and be aware of in a Nia class.   The 5 sensations are: Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Strength, and Stability (FAMSS).

Then we moved to each sensation.  As we talked we guided the students into the sensations.  We shared that flexibility is sensed as energy moving outward. It is the opening your body, the lengthening and yawning.  So we stretched and yawned our bodies open.  We reached out to lengthen our limbs.  We imagined our bones moving away from our center.  We practiced sensing the sensation even as our bodies showed no outward movement.

We talked about how agility can be sensed in the quick start and stop of a movement.  It is the physical feeling of pulling and pushing.  We hopped and jumped.  We chopped and slapped.  We “played” soccer and tennis.  We danced in a “strobe like” fashion.  We even stood still and let our gaze bounce around as our eyes moved with agility.

When talking about mobility we said it is sensed as energy in constant motion. It is youthful freedom.  (A description from the Nia Technique that I really like.) It is flowing movement, graceful, and easy.  We twirled and whirled around the room.  We let our bodies ebb and flow.  We rolled like the ocean.  We moved our arms.  We moved our legs.  We mobilized our spine.  We allowed the energy of constant motion to energize us.

We used the ballet bar and wall to start us off understanding that strength is sensed as energy moving inward.   With that first example it gives way to us sensing strength as a resisting, or a quality of weighted energy being moved in ways that allow you to sustain a movement or posture. It is the contraction of muscle.  It is the muscle squeezing bone.  We contracted and pushed.  We squeezed and resisted.  Allowing the effort to tire us a bit.

Then we experienced the calm of stability.  Stability is sensed as balance and comfort.  It is the physical feeling of harmony and peace combined with readiness for action.

After having practiced the sensations we then added them to the stances that are part of the 52 Moves of Nia.  We moved through the stances in the 5 sensations.  Then we put on the music and danced the stances in sensation.  After two songs we reviewed the kicks that are part of the 52 Moves of Nia.  We moved through the sensations doing the kicks.  Then onto dancing again.  We danced doing our kicks in sensation.

We finished off the workshop with two songs focusing on the sensations, but primarily using the Nia choreography and not so much sticking with the kicks and stances.  This allowed us to practice dancing in the sensations to whatever moves that come as part of a Nia routine.

It was a great little taste of the Nia 5 Sensations.  I can say that because no matter what I am teaching it is ALWAYS the students that make the class GREAT!

Are you aware of any of these sensations in your everyday life?

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

What Do You Mean Nia FreeDance Tool?

Posted by terrepruitt on April 18, 2015

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, PiYoSome of you may be wondering what I mean when I say Nia FreeDance Tools.  Recently I invited First Degree Black Belt Nia Teacher, Jason Alan Griffin, to present a playshop of his creation.  The playshop was him sharing some Nia FreeDance Tools.  I have talked about what Nia FreeDance is before, it is where there is no assigned choreography and we just dance to the music (or not).  But it is not the type of dancing you would see in a club.  It is not the type of dancing that has specific names for the dance moves . . . yeah a cha-cha, jazz square, or a pirouette might sneak its way in, but primarily it is not that type of dancing.  So some of the tools we have to practice Nia FreeDance are the 8 Stages of Nia FreeDance.  And within those stages can be additional tools.

First of all as a reminder we do FreeDance to allow our bodies to move in different ways.  To move in ways that are not our normal ways of dancing . . . so if you ARE a ballerina, the idea is to let your body dance outside of the ballet mold.  If you are tap dancer perhaps in FreeDance your feet don’t tap.  It is a way to practice different moves to music and allow our bodies to experience something away from its regular patterns.

There are other reasons and ways a Nia Teacher uses Nia FreeDance, but I am just going to keep this post on the path of tools.  So within the tool box are the 8 Stages as I mentioned.

Now, in the playshop Jason did not mention these tools in association with the stages, but a lot of the tools he shared were introduced to me in connection with the first 5 stages of Nia FreeDance.

So with Stage 1: FreeDance (Catch Phrase: Anything Goes, Movement-Wise) . . . almost all of the tools could be associated with this stage but one that sticks out for me is being silly, acting goofy.  This is super fun and is pretty close to guaranteed to get you to move in a different way to music than you might be used to.

