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

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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Posts Tagged ‘Sumo Stance’

Nia’s Cat Stance

Posted by terrepruitt on January 10, 2013

There are six stances in the 52 Moves of NiaClosed Stance, Open Stance, “A” Stance, Riding (Sumo) Stance, Bow Stance, and the Cat Stance.  Each stance has a sound associated with it for practice.  There are benefits to doing each stance.  All of them help with balance.  With the cat stance the balance is on one foot.  The cat stance is a stance in which you stand on one leg, using your whole foot.  The leg you are standing on is not rigid, but the knee is soft, as if you were going to pounce.  The spine is upright, hips are level, not pointing down nor up.  The foot that is off the ground is pressing with the side against the standing leg, the foot relaxed, toes hanging towards the earth. Elbows are bent, relaxed.  Either both elbows are at the sides or one slightly forward.  The arms and hands are engaged.  The cat stance is done on alternating legs.  These are the specifics of Nia’s Cat Stance.

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, ZumbaThere are specific ways to do a stance, the body’s way.  But your body’s way is also recognized.  So different bodies will do it different ways.  Some will do it their own way until the body can adjust to the specifics and some bodies will continue in their own way.  For instance some bodies will use the power finger/balance finger hand technique to assist them in standing on one leg.  In addition to each body having its own way to do each move sometimes the way the move is done in a routine alters the specifics.  The specifics stated above are according to The Nia Technique book, however in the routine Birth, the cat stance in one of the katas consists of hooking the bent leg’s foot around the standing leg.  In this particular dance, while we are in the cat stance with our foot hooked around the standing leg, our hands and arms are different from is described in the ideal cat stance stated above.  One of our hands “hooks” around our face.

This is often the case.  There is a specific way to do each of Nia’s 52 Moves, but each individual has their own body’s way that adjust the specifics AND the specifics are sometimes adjusted according to move in the routine.  But it is important to know the specifics and the basics.  It is also fun to practice the specifics and the basics.

The basics of the cat stance help with balancing on one leg.  This can also be considered a strengthener, the standing leg’s muscles can be strengthened through the practice of supporting all of one’s weight.  If this move is being done solely as a practice of the move, then agility can come into play.  The practice of walking then stopping and moving quickly into cat stance would allow for the agility.  Alternating with a light hop from whole-foot-cat-stance on one leg to the other is an exercise in agility.  While this type of movement might also be something we do in a Nia routine it is not always the case.  Sometimes we move into cat stance and from there do kicks.

As with all of Nia’s 52 Moves we play with them.  All of Nia’s routines consist of playing with movement and music.  With the cat stance you have the specific way to do it, then just like a cat you can play as you practice.  You can “meow” and use claw hands.  The cat stance is a fun way to play with balance and sounding.  Practice the specifics then let the animal in you out!

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

Ride ‘Em Cowboy

Posted by terrepruitt on January 8, 2013

There is a stance in Nia called the Riding Stance.  It is part of Nia’s 52 Moves.  I actually think of it as the Sumo Stance.  It is called both.  I bet if I actually were to really let my body doing the thinking, my riding stance would be taller than my sumo stance.  Stop and think about it.  Do you picture a rider with legs straddling a horse and sitting up tall?  And a sumo wrestler as legs wider than a horse with his body lower to the ground?  A sumo wrestler is still upright and “tall”, but he is closer to the ground. with a wider stance than a horse  Ha!  I love that.  As I am typing and thinking, this is what I come up with.  An insight.  That is what I love about Nia.  Even though there is an ideal there is still the way a body does it.  And sometimes a body does it the way the mind thinks about it.  My body translates sumo stance as low to the ground.  I am going to go to class and use the different terms and see what my student’s bodies do!  The Nia Technique states the Riding stance is as if you are riding a horse.

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 stated, riding a horse – to me is at a higher level than a sumo wrestler.  So, I actually do this stance much lower and that is because I THINK of it as a sumo stance.  I am going to practice this stance as a RIDING stance and see where my body goes.

The book says:  “your knees slightly bent and your feet apart, as if you were riding a horse”.  I think I have always had a really wide horse!  Whether the horse is wide or not, the feet are parallel.

Again, to be clear, the Riding Stance in the Nia 52 Moves is with the knees slightly bent and the feet apart.  The feet are as far apart as if you are riding a horse.  As I recently posted the sound to make while doing this stance is “ha!”

