Welcome back to the studios, Vixens. We are so thrilled to see you in person, share space, teach, practice, and play together. We knew we missed you, even though we were able to connect virtually, but seeing you in person really brings it home for us. We really valued the time to brush up on our teaching skills, to learn from each other and to figure out how we can be better allies and community members. Now we’d like to share some things with you so you can get your practice back to where you were safely, and effectively. 

Studies suggest that cultivating mindfulness levels up your exercise routine. These five tools go well beyond sitting in lotus pose and breathing. They will help you get stronger faster because you will find the ability to make subtle modifications to your form. They will also help you avoid injury because you will be more attentive to what is happening in your body. Here is how you can get started.

BEGIN

Before you start moving, take a moment to drop into a restful state of awareness where you are calm, your breathing is even, and you are mentally alert. Then if you’d like, you can take a few moments and direct your focus internally to your experience, rather than externally to your environment and the people in the room. You might also pause and form a clear intention – either verbal or visualized – for what you are about to do. This will help you focus on what you are doing and will increase your chances of success since energy flows where attention goes. Your intentions don’t have to be grand ones. They could be about consistently pointing your toes, or using a specific muscle group when you try a particular lift, or remembering the order of the choreo you are working on

BREATHE  

Our culture tends to skew towards being tense and anxious. Living through a pandemic has not made that any better. Worse, we face a deluge of information and sometimes feel like if our actions aren’t outcome-oriented we are wasting time and resources. To return to a more sustainable place we need to build in time for self-reflection and to sit with our actions. 

The key to this, especially in your movement practice, is your breath. The subtle, rhythmic, repetitive inflow and outflow can help you stay in the present moment. It can also keep your mind and body connected. As you move, try to stay aware of your breath. It shouldn’t take over what you need to do to master that lyra position, or to finish your aerial crunch reps, but the sensation of the breath in the background should support each movement. 

CONNECT

Staying connected to your breath, and to the sensation in your body can help you get you out of your head. This will help ensure you hear all of the instructions without thinking about the grumpy email you got before class. It will also help you stay alert to  feelings-based cues that will help you determine where you can challenge yourself because it feels correct, or where you should dial it back before something is damaged (including your pride). By using your body and physical movements to keep your mind focused on the present moment you’ll be better able to notice what you think, quiet negative self-talk, and amplify your inner cheerleader. By staying present through the intensity, you’ll be better able to find calming release and sense of accomplishment that so many of us enjoy after practice.

NOTICE 

Instead of focusing on what you look like in the mirror, try switching your focus to how you feel. Explore finding the energy in your own body. To do this you might pause and bring awareness to your physical form. Feel your bones, muscles, organs, tissues, and even skin. How does your body feel? Do you have pain or discomfort? Are you low on energy?

Each of us has a different approach and experience and they matter more than what the dancer next to you is up to. While your instructor and classmates can offer helpful tips and tricks to help you nail a move or master choreo, being attentive to what is happening in your body will help you identify what feels best, and where you might choose to focus your attention.

END

If you have taken a class where you were happiest when it was over you know what we mean when we say it didn’t end well. Sometimes intense exercise classes can backfire emotionally when we push ourselves too hard for too long – especially at the end of class. We completely understand trying to make the most of your time in the studio, but if your session ends with something you can achieve and succeed at you’re more likely to walk away feeling groovy, not just glad it’s over. So please take the time to cool down with us and to rest for a few moments where possible.

Remember, your instructors and our whole team are here to support you and are mindful of how we help you feel physically, physiologically and psychologically better while and to help you tweak the size and shape of your butt.

Post by Vixen Niya 

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