Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

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    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘Nia’s 52 Moves’

Deep, Not On The Surface

Posted by terrepruitt on March 24, 2015

A lot of movement forms, from different dances to different types of exercise regimes, use chest isolations.  One of Nia’s 52 Moves.  See, as I have said over and over, not unique to Nia, but something that we use in our routines.  Something we can say and people know what the move is.  Even if they can’t do it, they know what it is.  This move moves the chest so – as with a lot of moves that involve the movement of the chest – some people are hesitant to do it.  Some people think of moves that move the chest as moves that moves the breasts and for some people this creates a lot of issues.  As a woman, there are some moves that are just going to move the breasts but that is not the focus.  Often times when I encourage people to focus on what is actually the focus of the movement, they can release any feelings or ideas that might be blocking the movement.  I mentioned this in my post about the Shimmy.  I have seen relief or understanding pass over people’s faces when they take the focus off of what is part of the front of the body/chest and onto the back when it comes to the shimmy.  The same with the chest isolations.  Your chest is moving that means everything connected to it, but the focus is on the muscles and the bones.

The movement of the spine, the ribs, the sternum, and even the collar bones is a chest isolations.  See, even though it might feel like you are move the front (breasts) the focus is on all the other things.  The back muscles help move the spine side to side allowing the ribs to slide from side to side over the hips.  The sternum floats to different places over the hips.  The collar bones stay level.  You can just also press your ribs forward and pull them back.  Your arms are out to the side or you can place your hands on your hips to help ensure there is no movement in the hips.  You can make your ribs move in circles.

With the side to side motion I used to reference a typewriter carriage.  Remember those?  They would slide to one side of the machine and kind of hang over then you would use the return arm to get it to slide back.  That is a GREAT visual and I actually see some people replicate it.  But then I see others in class who don’t even know what a typewriter is.  And if they do it was certainly the electric version that didn’t have a visible moving carriage with a return arm-dohicky.  So we just focus on the slide.

The chest isolations help keep you spine flexible and mobile.  It also helps you use those muscle that are inside, the intrinsic muscles.  The little ones that help with balance.  While you are doing the chest isolation movement you can focus on the and sense them.

Another way to isolate the chest is you can do a more front-back movement. If you are doing the front back portion of the move it is as if you are closing your chest and opening your back.  And then opening your chest and closing your back.  Arms can help. Bring your elbows back and draw them together to help open the chest and close the back.  Then bring them forward to open the back and close the chest.

This is one of those moves you can do anywhere.  You can do it in your car while you are stopped at a traffic light.  Don’t worry, other people don’t look up from their cell phones they will never notice you sliding your ribs around.  Enjoy the relaxed sensation and flexibility.

Are you familiar with chest isolations?  Do you do them in your current dance class?  Do you do them in your exercise program?

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

Ways To Practice Rock Around The Clock

Posted by terrepruitt on January 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head and Eye Movement In Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on July 31, 2014

One of Nia’s 52 Moves is Head and Eye Movement.  Yes, we intentionally and specifically move our head and our eyes in Nia.  A long time ago when I first started teaching I had a student who had come to about three classes and after the third class she said something to affect of since starting Nia she actually moves her head to look around while driving.  So my first thought was, “Yay!  Nia helps make people better drivers.”  If people are not moving their heads and then start doing so after Nia – YAY! – especially while driving.  Nia really is about full body health and movement.  So we don’t do just a cardio workout that works your heart.  We don’t do just a dance exercise that moves your legs.  We don’t do just some choreography that involves our hands.  We involve the whole body.  As you may have surmised from the post on Creepy Crawlers.  It is very important for people to move their heads.

I see a lot of people with very stiff necks who in fact do not move their heads.  There are a lot of reasons.  I know some reasons include stiff muscles.  They can’t move their head without pain because their muscles are not used to moving or are holding too much stress.  I know some people who can’t move their head because it causes them dizziness.  I also know some people who rid themselves of stiff necks and dizziness by moving their head.  Moving one’s head will not solve everyone’s issues of stiff necks or dizziness, but I do know some people who were helped by it.

In Nia we move our head a lot.  We engage our eyes a lot.  But as with all of the 52 Moves of Nia there is a specific way to do it.  In just practicing Head and Eye Movements you look all around and move your head to match your gaze.  Letting the action of your head follow the intent of your eyes.

Just like with Catching Flies, this move requires looking BEFORE moving.  So LOOK and then move the head so you are facing the direction you are looking.  As I said look in all directions.  Look up, then move your head so you are facing up.  Look down, then move your head so your chin is at your chest.  Look left, then turn your head left.  Look right, then turn your head to the right.  Look in a different direction then move your head so you are facing that direction.  After looking around nod your head “yes”, shake it “no”, roll the head around both directions.  Vary the speed at which you do all of this.  Be aware of any sensations that come up.  Also, if you are not accustomed to moving your head be careful that you don’t get dizzy or too dizzy.