I think that it would be fun to say, “Yehaw!”

This stance is a great way to condition the legs.  It is fun to play with this stance and try different levels.  By levels I mean both the planes and levels of intensity.  A level/intensity 1 would be a high plane.  Then a level/intensity 2, could be the middle plane.  And the level/intensity 3 could be the low plane and maybe more of  what I think of as a sumo stance.  With all moves in Nia the key is pleasure.  So the move is not meant to be painful.  If you are sensing pain in any part of the leg adjust your stance.  If you sense pain in the knees, check your feet, are your toes facing forward?  Are you evenly distributing your weight over your whole foot (feet)?  Ankle pain?  Are your legs/feet too wide apart?  So it is important to not always go as low or as wide as you CAN, but to go as low and as wide as is reasonably comfortable.

I love that as I write I learn.  That is one of the reasons I am writing a blog.  It is so helpful to put things in writing.  It is helpful to stop and examine what you already know, right?  Sometimes you see things differently.

Either way . . . . Riding or sumo stance, the stance is with knees bent, feet apart and parallel. Everyone’s stance, every BODY’s stance is different.  Got it?  Horse riding.  Ride ’em cowboy.

I am fortunate enough to have wonderful students that are willing to pose.  Here are the “riders” of the group.

Are you ready to ride?

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

Nia Stance Sounds

Posted by terrepruitt on January 5, 2013

There are a few posts on my blog about sounding in Nia.  I even have a separate category for it.  See over there to the left under categories, under Nia?  Sounding is what we call making noise in a Nia class.  Sounding is great for many reasons.  Sounding is a release.  It can help release tension, emotions, spirit . . . whatever needs “releasing”.  Sounding is fun.  Sounding can assist in the stabilization of the torso.  Sounding can help ground you . . . physically, emotionally, and your spirit.  Often times when I am doing Nia both when I am teaching and when I am a student, my spirit just makes a sound.  I don’t plan it, I don’t think about it, a noise just comes out.  I “woo” a lot.  But sometimes other sounds comes out.  Sometimes the sound I make makes me laugh because I really don’t think about the sound, something just comes out.  I could be thinking of something, for example, maybe the move we are doing reminds me of a swirling skirt, so then the sound could be a “whosh” as in the sound of a skirt, or it could be a giggle of a girl twirling in a skirt.  I don’t always think about the sound I just let it out.  Sometimes I do think of the sound.  Sounding can be purposeful.  The noise can have a purpose.  I have posted about healing sounds and sounds associated with the chakras.  This post is about the sounds that are associated with Nia stances, which are part of Nia’s 52 moves.

TheDance 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, SJCityFit picture in this post is an approximation of how MY feet would be placed in the various stances.  Remember that your stances would probably be slightly different.  The width would be according to YOUR body and your body’s way.  The picture is just to give you an idea and maybe help remind you of the various stances.  At this time I have a post associated with four of the six stances.

In Nia’s closed stance the sound is the vowel sound “o”.  The sound is made to “create volume in your chest cavity”.

In Nia’s open stance the sound is (to say) “balance” or “ground”.  Saying the word “balance” can assist you in your balance.  The word “ground” can assist with allowing you to feel grounded and sense balance.

The sound for Nia’s “A” stance is “aaaaahh!”.  You say it on an exhale.  Letting out all your breath until you are ready to inhale.

Sumo stance or riding stance (feet as wide apart as if you were riding a horse) has an explosive sound.  Say “ha!”  To me this helps with stabilization.

The bow stance has a sound of “u”.  The bow stance is done with either foot in front, not just with the left foot in front as shown in the example.

The cat stance (standing on one foot, with the other foot pressed against the standing leg) has the sound “wooooooo” associated with it.  This is done on the exhale.  This stance is also done on the other foot and not just the left one as in the example.

So as you are practicing the Nia stances you can use the sounds associated with them for added benefit and fun.  It is just fun to make noise.  To me it adds to the experience.  In my classes I encourage people to make any noise they want.  I also like to play with the noises, sounds, and words associated with the move.

Do you attend a dance exercise class  or exercise that encourages you to make noise?

Information regarding the sounds made with the Nia stances can be found in The Nia Technique book written by Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas (NKA, Carlos AyaRosas).  The book can be purchased from Amazon.

