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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    I am also teaching a yoga class for the City of San Jose on Wednesday 5/13, 5/20, and 5/27 at 5pm

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Posts Tagged ‘Nia Dance’

The Good Things Of 2014, Onto 2015

Posted by terrepruitt on January 1, 2015

This year we were lucky to have a visitor for our Goodie Jar reading.  My niece was visiting and she helped us relive the moments that made us smile.  I am a smart enough aunt to know that I have an amazing niece so she was mentioned often in my notes of “Good Things”.  Here are some of the highlights from the jar:

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~My niece treated us to the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco

~Nightingales

~May 29, (2014) was the first “coffee” visit with they Camden Community Center Nia Class

~Wicked

~Colleen came to say goodbye to Spot (06.24.14)

As you can see from the pictures there were a lot more.  I’ve had some people ask me what to put in the Good Things Jar.  It really is up to you.  I am seeing a lot of different versions of “jars” this year so I really think it all depends on you.  What do you want your jar to do?  The point of my jar is to keep me focused on the GOOD THINGS IN LIFE.  There are so many things that can be considered “not good”.  It is very easy to get distracted and end up with a negative attitude and to forget all of the blessings that are around us.  So, for me, it is a way to keep the blessings in my life at the forefront.  That does not mean I can’t be sad or get mad or pout . . . .or whatever . . . it just is a reminder to not stay sad, mad, or pouty.  Because that — to me is an insult to the good stuff.

There is another benefit to my Goodie Jar.  In addition to making a note and helping me stay focused it really is fun for me to read the good things at the end of the year and to remember.  While my family might not enjoy it as much as I do . . . they tolerate it.  I even tell stories regarding some of the GOOD THINGS, if they will let me.

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 have mentioned before in posts that I like to use different types of paper.  I like to fold them in different shapes and ways.  It makes the jar look festive.  I noticed last night that the ones my niece grabbed to read were the spiral ones, the ones folded in shapes, or the really festive looking.  Yeah, it is fun.

Also pictured here is this post are the pieces of paper we are going to use to fill up the jar in 2015.  Yeah, it started off as a one-time thing, but this will be our third year of doing it.  I am really loving this tradition.  I love the practice throughout the year.  I love the decorative jar that sits out all year round reminding me that there has been good things.  I love the “ceremony” (to me it is) of reading the good things.

I wish I could remember the origin of this aside from Facebook.  I mean, I know WHO I got it from, but I don’t remember where/who SHE got it from.  But the Good Things jar was not my idea.  Using a beautiful pitcher is my idea and filling it with different types of paper is my idea.  Re-using wrapping paper . . . my idea.  But the original idea . . . . don’t know.  But THANK YOU!

So, what good things have happened to you in 2014?  Do you have a Goodie Jar?  Are you going to have one for 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, PiYo

 

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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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Cities Could Make Waiting Safe and Fun!

Posted by terrepruitt on September 30, 2014

One of my Facebook friends shared a link to a video.  (See below.  Watch video.)  I LOVE this. The idea is so awesome, to me.  I think it would be so cool if dancing on the street while waiting for a crosswalk light to change in your favor was acceptable and actually encouraged.  I think this is so fun.  I really love this idea.  I was so happy to see that little red dancing figure, I was squealing while watching it.  Then when I saw that it was NOT a computer program just set to play, I clapped with glee.  People dancing while their moves are being reproduced onto the crosswalk signal in real time —- AWESOME.

How fun is that?  It would be so much more fun to stand and wait.  Also it would give you something to do.  I always feel silly standing there waiting, not doing anything.  Then I feel silly for feeling silly because I am supposed to wait.  I shouldn’t feel silly.  I am being courteous (and following the law) by waiting my turn and not darting out into traffic.  It is rude when people walk out into the street against the crossing light hoping to can make it across the street before a car comes or worse yet, expecting the car to stop.  GRRRRRRR.  I get upset when I see people do that.  Because if they get hit and die what will they care . . . they will be dead, but they will have ruined someone else’s day and perhaps their lives because they were too rude to just wait a minute or two.  So this dancing would give them something to do.