Tools I associate with Stage 2: Being Seduced by the Music (Catch Phrase: Art of Listening) are as it says, being seduced by the music.  So just letting the music take you away.  I imagine most of you have had a song play where you can just get carried off by it.  You can just move without thinking and dance away.

There is also Tempo Change . . . this involves the art of listening because you are listening for the tempo and then dancing against it or with it or faster than it or slower than it or opposite of it.  Just listening and moving to it — in your own way.

There is also a tool that we use called “Forget the music” where you just dance in your own way — period.  People might look at you and wonder what you are hearing because it might look to them as if you are not dancing to the music.  And you could not be.  Perhaps you don’t like the song that is on or you like a different version that you know so your dance is not “to” the music.

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, PiYoStage 3: Feelings and Emotions (Catch Phrase: Pretend, Fake It, Act As If ).   This stage has a lot of tools that connect to it, if you are dancing the “Feelings and Emotions” you act “as if” you are ___________ (fill in the blank with an emotion).  You could be ACTING “as if” you are angry so you stomp around the room.  Or you are ACTING “as if” you are jealous or ACTING “as if” you are happy.  Allowing your body to move in ways that it would move if you were feeling those emotions is a great way to move.

Or you could PRETEND you are playing an instrument.  I always say that I have become the greatest musician since I started teaching Nia.  Or you could act as if you are playing a sport or a child’s outdoor game.  This type of pretending is not sticking strictly to the stage and catch phrase, but it can be connected to it because there is pretending, faking, and acting.

Stage 4: The Creative Source (Catch Phrase: The Real You).  This is where there is no story or no acting “as if”, you are moving with your true emotions.  The tool would be no choreography allowed, in fact the dance is suspended and you are moving in your own way as an emotional being.

Stage 5: Authentic Movement (Catch Phrase: Change!!).  Here is where the tool of changing every two bars comes in.  The movement is authentic.  The real you, nothing fancy just the way your body goes, but changing it every two bars.  Or the change could be applied to directions or levels.  You could dance going one direction and quickly change to go another directions.  Or you could be dancing in the high plane and switch to the low or the middle.  The idea is to CHANGE!

So that is what we mean by “tools”.  Basically ideas of how to move.  There are a lot of tools that can be used, there are so many ways to move.  One of the most fun things to experience is an individual actually practicing these tools and then coming up to me after class and saying what a great workout they received.  Many say they didn’t realize that  FreeDancing could be such a great workout.  That is one reason why we FreeDance . . . it really is a GREAT workout!  Having a lot of tools makes it fun!

Does this give you a better idea as to what the “tools” are?  Does this give you ideas for your next dancing-in-your-living-room session?  Or ideas on how to conduct your next car-dancing moment?

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My Organization of the Choreography for Close to My Skin

Posted by terrepruitt on April 16, 2015

The current Nia routine I am trying to learn is taking me a long time.  I have mentioned before that I feel it takes me a long time to learn a routine, but this one seems even longer.  The first thing I do is listen to the music.  I had been doing so for a couple of weeks, then I got busy for a couple of days and hadn’t turned it on.  When I went to the album in my iTunes I was shocked to see I had never listened past the sixth song.  In fact, at that point I had never made it through the entire sixth song (that is how annoying it is).  So I realized I needed to watch the Nia Training DVD.  Watching the choreography usually helps me get through a song that I don’t like because it gives me points of reference.  But this workout is filmed where the teacher and class are FACING the camera.  I don’t like this since I primarily teach with my back towards the class.  Back to the class really helps people copy the moves because they don’t have the whole “mirroring” issue to resolve.  When I am trying to learn a routine and the people on the DVD are facing me, I don’t care for it.  I do it as mirror, they are using their left foot and I am using my right, so I go right when they say “Go left”.   All trainers sometimes state the opposite side or direction, but when they are actually USING the left, but I am mirroring them, it confuses my brain.  In addition to the camera angle challenge (for me) this particular song is said to be a different version than they thought they were getting.  So the choreography appears to be being created as the routine is being filmed.  So it is very loose.  I often feel that Debbie Rosas, in her brilliance, has so many ideas about choreography for one song that she sometimes shares them all during the filming and there ends up being a lot of moves in one song.  I am grateful that the belts I have taken thus far have emphasized “less is more” and we have permission to pick a couple of moves from the song on the DVD and do them to the song.  So that is what I did with one of the songs.  I picked a few of the moves she did and organized them into something I can learn.

