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 Moves’

Different Ways To Instruct

Posted by terrepruitt on November 17, 2015

Every type of group exercise in a class format has its own way of doing things.  Some formats might be the type in which the instructor is actually shouting and yelling at the participants.  Some might just have instructions posted around the area and people are to move along and follow the instructions.  A Zumba class is a lead follow type of format where – at least when I earned my certification – the instructions are supposed to be more hand motions than verbal.  The instructor is not supposed to talk as much as just point and gesture.  Nia is also a lead follow format, but with verbal guiding/instructing.  We have specific points in our music when we are supposed to guide the class into the next moves.  We, also are to use what we call “pearls” to help people move their bodies.  From what I understand and the training I received we are not supposed to talk the entire time.  Nia is body centered, so the instructors are supposed to be silent at times to let the students dance in their own way to the moves and the music.  I personally feel that I can use work on both my use of pearls AND of being silent.  One thing about Nia, though, is it is about play, exploration, experimentation, and doing new things in order to stimulate the BMES (the body, mind, emotions, and spirit).  One thing that I have always heard about is the silent class.

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 TechniqueSo, the silent class does not mean no music, it means no cueing.  Or at least that is what I thought it meant . . . turns out – just like many things – there are many ways to do it.  One of my students recently took the brown belt intensive and there she experienced a class with no cues.  She requested we try it.  Well, it so happened that I started on the path while she was gone so I asked a fellow Nia Teacher and Black Belt what she did in HER silent classes.  I was wondering if there was no cueing and NO SOUNDING.  I figured it would be a huge challenge for me not to cue, but I really was doubtful I could make it through a class without making a sound.  Her response surprised me in that she said she claps to indicate a move change.  Well, that just threw another wrench in the mix.  So . . . that meant that there was SOME type of cueing.  I mean cueing is alerting to a change.  LOTS of cueing is telling people what the change is and when and . . . etc.  But a clap is a cue.  So . . . to me that would mean it is a class with no VERBAL cueing.  She also mentioned that sounding would work depending upon the mood being sought for the class.  With her class — I think she does a specific routine — she does not sound.

So there are different ways to have a silent class.  There could be NO cueing at all.  There could be a clap to indicate the next move is a different one.  There could be pointing and indicating in some fashion something – either direction or side of body or body part or that something new is coming.  I really think that any of those ways is good.  Because all of them offer something different for the student.  And all of them allow the participant to focus on different things.

So for the past four weeks we have been dancing a routine with the intent of doing it without cueing.  I was going to dance it for three weeks, but I thought my student who requested this would be back for the fourth week (the planned silent class), but she wasn’t so I did it one more week so she could join the silent class.

We danced it without verbal cues today and it was very interesting . . . . .

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Fifty-Two Movements – It’s A Class

Posted by terrepruitt on April 6, 2013

You might have read my post about a couple of Nia Celebrities coming to the San Francisco Bay Area (for that post, click here) and around this month (April 2013).  Well, they arrived this week and have been doing classes since Thursday.  Today was the class in Palo Alto at the Equinox (Gym).  The classes are scheduled around the North Bay, East Bay, and Peninsula.  The class was great.  The 52 in the title refers to what the classes was about.  All of the classes in this series are based on the 52 moves of Nia.  I have posted about the Nia Moves before.  They are not uniquely Nia moves, but Nia has compiled them and bases our routines on them.  Nia has also set guidelines as to how they are to be done.  As I have also mentioned in my posts about the 52 Nia Moves, when they are included in a dance sometimes they are not done exactly to specifications.  Anyway . . . this class was definitely interesting.  I love the gathering of Nia people.  And when a celeb is in town the energy is astronomical.  There are – as of today, April 06, 2013, a few chances left to take a class with Debbie Rosas (one of Nia’s founders) and Nia Trainer Kevin VerEecke.  If you can make it I recommend it.

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, ZumbaAs I just mentioned it is always fun to gather and dance with Nia people.  This time was really great for me because several of my students were in attendance.  I love that they were able to take a class with Debbie.  She is like many successful company leaders . . . dynamic and a force of her own.  I think that when you can be in the presence of the person who started something (whether it be a fitness craze, a company, a restaurant, whatever) you get a different understanding of the workout (company, restaurant, etc.).  Even if you are just in the same space as the person and you observe them without even talking to them . . . you get a better sense of things.  Being able to be in a Nia class led by the founder of Nia is really an education.