As I mentioned some people get dizzy from lack of moving their head.  It is not because of any condition, it is just lack of practice.  So, be cautious when you first practice Nia’s Head and Eye Movement.  Now, go, look around, move your head.

How do you feel when you move your head?  Do you move your head around?  Do you have a stiff neck?  Do you get dizzy when you move your head?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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?

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

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Posted by terrepruitt on March 18, 2014

Maybe Jack practiced Nia.  We do a lot of agility movements in a Nia class.  From Wiki’s definition of agility:

“Agility or nimbleness is the ability to change the body’s position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance.”

When thinking of agility I tend to think of my entire body starting then stopping.  My entire body moving one direction then changing quickly, like the definition states. But agility can be just in the fingers, in the hands, in the arms, or just in the legs.  Our entire body does not have to move for it to be an agility movement—or at least that is how we call it in Nia.  We do a lot of movements that require agility.

I just posted about Creeper Crawlers.  That is an agility movement of the fingers.  They are starting and stopping and going one direction then the other.

Drumming is a great example of agility.  Your arms and/or hands are starting and stopping and changing direction.  We drum in Nia.  There are certain routines where it is part of the choreography.  There are times when we do it in FreeDance.  The music often calls for drumming.  Sometimes we listen.  Drumming is a fun way to connect to the sensation of agility.  Without actual drums we can drum all around our space;  up in the air above our heads . . . in one of our Nia routines they call this sky drumming.  We can drum below our bodies, to the sides, behind our bodies, around in a circle, all over.  Sometimes I invite the class to imagine they are in the middle of a HUGE drum set with drums all around them.  They can’t even move without hitting a drum.  That is some wild drumming.

Looking around and allowing the head to change direction is a form of agility.  Look!  Look!  Look!  As if you are watching a bug fly around.  Hip bumps . . . keeping those hips juicy with that left right action.  If you are really playful, hip bumps back and forth . . . it’s all about being agile.

Another great show of an agility move is kicking.  Kicking like a swimmer’s kick.  Fast feet, fast action action.  One direction then the other.  Back and forth.  Of course this can be done with the action from the knee or even the hip.  Whatever joint does the action, kicking is another great example of a movement that requires agility.

A number of Nia’s 52 Moves of the The Upper Extremities can be tied to agility.  Blocks and punches can be done with a quick change of direction, along with webbed spaces and palm directions.

Agility is one of Nia’s Five Sensations that we practice and play with in our Nia classes.  The other sensations are Flexibility, Mobility, Strength, and Stability.  Like many groups and professions we have many acronyms, the one for Nia’s Five Sensations is FAMSS.  The A is for Agility.

What do you do that can be considered an agility move?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Pelvic Moves Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on December 5, 2013

In the Nia 52 Moves there are moves clumped into groups.  There are moves of the base, which involve the feet, such as Heel Lead, Releve, Closed Stance, Bow Stance, Slow Clock, Fast Clock, front kicks, side kicks, etc.  There are upper extremities which include moves such as blocks, punches, sticks, chops, finger flicks, Creepy Crawlers and Catching flies. Then there is a group called the core which involves Pelvis, Chest, and Head.  Two of the moves that are pelvic moves are Pelvic Circles and Hip Bumps.  Two relatively easy moves, I am confident most people have done them in their life time.  As I said easy, but they pack a wallop!

The Pelvic circle begins in A Stance (feet a little wider than shoulder width apart) and you move the hips in a continuous circle as if you are using a hula hoop.  Just around and around.  Circling the hips.  Don’t forget to circle the hips in the opposite direction.  With this move the arms are free to move in any direction and any way they want.  This particular show belongs to the hips.

Hip circles are a common move both in dance and other exercises.  It is good for the waist and hips.

The other pelvic move is the hip bump.  In Nia we bump our hips in all directions not just to the side.  So for the hip bump stand in the A stance and move your hip to the side, then the other side, and the front and back.  A quick bump.  This is an agility move with the quick start and stop.  The arms involved in this are also freedance . . . they can do what they want.

Again, this move is not unique to Nia at all.

As with all the 52 moves there are ways to do them correctly while in practice.  Practicing them and getting them in the body’s muscle memory help when we incorporate them into a routine.  While doing both the Pelvic Circle and the Hip Bumps the arms are free to move, but it could be the arms have specific choreography tied to the moves in a routine.  Also the hip bump is in general done in all directions, but in a routine it could be part of the choreography that the hip just goes to one side then the other.