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, PiYo

I will work on learning it this way.  Although I will need a lot of practice because the song tends to mesmerize me and I lose my place.  Hopefully as I grow more familiar with the moves and music I can play with it as the Debbie did. Since I don’t watch the DVDs that are filmed with the class facing front as many times as I watch the other ones I need to have a map I can follow from the get go.  That is also the case for me when the song is very long and repetitive.  I need to have a pattern, even then I can get lost in a song like this.  And as I mentioned — just listening to it, trying to learn the song itself is not something I have been able to do.  Every time I turn it on to learn it, half way through I am so annoyed by it, I turn it off.  But moving to it is another thing.  That is why when I don’t like a song, I look to the choreography because often times when the choreography makes sense it allows me to get through the song.  More often than not I end up liking the song.  We will see what happens with this song.  It is like a dripping faucet.

Except for the class and the trainer facing the camera and the song titles not being shown as each song begins, the Nia training material continues to be stellar.  At the end of 2014, Nia HQ put out the new Routines.  I had ordered three earlier in the year, I just received the fourth one.  I am going to add the titles in with the AWESOME software I have on trial.  I have to do it before my 30 days is up.  Then I will continue learning the routine I am working on.  I will debut it to my class soon.

When you take group exercise classes do you like the instructor to face you?  Have you ever noticed how a lot of songs are very repetitive?

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The Nia FreeDance Playshop Was Awesome!

Posted by terrepruitt on April 9, 2015

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, PiYoAt the end of March (2015) there were two Special Nia Events in Campbell, California.  They were special for a lot of reasons.  One reason being is because a visiting teacher was going to be doing them.  It is always special when someone who does not live in the area comes and shares their talents.  Another reason is because the Nia Class is a one-of-a-kind-creation.  The visiting teacher created the routine and was going to lead us through it.  ANOTHER reason, they were special, was that one of the classes was a workshop or a playshop as we like to call them in Nia.  And it was also, the creation of the visiting teacher and it was something that I think anyone that dances Nia can benefit from.  Another reason they special was they were the first Nia Events that I produced.  Produced meaning, when I heard that the Nia Teacher who created the Playshop was coming to my area I contacted him to invite him to do these events.  I secured the location, I created marketing material, I promoted the events (as I am sure you have seen, I posted about them often), I worked to get participants to the events, and I worried about how it would all turn out. So, two special Nia Events.  I have posted two separate posts (What Did Frankie Say? and Dancing, Learning, Posting, Editing) about the Nia Class that was held on Friday, March 27, 2015.  This post is about the Playshop.

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, PiYoThe Playshop on Saturday, March 28, 2015 was a playshop regarding Nia FreeDance.  In a Nia class, there is normally choreography.  Nia Headquarters and the training staff create Nia Routines.  There are Nia Routine DVDs that Nia Teachers purchase.  We learn the routines and lead our students through them.  We have a lot of freedom with our classes.  We can follow the routines “exactly” or we can play with them.  We can create our own routines from a mix of Nia Routines or we can take the Nia choreography and add it to other music.  Or we can create our own routines with other non-Nia music.  But with almost every routine there is FreeDance.

FreeDance is where there is not specific choreography.  You are not told exactly how to move.  Now, I have heard the creators of Nia express very different opinions on FreeDance.  I heard one of them say in the past that FreeDance should ALWAYS be guided and the other one say that FreeDance can just be free.  So . . . there are different opinions on the matter.  I think that in keeping with the Nia White Belt Principle #4, Nia FreeDance does not need to be guided because “Anything Goes . . . movement-wise”.  But FreeDance in an exercise class is a challenge to many people.  There are many reasons as to why people cannot or will not just move their bodies in their own way in an exercise class.