I can see how it just might promote safety.  The non-waiting people (that might normally cross against the light — jeopardizing their safety and the safety of others) might not dance, but they might be interested enough to stay and watch.  To me it didn’t look as if that many people were dancing.   The video said that 81%  (THAT IS A LOT) more people actually followed the law (psstt . . . yes it is the law) while at the dancing crosswalk signal light.  So, more people stopped from crossing the street when they did not have a signal to go, while at this signal.  I did not see on the video a percentage given of how many people actually danced.  But with the reported increase in the number of people that stopped it got people’s attention.  I wonder how they measured that?

So fun.  The title of where I saw the video said something about, “safe and happy!”  Oh yeah.  It would make me happy.  I would be happy dancing while waiting at the light OR dancing to make the signal dance.  Fun stuff.  We could have a Nia crosswalk where we led people through Nia routines.  Ha, that would be funny.  The Nia Crosswalk Signal . . . .

The video is on Smart’s Youtube channel. Check out the video.

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes

 

So what do you think?  Would you watch?  Would you dance if you were waiting at the crosswalk?  Would you dance in the signal (the room they had set up) and be the dancing crosswalk signal?  Do you think this is cool?

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

Saving Bars

Posted by terrepruitt on September 2, 2014

If you have read more than one post on my blog you know (probably) that I teach a movement class called NiaNia is very much about “dancing” and moving to the music.  The training required in order to teach is called the Nia White Belt Intensive.  The training is over 50 hours long.  Believe it or not there is hardly anytime in that 50 hours learning a routine.  In fact, I don’t remember learning any part of a routine in my White Belt.  But I know people who have taken the training more recently and they said they did review a song.  I remember when I first arrived at the training I literally had NO IDEA what it was going to be like.  I signed up rather late and if there was any pre-training at that time, I didn’t get it.  I had thought I would walk out of the training ready to teach.  Ha.  Nope.  I was given tools to help me be ready to teach.  There might be people who are ready to teach when they walk out of the first training . . . but I wasn’t.  I wasn’t that familiar with Nia to begin with so the way we were taught to learn a routine was very new to me.  As you may know we were taught to map our music by “barring” the music.

I know that Nia is making an effort to make things easier on teachers.  Nia Headquarters actually documents the choreography on the bars now.  So, I feel that the focus has shifted a bit away from barring the music the way I was taught.  I think the way I was taught was very cool.  I love the way Nia had at one time had us learning the music.  But I also understand the need to learn quickly or to have tools available to allow people to do things faster.  That is just the way our society is.  Things need to be done fast.

I also understand that we all learn differently.  We all have our own ways of doing things.  I honestly don’t do EVERY step that I was taught to do.  I also mix it up and I don’t always do each routine EXACTLY the same.  But pretty much.

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes

For all the routines so far, I do bar the music myself.  Sometimes I have trouble with some of the songs so I might rely on the bars from HQ a little more than with other songs.  But I bar the music and I document the choreography myself.  I “fix” any discrepancies I might see on the DVD.  But I do this in steps.  First I bar the music.  I count the music and I dress my bars.  I have found the more detailed I am with the dressing the better it is for me.  I put as much detail as I want on there.  I don’t just put the sound I hear for the cue for the Nia routine.  I put the music on the page.  Then I scan the paper into my computer.  Now I have barred music.  So what I can do with that the barred page — without the Nia choreography on it — is use it for whatever I want.  I can add my own choreography.  I don’t just have the places marked where I would do or cue the already-created-Nia kata, I have sounds that I am familiar with document.  So noting my own choreography to the page is easy.

Then, on my paper I just scanned, I add the Nia choreography.  Once I do that then I scan my sheet again.  So now I have an electronic image of my complete and final bars.  I always know where it is.  I admit to taking my sheets of barred music with me either to teach or around the house, then I misplace them.  Or I mixed routines up so I have one song in with another routine.  Then after a year when I go to do a routine, I am missing a song.  I am pretty particular so I will look for it, but sometimes I let go and just look at my electronic copy.  I know that eventually I will find the hard copy so I just use the one I know where it is.

