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 ‘shimmy’

Signs You Are Dancing In A Nia Class

Posted by terrepruitt on May 9, 2016

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 Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitSo, I was so blessed yesterday to have two fellow Nia Teachers attend the class I was teaching.  There are three of us that teach a Sunday Nia class at the Northwest YMCA in Cupertino on a rotating basis.  We have general “dibbs” on Sundays; Anita likes the first Sunday of the month, I like the second Sunday of the month, and Joan has the fourth Sunday of the month.  At one point we had a fourth teacher and she usually took the third Sunday.  But now that it is just us three, we each take the third Sunday when we are available.  It seems to work out amazingly well that when one (or even two of us) is not available the other two or at least one is.  So it works out.  Sometimes there is even a fifth Sunday and we make sure one of us is available.  Plus we work together when something comes up and we have to switch Sundays.  The class is at 12:30 so it is late enough that one can get up and enjoy a nice Sunday morning and not have to rush off to teach.  Then we teach and are home in time for a late lunch.  🙂

Well, after class yesterday we were talking about Nia, of course . . . and Anita asked us if we had seen her list of top ten signs you are dancing in a Nia class.  I had remembered seeing it, but I didn’t remember them until she started reading them.  Then I remembered I saw the list.  I had glanced at it, but saved the e-mail to read later.  When she brought it up I had asked her if I could share the list on my blog and she kindly agreed.  So here ya go:

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Anita Christensen’s top ten signs you are dancing in a Nia class:

1.    They like to freedance without judgement of themselves or others.

2.    They are the nicest people.

3.    They are all so grateful for the day she, Debbie*, took off her shoes.

4.    They make claws with their fingers and scratch the air….sounding grrr…healing emotional issues related to power, abandonment, fear, and anger.**

5.    They shimmy and shake their shoulders to express sassy gestures that play with each other in seductive and joyful ways.**

6.    They fully acknowledge and embrace that this is THEIR adult play time!

7.    They kick to the front, side, and back with authority settling on a supportive leg.

8.    As a collective group they yell out “yes” or “no” for all to hear.

9.    They choose, sustain, and tweak their JOY of movement to sense life force energy….

10.   They invite you to come and be open to a life affirming experience.

It is true Nia is fun, healing and joyful! Do you have anything to add to my top ten list? How I would enJOY hearing your top ten list! The bay area teachers are THRIVING and we want you to join us.”

*”Debbie” is Debbie Rosas is the founder and co-creator of Nia.

**Referenced from the Language of Nia

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Anita Christensen is Nia Black Belt and she teaches several classes in the South Bay and the Peninsula.  Check out her profile on NiaNow.com.

This is such a great list!  I am going to use some of these as focuses and/or intents in my Nia classes!!

As Anita invited readers at the end of her list . . . do you have any signs to add to the list?  Please share!

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

Really, It IS Exercise

Posted by terrepruitt on April 21, 2015

Recently I was visiting with a friend and she was sharing with me her experience in an exercise class that she had attended a few days earlier.  She was sharing that the things they were doing in the class did not qualify as exercise.  She was saying that shimmying and doing the hand-around-your-head-move was not exercise.  She said she didn’t want to do that type of stuff in an exercise class.  I think she forgot who she was talking to.  I mean, she was talking to her friend who she was looking at to support her in the fact that neither the shimmy nor the hand-around-your-head-move was exercise.  But I think she forgot what I do for a job.  I made a comment about how if she didn’t want to use all her muscles, I could see why shimmying would not be something to do.  But she said she DID want to use all of her muscles.  I did not take the opportunity to elaborate on how the shimmy is a great exercise and uses — not all, but many, muscles.  It really was HER moment to share so I just listened.  It was obvious she didn’t want to use her muscles THAT WAY.  It was not my time to defend my craft or dance as an exercise.  It did make me laugh though.  It also reminded me why some people don’t like Nia.  Some people don’t want to dance as exercise.  Some people do not feel that moving to music is exercise.  There are many people who think that the only way to get exercise is to do something the same way — to move in the same way, to move in a linear way — over and over again.  Some people have very specific ideas about what they want to do as exercise.  And that is fine, I am not going to try to get them to a Nia class because they probably wouldn’t be able to participate enough to get a good workout.  But I do get my knickers in a twist when people say it is not exercise.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose,  Nia at the San Jose Community Centers, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex City of San Jose, San Jose Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYoI think it is more accurate to say, “It is not movement that I like or that I consider exercise.”  But to say it is not exercise.  Not fair.  But, again, very much a common way of thinking.  I have posted about exercise as dance before.  I even mentioned how I liked Dancing with the Stars (even thought I don’t watch it) because I think it helped some people realize that you CAN get a good workout in while dancing.  If nothing else, moving around for an hour is great cardio — if you are moving enough to get your heart rate up.