This type of class is a different direction for Nia.  It is not a dance exercise class it is an exercise class where we do a move from the 52 moves for a minute.  The moves and the timing is not based on the music they use a timer.  Most moves were done slow, then fast, and then as fast as you can.  They are calling it Interval Training, but it seems to copy the “Intermittent Training” formula that Zumba uses.  So it reminds me of a Zumba class without the dancing.  It is truly an exercise class with loud music and a lot of sweat!

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, ZumbaIt is easy to do all 52 Nia Moves in an hour especially if you are doing one a minute.  With nineteen of the 52 Nia Moves being movements done with the arms, hands, and/or fingers they are easily combined with foot and body movements.  So we were even able to do a few of the moves for more than one one minute cycle.  But not all Nia routines have all 52 moves so this is another way to get a great workout in!

I am usually torn at a Nia event because I want to dance . . . . I don’t want to miss a moment, but I also want to take pictures to document the event.  This exercise class was a little easier to break away from because they were either doing the move slow or fast, so I could jump right back in and be right on the mark.

Here are a few shots that I took.  As you can see everyone is happy, sweaty, and having a fabulous time!

Have you ever met the creator of something you love?  Did you find it exciting?  Are you going to make it to one of these Nia 52 Moves classes?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Another Zumba and Nia Comparison

Posted by terrepruitt on June 30, 2012

I teach Nia.  I have been teaching Nia for three and a half years.  Not as many people who I talk to have heard of Nia as have heard of Zumba so I am constantly being asked the difference between Nia and Zumba. Since I am often asked I am often thinking about them and comparing them. First, they are actually the same in that music is played and participants dance to it.  Second, in both the instructor leads the participants through the various dance moves.  Third, participants of both claim they are both fun. One difference is Nia is an experience in five sensations, Zumba seems to concentrate on one.

The experience is such a big part of Nia we actually call them the five sensations of Nia.  I have posted about them before (FAMSS).  They are the sensation of flexibility, of agility, of mobility, of strength, and of stability.  In a Nia class your body will move in a way that allows you to sense the energy moving out and away.  You will bend and stretch to play with flexibility, either retaining what you have or improving upon it.  There are moves in the routines that require the start and the stop.  The movement that is agility could be done with our feet, our arms, our hands, our bodies, our heads or a combination of body parts but we sense the start and the stop.  With every routine there is a lot of mobility, some routines have more than others, but all of them that I have experienced have a lot.  With mobility it is just the same as agility in that it could be a body part that is moving or our whole body.  Whatever the case there is a lot of movement from each joint that helps create a healthy joint by allowing the fluid to move to it and within it.  Then we also play with strength.  We might squeeze our muscles sensing the energy moving in as if the bones are being hugged by the muscles.  We might do squats or sit-ups, punches and/or kicks, but there is time where we play with strength.  I say Nia is very big on balance because we do many moves that requires us to be stable.  Many of our moves are balancing on one leg, could be a kick, could be a stance, but it requires stability.  Moving from one move to the next often requires us to call upon our stability.  In a Nia routine we experience all of these sensations.  I’ve reached the conclusion that Zumba is primarily agility.

In Zumba the moves are always fast.  So it is a constant state of start and stop.  The only sensation I sense while doing Zumba is agility.  Fast start, fast stop . . . .  even when there is a stretch where your muscles are yearning for a second to move to their fullest length, it is a fast stretch that does not allow for the muscle to be fully stretched.  Doing a full hour of agility is not a bad thing at all.  It can be fun and it can produce a lot of sweat.  And many of us are programmed to think that sweat equals a good workout.  I think that if you are adding Zumba to a stretching program that has some balance practice in it that is great.

I am also a believer that there are a lot of things that compliment Nia too.  I actually think that if you like Nia and Zumba and you are able to do both that is a nice combination.  You get two different types of cardio.  One that is a workout in the sensation of agility and one that can move you through more use of the entire body to get that heart pumping.

I really believe that whatever gets you moving is GREAT.  I think that you have to like what you do in order to make it a constant in your life.  So Zumba, Nia, Jazzercise, U-Jam, yoga, kickboxing, bootcamp, weight training, whatever works for you is great.  Do what you will do!  That is the key!

