Tag Archives: arnica massage oil

Thursday: Ugh, What A Day…

Don’t worry – there is a happy ending (ballet class) in there…

Day started off like any other (recent) Thursday: I got up early, packed up my school stuff, ballet bag, and food for the day, and headed off for my long day at school.  I get there, and there is absolutely no parking, as apparently there’s some kind of event going on at the school. Had to park clear across the street on the opposite side of campus as any of my classes in the overflow parking lot – how annoying.  Go to my morning class without incident, and I’m back in my car having lunch when it starts to rain.  Did I mention that I have no umbrella, raincoat, or even a plastic bag to hold over my head in the car? (Well, I had my ballet bag, but the point was not to get my ballet gear wet.)  By this point I’m more than a little irritated…

So I start my long trek to my second class of the day, and I’m trying to walk at a brisk pace to minimize the level of soaked that I’m getting (though I think I remember reading somewhere that if you run in the rain you get wetter than if you had walked the same distance. Well, either way, it was cold, and I didn’t want to linger outside for too long.).  I don’t know exactly how what happened next happened – one second I was walking quickly along, the next I’m flying through the air.  The good news is I didn’t land on my knees, or sprain an ankle. The bad news is than I found myself on my derriere in a shallow puddle.

(It’s ok, go ahead and laugh.  I’d be laughing too if it hadn’t been so embarassing (which is probably why it’s funny.)

I got up as quick as I could manage, without slipping and falling again.  Now besides my entire hood and front of my sweater being soaked, so was the back of my pants. Goody. Trying to preserve whatever was left of my dignity – and so grateful that I hadn’t worn even more light-colored pants – I walked (at least I wasn’t limping) slowly to the nearest restroom. Washed off my hands and spent about 15 minutes drying off my clothes under  the warm air hand dryer (and it worked! Best idea ever.).

A few hours later came ballet class. Well, after another soaking by the rain on the way back to the car, which was still parked across the street on the other side of campus. By this point my behind felt a little sore, but I chalked it off to the cold, and since I could walk normally I went to class. (Besides, Teacher had spotted me earlier, so ditching was not really an option.  And I didn’t want to go to class just to observe.)

We started barre and my body felt fine, no soreness or any stiffness out of the ordinary.

For tendus we used arms (yay!), 1slow with articulation, 2 regular speed en croix. I love it when we use arms!

After 8-8-4-4-2-2-1-1-1-1 twice, we immediately went into lots of releves and eleves, then echappes without really having an opportunity to rest. I wasn’t tired from my calves, just glad we were facing the barre so there was no pressure to hold a balance. It’s like one of my strong points in dancing is my strength, but my weakest point is my balance.  I’m still using my core but on some days I just can’t find a good balance (at least in first, sous-sus is no big deal.)

We did 3 ronde de jambes a terre and 1 en l’air, then fondue passe balance, second time around with passe releve (attempt at) balance.  I tried letting go of the barre for a couple seconds, but so far my passe releves in center are much better than those at barre.

We worked on frappes again, different combination: 3 frappes, on the thrid one instead of closing back we did 2 piques and then close with a flexed foot to do the next side.  It was fun.  I really enjoy doing piques, and when we do a combination that is not super slow and I still manage to it ok (like the correct foot going to the correct place at the corrrect time kind of stuff, not necessarily that everything was perfect) it is a big ego boost. I really need to focus on what I’ve improved on so that i don’t get discouraged.

After barre stretches and leg swings, the last thing we did at barre was grand battements and 3 changements. Around this time I realized that jumping freaking hurt.

Luckily, Teacher announced that we were going to start off center with the same adagio combination from last class (3 pas de cheval, 2 balancés, tombe, pas de bourre, bring back leg to passe and developpe devant, releve sous-sus, chasse towards the side of the leg in front, repeat other side), and since I (sort of, at first I forgot that the releve sous-sus comes after the developpe) remembered the combination  I got to be in the front line, so people who weren’t there last class could follow. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I managed not not mess up too much.  My timing was a little off, but then, I think we were all off on timing.  It was so much fun though – I love longer combinations, especially when they consist of moves I can do.  A few months ago and before I think that level of combination would have been disastrous, to be honest.