This playshop was brought here to help people with that.  Many of the tools (ideas) Jason shared were covered in the Nia Intensives.  So if you have not attended a Nia White Belt Intensive or Nia Blue Belt Intensive, they would be new to you.  They are GREAT!  And they were the reminder and push I needed to pull them out to use them.  The most valuable things he shared with me though were not necessarily the guiding ideas, but more about how the individuals in class can be left to be.

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When I see people in my class not moving or seeming to struggle with FreeDance, I take responsibility and blame myself for not getting them to move with my suggestions and guidance.  But he brought up some very good points that I will now take to class and practice just letting those people be where they are, at that moment, in class.

Although I will still strive for the “When Harry Met Sally Moment” of wanting people to look at us and say, “I’ll have what SHE’S having.” I will also take into consideration that they could very well be doing my suggestion, but it looks different to me than I would do it.  Or that they are just not in a place to FreeDance.  Could be a case of Natural Time.

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, PiYoI learned a lot.  I had a lot of fun.  I am excited for Jason to come back again!  This video and the video on my website are the same song.  As I only stopped participating one time to video.  The videos are at different times so they are a little different.  Also shown here are a few of the pictures I took during the Playshop.  I took more pictures during the hour Frankie Say Nia class than I did during the 3.75 hours of the Nia FreeDance Playshop.

There might be one more blog post about this, but we will see.  These are the extent of pictures and videos.  Enjoy!

Please share your comments.  Please ask if you have any questions!
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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, PiYo

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, PiYo

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

Dancing Free

Posted by terrepruitt on February 19, 2015

Do you ever just dance?  You might be one to turn on the music and start dancing.  Perhaps you have a favorite song you like to dance to?  Or you might be one who breaks into dance spontaneously.  You could be in the house and a song comes on and you don’t even really think about it, next think you know you are moving to the music.  Perhaps you are one that is so gusty or you just don’t care so you dance in the aisle at the grocery store.  Music moves us.  It is easy to dance to a song we like.  Sometimes we “can’t help it”.  We just burst into a dance.  But dancing without choreography in a dance exercise class?  No one telling you exactly how to move?  Just move to the music?  Without having consumed any alcohol?  It is a concept not easily grasped by many.  It is a concept that we practice often in a Nia class.  We call it Nia FreeDance.

As I mentioned dancing without choreography in an exercise class is a new concept to many.  Moving without having a structured plan doesn’t sound like exercise to many people.  Some people are very resistant to Nia FreeDance because of this reason.  Some people cannot understand how you can “get a good workout” without having a structured plan, without moving the same way over and over again.  The way we have been programmed to exercise includes repetition and structure.  It includes traveling in a straight line from point a to point b, it includes being told how to move.  So just moving without any idea of what comes after the present movement is vastly alien to some.

Yet, I have people who actually let go and try it.  Those who push beyond their own skepticism and doubt come up to me and say, “Wow!  I am sweating.”  Those who let the music move their bodies without thinking about it have said, “Who would have thought that I would have gotten such a great workout?”  Some realize, “I might be sore tomorrow.”  They MIGHT be sore the next day because they moved their bodies in ways that their bodies are not accustom to moving.

Nia FreeDance is there to help stimulate movement creativity.  So if you do it with full abandon you might end up with muscles that talk to you the next day.  Your body will have moved in new and different ways.  So Nia FreeDance is not the dancing you would do at a club or a dance lesson.  It is just free movement.  Yes, some of those cool club moves or patterns you learned in dance class sneak in because we dance what we know.  We think about it and move in that way.  But there really is more to FreeDancing.  It might have a pattern for a moment, it might have structure for a moment, but it moves away and comes back.  It is free.

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, PiYoTo assist with FreeDance and to deepen the practice there are eight stages that can be a guide, because as I said, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Stage 1: FreeDance
Catch Phrase: Anything Goes, Movement-Wise

Stage 2: Being Seduced by the Music
Catch Phrase: Art of Listening

Stage 3: Feelings and Emotions
Catch Phrase: Pretend, Fake It, Act As If

Stage 4: The Creative Source
Catch Phrase: The Real You

Stage 5: Authentic Movement
Catch Phrase: Change!!

