Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Things to Add to your Holiday Check List

In the midst of everything you're doing this season, I challenge you to do 5 more things:

1. Breathe.
Take one intentional breath. (This means that you pay attention to one breath. It may not be a deep breath, especially if you're not used to this practice, but take a moment to notice how you're breathing).

Can you find the full capacity of your lung-space (whatever that means for you, today)? In which part of your body are you breathing?

Try this experiment: Place your hands around your waist and try to breath into them, expanding your front, back, and side bodies. Place your hands around your rib cage and feel the expansion and release of the breath. Place your hands on your sternum. Breathe high into your chest. Is this where most of your breathing is taking place, these days? Holiday performances are opening and closing every weekend. Students and instructors have finals and end of the semester performances and activities. Families have obligations and gatherings. This time of year can be very stressful and we can forget to fully breathe or breathe with intention. Take a moment to allow your breath to drop into your diaphragm and feel the full expansion of your lung capacity, your rib cage, and the muscles of your torso. Allow the wave of your breath to rock within you like the waves of the ocean. Notice that, although those waves may initially seem agitated, with time and attention, they can calm (both the ocean and your breath).

2. Say "Thank you".
If only to the universe... but also to everyone around you. "The past is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called the present."(~Kung-Fu Panda and other sources)

Thank you... For the opportunity to perform. For the gift of knowledge about the body and dance and science and somatics and how movement is connected to every part of our world. For the support of friends and family, however we define them. For movement - physically, emotionally, or metaphorically.

3. Hydrate.
Where's your water bottle? It's often easy to forget to drink water during this time of lots-of-things-going-on. Schedules are a little different than "normal" and that sometimes effects our nutrition and hydration. Remember to get enough water! Being well hydrated helps prevent fatigue, additional stress, and cramping of muscles after performances and rehearsals. It also aids in helping the body fight stress and normalize kinesthetic (or other body) processes.

4. Rest.
It's okay to be a little extra tired.

During this time, I often have to remind myself that I've experienced a lot in the last few months/ weeks and my body/mind/spirit needs time to rest, reflect, and recover.

Take some extra time to move slowly, take a nap, or meditate.

My body is also reacting to the eARTh's transition and the daylight is shorter - providing less "active time". (Yes, I do spent most of my time in an artificially-lit studio, but I am still sensitive to the ebbs and flows of the natural world. Most of us are, at least physically. It's good for us to realize this and be sensitive to these natural changes.)

5. (but... don't stop moving!) Cross train.
Have you spent the last few weeks only doing arabesques on the right leg? Or only anaerobic activity? Or just running around transporting and supporting your dancers/athletes/family?

This transitional period is a great time to explore some different movement options to balance out the rigor of training and performance. Or training for a specific performance. Or training in a specific way.

Doing something different can also be exciting and give you some motivation to keep experimenting and moving after a stressful period. Here are some helpful articles on different movement practices from Dance Advantage - resources for dancers

6. Remember to enjoy this time! Happy Holidays!
What does that mean for you?

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