I am so happy though because I finally got a HANGING file system.  So much easier to file my routines that way.  I used to have them in a pile on a shelf in a cabinet.  So in order to get to them I had to take out the entire pile and go through it to find the routine I wanted.  Or to put one away . . . that is why I would end up with “lost” songs because I didn’t always want to take the time to take out the stack and deal with it.  But now, it is so much easier with them hanging!  Yay.

So, if you teach a dance class, how do you document your moves?  How do you note your choreography?  How do you store your notes?

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Broken Hearts And Blood Vessels

Posted by terrepruitt on August 12, 2014

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, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classesOur focus in Nia this morning was laughter, happiness, joy, comfort, and support our intent was to find it (from within) and share it with those in the world that need it (or even just want it). We danced in honor of Robin Williams(/Armand Goldman*). I know clinical depression is not fixed by someone just “snapping out of it” nor is it a matter of just “being happy”. We were sending laughter, happiness, and joy out. Along with comfort and support. So even though it can’t be fixed or healed simply with those things we were dancing our support of those that suffer. And even though many of us are not clinically depressed many are saddened by Mr. Williams death. From what I am reading on the internet he touched so many people with his down to earth comedy and crazy antics. While we were dancing . . . . in my enthusiasm, I clapped so hard I broke a blood vessel in my hand. At least that is what I thought I did. In order to be sure it was nothing more serious, I did what a lot of us do . . . I posted a picture on Facebook and asked my friends.

One friend said that she does it all the time in her fingers. I have done it in my fingers at least a couple of times that I remember. So her comment made me feel a little better. But I had never done it in my hand. When it happened, I had clapped and sometimes I do clap long enough that my hands itch. So this time I just thought . . . “Hmmm . . . that is weird, I wasn’t clapping that long.” And I scratched viciously at my hand. Then I looked at it and I was surprised to see this large purple spot on it. But I kept dancing because I was teaching. So I thought I would deal with it later. Then I forgot because right after my Tuesday morning Nia class I have a gentle yoga class. I rushed off to that and completely forgot about my hand.

I forgot about it until I had to fill out a survey. The questions were answered by filling in the “bubbles” or circles on a form. We used to call them Scantrons. There were 1400 of them. My hand started to bother me then I remembered my injuring clap.

So onto Facebook, one friend — the one who said she breaks blood vessels in her fingers all the time — suggested arnica gel. I have arnica oil. I just put that on. I also have my Trauma (that you know I love) and my Zheng Gu Shui. But I am using the oil. Another friend . . . a nurse said – “Your body has already healed the blood vessel, now time will reabsorb the blood in the tissue.” Good to know. I didn’t THINK it was anything serious, but I wanted to check. 🙂

Amazing that the body can begin to heal so quickly. If only the heart healed as fast. Yesterday, August 11, 2014, marked four months that my mom has been dead and the suicide of such a beloved celebrity made it that much more sad.

Not that this site should be used to treat or diagnosis ANYTHING, but if you find yourself with a spot on your hand looking like a bruise and nothing else appears to be wrong or damaged with your hand, it could be just a broken blood vessel.  For anything serious, please seek medical help.

I will look within to find laughter, happiness, joy, comfort, and support and I will share it with those in the world who need it or want it.

*Birdcage was one of my favorite movies I ended up with by some odd thing. Someone at work was giving away movies and I grabbed the tape . . . .yes, the VHS tape, that is how long ago it was. My husband and I watched it and we loved it . . . . who wouldn’t? What a cast! Since we love it and watched it often we bought the DVD. It is one of my favorite movies to watch over and over. It is one of those ones that I will stop to watch if I see it when I am flicking channels. It will make me sad now.

Have you ever had a broken blood vessel in your hand?  On your finger?  Do you have a favorite Robin Williams movie?

 

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A Great Move In Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on July 19, 2014

One of Nia’s 52 Moves is a nice move.  It can be done easily, it can be used in almost any dance, and it has numerous benefits, but the name is one I get crawly skin saying.  I don’t like to say it.  It is worse than Creepy Crawlers.  When we do this move I often start out using the actual Nia name, but then explain how I would rather not and I would rather do something else.  The move is fantastic though because it has many uses, but the name.  I mean, what do you feel when I say, “Catching Flies“?  I prefer not to.