It is that I am always asked about the difference between Zumba and Nia that I am always thinking about it and this was my latest thought after I did a Zumba class.  I think I posted before about how I am left wanting to extend and finish my moves in Zumba and it dawned on me that it is the sensation of agility that is predominant in Zumba.  Some Zumba classes I have attended do take a song to stretch at the end, but not all of them.  So I guess it depends on the instructor.  Nia instructors are encouraged to infuse their classes and the routines with their personalities, so I am sure that every Nia class has a few differences too.

Both Nia and Zumba are great cardio workouts.  It just depends on what you want to do during your workout and what you want to get out of it.  Do what you will do!

So, what is it that you do? 

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

If It Looks and Quacks Like a Duck It Could Be Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on June 7, 2012

Dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, NiaAre there any dance exercise classes that you know of where you are encouraged to quack like a duck?  Well in all Nia classes we like to have fun, plus Nia understands the benefits of sounding, so there is a move where we quack while we are doing it.  Of course, quacking is not limited to being done only when we do this move, but this move is actually called Duck Walk.  It is very fitting to quack while doing this move.  I know to many quacking seems silly.  Sitting and reading about it has to make it sound really silly, but in class with your feet gently slapping the floor, it seems perfectly natural.  Making noise is natural and it tends to make working out much more fun.  It is also very amazing when moves have their own sound.  The Duck Walk, of the Nia 52 Moves is one that has its own sound, “Quack!  Quack!  Quack!”

All of the 52 Moves are listed with pictures in The Nia Technique Book.  I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this book is.  If you are interested in movement in the slightest or if you are interested in the body mind connection you would enjoy this book. The Duck Walk is described on page 114 as:

“Standing with your feet slightly apart and no wider than hip width, alternately lift and then lower the toes and balls of each foot, as if you are slapping the ground to splash water in a puddle.”

So your feet can be slightly apart or as far as hip width.  Remember “hip width” means hip JOINT width.  Thigh bones straight down from your hip joints.  Then the toes and ball of foot lift.  Then you splash.  Splish splash in puddles.  As with the Squish Walk I have a different way to do this with different imagery.  When I am doing it as stated in the book, I DO think of my toes splashing in the puddles.  But when I think of a duck and its walk, I tend to put my toes out.  I think of toes out as duck walk.  That’s when the move lends to quacking for me.

Just as the same as with the Squish Walk The Nia Technique Book does not give instructions to walk while “duck walking”, but we do it all the time in my Nia classes.  This duck walk move really allows for ankle movement and helps condition the muscles on the front of the lower legs so I like to use it.  High heeled shoes — especially the ones now-a-days — have feet stuck in the opposite direction with hardly any ankle flexion so the Duck Walk is great to get those muscles moving and stretched.

While progressing forward with the duck walk it is not the same as heel lead walk even though you lead with the heel.  With the duck walk we don’t roll through the entire foot, we gently splat the foot down. It is a heel lead then splat with the rest of the foot.  That is why the imagery of splashing your toes in the puddle works so well, I bet as a child most of us have done that.

Between the quacking and the splashing it is no wonder Nia is so fun.  Adults as play!  Splish splash quack!

Did you get up out of your chair to try it?  C’mon, try it!

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Closed Stance in Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on May 3, 2012

Nia has a different closed stance than some other dances and exercises I know. In Pilates the stance is heels touching and toes apart. I’ve heard it called a Pilates V. The Pilates V is done in more positions than standing. Sometimes there are exercises done while on the reformer where we will place our feet in Pilates V. It is nice to have positions that are specific. It helps a lot. I as a teacher can just say, “Closed stance.” and the Nia students will know what that means. Instead of forming a V as in the Pilates stance we form more of a rectangle. A basic closed stance is simple. It is stable. Nia’s closed stance is the side of the big toes touching and heels apart. It is as if all four corners of a rectangle are in contact with the edge of the foot. This allows for a very stable base. In the basic closed stance the arms hang. The back is straight, we are standing tall, lengthening the spine. Knees are relaxed as well was the feet. Weight is balanced evenly on both feet. Simple closed stance.

Dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, NiaClosed stance is one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves. There is Closed Stance, Open Stance, A Stance, Sumo (or Riding) Stance, Bow Stance, and Cat Stance. I believe that in its basic form closed stance is the easiest. But when other elements are added that might not hold true.

We can practice our agility by walking quickly then stopping in closed stance. We might choose to be in closed stance while we allow just our arms to be agile . . . moving around in a starting and stopping fashion. We could just let our closed stance be stable as our arms are mobile. We could do an entire body dance . . . close stance dance. For some this is a challenge, even though our feet are formed into a rectangle and the idea is of a stable base it is still a practice in balance to have your feet secured to the earth while the rest of your body moves around.  As I said, what we do with a close stance might not be so simple.

Practicing walking and stopping in closed stance is a good check to make certain you are not landing in “toes in“. The heels shouldn’t be that far apart as if you are doing toes in. Yet the toes should be touching. Coming from other stances to closed is good for conditioning the legs. Moving from Sumo to closed, or from at to closed is something to practice. Again we don’t want our heels to land too far apart making us pigeon toed.

I know of several routines that have us going through the stances. We start out in closed, then go to open stance, then go to A stance, then go to sumo. In some routines we work back through the stances, but in some we do move right into closed from sumo.  I can’t think of one where we go from closed to sumo, but I bet there is one and I just can’t put my finger on it.  Nia loves to mix up the moves to get the most out of the workout.

Can you sense the stability in the Nia Closed Stance?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Chakra Vowel Sounds — AH!

Posted by terrepruitt on April 28, 2012

When I first discovered Nia I bought The Nia Technique Book to see if I would be able to do it.  I don’t mean do it as in do the moves and participate in a class, I mean do it as in “get into it”, as in understand it.  It sounded a bit “woo-woo” to me.  Listening to your body, voices of the body, energy this, moving energy that.  I wasn’t sure I could sync it up with my beliefs.  But as I studied it more I realized that it is based on science.  It involves human kinetics.  Most of the moves, although called the 52 Nia moves are quite common and are seen in many other types of exercises and workouts.  The ones that I consider unique are probably part of some other dance I am not familiar with.  And the “woo-woo” part, well, I realized that it is woo-woo – at least that is how many people think of certain things like energy, chakras, mind-body, and body-mind practices.  I mean look at yoga, when I was young that was one of the “woo-wooest” things around and now people have embraced it.  There are so many types of yoga it is difficult to keep track.  For some they just ignore the woo-woo while others embrace it because they realize it makes sense.  I mean cultures have been using “woo-woo” stuff for centuries.  There is meditation, herbs, chanting, drumming — all types of other things that some people think of woo-woo.  The woo-woo must not be too far off base though because it seems to work.  Recently my posts have been about healing sounds and making sounds, this post is about the vowel sounds related to the chakras and I am sure to some people it sounds a little, or maybe even a lot, “woo-woo”.  But I like to imagine that if you are reading this you are somewhat open to new things — even woo-woo things.  So you might be willing to try the healing sounds or even the vowel sounds of the chakras.

The vowel sounds related to the chakras are as follows:

CROWN CHAKRA:  EEE as in “me”

BROW/THIRD EYE CHAKRA:  AAA* as in “say”

THROAT CHAKRA:  EYE as in “my”

HEART CHAKRA:  AH as in “ma”

SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA:  OH as in “go”

PELVIC CHAKRA:  OOO as in “you”

ROOT CHAKRA:  UH as in “cup”

The idea is to say these sounds in a specific note.  If you have a keyboard or a phone with an app that has a keyboard or an app that can give you examples of the notes it might help you.  Or you might be musical and know what the notes sound like.

EEE is to be made in the B note
AAA is to be made in the A note
EYE is to be made in the G note
AH is to be made in the F note
OH is to be made in the E note
OOO is to be made in the D note
And UH is to be made in the C note

These sounds are to help open and heal the chakras.  Or to keep them balanced, all depends on your needs and your practice.

As with everything there is a wealth of information out there on how to “do” the vowels.  The commonalities I am seeing is to sit comfortable with a lengthened spine.  Be relaxed.  Use a normal breath.  Repeat each sound seven times.

I have used these sounds in my Nia classes when we are using a chakra as a focus.  I am going to take this list and use the vowels sounds just as I did the healing sounds.  The focus can be the chakra vowel sounds and we can create an intent from there.  Yay!  I love thinking of things to use as focuses in my classes.  I also think that sitting down to make these sounds as a specific exercise is a good idea. What do you think about chakra vowels?  Might you try the exercise?

*Many places note this as “AYE” but to me that is AYE, as in what a pirate says.  So I noted it as AAA, like Fonzie would say.  🙂

Posted in Chakras, Nia, Sounding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Muscles Used In Nia During Yoga-like Sequence

Posted by terrepruitt on March 15, 2012

While Nia is not yoga nor is it a yoga class we do borrow from Yoga.  We borrow some of the ideas and sometimes some of the poses. In one of the Nia routines we do the Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II).  We do it both static where we just rest into it and we move in it, we bend our bent leg more and sink into it and come up.  Then we do the Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), then a version of the lunge, which depending upon your body could be a variation of the Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or the High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or the Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) – all without the backbend.  Then we straighten our leg into the Pyramid Pose/Intense Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana).  With these poses we are using a lot of muscles.  The muscles can be challenged in strength, stability, and/or flexibility.  It all depends are your body at that moment.

When we do the Warrior II pose in this Nia routine the arms are extended out to the sides, opposite from each other, the hips, torso, chest, and shoulders are facing the mirror/front, while one of the legs is bent at a 90 degree angle and the foot is in line with the arm.  The other leg is straight and the foot is slightly turned with the toes pointed toward the body and the heel pointed away.  Of course participants have the option of having the foot at a right angle, but for this dance it is led with a slight angle.  Even with that slight variation it is working the glutes (all of them), the thigh muscles:  inner, outer, hamstrings, and the quadriceps, and your calf muscles.  And for some, like me, who have a habit of scrunching the shoulders, it works the rhomboids while holding up the arms and keeping the shoulder blades down and pulled back.  This is true for many yoga poses, that is why it is so great for encouraging straight posture.

Then for our Extended Side Angle Pose the arm, on the same side as the bent leg, is lowered, forearm to the thigh, the opposite arm is raised towards the sky and extended to a position that puts the arm next to the ear.  There are options to stay in this modified Extended Side Angle or to move to another modification by removing the forearm from the thigh and placing that hand on the earth next to the inside arch of the foot.  With this pose the primary work is in the bent leg.  It is another pose that works the hamstrings and thigh muscles.  Through the back of the straight leg and all along that side of the body there is a wonderful stretch, which is greater and more wonderful the better the body is as keeping the shoulder blades down and the back straight (not leaning forward).

We then move into a lunge with many options.  As with all movements in Nia the responsibility falls on the participant to decide what it is their body is able to do and needs to do at that moment.  We start off by placing the hands on the ground and straightening the foot on the leg that was straight in the Extended Side Angle Pose to be parallel with the foot on the bent leg.  Then gently bring the back leg down resting the knee on the ground.  As I said, many options so many places to go from here.  One can stay here in Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), or do a moving lunge by moving up and down, or go to High Lunge (Utthita Ashva Sanchalanasana), or come into an extended Warrior Pose I (Virabhadrasana I) with the arms up but with a parallel back foot and a straight back.  Here the body receives the benefit of a lunge no matter which one the body does.  If doing the extended Warrior Pose I like pose, the glutes and thigh of the bent leg are getting a great deal of work, while the straight leg’s foot parallel to the other foot results in a slight change in the muscles being worked and stretched than with the angled foot position of a traditional Warrior I.  The inner thigh gets less work while the work and stretch shifts almost entirely to the back of the leg, the hamstrings and calf.  The arms extended up in the extended Warrior Pose I allows for work in the spinal extensors, deltoids, lats, and traps . . . . basically a lot of muscles in the back, including the ones that keep your shoulders down.  With the crown of the head reaching towards the sky abs get a stretch too.

Moving from whichever lunge was done to the pyramid where the bent leg is straightened and the crown of the head is reaching over the leg while back is straight and chest is on or close to the straight leg.  Of course, variations are offered and participants do what is right for their body to remain in the sensation of Joy.   With this pose the sensation experienced is a great stretch.  The leg to which the head/chest is close to get the largest stretch in the back.  If the body is active with the leg and working to keep the knee cap up then the quadriceps will be engaged.  The spine gets a nice stretch because the crown of the head is being reach over and down.  The back leg might also feel a stretch in the hamstrings if the body is like many people’s and has tight hamstrings.

This is a small yoga-like sequence that we do as part of the cool down cycle of one of the Nia routines.  Again, since Nia is not a Yoga class there are many options and variations that are offered that might not be part of a yoga class teaching strictly yoga.  With all classes whether it be Nia, Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise, whatever, the goal should be to give your body what it needs at that time.  Bodies are constantly changing so the needs do too.  The idea is not to force the body into a pose, but to allow the muscles and bones to sink into the pose, finding strength and flexibility along with openness in the joints and that constant sensation of Joy.  This is a little review of movements that are Yoga or are very similar to Yoga, to explain some of the muscles we use in Nia.

Can you see how Nia can improve strength, stability, and flexibility?

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

Frogs Not Just Slimy Amphibians

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2011

Wet, slimy, noisy, some say even tasty.  No, I am not talking about frogs the amphibians. There is an exercise I learned in Pilates I know as Frogs.  I can’t think of a move we do in Nia that is comparable.  You lie on your back with your legs in the air.  Your heels touch, toes out, feet flexed like in first position, your thighs are squeezing.  Then you bend your knees, then straighten them as if you are jumping like a frog. This can be a somewhat big bend or a little pulse-type movement.  Concentrate on keeping the heels together, your feet flexed, and your thigh muscles tight.   Make sure you squeeze really tight when your legs are straight.  This is one of those exercises where bigger is not necessarily better.  The little pulses really compel you to squeeze your legs.

You can add another element to the exercise if you would like, by lowering your legs to any degree.  Another way to adjust this exercise besides lowering your legs is by making it more challenging by adding resistance tubing or a resistance band.  You would hold the resistance band in both hands and secure the band around your heels/feet then do the same frog leg jumping motion.

This exercise is a great workout for the legs.  With your feet flexed and heels touching you might sense your gastrocnemius and soleus, the muscles of the calves.  You will probably sense the stretch.  The lower leg muscles that are on the front of your legs are the ones you will probably sense most.  These are the ones really working to keep your foot flexed.  The  anterior tibial is the main muscle used in dorsiflexion, which is flexing your foot towards your shin.  Another muscles used in dorsiflexion is the extensor hallucis longus.  So these muscles will get a great workout.

Really pushing through your heels and straightening your legs stretches the calves as well as the hamstrings.  People with tight hamstrings might have to practice a bit in order to get their legs straight.  Even though it is not the hamstrings that straighten the leg, when they are tight, the legs cannot always straighten.  The hamstrings are the muscles that will work to bend the knee.

Now the main muscles that you will sense in this exercise are the quadriceps.  These large muscles in your upper leg will be the ones that are helping you to keep your legs together.  While you are doing this exercise you really want to concentrate on keeping your thighs together.  squeeze them together.  This squeezing is ONE of the ways this exercise works the thighs.  It also works the thighs when you straighten the legs.  The quadriceps are the ones that will also straighten the leg.

Since you are going to be flexing the knees and hips and rotating the thigh outward you are going to be working the sartorius.  This muscle starts at the outside of the hip and crosses over the thigh bone and inserts in at the inner part of the tibia, the bone below the knee.  This muscles crosses over two joints.

If you are really squeezing your legs this will also work your glutes.  This exercise can even allow the abs to get in on the fun.

This is a great lower body exercise.  It allows for so many muscles to be worked.  As with many exercises it can be done a variety of ways to increase the challenge.  So did you get down on the floor and try it in the middle of reading this?  I am sure that your co-workers would understand.  🙂

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Ready to Receive – Natural Time

Posted by terrepruitt on October 22, 2011

Nia class, Nia Teacher, Nia San Jose, San Jose Nia, cardio workout, cardio dance class, fun exerciseI have learned a lot in my 43 years.  I know there is a lot more I could learn, but one thing I have learned AND that I find fascinating is that I need to be ready to receive.  Have you ever shared something with someone and they “pishawed” you?  You had tried to tell them something you found fascinating/interesting/money-saving/yummy/good to do and they had acted as if you didn’t know what you were talking about.  Then two weeks later they come to you to tell you the very thing you tried to share with them?  I used to get offended, even upset, but I am starting to see it differently.  I am starting to see that when I tell people things and I feel as if I have been “pishawed” it is not as I once perceived it . . . it is not their mind is snapping closed . . . but, maybe, just maybe it is the mind just saying, “What? I have never heard of that . . . let me deal with that later . . .” And then when it is heard again the mind has a space for it because they had heard it before, so their mind is more open to accepting and listening.

