Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle 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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  • My Bloggey Past

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Posts Tagged ‘Nia floorplay’

For A Taller You

Posted by terrepruitt on August 27, 2013

There are a lot of things I like about yoga, one thing that I really like is that many of the asanas or poses are executed with a lengthening of the spine. In many poses the idea is to reach with the top of your head, or the crown of your head, in the opposite direction of your tailbone.  Often the cue is to reach with the crown of your head to the sky while reaching with your tailbone into the earth.  I feel as if the reaching and stretching in the opposite directions really help the body be taller.

While standing, sitting, bending the motion or action is to reach. Reach in opposite directions.  Create space in between each vertebra. While consciously stretching the backbone, you are pulling your shoulders back and down. Create a long neck by reaching. Push the shoulders away from the ears.  The ribs lift upwards, and off and away from the hips.

One motion or thought to help straighten and lengthen is to extend your sternum skyward.  This somewhat juts the chest out and the shoulder automatically go back and down.  With this as an image there might be some adjusting that needs to take place, but it can help move you in the right direction.   With the lengthening of the spine comes the separating of the ribs.  Allowing space in between each rib can sometimes help increase lung capacity.  If your lungs have more room to move in they might expand further.  This all lending to bigger, deeper breaths.

In the Gentle Yoga class I am currently teaching I am continually reminding the students to lengthen their spine.  I, myself, have a habit of scrunching.  I think I have mentioned this before.  I both scrunch my shoulders up to my ears and round my back.  I liken my posture to that of a spoon.  So it is very easy for me to fall into that even while I am leading a class because I begin to shift my concentration.  So the reminder is for all of us.  A reminder is nice because then you can check to make certain you are doing all the things involved in lengthening the spine.  Although sometimes I feel a bit repetitive, I think it is worth it.  In addition to myself I usually see at least one participant make an adjustment.

In Nia while we might not always be lengthening and reaching with our spine throughout an entire routine there is often at least a moment.  If not in one of the dances itself in the cool down or the floorplay.  I often include imaging space in between each vertebra as we sit or bend over in a stretch.  The Nia routing might not include yoga poses by the idea of it is included.  Part of the yoga inclusion “is the conscious alignment of bones and joints”*  While lengthening the spine we are lining up the bones and the joints.  Our posture is intact.

I really enjoy the growing taller sensation that yoga can offer through a variety of asanas where we are reaching and lengthening.  To me it makes for a taller me.

Do you sense you are taller after doing yoga?  Do you sense your spine is more straight after yoga?  Do you do a pose that really has you feeling you are taller after?

*The Nia Technique, page 276.  A yoga focus.

Posted in Nia, Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Simple Stretches Could Bring Relief

Posted by terrepruitt on May 12, 2012

We move our hips A LOT in Nia.  With all the hip movements we do I say we have juicy hips.  Not only do we shake and shimmy our hips we take time to stretch and open our hips.  Hip flexors are a group of muscles that move the thigh towards the chest.  These muscles can get short and tight, especially from sitting.  Office jobs usually mean sitting in a chair all day while at work.  Add the commute time to the sitting on the job and many people end up sitting over eight hours a day.  Sometimes the hip flexors can become so short and tight they can keep an individual from standing up straight.  In addition, the origin of one of the muscles in the hip flexor group is in the lower back, if this set of muscles is short and tight it can sometimes result in lower back pain.  For many individuals stretching and lengthening these muscles can bring relief from back pain and help individuals stand up straighter.

There are a lot of stretches that can help lengthen this group of muscles.  The yoga Pigeon Pose comes to mind.  This is a great pose because the leg that is straight out towards the back get the lengthening benefit and sensation, while the bent leg assist in opening the groin area and stretching those muscles.  The butterfly stretch really stretches the groin area, too.  The closer you can get your feet to your pelvis the bigger the stretch, and the close the knees to the ground the bigger the stretch.  This is a great stretch you will definitely feel in the inner thighs.  The spinal twist both supine and seated can bring great relief.  So whether you are laying down and allowing your legs to be on one side of you or whether you are sitting up with one leg out and hugging one bent knee, you still get a nice stretch for the pair of muscles whose origins starts in the lower back.

One stretch I love to do is somewhat like a spinal twist in that you let the legs twist to one side, but instead of bringing them over to one side as a pair you let one leg start its journey to the other side of your body and the other one follows in its own time.  Think of your legs as pages in a book.**  One leg goes then the other leg flips (as a page) slowly.  No rush.  Also if you allow one leg to fall to one side while the other is on the first side (think open book) it is similar to the butterfly stretch but with hips completely open.  Then “close the book” having your legs end up on one side while gently twisting to the other, you get the nice gentle stretch in your back.  In Nia our floorplay cycle often includes many of these.

Swinging your leg from front to back either in a standing position or lying down on your side can stretch the muscles.  Let the leg swing as far to the front as comfortable and then as far back as is comfortable.  In both the standing and lying position you want to keep you back straight.  Don’t let it get into the swing of things, just let your leg swing.