But the move itself is a great move and very important to keep our hands, arms, eyes, and brain active.  When we “Catch Flies” in Nia we open the hands then we make a loose fist to “catch” and hold the “flies.  Ewwww.  Just thinking about it . . . I mean . . . really thinking about it grosses me out.  Thank God, I don’t think too much about it when I am teaching.  I do think enough to change it.  There is one routine I teach where I change it to “catching your dreams”.  It goes along with the whole sequence of moves before and after.  So I will often start out with “catching flies” then change it to “catch your dreams”.

Part of the move is to LOOK before you grab.  So we are not just randomly grabbing in the air.  We are looking as if we really were going to catch a fly.  Since most of us are not like cats — do you know what I mean?  Have you ever been playing with a toy with a cat and they won’t even be looking and they just reach out their arm and snatch the toy out of thin air?  (Crazy!)  Most of us are not like that, we need to look.  So we LOOK before we grab at the “flies”.  We engage our eyes and our brain — THEN we grab.  We are also engaging our neck and spine because we are catching FLIES after all.  See, the image makes sense.  It is a “good” one, but an icky one. But since it is good and it makes sense, I will start out saying “catching flies” so people get the idea.  Then I can change it if I want.

I think I got catching fairies from another Nia class.  A Nia teacher said it and I was thrilled, so I use that one.  Sometimes I say catching joy.  Or perhaps grabbing some energy.  There are many things to say after the initial move is understood and the Nia name is announced.

The Nia Technique book explains the benefits very well:

Practicing Catching Flies increases brain activity.  This move neurologically connects your hands, your head, and your eyes, and engenders manual dexterity and speed.  Emotionally, you can use the is move to express aggression, determination, anger, frustrations, playfulness, and achievement.

I am sure you can use it to express a lot more emotions.  When we practice this move we add variety.  There can be fast flies, slow flies, they can be flying high, they can be flying low, they can be flying right in front of us, they can be flying behind us, you get the idea.  The flies can be all over so it can be quite and active move.

It is like the Locust pose in yoga — GREAT MOVE, not so great name.

What do you think?  Do you want to catch flies?  Would you rather catch fairies?  Would you rather catch joy?  Can you understand what a great move it is?

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

Nia’s Five Sensations, Well, Two and One Fourth

Posted by terrepruitt on May 29, 2014

Aaaahhhh!  I did it again.  I do it all the time.  I see things on Facebook that I want to look at but I don’t have time or when I see it is it not the right time to look at it so I open it in another window.  Then I can watch it, read it, do it (whatever) days later.  But then I forget who posted it.  This is a Nia video so I know that one of my Nia friends posted it.  It took me days to get around to watching it.  Then once I did watch it I was soooo disappointed.  It is a video of Carlos Rosas (NKA Carlos Aya-Rosas) at a conference talking about the 5 Sensations of Nia.  As he is talking I start looking at the time left and I keep thinking, he’s not going to make it.  I kept HOPING he would, but I kept thinking, he is not going to make it.  He didn’t.  He was halfway through (or so it seemed) his talk about Mobility when the video stopped.  Sad face.  That is why I was disappointed.  I was sad because we don’t get to hear all five sensations.  But . . . watching the ones he did get through are well worth it.  It is just a bummer that we didn’t get information on all five.

I am not sure what year it is, but you will see that they are being referred to as Debbie and Carlos Rosas.  Which I always thought that eventually they were referred to as Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.  But that is not the point of this post or the video I was just trying to see if I could have an idea of what year it was, but again . . . not that important because the information is tremendous.

The information is very helpful no matter when it was recorded.  Carlos first walks you through some things you can sense.  He connects them to the 5 Sensations.  If you’ve read a few of my posts about Nia you might be familiar with my belief that Nia takes everyday things you are familiar with and probably aware of and connects it to Nia ideas.   If you watch this you can get an example of them doing that in the time from 2:45 to 7:00.

