Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we do breathwork?
This is such a hot topic these days from so many professional dance therapists, physical therapists, even nutritionists are talking about the benefits of using breathwork. So I am sure you have begun to hear different references to your nervous system, both the sympathetic and parasympathetic, or autonomic nervous system, in some way or another. Breathwork is definitely the key to calming the nervous system. In fact, it truly is the very best way to re-balance a nervous system that has gotten a bit out of whack. If you're curious to learn more there is a wonderful informational video in our Free Resources by Lisa Apple, former professional dancer and Dr. of Physical Therapy.
Breathwork for dancers?
Daily breathwork for dancers is essential! It should be a part of a dancer's daily routine and practice. The reason why is because the two systems I mentioned above have very different functions for our bodies. One excites the other calms, and this is all done through a simple inhalation and exhalation. Also, more simply put, your respiratory system is one of the main healers of your body. So, if you are taking shallow breaths or not breathing deeply enough, your entire circulation system is not being given the right support to release the Co2 in your body, which is basically, like holding on to toxins that build up over time and can cause health issues and injury to arise. As dancers, who need every part of their physical body to be working in an optimal way, this is not going to work. So in order to make sure every aspect of your physical body is receiving the healing oxygen it needs, you must be taking an active role in bringing in focused breathwork to enhance your muscles, brain, heart, all of your systems, particularly the connective tissue that binds everything together, so that you are doing your part in creating a healthy dancer's body.
What is a nervous system out of whack?
Well, this can appear in so many ways. See if any of these resonate with you? Keeping in mind that every single one of you has a completely unique nervous system and energy chakra system from one another. Isn’t that exciting? You're unique and powerful without even needing to do one darn thing!!! So here you go…. Spinning thoughts that won’t stop, they may be negative or an absolute download of creative information, a continuing negative thought patterning that makes you feel pressured and bad, rather than good and empowered. Loss of sleep--not because something major is happening in your world, but because you can’t shut down your mind. A heightened attachment to the outcome of a project or a performance, or perhaps a better way to say it is the need to control everything. These are just a few that come to mind. If these sound familiar try out some of my tools in the MFD Video Series, particularly the one on grounding. These videos are simple and fun ways to shift a nervous system that needs to rest.
Why should I add in holistic tools to my day?
Sometimes as a dancer we are inclined to be drawn to tools that we can actively feel, touch and see working right before our eyes. We use pilates, gyrotonic, acupuncture to help heal us and prepare our bodies to be the best “machine” possible to support all that we love to do...dance! But with holistic tools, these are new to the dance world, just like pilates was at one time, and gyrotonic/ gyrokinesis, and even acupuncture. So imagine if you began using holistic tools, such as breathwork or guided imagery, to enhance and support your best self as an artist and dancer. You may find that you would begin to be in control of your own body in a new way. Holistic tools are simple. All they require is the practice and habit of trying them out.
How do holistic tools work?
Well, as an intuitive and healer they are the key to healing. They are what I use daily with my clients. The sheer use of a specific breathwork or a guided imagery can shift an incredible amount of stuck energy (think...repetitive negative self talk or a heaviness in the body and mind). Imagine a client comes to me with an issue. This issue is most likely something you have walked through yourself: stuck energy, lack of inspiration, low confidence, many of these so common to us all. I work with whatever is their area of focus and once we have organized some thoughts around it, I use a specific style of breathwork or guided imagery to shift out anything that may be ready to release out. The reason this works is because if you imagine trapped energy is kind of like a big rock or maybe something softer like a ball of yarn, it truly is taking up a lot of space within the body and mind. It is stopping the natural flow of energy, emotions, thoughts, movement. So if we begin by taking a few deep breaths, we can start to shift the held energy into something that is ready to be released, which inherently opens up the energy flow, or some may use the term prana, or chi. This is what invites new levels of inspiration, clarity and artistry!
How do the Book and Videos benefit my dancing?
The main point of all of this information is to help you become the most vibrant version of yourself as you can be! If you imagine that anything that is stuck, blocked, or out of balance within your system is not contributing to your being your best self and being able to express your artistry in the way you would like to see and feel, then this is your answer. A simple breathwork tool can help you shift your pre-performance jitters into a focused stream of energy for you to share as you step on stage. If you are feeling tired before stepping into a rehearsal, a few 30 sec intervals of a kundalini fire breath will ignite your energy, so that you feel ready and inspired to step back into the rehearsal studio. A lovely circular breath, with even inhales and exhales will help your nervous system re-balance in a matter of minutes, so that you can end your day and receive the restorative sleep your body is needing and wanting. Both the book and video series offer simple and direct tools to help you become more balanced and appreciative of all you bring to your dancing and your place in this world.
Why the focus on subtle energy?
The answer to this question from a purely personal perspective is because it is my passion and love! The subtle energy centers of your body are truly the first point your body creates a pattern. This may be a mental pattern of thinking, a physical pattern of illness, or a creative pattern of artistry. Most individuals believe that an injury occurs quickly or through repetitive stress. For dancers, both of these perspectives are very true since your body is your vehicle and we push our body and mind to the limits, which is absolutely amazing! But, something you might want to consider is that a pattern is formed before you can actually “see” or understand there is a problem. So with the work I do, I can oftentimes intuitively “see” the energy before it shifts into a problem, which is a gift I believe many dancers have the ability to practice. So through the holistic tools I am offering here in the MFD Video Series and by helping teachers through the MFD Teaching Syllabus, I believe we can begin practicing the daily habit of holistic tools to release and heal the body “before” an injury happens and begin the connection with our artistic voice and artistry, which begins at the subtle energy level. All of this focused intention to ultimately create an environment of compassion and well being for all dancers.
A compassionate way to shift stuck, blocked, and constricted energy?
These are just descriptive words we have grown accustomed to using. But, they are absolutely not my favorites! And, while they completely give a perfect example of what is happening in the energy flow of the body and mind, they may not have the compassionate tone I would prefer. So here are a few other words to try out… sticky energy, energy or thoughts that are in stasis or held, energy or emotions that are not in flow or inspired, energy or emotions that are in process. These are just a few of the terms I use to describe and witness what someone may be walking through in their own lives. I believe these word choices offer a bit of compassion, love, and self care that is often missing when we are working on things that are more emotional in nature. Give them a try the next time you are feeling down and see if you feel a slight shift in understanding for what you are working on and walking through. The Mindfulness for Dancers book is a great small book to have handy for instant reminders of kindness and compassion for oneself!
What is a heart centered language?
A heart centered language is the very best! It is filled with love and kindness, no matter what you are working on or walking through. It is of the heart center and there in relates to the heart energy center, which is a very warm space to lead with. The mind and the mental plane is not a space that is usually very compassionate, it is terrific at organizing and bringing things into clarity, like a to-do list or action plan, but as a dancer that is only good for your technique and not at all for your artistry. So a heart centered language is vulnerable, open, intuitive, and balanced. It is a language that uses a very different vocabulary. One that like the pioneering therapist Carl Jung discovered operates with symbol, archetype, texture, color, visuals, density, texture. This is also the exact language we use when we are working with our artistic voice. They are one in the same! So imagine if you began a daily practice of kindness for yourself through holistic tools, what the impact would be on your expressing that new found freedom through your dancing.