After that we did our 4 quarter turns, 2 half turns and 2 full pirouettes combination.  The quater and half pirouettes continue to be fun – and doable – but the full pirouettes are so hit or miss.  I’m convinced the spotting is a bigger issue here than a stable passe releve, especially since lately I’ve been balancing on passe releve in center for around the time it would take to complete a revolution (though at barre my passe releve balance isn’t doing too well, as I mentioned earlier).  I work on keeping my arms connected to my core, going up in a really high passe releve and it works out fine for the half and quarter turns, but when it comes to doing the full pirouette I overcompensate and end up using too much force.  Some of the times I got all the way around I landed with my legs a little overcrossed, or apart from each other. Definitely something to keep working on, but considering how much more I sucked at pirouettes and passe releves a few months ago, I’ve improved.

Then came the jumping. We did sautes (16), changements (24), echappes and pas de chats.  I had really been planning on focusing more on my technique for my jumping this class, making sure to not speed up towards the end, forcing myself to point my feet, really just work hard.  Unfortunately, due to my fall it was taking all my concentration just to get through them.  With every jump I felt more and more sore.  I was silently praying that Teacher wouldn’t notice me where I was hiding in the back, and i wasn’t jumping up with full power, trying to minimize the impact on the way down.  This may sound really dumb, but at times I was thinking ‘I feel like a real dancer, dancing through the pain (but of course with horrible technique).’ I guess saying that is an insult to dancers… Well, anyway, I made it through.  In hindsight, if I’d known how much it was going to hurt  landing jumps I would have probably not gone to class…

Thankfully, by the time I got out of class it had stopped raining (temporarily), so I managed to crawl in to the car somehow (by now it hurt to lower down to a sitting position).  Drove home, hobbled upstairs (Boyfriend helped me carry my stuff upstairs, how sweet), Boyfriend examined me for bruising or swelling (there was none), rubbed some of that arnica massage oil that I made last year for my sprained ankle all over my lower back and bottom, and  went to sleep.

(And yes, I learned a lesson in all of this: I now have an emergency rain coat and hat in the trunk of the car in case any more situations like this occur.  As for learning to watch where I’m going, I’m still working on it.  But how was I supposed to know it would be extra slippery where I stepped?)

I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much better now, 2 days later.  And in a few hours Boyfriend and I are going to go see a live ballet by a local company.  Can’t wait!


Getting Reacquainted with Yoga, and Jogging

AKA Fitness Goals Update 2.5 (since I was going for this every-two-weeks thing and it’s only been a week – but it was a great excuse to wear these ridiculously awesome leggings!)

My introduction to yoga preceeds my introduction to ballet.  Unlike ballet though – and not counting the single class that my college friend Lina dragged me to back in 2001 (yikes! Now I feel ancient!) – I haven’t really had any training to speak of in yoga.  It was more like ‘hey, I’ve heard yoga is good for you’ and my friend Lindsey (same one from my Ballet, Hike, Eat, Repeat post), who had been doing yoga since she was 18 – she’s my age – was like “Oh, you’ve got to let me teach you some yoga!”  Since I had nothing better to do at that moment, I said “Sure!”  Oh, and this barely happened about 3 years ago – as opposed to my 1 year and 9 months of so of ballet.

So that’s the disclaimer, I haven’t actually taken a yoga class in the last 14 years (and the one I did take was at 6:30 a.m., an ungodly hour for a new-adult, so logically I hated it and never returned.  Was definitely not interested in health benefits back at that age! No, had to get slapped around a bit by my 20’s to decide to take care of myself.).

Anyway, my friend was training me, and she wasn’t exactly strict.  So there I am thinking ‘I can do yoga!’ not realizing that perhaps I was not doing it correctly (not my friend’s fault, I’m just naturally weak).And looking back now, I know for a fact I wasn’t doing it correctly – so many bent knees that needed straightening, so many tight muscles with low flexibility and reduced range of motion.  No wonder I was thinking that it was somewhat easy!