Some dance exercise classes use jumping movements to get the heart rate up.  Some — like Nia use big movements, fast movements, low movements, high movements, all over body movements.  As, I have said before, it is all there for the participant to use, it is up to each individual to do as much as they want.

Many people don’t care for the shimmying but it really is a great movement that uses upper body muscles.  I have seen many of my regular Nia students go from not being able to do it — for whatever reason — to embracing it.  I think I have mentioned before that there is one song in one of our routines where I like to keep them at doing the shimmy for a bit.  I usually ask, “Are you feeling it?”  I just like for people to experience that the shimmy can be an move that can qualify as “an exercise”.  Their answer – by the way is usually a laugh with a “OHH yeah!”

Some people move differently once they understand that the shimmy is not shaking what is on the front, but moving from the back.  I have a post on that, Shimmy From The Back.

I think there are a lot of dancers at there that would say dance is exercise.  However if you don’t like to dance I understand you might not feel that way.  But, if you ever want to see what I mean about the shimmy or Nia as a good workout, look for a class near you.  There are classes all over the world.  There are several in San Jose, California . . . . I know, because I teach ’em.

What do you consider exercise?  Have you ever TRIED dance-as-exercise?

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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?

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Shimmy From The Back

Posted by terrepruitt on September 3, 2013

I was looking for something to post about today and I thought, “Hmmm . . . . let’s check out the Nia 52 Moves list on my site and see what I have yet to write about.”  Much to my HUGE surprise, I have not posted about the shimmy.  I am shocked.  The shimmy is a very often used move in Nia Routines. . . heck, the shimmy is an often used dance move in many, many, many dances.  So I am shocked I have not addressed this before.  I think that the shimmy is somewhat misunderstood.  I believe, from what I have experienced, that many people think of the shimmy as a chest move.  I have sensed great hesitation in many people when it comes to executing the shimmy.  It seems as if people might consider it a boob shake.  Some women don’t want to do it and neither do some men.  I mean, why would either want to shake their breasts in a cardio dance exercise class?  To me, thinking it is a frontal shake is a misconception.  While, yes, for many people the front DOES shake and move in a shimmy, that is NOT where the concentration of the movement is.  The shimmy comes from the shoulder blades/back.

The Nia Technique Book* says:  “Vibrate and shake your shoulders, standing upright or moving front and back, as if you are shaking water off.”**

I think that once the focus of the move is taken off of the chest, some people feel more comfortable with the move.  It is not primarily moving your chest/breasts/boobs around.  It is moving your shoulders and your back.  Since our front is connected to the back, then, yes, our chest will move but the movement will be different than if you are purposefully just moving what is on the front side of your body.  There are several ways to learn and/or practice the shimmy, here is one.  First of all think: “BACK/SHOULDERS” not front of body.

With your thoughts and your intent shifted from the front to the back you can apply the correct motion.  One way to start from scratch with this move is to lie down.  Lie on your back, then lift one shoulder off the ground.  Push your shoulder blade forward, jutting your collarbone out.  Then bring that side back to the ground.  Then do the other side.  Push, jut, back down.  Now push the first side again and as you allow the shoulder to come to the earth push the other shoulder forward.  Continue to alternate.  Only allow one shoulder up at a time.  While you are pushing forward keep your shoulders down toward your hips (not down toward the ground).  Keep the space between your ears and your shoulders open.  So you are not shrugging your shoulders up to your ears, you are pushing them from the BACK to the sky.  Do this until you feel you have the sensation in your body that when you sit up you will still have the correct motion.  Vary the speed.  Play with the size of the movement.  Go for smooth and not jerky.

If you are not starting that far back, from scratch, then stand and concentrate on the shoulders going forward and back.  Again, keep the shoulders down.  This helps me with the forward back motion, otherwise they might start creeping up into that scrunching posture.  Eventually you will be able to just move your shoulders forward and back with nice relaxed (down) shoulders.  But in the beginning it might be something you have to think about in order to ensure the front back motion and not up and down.

This move is great for isolating the muscles that assist with good posture and balance.  It is also a great stress reliever.  It is fun to let out sound while you are shimmying.  You don’t even have to waver your voice if you are shimmying vigorously enough, the movement causes the waver.  FUN stuff!

As mentioned we do the shimmy a lot in our Nia Classes.  Since we do it a lot we do it in many different ways . . . fast, slow, by itself, with other moves . . . it is just one of those great moves to throw into the mix.

I see many, many, many people who are challenged by this move.  There are many reasons for that.  I also see a lot of people’s movement change once they adjust the focus from the front to the back.  I see those proverbial light bulbs come on!  Shift the focus and let your body move!

When you shimmy, where is your movement focus?  Did this post alter your movement focus?  Can you shimmy so vigorously that your voice wavers with your movement?

*written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas / **page 138, The Core

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

Nia and Jazz Dance

Posted by terrepruitt on September 29, 2009

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, ZumbaA Nia workout includes elements from three disciplines from three different arts.

