Saturday, June 9, 2012

Effectively Dealing With Difficulties In Dance Part 1- Physical

Two of my dancing "sweet"hearts :)

*For those of you who have followed my blog in the past, thank you for bearing with my "jumping" back in where I left off over a year ago.  I have my reasons, and I will share them in God's time.  For now, know that I am glad to be here and even more so to have you with me!

No good thing comes without a set of challenges associated with it.  Dance, while a tremendous blessing, is no exception!  Especially when you are just beginning, or you are sorely out of practice [ahem] you can expect to have to deal with a little physical "opposition".  My hope in writing this is that you can laugh at (and learn from) my mistakes along the way- making your own transition into the dancing lifestyle a smooth and enjoyable one. 

Most of the "data" compiled for this post comes from the time spent these past several months working on a few dances to present during church this Sunday.  Never before have I been part of a dance-ministry team, and I'm excited for God to use us to awaken creative desires and impress His spirit into hearts.  Today I'd like to share some of the physical difficulties I've faced during this time of preparation and what has worked to press forward in my commitment to serve in this way.  In an upcoming post I will share some of the spiritual/emotional struggles I have gone through, along with tips for persevering in those areas.  

It took me a few mornings of waking up and literally crawling out of bed to realize that I wasn't the spry young gymnast I used to be!  I needed to s-t-r-e-t-c-h before practice, and not just a little toe touch and arm lift either!!  Of course, if I would have always arrived on time, this would not have been an issue, but..that's a different issue entirely (wink)

Stretching not only protects your muscles from being pulled and other injury, but it also allows you to feel more loose and limber as well-which makes motions more natural and less forced.  For example, certain jumps and kicks I do would not even be possible for me if I didn't take the time to put in a good stretch first.  Here are some basic stretches I would recommend, though I would also add a neck stretch to each side: 15 seconds is a good basic time to hold each stretch, but if it takes longer for you to feel more loose and relaxed, feel free to hold up to a minute or so.

Side note: Wouldn't it be fun to do some stretches with me to worship music? I'm feeling inspired!

Let's face it: unless you are used to regular physical activity, a 2 hour long dancing session is NOT going to end as pleasantly for you as it starts!  In fact, unless you want to end up like I did, prostrate on the floor, dizzy and wondering why you ever got yourself into this mess, I recommend avoiding it!!  Even a fast paced dance lasting over a few minutes without slowing down is enough to get your heart beating scarily fast and may best be worked toward over a period of time.

I recommend setting realistic goals for yourself based on where you're at right now.  Set aside a certain amt. of time for dance each week, and split it up over several days.  If you're thinking of joining a dance team or taking any classes, it's not too early to begin warming up your body and improving your stamina and overall health now.  You will be glad you did.  Even 10-15 minutes 3 days a week spent moving to your favorite music (after a good stretch) will offer surprising benefits. Try alternating between a fast praise song that inspires you to jump around a bit followed by a song you can move to with slower, more graceful movements.  Adding in two or three spins each time and increasing this amount every few weeks will slowly get your body used to the motion and help to prevent dizziness.  The spotting method is also worth a try if you find yourself using a lot of spins in your dancing.

You probably do not want to have to replace light bulbs from your overhead lights due to a dancing mishap.  I know I will be avoiding it in the future... Nor do you want to find yourself moving to the music while holding your toe after stubbing it on the corner of your computer desk.  Ask me know I know!  

Even in most small apartments, you can make room to dance.  It may involve getting rid of your coffee table, or using an uncommon area like a hallway or kitchen.  In my house I have an open area about 8x8 which I use to practice, but dancing is always taking place throughout the rest of the house, as well.  It does help to have an area where you feel comfortable that is relatively disaster-proof for freedom of movement.  However, I've made do with much less.  In fact, my ceiling fan light is still in place over my practice location.  I do hope to replace it very soon with something further away from my hands and (sometimes) feet!! 

Children who want to join in the fun pose an interesting dilemma to the dancing mama.  I know mine are quick to accompany me any chance they get, and I hate to stop them. For the most part, I've learned to embrace it, and keep any more "serious" practice time reserved for when they're sleeping.  Sometimes, though, I have said something like, "Give mommy five minutes to practice, and then I can dance with you", or something along those lines.  

Another terrific option for dancing is the great outdoors.  Especially this time of year, the temperature is just right in the morning and evenings and there something about worshipping God with dance out in the beauty of his Creation that adds a whole new element of joy.  You've got to try it!!

Well, I hope this has served to inspire and equip you.  I have been feeling a bit under the weather and plan to spend the rest of the day resting up for my performance tomorrow. I look forward to posting a video of our dance for you shortly!

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