"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit "(Aristotle).
Happy New Year, everyone! Time to start up again and make those wishes and intentions come true that you made on New Year's Eve.
My first disappointment this year came in fast: no exam this year, though a few weeks ago this seemed so real. I was so looking forward to my next exam. Not enough pupils enrolled, so the business case is negative for Lyda. I understand this, and yet I longed for that sense of purpose, that discipline when preparing for that Grade 3 exam. To bad!
In the week before Xmas, Lyda dedicated a lesson to flexibility and stretching. This week she mentioned the positive effect of massaging your neck on your stretching ability. And she referred to Lisa Howell, an Australian physiotherapist. Lisa is a well-known therapist in the ballet dancing community, a beacon for dancers with dance injuries.
Lyda experimented in her classes with the neck massaging method to improve flexibility, and she concludes that it is effective with say 50% of the pupils. So she invited us to try this for ourselves. By the way: the massage can be easily done by yourself.
As you know, by now I'm a bit rusty. So about a year ago, I bought Lisa Howell's Front Splits Flexibility Program. There are a few eye-openers in this course. One of them is about fascia. A fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles.
This fibrous connective tissue contains tightly packed bundles of collagen fibers that are oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull.
The fascia of each muscle links to that of many other muscles, so tension in one muscle group can be transferred to other muscle groups. So it is not the muscles themselves that interconnect, but the fascia.
You can speak of a continuous fascial line: it extends from the muscles in the head and neck, through the upper back, lower back and pelvis, to the hamstrings and down into the calves and feet.
Now you understand why massaging your muscles at the base of your skull can have a positive effect on all the other muscles down the back of your body even down into your legs.
In my last blog I also mentioned the book "Relax into stretch" by Pavel Tsatsouline, a Russian sportsman. Worthwhile to read. A relaxed mindset is a key issue when we talk about flexibility. I immediately experience that relation when I have a busy day and have to run to be in my class on time.
I have to face it: stress causes tension of the muscles. And when in stress, it's not easy to start massaging your neck muscles.
So time to form new habits…..
Please, let me awaken my 3 D's (drive, discipline, and determination) at times when I need them most!
On Sunday, I had a New Year's training in my boxing gym, culminating in a push-up competition. Primitive, raw stuff. I felt stiff the next day. Even my warm-up and flexibility exercises didn't work out well, so my first lesson of ballet started with a rigid body.
But as soon as we started with the plié, accompanied by that beautiful piano music Lyda always provides for, I felt the relaxation unwinding my body. The delicate and sophisticated movements and music made me feel at ease, this was my moment of mindfulness. Ballet as a perfect antidote for living my busy and demanding life.