I am pretty confident that many, many, many people have done the hip bump.  It is a familiar move.

In the routine I am doing right now there is a hip bump or two.  My favorite is to assign a feeling to them.  Sometimes we do sexy hip bumps . . .kinda goes without saying.  But we also do angry hip bumps, silly hip bumps, and dramatic hip bumps.  Each of those hip bumps brings out a different movement and with each individual it is different.  It is so fun to see people interpret the feelings and emotions in a common move like the hip bump.

So these are two moves that are grouped into the Core moves in Nia’s 52 moves.  I think that you should get up right now and do some pelvic circles and hip bumps.  Your hips will thank you.

So are either of these moves movements you have done before?  When is the last time you bumped your hip?  How about a pelvic circle?  What would your angry hip bump look like?

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In Nia We Travel

Posted by terrepruitt on November 14, 2013

Nia is a cardio dance exercise that I teach.  It is more than that, but that is one way to describe it.  One of the ways it is more than that, is, it is a practice.  If you chose to treat it like a practice, as one might treat yoga as a practice, one would become aware of Nia’s 52 Moves.  There are 52 moves that get choreographed into the Nia Routines.  One of the moves is Traveling in Directions.  This is a great move for many reasons.

One reason Traveling in Directions is great is because it is very easy.  Another reason it is great is because it is very adaptable and can be used in almost every song and in every routine.  The main way to travel in a direction is to simply walk.  Using the Heel Lead technique just walk forward, then change the direction you are walking, then change the direction, etc.  With the simplest of forms you look where you want to go before you move in that direction.  So before your feet actually start going a different direction — LOOK.  There is a little bit of thinking involved because we look before we go.  Allow your arms to move freely.  Step confidently in whichever direction you choose to look.  Move your body as a whole.

The Nia Technique book states:  “Practicing Traveling in Directions keeps your body agile for moving through space in all directions, able to change direction with ease.”

When we use this move in our routines we have a lot of fun playing with it.  The move really is as easy as stated, the fun comes when changing directions quickly.  You can be the leader of your own movement or sometimes you are being directed by the teacher.  This makes agility one of the Nia sensations we practice with this move.  Moving one way then quickly stopping and going another way.  Stopping, changing, starting.  Varying the speed at times will allow for additional Nia sensations such as strength and stability to come into play.

When Traveling in Directions on your own you become aware of the direction you want to go, then you look, then you go.  As I said, there are times when you might be listening to the direction of the teacher, which would still mean you would need to become aware of the direction you want to go, but when being told where to go your body’s reaction is quicker.  There is a quick look then a move in that direction.  Less thought is involved for you as the participant because someone else thought of the direction you were going to go.

Often when this move is done in a class, quick thinking, quick moving, and quick reacting are additional skills that receive attention because we are dancing with others on the floor so we might have to switch our trajectory quickly to avoid a dance floor collision.

Modifications of the traveling can be done by going backwards or sinking low or even rising high.  So many ways to travel in directions.  All of them are great opportunities to try out the Nia Sensations, the more you do, the more ways you move your body.  If you want you can even skip.  Skipping in different directions adds a new dimension to the move.

Sometimes this move is choreographed into the Nia routine with specifics and sometimes is allowed more of a Free Dance.  However it is added to the Nia workout it is a wonderful way to dance.

How would you Traveling in Directions to your current favorite song?

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

Jazz Square Using The Clock

Posted by terrepruitt on October 12, 2013

I took dance lessons when I was young.  I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know the Jazz Square.  Of course there had to be a time because one is not born knowing what a Jazz Square is much less how to do one.  But I don’t remember not knowing how to do it.  So I actually must have learned it prior to my dance lessons, because I was young when I took my lessons but not THAT young.  Whatever the case . . . . unfortunately it was all too long ago for me to truly know . . . I knew what a Jazz Square was when I entered my first Nia Class and when I took the Nia White Belt Intensive.  While the Jazz Square is not included as one of Nia’s 52 Moves it is something we do a lot in our routines.  It could be considered part of the Jazz Dance that is one of the Nine Movement forms that make up Nia.  Well, not everyone has had dance lessons or knows how to do a Jazz Square.  So we can use the clock to help them.

Nia has a core set of moves called Nia’s 52 Moves.  Three of them actually have “clock” in their names.  One is Rock Around the Clock, another is Slow Clock, and another is Fast Clock.  So it makes sense that with those moves we would use a clock image to do the move and/or help explain and instruct the move.  I have posted before about how we use the clock to help direct other moves.  Well, the Jazz Square is one of them.  While it is called a square it sometimes might be more of a rectangle, but the idea is to use the four corners.