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

Inner Thigh – Weighted Bar

Posted by terrepruitt on September 29, 2012

Squats are great for the legs.  The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a squat is sitting in a chair.  So with the legs somewhat close together, the feet about shoulder width apart you then lowering your pelvis/buttocks down as if you are going to sit in a chair.  When in reality a squat CAN be with a wider stance.  I am vaguely remembering a “conversation” via comments on my blog about squats in Nia.  We were talking about Nia squats being different from the squats in my Ten Minute Workout.  I believe squats with weights are different from squats without weights.  And I think that since I was focused on squats with weights I was not really thinking about side squats.  We do side squats in Nia but now I think of that as Sumo Stance.  The routine I am looking at right now has many squats in it.  The squat works the legs, both front and back.  The wider apart the feet the more the movement works the inner thighs.  Since I am looking at a routine that has a lot of side squats or sumo stances it had me thinking . . . In addition to squats a way to get the adductors is to do movements where the leg is brought in towards the midline of the body.  One exercise you might be familiar with is the inner thigh lift/raise.  As with many exercises there are different versions and variations, but the basic of this one is lying on one side of your body with your torso propped up on your elbow.  The “top” leg is back behind you with your foot flat on the floor.  The other leg is straight down and lying on the floor.  Then you lift the leg up toward the sky, keeping it parallel with the earth.  So the inner thigh is being lifted toward the ceiling.

Well, this is a great one to use the weighted bar with.  I had forgotten about my bar until recently.  Then I remembered this exercise.  I would recommend using shoes with the bar.  I did it without shoes and I had to hold my foot at an odd angle to keep the bar from hurting my foot.  I decided to continue my set without putting on shoes – because I didn’t want to stop – but I made a mental note to use shoes in the future.

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, ZumbaOne end of the bar rests on the foot of your straight leg.  The bar runs the length of your body.  The other end is up near your hands where you can secure it to the ground.  Then you simply lift your leg.  Make sure that the bar is resting firmly on your foot so it does not roll off and cause an injury.  This exercise really targets the leg/hip adductors, the muscles that pull the thigh towards your body.

As I stated there are variations of this, some could be:  dumbbells place on the thigh (and held securely!), instead of using the weighted bar.  It can be done without any weights at all.  And/or without weight, the upper leg and be in front.

I think it is a great idea to do different exercises to target the same muscles.  Especially since when you do a different exercise to target a specific muscle or muscle group there are usually different or additional muscles that end up getting used.  So it is nice to switch it up.

Might you switch it up and do thigh raises instead of squats?  Are you familiar with the inner thigh lift?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“A” Stance – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on September 6, 2012

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, NiaAnother one of the 52 Moves of Nia is the “A” Stance.  This is the stance where the position of the legs allows the body to look somewhat like the capital letter A.  The legs are placed wider than hip distance apart, even wider than shoulder width.  The legs are far enough apart and wide enough for them to appear to be as the bottom “legs” on a capital letter A.  The feet are parallel, the upper body is relaxed.  The Nia Technique Book states the benefits as:  “Practicing “A” Stance improves hip flexibility and leg strength, which improves agility and mobility.” 

I would like to add that it improves or at least allows the practice of balance.  Not balancing on one leg which we do a lot in Nia, but balance between the body and the legs, balance between both legs, and balance between the legs and feet.  Also balance of weight between the two feet.  This is a stable and balanced stance.  The weight is not on one foot more than the other.  The weight is not on the front or the balls of the feet more than on the heels.  This is a great stance to practice balance in.  To allow the body to rest onto the whole foot. 

Not only having the feet be parallel but even.  If you were to stand at a line would your toes be even, both up to the line?  I had noticed with myself for a while now that when I step into an “A” stance my right foot is ALWAYS slightly back from where my left foot is.  I have been noticing this since I injured my foot in November of 2010.  Just last week as I was teaching my regular Nia Class in Willow Glen, I noticed I stepped into “A” stance and my left foot was the tiniest bit back from the line on which my right foot landed (had there been a line).  I thought that was funny.  I giggled, but I hadn’t thought of it again until now.  I don’t always think about my uneven landings until I have the opportunity to land in a stance where I see my feet several times in a routine.  Then during the routine I focus on having my feet land even.  There are times, of course in a dance where they don’t need to be or aren’t supposed to be even, but when doing a regular closed, open, A, or sumo stance I think the feet should be even.  The “A” stance is a great stance to practice that because you can clearly see your feet and the pose is relaxed enough that there are not other things you might be thinking about.  I feel the “A” Stance is a great way to practice balance.