After the initial connection to the five sensations, the first sensation Carlos defines is Flexibility.  He describes it as energy moving out.  So not just stretching, but energy moving out.  Then he talks about Agility.  He describes that as a quick start stop.  He uses the adjective “explode”.  This is a very entertaining part of the video.  Carlos is a very funny speaker.  Then he gets a few minutes into a mobility.  He describes that as continuous movement.  He talks you through a bit of it, then the video stops.

Even though we only get to see two sensations and a portion of mobility it is still great information.  I am not giving you too many details because I want you to watch it.  It is so much better from the creator than from me just typing what he is saying.

This was posted by Nia, in addition to watching this video you can go to the Nia Channel on Youtube (click here) and see other videos they have posted.  Also, you can go to NiaNow.com and watch recordings of classes.  From the home page scroll through the pages and you will find videos of Nia classes.  You can dance right along with Debbie and other trainers!

I invite you to watch the video and participate with his exercises to connect you with the sensation of Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Stability, and Strength (this is the first portion I mentioned).  Then stick with it for even more connection to Flexibility and Agility.

 

Well, what do you think?

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Your Choice To Choose Then Tweak To Sustain Or Increase

Posted by terrepruitt on May 15, 2014

You might have seen my post Are You Happy – It’s Your Choice that used the “poster” created by Alex Kopblin.  It is a flow chart asking if you are happy with simple instructions on how to stay or become happy.  Well, I just connected that to Nia.  More accurately to two Nia Principles.  I was looking through my Blue Belt Book of Alchemy and it dawned on me that the triad for Principle #1 is kind of like Alex’s flow chart.  He asks the question “Are you happy?” whereas in Nia we choose it.  His flow chart goes through simple steps to get to happy, whereas the Nia triad leads us to sensation and guides us to “tweak” in order to “sustain” or “increase” our Universal Joy.  While I have been thinking about choosing “happy” and joy, I hadn’t thought about either of these ideals/posters.  Even though I have Alex’s on my wall, directly in my face.  And I certainly hadn’t thought about how they are slightly connected/the same, until right now.

I often feel that Nia and its principles apply to life.  That is why it is a practice and not just a cardio dance workout.  As I have said many times . . . it IS a cardio dance workout, and if that is all you want to get out of it . . . GREAT.  You will get a GREAT workout.  But if you want to learn more about it and see how it applies to life you will find things like this.

You will find that Nia and its principle align up with a lot of memes out there on Facebook  The information aligns up with so many things because it is body center and it makes sense.  Nia is not necessarily the creator of many of these things, but they do have an amazing way of packaging it up.  One way they package it up so well is to relate it to movement.  There we are back to the cardio dance workout.

Anyway . . . I was a bit surprised to realize both of these ideas pretty much matched up.  But then after my initial, “Oh wow!” I realized, as I stated above, Nia connects to a lot of things.  While happy and Joy – as in the Universal Joy might not be the same thing, both of these things (the poster and Nia’s principle) are telling us that we are in control.  We are in control of our happiness and we are in control of connecting to the Universal Joy.  Neither is always easy at all times . . . but they are both always available to us.

I also believe that sometimes we do not choose emotions, sometimes they just happen.  There are times in life when we might need to just let them be and experience them.  But that might not be where we want to stay and be all the time.

There are many ways to experience the emotion of happiness and there are many ways to connect to the Joy.  What is really amazing is that the ways to do so might not be the same for every one . . . everyBODY is different.

What do you think?  I am just thinking out loud and marveling at the Nia connection to things.  As I wonder – at times – about my choice of Joy.

How are you about finding your own happiness?  What do you do to experience your “happy”?  What do you do to connect to Joy?

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Tail Wagging

Posted by terrepruitt on March 20, 2014

In Nia we do something we call “wag your tail”. Now there are various ways one can “wag” their tail. This move is not one of Nia’s 52 Moves, but we do it A LOT. One might think that wagging one’s tail just means to shake your butt. But shaking your butt is really just shaking your backside. While that has a purpose in dance when I say “wag your tail” I don’t mean shake your tush. There is a difference. Just like there is a difference between shaking your chest/breast and a shimmy. A shimmy is not just shaking your chest or what you have on it. A shimmy is using the muscles in your upper back and shoulders to push and pull your shoulders. While the front might shake as you shimmy, the sensation is entirely different from just shaking what’s on the front. For more info you can read my post Shimmy From The Back. With the tail wag it is somewhat the same thing — in the sense that you are not shaking your butt you are wagging your tail.