First thing to know is that the Jazz Square is just four steps.  So often I will just have my students march or step four counts.  Sometimes we will get the dance going with that and then move to the square.  Some people stay with the marching and that is fine.  Another VERY important thing to know AND DO is to weight each step.  As in, put all your weight onto each step you take.  When you are learning the jazz square this is of the utmost importance.  This will ensure that you are taking a left, right, left, right (or right, left, right, left) approach and not trying to use the same foot – as in left, left, right, left – and just getting tangled up.

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 YogaLet’s do a Jazz Square left-over-right.  So we will be starting with our left foot and having it cross over the right foot to the right side.  The left foot comes over to the right and lands on 2 o’clock, the right foot comes back to the back right corner and lands on 4 o’clock.   Then the left foot steps back to the back left corner – 8 o’clock, then the right foot steps over to the upper left corner – 10 o’clock.  That is one jazz square.  To keep going the left foot swings around the right foot to the upper right corner – 2 o’clock and you continue on.

So right-over-left is: right foot to upper left corner (10 o’clock), left foot to back left corner (8 o’clock), right foot to back right corner (4 o’clock), left foot to upper right corner (2 o’clock).  To keep going the right foot must swing around the left foot back up to the upper left corner (10 o’clock).

Sometimes when we are doing a fast jazz square my square turns into a diamond with step one being more at 1 and the corners a little askew.  But I have corners!

As with many things sometimes it is easier for a person to do it one way than the other.  So it might be easy to do left foot over right foot, but when you switch it is not as easy.  Sometimes that is when a student will march.  Or they will do the jazz square but not the hand or body movement that we pair with it.  Continuing to move is the key so whatever they do is great.  Eventually with practice, the can do it!

Perhaps this will help.

Key things to remember:

  • FOUR steps
  • Put your weight on every step
  • Step to 2, 4, 8, 10 – left, right, left, right or
  • Step to 10, 8, 4, 2 – right, left, right, left
  • Marching is an option
  • Have fun

Do you do the Jazz Square?  Does this help?  Can you do the Jazz Square and a shimmy?  Both ways?

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

Palm Directions

Posted by terrepruitt on September 28, 2013

We dance Palm Directions all the time in my Nia classes. It is an easy thing to do. Palm Directions is a great move to incorporate into freedance. It is also often one of the moves choreographed into a Nia routine. Palm Directions is one of Nia’s 52 Move.

It might not be something you think about, but the direction the palm is facing affects the shoulder joint. When the palm is facing down (or towards the body) the shoulder joint is closed and when the palm is facing up (or away from the body) the shoulder joint is open. When your arm is straight that is when the shoulder joint gets the open and closed action.  Along with the shoulder joint, the entire arm is affected. The arm bones are twisted with the movement of the palm.

It really is as simple as facing your palms in one direction then another. Unlike Webbed Spaces – another move in Nia’s 52 Moves (you can read about it by clicking here) – in Palm Directions the fingers are kept together. If practicing to affect the shoulder joint, lengthen the arm straight out in front of your body or straight down next to your body, then turn the palms up/face them out away from the body to open the shoulder, then turn the palms down/turn them towards your body to close the shoulder joint. You can observe the radius untwisting as it switches places with the ulna. You can sense the movement of your humerus, the upper arm bone.

In addition to opening the shoulder joint, the Nia Technique book reminds us that, “Palm Directions also express emotion. Palms up, for example, is a universal body language indicator of openness.” So it can open things other than the shoulder joint. Changing palm directions also moves the energy around. In Nia classes we move the arms all around the space around us, changing the palm directions, pushing and pulling and mixing up the energy.  Also, while we are dancing and our arms are moving around us with the palms facing different directions we vary the speed of our movement.  When Varying the speed that are arms are moving and our palms are changing direction allows us to play with agility – one of Nia’s five sensations (click here for more information on that).

This type of movement helps us connect with the space around us.  Palm Directions, the Nia Move, also helps with keep the shoulder joint mobile.

This move is also a great move with which Nia participant’s can practice their own body’s way.  The body was designed so the humerus rotates in the glenoid fossa or shoulder socket.  But life sometimes affects the body so that it cannot move the way it was designed, so all of us have different levels of how much we can move the arm.  So while playing with Palm Directions and dancing the arm around the space each individual can do it in their own body’s way.  This will allow them to get the work that their body is capable of and needs.

Ready?  Straighten your arms then change the direction of the palms.  Are you able to sense your arm bones twisting/untwisting?  Are you able to sense the action in the shoulder joints?  What do you sense when you move your arms around while playing with Palm Directions?

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