From the dance arts, one dance we call upon is Jazz Dance.  Jazz Dance allows us to bring in the fun!  With Jazz it is about fun, showmanship, and expression.  It is about big and little.  Many elements from Jazz are incorporated into Nia.  Isolations, syncopations, combinations, rhythm steps.*  We could do a little flick of the wrist or full body shimmy, enabling us to exercise our intrinsic muscles and show the playful side, the sexy side.  We could do a jazz square, a hip bump, or big arm circles allowing us to express ourselves.  Bringing Jazz Dance into Nia helps bring in the rhythm and it can be a lesson in agility–where we start or move a body part and quickly bring it to a stop.

There is also facial expressions that can be associated with Jazz Dance; the big smiles, the teeth, the pout, the laugh, the wink—all can be jazzy!  And of course, the hands, can’t forget “jazz hands” for one.  With that it can be an expression of self, or beats of the music, or whatever you want.  We can also do a lot of finger motions, pointing, flicking, “come here, Sexy!” gestures—all assisting in the health of the hand.

Jazz Dance brings a lot to Nia, it helps us be playful and have fun.

What moves, gestures, steps, etc. make you think “jazzy”?  What movements do you do that you could add a “jazzy sparkle” to?  And how?

Some of this information is from the Nia Technique Book and The Nia Technique – White Belt Manual, V3.  Both books are by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas.

*V3 – White Belt Manual.

Posted in Movement Forms of Nia, Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The 52 Nia Moves Highlighted at the Recent Nia Jam

Posted by terrepruitt on August 11, 2009

The focus for the most recent Nia Jam was the 52 Nia Moves.  We were to pick songs in which we could highlight one or more of the 52 Nia moves.  So we moved a lot because we all wanted to really highlight the moves.  The idea was to pick one song that highlighted the move then pick another song that contained the same move that you could play with.  There was a couple of us that picked two songs with different moves so we highlighted more moves instead.  I think it worked out fine.   

Movements Highlighted included:
   
~Pelvic Circle             
~Spinal Roll  
~Heel Lead & Ball of Foot  
~Closed Stance, Open Stance, “A” Stance, and Sumo Stance,   
~Front Kick, Side Kick, and Back kicks 
~Releve   
~Lateral Traveling   
~Shimmy   
~Blocks   
~Undulation 
~Wrist & Hand movements 

We do not do all 52 Nia moves in every workout (unless we are doing the 52 Nia Move routine), but we do cover a lot of them.  The moves are not necessarily new moves, some are quite common and you will be familiar with them.  Some you could be familiar with, but not familiar with DOING, but that is part of the fun.  Come to a class and see.  I have classes in San Jose and Los Gatos.

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

A Brief Look At Nia

Posted by terrepruitt on March 7, 2009

I want to talk to you about Nia.  I was looking for a different form of exercise when somehow (in the vastness that is the internet) I came across Nia.  I had never heard of it.  It has been around for 25 years.  At one point it was known as Non-Impact Aerobics, then it was called Neuromuscular Integrative Action, then at one point it was the Nia Technique, now it is just Nia.

Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas created it in the early 1980s from a need and a desire to help people exercise.  When I read the book and listen to Carlos, I believe that they wanted more than just traditional exercise because they really wanted to help people feel good.  They were being drawn towards something that addresses the whole body.

Nia is a teacher led dance workout that allows you the freedom to get exactly the workout that your body needs.  Nia is really awesome because it is done in bare feet to all kinds of music.  With the absences of shoes, we are reminded that we do not have to have harsh impact to get a great work out.  With Nia, the level of intensity is regulated by the participant.  A workout includes movements of all of the 13 major joints and I believe that this is one of the key factors that make people feel so good after they do a Nia workout.  Throughout our day we don’t always move each joint as it was built to move, so sometimes they can become stiff.  In a Nia class you move them throughout the routine and it helps the balance in the body’s systems.

Nia is similar to Jazzercise in the sense that there are segments or cycles to the routine:  warm-up, cardio, strength, floor, and a cool down.

A lot of people just want to go to a workout class and be told what to do, I am going to be honest with you because I want you to enjoy your experience, you need to concentrate a little.  What you are concentrating on is not so much what the teacher is doing, but more what you are sensing.  You are encouraged to listen to your own body and do what it is telling you it needs.  It might not need what the teacher is doing.  And with Nia, that is fine.

In a Nia class there is no judgment if you cannot bend, stretch, jump, kick, shout, shimmy, shake, punch, chop, cha-cha-cha, hula, jazz square, modern dance, or anything like your teacher or neighboring participant, because it is all about YOU and whatever you can do.  You must seek your own Body’s Way and what gives it pleasure.  With Nia you can get a great workout at the same time.

Does your present workout invite you to seek pleasure during your workout?

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