The focus is the very bottom portion of your bony spine, the coccyx — your tail. When you wag your tail the outer portion of your body, your glutes/your butt is going to move and shake, just like when you shimmy your chest/breast will shake, but that is not the focus. And believe me, I have ample of both to know the sensation is entirely different. 🙂

For many this is not something they sense right away. It is one of those things you practice. I know many belly dancers who hold classes just on shimmying . . . So by comparison shaking top and/or bottom is different from a shimmy and/or a wag of the tail.

One way I describe it to my students is to just relax the spine. Let the hips hang and then wag the tail. Some understand this and are able to do it. While it might take practice, when they focus they can do it, hips hanging tail wagging. If you can do this the sensation is amazing. It is a HUGE release to the spine. It is very relaxing. Wagging the tail is one of my favorite moves. Ask anyone on my Nia classes and they will tell you, “Yeah, she says that all the time.”

I recently posted about how my students are my teachers and one thing they taught me was to come up with a different way of explaining “letting your hips hang”. The looks I received recently while having my students practice wagging their tail was, “I am not getting what you are saying!!!” So I had to think about it and I came up with something.

Sit down on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Then use your hands to push yourself off the ground. Your lower legs and feet can still be touching but you want your tush to be off the ground. Now relax your spine. Do you sense that hanging sensation? THAT is what you are going for while standing. That is what will enable you to wag your tail.

So try it. Can you sense your hips hanging? Can you sense the difference between wagging your tail and shaking your bum?

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I Changed My Mind, I DO Teach Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on January 18, 2014

I know – well, I am pretty confident that I have mentioned before in a blog post that I don’t think of myself as teaching people Nia.  Even though I say I teach Nia, I usually prefer to say I lead Nia.  I wish I could find that post because I would like to check what I said exactly because I am feeling a bit different these days.  Or maybe I have it clarified in my mind better.  I believe I said that I don’t like to say I teach Nia because I feel that a dance teacher is one that demonstrates the steps and then has the student try to do them while the teacher watches.  Then maybe the teacher demonstrates again and the student does it again and then maybe there is some adjusting done by the teacher.  Or even in a group dance class setting the move is done over and over until it is somewhat learned and then the next move is added on.  Sometimes there is a sequence of moves that is demonstrated then practiced over a few times and then a new sequence added on.  That is what I think of as teaching dance.  So in THAT way I don’t teach Nia, but I DO teach Nia.

I do not show the move then have the students practice it over and over before we dance it, but sometimes when the song allows we do a preview and practice.  It could be that the song has a long introduction in which there is no specific choreography and in that time we demo a move.  While I might not tell a participant in particular a way to tweak the move I will look out into my class and see something that could use tweaking so I might say or even do something that I hope will lead to a change.  Say, we are doing a move using our toe and I look out and see someone using their heel, I might suggest using the toe like squashing a bug or testing the water (depends on what we are doing).  So in essence I hope to teach the students that we are using our toe.  I teach the move as we are doing it as opposed to the aforementioned way.

IN addition, I like to share things about Nia while we are dancing.  Sometimes I talk about how Nia incorporates the BMES (Body, Mind, Emotion, and Spirit)  I might explain Nia’s Five Sensations while we are moving on the floor.  Allowing the Nia students to be reminded of them and possibly use them in the floorplay.  I often remind the Nia class about Natural Time letting them know they are free to move through the movement/choreography in their body’s own natural way and timing.  Sometimes this is actually part of the song and if not people are always encouraged to move in this way.

So, I take it back if I said — as I believe I did — I don’t like to say I teach Nia, because I do teach Nia.  But I don’t teach it as if it were a dance, because it is not just a dance.  While we do dance, Nia is so much more.  Maybe I should say I lead people through Nia Routines and I teach Nia?

Have you ever taken a dance class like I describe – the demo-do-type?  Do you see the difference between two?

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