Some exercises can assist in stretching the muscles too.  The lunge, especially a long lunge, helps stretch and lengthen the muscles and open the hips a bit.  The leg that is stretch back with get the stretch in the front.  You can either do the lunge stepping forward or back, but the longer the step the bigger the stretch.

These are just some simple stretches that might help loosen up your hips if you have tight hip flexors.  If you tend to sit at a desk that could be something that is happening.  Make your hips juicy and happy by stretching them a bit.  It might even help you walk taller and with more ease.

**This image I learned from Debbie Rosas at my Nia White Belt Intensive. I use it all the time in class.

Do you ever sit so long when you stand up you kind of are bent over at the hips?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Once You Go To A Chiropractor You Always Have To Go

Posted by terrepruitt on March 17, 2012

When I was younger I remember many people saying that “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go”. Maybe you have heard that. I still hear people say that. Back when I was young I don’t think a lot of thought was given to that statement. I know I didn’t think about it much, I just had heard it so often I believed it was true. At one point in my life back then I considered myself to “have a bad back”. Being in so much pain once I found myself at a chiropractor. This was all a very long time ago so I don’t remember all the details. I guess they did SOMETHING to make me feel better because I left and must have felt ok. But before I left he prescribed something outrageous like I would need to visit him three or four times a week in order to take care of it. Again, fuzzy on the details, but I know I never went back to that guy. I do remember having medical insurance at the time that would pay for a portion of my visits if I visited a doctor on their list. So, I found one, I believe he was on the verge of retiring and was not interested in seeing people more than he really felt was necessary and he did not think I needed to be seen more than once a week. But I do remember that by the time my next appointment came around I was ready. I think my issue was, and still is, stress or tension.  I don’t have a “bad back”. I hold my stress in my upper back. Well, after I had seen a chiropractor I came to believe the saying “once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go” is true. It is because that once you go and you get relief then you always want to feel that good so you “have to go”. But now I also know that there are a lot of things we can do ourselves to either bring relief or make sure we don’t get in a state where we need it in the first place.

One of the things I was doing back then was holding the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder when talking on the phone.  I worked in the mortgage business and like many businesses when you get a phone call you don’t stop working, you keep working because you are having to look at information while talking. After I had been to the doctor I decided I was not going to hold the phone like that any longer and every place I worked after that I got a headset. Ever since then I’ve had had headsets for my home phone, too.  That ONE thing alone brought HUGE changes in my back.  I never hold the phone in the crook of my neck and shoulder.

But occasionally I still allow the tension to rest in my back. I have been fortunate enough to have someone help me with my back when she is available, but she is not always available and so I try to work on it myself. As I said, I believe a lot of it is making sure we don’t allow our bodies to get into a state where it needs work, but that is not always possible, but there are still things we can do. If you have read a few of my posts you know I have a tendency to scrunch my shoulders up towards my ears. That is a major thing that causes my back to hurt, so I really work on keeping my shoulders down. Also, I work at sitting up straight, which is not easy for me because I like to sit on a leg folded under me.

Aside from plain ol’ not doing things that cause issues I have been doing some things that tend to help my back by keeping the muscles loose and the vertebrae lengthened and relaxed. Often the floorplay in Nia helps with keeping my back loose, but the Nia routine that I have been doing the past few weeks does not have that type of floorplay in it so I am doing other things.  My old friend the Downward Facing Dog is a great help for opening the back and releasing the spine. Doing the Downward Facing Dog at least a dozen times as part of a sequence is a great help in keeping my back loose.

Also the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana), which I mentioned in my Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence post. When stretching the crown of the head out and over it really does a great job of creating space in the spine. Since my discomfort seems to manifest in my upper back, moves or poses that have me hanging over do a fantastic job of opening my cervical and thoracic spine.

Another “hanging” pose that I feel does a nice job of relaxing my joints and muscles is the simple fold. Just folding over and letting the body hang. Either the ragdoll or the forward fold. Doing both types of hangs, with a relaxed back and a straight back, works to create the sensation that I want – space, space, space, and more space in my spine. The space in my spine helps to relax the muscles that hold the tension.

As I was doing some side bends today, I actually heard my back crack. On each side I heard it crack. While I am not a fan of hearing my body snap, crackle, and pop, I take my back making that noise as the vertebrae getting back into place. When I can move my bones back into place and not have someone else do it, that makes me happy. It is what I have come to think of as self-healing. One of the side bends I have been doing consist of bending to the side while holding my arms over my head with my hands clasps. The other is holding my wrist as I bend.

So I am excited that I am working on my back myself. I have to say that I have not had back pain, tension, or even discomfort in the last two weeks. Yay. I know that I am not the only one that holds stress and tension in the back. So I was hoping sharing some of the things I have been doing to give me relief might help you too.

Do you have issues with your back? Do you hold stress in your back? What do you do to bring yourself and your back relief from your discomfort?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »