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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Posts Tagged ‘Nia White Belt Manual’

Crossover Ideas

Posted by terrepruitt on February 12, 2013

If you’ve read a post or two of mine you know there are many things I love about Nia.  I think that Nia is a great workout, but I also think that a lot of the ideas, principles, values, and “things” can be used in everyday life.  That is one reason why I share so many things about Nia here.  I am working to get Nia out there so people know what it is, but I understand not everyone likes to do dance exercise as their type of workout, but there is a lot of Nia that can be applied to every day.  Nia has a lot of ideas that can be applied to more than just the original place you hear it.  For instance in the Nia White Belt, the manual states:

“New Ways – It Can Be a Stretch!

Some of this information may shake up your reality.  Nia may disrupt your normal methods of doing, being and communicating.  We do not intend to create disharmony or fear.  We have no desire to aggressively challenge who you are, what you believe in, or what you stand for.  The information we share with you is intended to assist you, inspire you, and to celebrate human potential.”

The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual March 2001, V3, page 1-5

I love that.  I love that when taking a Nia intensive it is explained that you might come across new things.  You might be shown a different way or something new, but they are not out to change you into what they believe, but to allow you to see something in a new way.  All that is really asked of you is to have an open mind, heart, and body.  It is even suggested not to examine or think about stuff too much.  The belief is that you will get what you need when you need it.  That is a great relief too because there is so much information it really takes the pressure off when it is understood that you will not get it all or remember it all upon first being exposed.

What is so tremendous is that this same information, this same philosophy can be brought into a Nia class.  If you have never done Nia before the first time can be a surprise.  It can surprise your senses, your body, your mind, your spirit.  It can leave some people feeling a little unsure.  I mean not every exercise class has you parting clouds, swimming in water, stepping in goo, and prancing like a pony.  Some of this type of stuff can shake up someone’s reality.  This type of movement might completely disrupt what they think of as normal methods of exercise.  They might not be able to “get into” prancing like a pony.  Prancing might not fit into their idea of exercise.  But I know that if they have an openness of mind they will wake up the next day and realize that ponies get in a good work out.  The “normal” methods of being might not have them pulsing their pelvis, shimmying their shoulders, or doing a sexy hip bump.  Nia doesn’t want to make people uncomfortable with these things, but this type of movement is “normal” for the body by design.  These moves aren’t meant to challenge you or what you believe in, they are meant to allow you to move your body as it was designed to move.

With the fun movements and ideas included in a Nia class it can easily inspire your and allow you to celebrate the human potential—to celebrate your body’s potential.  This can kind of go along with my last post about spirit.  It could be your spirit that lets you just let loose and gyrate those hips without fear.  The idea here is to come to a Nia class with an open mind.  Don’t let they way you’ve been taught exercise should be to keep you from experiencing something new.  Don’t let fear of something unknown and/or different scare you off.  Don’t think that just because it is unknown to you or different that the goal is to change you into something you are not.  Just come and let your body move and let IT tell you what it thinks of Nia.

This week (February 10 through February 16, 2013) I am teaching EIGHT Nia classes.  If you are local it would be GREAT to see you in at least one.  They are at all different times on different days in many different places (most in San Jose, one in Santa Cruz).  I bet there is one that would work for you: http://www.helpyouwell.com  Also, in case you are not local or one of the eight doesn’t work for you check out Nianow.com.  There are classes all over the world!  Dare to dance?

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Act As If – Pretend – Fake It; Stage 3 of Nia White Belt Principle #4

Posted by terrepruitt on March 10, 2012

I have posted about Nia FreeDance before.  Nia FreeDance is meant to encourage creativity.  In Nia routines sometimes we have entire songs that are FreeDance.  Not all routines have an entire FreeDance song, but all routines have at least one part as FreeDance.  The one part could be that our feet have choreography and our arms and hands are free to move.  The creativity is released.  As the 4th Principle of the Nia White Belt it can also be used as a tool to help a Nia teacher learn a routine and/or explore his or her practice.  The principle has 8 stages.  The third stage of FreeDance is Feelings and Emotions with a catch phrase of: Pretend, Fake It, Act As If.  This is the stage where you pick an emotion and you act it out.  This is not the same as stage 4 where you draw on the real you and you act out a story you have experienced, this stage is pretend.

The idea of stage 3 of Nia FreeDance is to pick an emotion, a feeling and then act it out.  Pretend you are feeling that emotion at that moment.  This would be practice or play outside of a class setting where you are doing a routine.  So when using this tool as a way to grow and create you aren’t even expected to dance.  The exercise is to pick an emotion act it out for a bit, then pick another emotion.  Acting and explaining the feeling with your body in an exaggerated way.  If it helps create a story in order to fake that emotion.  It can be somewhat fun because normally when you are angry you probably would not throw yourself down on the floor and kick and scream, but when we are pretending to be angry and acting “as if” you can.  You can throw an angry punch.  You can run and jump for joy.  You can do anything you would like and since it probably wouldn’t be something you would be “allowed” to do in society it tends to spur creativity.  And this creativity gets your body moving in news ways.  It gets your heart pumping.  It gets your blood moving.  It gets your joints juicy.

I used this stage not too long ago as the focus of a few of my Nia Classes and it turned out to be very interesting.  So within the class setting we actually danced our pretend feelings and emotions.  We continued on with the routine we were doing at the time, but we added our “act as if”.  So it altered our movements a bit.  We allowed ourselves to follow the emotion so as we were dancing steps and hand movements might have been changed, but we still danced.  As I said it was interesting because my class did not want to act the “negative emotions”.  Some had a difficult time with some of the ones we deem as “negative” or ones that go against one’s normal self.  We danced:  keeping a secret, letting a secret go, happy, loopy, light, jealous, worry, love, angry, masculine, annoyed, bashful, brave, calm, childlike, guilty, fearless, and more.   We tend to assign negative and positive, but they just are . . .I think that we can look at an emotion and or a feeling and it can be neither, but as we live with it it could become one or the other.  If we let it affect us in a negative way, then maybe it can be perceived as a negative emotion?

The Embody and Share portion of the Nia White Belt Manual states: “Emotions are energetic responses to our experiences. We must learn to deal with our emotions to keep ourselves free and unblocked.”  So my thought process is, that if an emotion “blocks” us or causes us stress then we consider it negative.

People didn’t like the emotions they felt were negative. There was a tendency to not pick them from the list I had displayed.  But I think they are good for exploring movement.  So it’s fun to play with them all.  Remembering it is pretend, we are faking being (whatever the emotion is that we chose), we are pretending.

Well, what do you think?  I invite you to make a list of emotions and feelings, then put on some music.  Pick an emotion/feeling from your list and move to it.  Stay with it until you are ready to move on and then pick another one from your list.  Do this for a few songs.  You might be surprised at your movements.  You will probably be able to create ways to move that you didn’t realize.  When you are not thinking of your movements it allows your body to release and —- ahhhh! —- movement creativity.  Go ahead, you can do it.  Let us know how it goes!

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Three of Nia’s Nine Movement Forms

Posted by terrepruitt on March 12, 2011

I believe that I have mentioned before Nia allows us—even encourages us—to do routines with different focuses. I know I have posted about focuses before. This past week I led my classes in the Nia routine called Sanjana. I believe this is a routine created by Debbie Rosas NKA Debbie Rosas-Stewart. It is an awesome routine (well, yeah . . . its Nia). I decided that I would do one of the nine movement forms per class. I know I have posted about Nia’s Nine Movement Forms before, too.  I had used some of the movement forms previously with this routine, so I decided the ones we did this week would be ones I had not paired up with Sanjana. Monday in my San Jose Nia class we did the ideas of Moshe Feldenkrais. For Wednesdays Nia class in San Jose we utilized the energy of Tae Kwon Do. My Los Gatos class on Friday experienced Sanjana with the Modern Dance flair.

I love this about Nia. I love that doing the same routine, but doing it with different energies allows for different movement, different sensations. Each movement form has its own energy, that is how we apply them to a routine and come up with something unique. I chose Feldenkrais for Monday because often times participants are a bit sleepy on Monday mornings.  Sometimes we prefer something that moves us but something more along the lines of a stretch or a healing art.  It could be that too much was done over the weekend or not enough, so Mondays are a little different.  With this conscious movement as our guide we were able to focus on the sensation of the body as we moved. The dance was conscious.  We could concentrate on areas that needed attention, either from the over-use during the weekend or lack of use.  Whatever the case, the idea is ease.  Move with ease into one’s own power and strength.  This is a gentle movement form but that does not mean it is not intense.  We can still move our bodies to get a great strength and/or cardio workout when playing with the healing arts, but it is with greater awareness.

By the middle of the week, Wednesday’s class was perfect for Martial Arts.  Nia students have “recovered” from the weekend so the whole body can be used.  We have the strength to utilize the power of the Tae Kwon Do energy.  The dance can be precise, by this time of the week.  Two days are behind, only three are left (class is in the morning), the desire and focus needed to push on is there.  Sanjana has great opportunity for dynamic ease to be exercised.  There are katas that allow for the fluid moves of martial arts with dance, kicking, punching, blocking, and striking.  In fact the “Exercises” listed in The Nia Technique White Belt Manual* under the Tae Kwon Do craft seems as if they were written expressly for Sanjana.

Friday, unknown to me at the time I planned my dance week, was a great day to do Modern Dance.  With the tsunami that hit Japan over the night (Thursday night for us, Japan’s Friday) it was a great time for dance. Modern Dance calls you to express yourself.  This movement form is one of imagination.  You can be big and/or small, fast and/or slow, a tree, a rock, sand, water, air, even a feeling.  People can truly dance whatever they want.  So while we are still practicing our stances the feelings put into it are those of the participant.  Movements led by me are executed by whatever sense is being experienced.  Many people had different issues and feelings to work through.  Even if some of those feelings were a celebration with the understanding that life is short and precious so we need to celebrate what we have while we have it.  This form is that of balance–both on and off, flexibility, strength, power, drama, emotions . . . whatever fits.  It was a great way to let our bodies move while our hearts went out to all that were affected.

Nia is awesome like that.  We danced the same routine for all three classes this week.  With each class it was different while we paired up the routine with different movement forms.  While the movement forms were able supply the energy, the “feel”, the sensation that was required for the day.

(Thoughts and prayers go out to ALL that are/were/and will be affected by the earthquake in Japan on March 12, 2011 and the subsequent tsunami.)

*March 2001, V# Page 2-19 thru 2-20

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Nia and the Core

Posted by terrepruitt on February 18, 2010

Nia thinks of the pelvis, chest, and head as the core of the body.  Nia is not defining the core muscles or a core muscle group, Nia just includes these three body weights as the core of the body.

The core is Nia White Belt Principle #8.

Alignment of these three weights affects so many things; energy, bones, muscles, organs.  If the alignment is not as it should be all of these things could be affected.

Movement can help properly align these three weights.  Often times some areas of our bodies are stiff and/or tight and by moving our body as it was designed to be moved the stiffness gets worked out and the tightness goes away.  Sometimes that is what is needed to assist in proper alignment.  Other times it might be strengthening or just moving your body in a way it is not accustomed to move.
 
As an example of how we guide a body to alignment, we utilize the bow stance in Nia routines.  A great exercise while in the bow stance is to move the pelvis in all directions.  Moving the pelvis in all directions while in this stance allows for the body to gain or retain mobility.  Mobility in the hips and the spine.  Movement of the pelvis releases energy and muscle tension.  This type of movement also requires strength in the torso and leads up to the chest and head.  While circling or waving the hips the body falls on and off balance and the chest and head must be used to stay upright.  All of this contributes to stability, flexibility, and strength.

We often dance our chest in Nia.  We move our ribs to open them and keep the muscles in between mobile.  We breath deep.  We makes sounds.  We use our chest to guide us in our workout, giving us a different way to move.  This releases blocked energy.

Nia encourages movement of the head in our routines.  We are often moving our head on its own or to lead us through a move.  We employ our hands and our eyes to help us move our head.  Not all cardio workout classes employ the use of the head and it seems as if a lot of people are just plain ol’ not used to moving their head.  So caution is always recommended.  Since moving the head stimulates two chakras it is sometimes very powerful and some people get dizzy until they are used to it. 

When these three body weights are in alignment sense calm.  When our body is strong yet flexible and capable of mobility it assist us in keep our body weights aligned correctly even when we move we feel confident and have a sense of wellness.
 
The Nia White Belt Manual* has over 15 pages addressing the pelvis, chest, and head.  I think that means that there will be more posts regarding the core and/or its parts, because Nia has a lot of information that I can share about the core.

*The Nia White Belt Manual was created by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas as was Nia (the Nia Technique).  All of this information is based off of information from their trainings and the White Belt Manual and the Nia Technique Book

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The Joy Of Movement

Posted by terrepruitt on December 19, 2009

Nia White Belt Principle #1 is The Joy of Movement.  Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas were in the fitness industry back in the 1980’s when they felt the pull to do something different.  From what I understand they didn’t know exactly what they were going to do.  They just were seeing a lot of injuries in the aerobic industry and decided that working out in a way that injured one’s body was not the right way to be working out.  They decided they wanted to workout in a way that allowed for honoring the body and for appreciating the body.

Debbie and Carlos did not just meet one day and decided to put a bunch of things together and “Voila!  There is Nia!” . . . . it grew out of years of learning.  As you look through information regarding Nia you can see some of the transformations it has gone through.  Nothing big enough to make you think that it is not what it was when it start, but there are some changes.  But one think that they found constant from the beginning was an incredible feeling of Joy.

They recognized that as a special element of Nia.  They also recognized that as more of a sensation than a feeling.  They determined that it was something that the body actually sensed when it was allowed to move as it was designed to do.  Joy could be used as an energy to fuel the workout.  Joy, as a body sensation can be called upon no matter what one is FEELING.

The Nia White Belt Manual explains how Joy is more of an attitude toward the body, and attitude toward life.  When you sense this Universal Joy you work to stay connected to it.

In a workout or a dance you can actually choose to have Joy be your energy.  Then you sense Joy as a sensation.  While you are moving thoughts and feelings might come into your workout / dance, but ideally you are just noticing them but not dwelling on anyone in particular.  And you are retaining the Joy.

You are encouraged to sustain the Joy and the way of moving that allows you to sense Joy.  If you feel Joy slipping or that you are no longer sensing the Joy of Movement you can tweak what you are doing, the way you are doing it, to increase that sense of Joy.

During a Nia workout the teacher guides you through the moves of the routine, but it is up to you—the participant—to move in a way that brings you Joy.

If you remember anything about Nia, remember this:  that the soul of Nia is the Joy of Movement.  It is the physical celebration of the body.**

**Direct quote from The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas  March 2001, V3

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