Stage 6: Witness
Catch Phrase: Interfere…Judge…Not! Observe

Stage 7: Choreography
Catch Phrase: The Accidental Click

Stage 8: Nia Class
Catch Phrase: Levels 1, 2, 3

The catch phrases have changed slightly since I participated in the Nia White Belt Intensive in 2008, but it is all basically the same.  The catch phrases give you a clue as to what the stage is for.  All the stages help you to FreeDance.  You can dance each stage separately or combine them in any fashion. 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, PiYo The idea is just to give you something to help get you moving and then give you something to keep you moving.  Moving in new and different ways.  The new and different active body, mind, emotions, and spirit.  FreeDance is one of the key things that makes Nia unique.  If you click on the stages above you will go to the post that I have posted for each stage.

I am very excited about the Special Nia Class and Nia Free Dance Playshop that I am producing next month.  So I have been thinking a lot about FreeDance and how great it is.  This post is a result of my excitement and my attempt at getting people excited and curious about FreeDance.  Reading about it is one thing, but getting up and actually DOING it is another.  These are the stages used to deepen your practice, but they are not what we will be covering in the Playshop.  As the flyer states, we will be learning Jason’s tools for FreeDance!  I hope you will join us!

Are you a dancer?  Do you break into dance?  What is the current hit that you can’t help but dance to?

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

Ways To Practice Rock Around The Clock

Posted by terrepruitt on January 15, 2015

I have said it many, many times, but I am going to say it again.  Nia has 52 Moves which we incorporate into the Nia routines.  These moves have a specific way to be done.  But the way they are done is adjusted, like many things, when you are doing them in a routine.  There is or was a debate about one of the moves called the bow stance.  The debate is or was about how the weight of the body should be distributed. The reason I am saying “is or was” is because I don’t know if the debate was ever settled.  The discussion regarding it — at least one that I had seen — was on Facebook and it was a long discussion.  I don’t know what the end result was or what the “official” decree is because to me, I want to teach balance, so if I am JUST doing a bow stance then I would instruct people to have their weight evenly distributed.  Usually I am not doing JUST a bow stance.  If I am showing people the bow stance it is because it is in the routine and there are other steps prior to or after it and with other moves on either side the weight gets distributed according to the need.  So, in other words, we adjust the move to fit the dance and choreography.  So that is what my class and I are experiencing right now with the Nia 52 Move called Rock Around the Clock.

If you read my original post about it, the one that explains what it is, the instructions state to start the rock on the heels.  But in the routine I am leading my class through currently we start the rock on the toes.  Then we roll (or rock) to either the left or the right.  We actually go both ways and like many things, the different “sides” or directions are very different in regards to sensation and difficulty level.  One side is easier than the other . . . at least that is the consensus with my students.  So it is very beneficial to practice “rocking” both ways.

With this post I am doing two things; 1) I am reminding you to practice moves going both directions.  Just like we do both sides.  If we are doing a move with the left side we do it with the right.  We – trainers – often say to keep the body even and it really is to work both sides of the body AND the brain!  2)  Share with you a different or additional WAY to practice Rocking Around the Clock.

My original post says something about this being an example of an easy move.  It is not necessarily “easy”, what I probably should have said was the Rock Around the Clock was not a high intensity move.  So for those that are really starting out learning this move you might even want to sit down and do it.  Since feet are in shoes for a large part of the day and those shoes might not allow for a lot of ankle mobility, it could be that your ankles just don’t want to move in the way that is required with this move.  So it is a great idea to sit down and allow the ankles to loosen up.

For me, my feet want move opposite of each other.  So each foot wants to be on the opposite edge, so training my feet and my brain to be on the same edge it interesting.  Sitting in a chair while doing this move allows my feet and brain to understand that this move is “same edge”.  Once you get your feet and brain on the same page, then you can stand up.  (FYI:  Sitting and practicing this move is very different from trying to take pictures of your feet while sitting and practicing this move.  But hopefully you will get the idea from the pictures even though they are not very good.)