As with all stances one way to practice the “A” stance is to simple stand in one place and move through the stances.  Another way to practice is to walk and then stop in the “A” stance.  Walking and stopping into an “A” Stance would be a great way to work on landing “even” — as I mentioned before.  Walk, then stop, then look at your feet, notice the sensation in your hips, if your feet are even then that is the sensation you want to replicate, if not, then adjust your feet, notice the sensation in your hips and try to replicate it again as you step into “A” Stance.

The “A” Stance is just one of the six stances in the Nia 52 Moves.

What do you sense when standing in the “A” Stance?  When you step into the “A” Stance do your feet land “even”?

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Knee Sweep – One Of Nia’s 52 Moves

Posted by terrepruitt on August 30, 2012

Now, I know that I’ve been doing the knee sweep a lot longer than I have been doing Nia.  So it is true that Nia’s 52 moves are not necessarily unique to Nia, but they are part of the core of Nia.  You will find a large portion of Nia’s 52 moves in every routine.  There are correct ways to do them, but Nia allows for the body’s way and also, I believe Nia allows for the move to be incorporated into the dance.  For instance, The Nia Technique book states that the starting position for a knee sweep is the sumo stance.  I am sure that I have done a knee sweep from a sumo stance at one time, but the first dance that pops into my head where we do the knee sweep it is not from a sumo position.  But the by the book (oh, yeah, that reminds me, “BUY THE BOOK!” 🙂 ), anyway, the by-the-book version of the knee sweep starts from a sumo position, complete with arms in ready position and everything.  Then the body rises as you come up on one leg bringing the other leg up with a bent knee.  The knee crosses the midline of the body, the opposite hand “pushes” the knee out.  The knee swings out so the pelvis is open.  Then the leg comes down and the foot lands on the earth.  That is the knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves.

The book does not indicate that when your foot comes down it is in the toes-to-the-front position, but that is how I teach it.  I don’t want my students landing on their foot with their knee out to the side.  If we are just doing knee sweeps as an exercise, maybe I would have them do that, because they would be aware of the torque in their hip, but probably not.

When I was first doing this move in Nia I was trying to do it as the book shows and as many of the people on the Nia instructional DVDs do and as the instructor does (whether it be Debbie Rosas or Carlos AyaRosas).  And that was with the knee out to the side very wide.  REALLY opening the pelvis.  But when I did that I noticed a “something” – I don’t know what it was, but it was something – in my lower back.  So I decided that opening my hip that wide and having my leg out that far was not MY body’s way, so I do not do that.  I share with my students that I found the comfortable spot to be about as far as my forearms can reach.  I “glue” my elbows to my sides and hold my forearms out to the side.  As far as they can go is as far as I allow my knee to go.  That is what works for me.

Some of the time that we are doing the knee sweep it is at the end of a “up-two-three-four (knee sweep), back-two-three-four (knee sweep)”.  So that would not allow for the sumo position to be the start.  Other times we are standing upright.  As I said, I am sure I have done it from the sumo position because I bet it is in a routine I am not thinking of.  But the ones I am thinking of it is done from a walking or standing position.

The amazing thing about the knee sweep is that it calls for the knee to cross the midline of the body.  So that means that if you were doing a left knee sweep (with your left leg) your left knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  If you were doing a right knee sweep (with your right leg) your right knee would enter into the right hemisphere of your body.  It is a great thing when your limbs cross the midline.  It helps stimulate the brain.  So there is a reason in many exercise routines and cardio classes that we have you do “cross overs”.

The knee sweep is one of those moves that requires balance.  Since at one point you are standing on one leg, you will be able to improve your balance or practice what you have.  Also the moving of the leg helps with that stability.  Standing on one leg helps with strength and opening the hip helps with mobility and flexibility.   The knee sweep of Nia’s 52 moves does a body and brain good!

Are you familiar with this move?  Have you done it before in your exercise class?  Did you give it a try?

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

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?

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