It is somewhat like Natural Time in a Nia workout.  In Nia, in our workouts, we have natural time allowing individuals to move their bodies in their own time.  Could be they are not ready to do the move the first time they see it, but after a few repetitions they are ready to receive.  Their bodies are ready.  — Funny.  I didn’t start this post off as relating to Nia, but as I was sitting here typing it dawned on me that being ready to receive is Natural Time.  And as you know, all of the Nia White Belt Principles can be applied to everyday life.  Just as many principles from any practice; Yoga, Jujitsu, aikido, Ballet, etc. can be applied to life.

Sometimes we have so much on our minds that adding something new just isn’t gonna work.  So maybe when we first hear something we just say, “NO!”  Then our brains move on.  But maybe the new “thing” left a spot, like rust . . . . but good, where it just stays and either it actually starts seeping into our brain or it just sits there until we hear it again.  Then we are able to open to the idea.  It is like the old idea of a seed.  Sometimes it is not ready to be planted, but it is there in its own little space.

I can actually remember specific times when this has happened, especially with my hubby, but I am posting about it because I recognized awhile ago that I do this.  Because I have heard something and pishawed it then later examined it.  It fascinates me.  It makes me wonder why I didn’t recognize good advice/information when I first heard it.  I wonder why I am not smart enough to recognize beneficial information when I see it.  So that is why I think that we have to be ready to receive.  It really doesn’t have to do with being intelligent.  Sometimes being ready is something of natural time.  We have to be ready in our own time.  In our own time is the best time in which to learn.  Amazes me.

Have you ever learned or heard something and when you really thought about it realized that you had heard the same thing before but it didn’t sink in?  Have you ever experienced the second time around as being the time you benefited from something?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Open Stance In Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on September 15, 2011

Nia is a cardio dance workout (it is really much more, but on the surface, that is what I call it).  As with many cardio workouts done to music there are a lot of moves.  Since Nia is basically a dance workout there are a lot of common dance steps and movements that many of us were taught in different forms of dance.  Some are even from different forms of martial arts or other exercise classes and modalities.  Nia has a base of 52 moves.  We call them the 52 Nia Moves.  What Nia has done is put them into categories to allow you to see what areas of the body are most associated with the move.  One of the most common moves we use in Nia classes is the Open Stance.  I have been familiar with the open stance for as long as I can remember.  I took ballet and tap when I was young.  I have done Jazzercise and other types of dance exercise classes.  Many of these types of things have an open stance.  From the first time I can remember being taught the open stance it was taught as “feet hip width apart”.  Some of you might be familiar with that.  Well, I don’t know if other modalities meant it actually that way or if I had been misled, but in Nia the open stance is actually hip JOINT width apart.

dance exercise, Nia teacher, Nia class, Nia San Jose, Nia Los Gatos, Nia cardio dance workout, So you might be saying, “What?”  Well, go ahead, if you can . . . . stand up and into open stance.  I’m going to guess most of you don’t have a mirror in front of you . . . so look at your feet.  What do you see?  A somewhat wide stance?  Are your feet hip WIDTH apart?  Probably, because I believe that is the common instruction for “open stance”.  Stay there.  Touch your hips and thighs.  Sense how that stance feels.  Make note of the sensation of your leg muscles.  Picture your leg bones.  Are they at a slight angle?

dance exercise, Nia, Nia practice, Nia 52 moves, Terre Pruitt Nia teacherNow bring your feet closer together.  Picture your stance being hip JOINT width apart.  Most of us have hips that are larger than where our legs meet our hip socket.  Try this:  Imagine someone gently lifting you off of your feet by you head, imagine your legs are just hanging down from your hip JOINTS.  Then the huge hand that lifted you sets you gently down.  Your legs exactly in the same position as when you were hanging.  Your leg bones come straight out from your hip joints.  That is what Nia open stance is.

For me, it is much more narrow than I was taught open stance was.

My pictures are showing the difference between what I thought was open (the first one) and what I now think of as open (the second one).  I stood on the rug so the pattern would help show the difference.  Please keep in mind that everyone, everyBODY is different so the width of your feet will differ from mine, but if you keep in mind that open is not really hip WIDTH apart, but hip JOINT width apart then you too, might have an adjustment in your “open stance”.

Well, did you?  Were you taught open is hip width apart?  If you stand hip width apart is there a noticeable difference when you stand hip JOINT width apart?

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