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, PiYo

When you are standing you can use something to hold onto like a counter, table, chair, wall, something that is sturdy and can assist you in balancing.  Having something to steady you while your feet get used to supporting your weight on the edges is nice.  The support also allows you to really exaggerate your foot movements to help get the movement into your muscle memory.

This move helps build strength in the ankles and the feet.  This is also a very “mental move”.  It is one of those moves you might have to really think about in order to do it correctly.  Then, with practice, it will become one of those moves you can do without thinking so much about.  And your feet and ankles will benefit greatly.

So have you tried it?  Can you do it sitting down?  Can you do it standing up?  Can you see how it is an interesting move?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Beginner’s Mind

Posted by terrepruitt on October 11, 2014

In Nia there is something called “the beginner’s mind”. Since learning about it associated with Nia, I have heard about it in association with other things.  It might not always be called “beginner’s mind”, but it is the same concept, the same idea.  It is the idea of stepping into something – anything, even if is something you are well familiar with – with a mind as if you are a beginner.  Step into it as if you are hearing it, doing it, seeing it, or learning it for the first time.  Step in as if you are a beginner.

This is a wonderful tool.  When you walk into a situation with an empty cup, when it is not full of knowledge on the subject, it is able to be filled with all the information, new stuff is easy to learn, stuff you already “know” can be learned in a new way, and your cup gets filled again.

There are many reasons why you might want to practice the “beginner’s mind”.  It could be because you are required – perhaps through your company, your certifying board, or any number of things – to take a particular class.  It could be because – even though you know you don’t know everything there is to know . . . the timing of the class has you thinking it will be a waste of time.  It could be — as just mentioned — you know you don’t know everything, but the length of the class has you thinking you will only get two hours worth of information out of the twelve hours you are being required to attend.

When I take a Nia class I always step in with a beginner’s mind.  I know that no matter what routine is going to be taught it is going to be different.  Which is not to say that the teacher will not do it correctly or will not do it the way it was taught on the DVD, but it does allow me to easily accept.  I accept the way the teacher is teaching it.  It flows so much better if I am just receiving as opposed to trying to inject my knowledge and the way the routine is supposed to be done.  I accept that the teacher might not teach it exactly as I teach it.  The teacher might use different pearls.  The teacher use different cues.  She might have found that a slight change in the choreography works better for her students or even something for her.  And . . . with the idea that I am doing it as a beginner . . . instead of an expert who knows the routine . . . I can learn something.  If I just do as I am being instructed I might sense that the move she does is actually good for a particular audience.  Or the pearls that the teacher uses really matches well with the movements.  Instead of my inner dialog being the moves or worse something like, “Well, here I say, ‘XXX'” or here we move like XXX, with my beginner’s mind I am listening instead of “talking” over what is happening.  All of this could lead to discover of a new movement pattern.

In regards to a training where you are required to be, it could just make it be less dreadful than you thought it would.  If you accept the fact that it is a requirement and decide to walk in with a beginner’s mind being told stuff you already know is not such a waster of time.  Keeping the beginner’s mind and not telling your entire story to prove what you know gives you time to listen to what others know and learn about them.  And — as stated before — possibly hear the same information but in a new way.  Allowing yourself to let go and not be the expert is freeing and lets you relax into the learning process.

I was grumpy this past week because I knew I had to spend my Friday night (FRIDAY NIGHT) and all day Saturday in a training.  I was afraid that my grumpiness would keep me from learning and be recognized by others.  So I asked for help and was reminded of the beginner’s mind.  I was able to step into the class not as grumpy.  Of course, I did mention the fact to the trainer that it was a long training and the trainer – being an EXPERT trainer and pretty awesome – agreed, gave me the sympathy I wanted and boom!  I got over it.  🙂  With my “cup” empty . . . I learned some cool things!

Do you every have the opportunity to practice the “beginner’s mind”?  Have you every practice the “beginner’s mind”?  How did practicing the “beginner’s mind” work for you?  

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