Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Working Around an Injury

Injury is a part of life for dancers. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, sometimes you can work around an injury. It depends on the situation. When I was seventeen, I tore ligaments in my knee, and that meant I had to take some time off from dancing. My friend's mother taught me to crochet, and I made a stack of granny squares while watching the classes that I normally took. It was a productive way to use the time, and I had a nice blanket to give my mother for Christmas as a result of it.

I went to treatment regularly, and followed my acupuncturist's suggestions. She recommended that I make a bone broth soup. She explained  to me that the Chinese believe that like heals like. Because my tendons and ligaments had been compromised by the injury, making a soup with a ham hock or chicken carcass would address that weakness in my body. I resonated with what she was saying. She told me to add some vegetables to the broth. I remembered my father making barley soup for us when I was a child, so I added some of it. I had always loved how peaceful and nourished it had made me feel. She also instructed me to mentally send little hearts to my knee. This was the beginning of my journey of learning about the connection of the mind and the body.

Since having my hips replaced, I have had to change how I work in ballet class. When I first started doing yoga at home, I did a very simple, basic format. I did easy things like deep breathing, shoulder rolls, neck rolls, ankle rotations, and mountain pose. I slowly moved into the standing positions over time, only going partway into the poses. I followed the precautions I had been given from my surgeon. As more time passed, my confidence increased. I began to regain my flexibility and strength. I worked very gradually, and backed off for the time I needed if I felt like I had overdone it. It was a delicate balance.

I waited for over a year before attending ballet class. I took a new approach, and decided not to force my turn out. I now stand in a relaxed third position, and focus more on the musicality, accents, port de bras, and placement. It's an eye opening feeling to stop pressuring yourself to do things perfectly. I decided just to enjoy the fact that I was there, to really listen to the teacher, and to apply the details. I find that I greatly  enjoy the company of the other dancers. Being with them again is like rejoining a tribe.

It's important not to do anything that will aggravate an injury. I often watch my dogs, and study how they handle post surgical trauma. Animals have very good instincts. Unlike athletes and dancers, they will usually not work through pain. They rest and heal. They lick their wounds, drink plenty of water,  and  relax in their beds. They rarely re-injure themselves the way people do. In tune with their bodies, they are patient and relaxed. They naturally recover without rushing or pushing themselves.         

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Healing Effect of Master Energy

Yesterday I was talking with some professional dancers in the dressing room. We had just taken a morning ballet class. We  all agreed that it had been a great series of combinations. We felt energized and happy, and  were riding on the dancers' high. Our  bodies felt a rush of endorphins. 

 One of the women commented that she really liked the energy in this particular group of people. I agreed with her. There was a harmony and ease between us, like a tribe. Most of us had all studied with master teachers, and that background was evident. Everyone was respectful, hard working, and pleasant.

 It's amazing what the power of a pleasing personality can do. All of these dancers were positive, self disciplined, and well trained.  When we dance, we bounce off of the vibration of each others' auras. Everyone is constantly emitting an energetic frequency. It's closely related to our emotional state. Love is the highest vibration. Something about listening to the teacher, doing the same choreography together, and dancing with the music creates a spiritual connection between us. It also affects those around us. It extends to the pianist and to anyone who is watching the class. 

People are like minded when they are dancing together. You are connecting in unseen ways. It's a sensation that can't be matched, and it stays with you for the rest of the day. One dancer explained to me, "I need to dance with a group of people. I can't sit at home by myself all day, sewing costumes." I nodded, and told her that I understood what she meant. I have an etsy shop, (,  and I spend many hours per day in my tiny home knitting, crocheting, and making soap. I ship these products  to customers all over the US. Although I love the work, I feel much happier when I carve out time in my schedule to take ballet classes. It opens the mind and the heart, and it lifts the spirit. Master teachers change the energy of everyone in the entire room. Being in their
presence is an uplifting and healing experience.