Up until I took my first ever ballet class, I continued sort of studying yoga, mostly with Lindsey and using the yoga program Wii Fit on the Nintendo Wii.  The first time I attempted any of the poses I was so stiff and back then I couldn’t touch even my toes.  I did feel some improvement, and increased flexibility so I was satisfied with my progress. Going into my first ballet class I remember thinking ‘No big deal, I’ve been doing yoga!’

Well, if you’ve ever done ballet, or been reading through my blog, you know that I was nowhere near prepared!

When I took my first ballet class ever it went horrible, but somewhere in there I fell in love with ballet.  It became my new obsession, and since I’d honestly never felt that way about yoga, I put yoga on the back burner.  Sure, I do some poses after I finish practicing at home as a cool down, but nothing serious.

This past week, I found myself youtube surfing and felt inspired to do a yoga session. Not as a cool down or to loosen up my stiff back before embarking on my day, but just, like, on it’s own merit.

It felt great! Sometimes all my body needs is a nice long all-body stretch. It was so relaxing, just holding the poses, remembering to breathe. To amuse myself, I was trying to transition between the poses in a dance-ish kind of way, making it smooth and flowing.   And it reminded me of the  apparent superficial (to the untrained eye) similarities between ballet and yoga.  I still remember for the first 6 month or so of doing ballet I thought that passe and the yoga pose with your foot resting on the standing leg’s thigh (possibly called Tree Pose?) were the same – though now I know they most certainly are not!

If I'm not mistaken, this is the Tree pose. Note the foot is flat against the standing leg, knee points down.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the Tree pose. Note the foot is flat against the standing leg, knee points down.

Passe. Foot is pointed, knee points (somewhat) out, rather than down.  How could I ever have thought it was the same thing?!

Passe. Foot is pointed, knee points (somewhat) out, rather than down. How could I ever have thought it was the same thing?!

So as part of my Getting Fit For Ballet Challenge I will probably be doing a longer session of yoga once or twice a week, as well as a few poses regularly as I have been doing for cool down.

According to Wii Fit, this is called the Dancer pose.

According to Wii Fit, this is called the Dancer pose.

Similar to Dancer pose - some kind of attitude derriere with arabesque arms.

Similar to Dancer pose – some kind of attitude derriere with arabesque arms.

In other (fitness) news, this past week I’ve jogged twice.  The first time was last thursday morning, interspersing some bouts of jogging with my uphill walking.  On the jogging parts I made sure to go on the (softer) asphalt rather than the sidewalk, both to not overstress my knees with the impact and because the uneveness of sidewalks at every driveway really irritates me (and my ankles).  With walking it’s ok, but with jogging – given the higher forces of impact – I didn’t want to take any chances.

Jogging exhausted me! My thighs were sore all the way until saturday (or was it sunday?), and I made copious use of the arnica massage oil I had made for my ankle.  I have so much newfound respect for people that jog or run!

Finally, today I decided that  enough time to rest and recover had passed and I jogged again.  This time I found this nice grassy – yet uphill – field near home in which to jog.  I only did one lap, but by the end I was gasping for breath and glad that no one was around to ask me if I was ok.  The whole jog took about 4 minutes – don’t laugh, last time I went jogging before last week was years and years ago. Let’s see how long it takes me to work my way up.  I’m thinking of increasing the number of laps I jog on a weekly basis, assuming of course that my recovery from the soreness keeps up.

As an added bonus, the field is adjacent to a park – I love parks – and I was thinking at the deserted hour of 7 a.m. I can totally practice my sautes there.  Or just jumping in general.  I really need to do something about my weak, crappy jumps.

One more picture, just for fun! The expression on the mask's face just keeps cracking me up, so much more calm that my ballet "game face", lol.

One more picture, just for fun! The expression on the mask’s face just keeps cracking me up, so much more calm that my ballet “game face”, lol.

Oh, and that blue X on the wall? The one that appears in all my pics? I use it for spotting when I practice my chaines.

Ankle Update and Do-it-yourself Arnica Massage Oil

My ankle is doing better everyday, which is a good thing. I can’t wait to get back to normal activities, but I know it’s important to take it easy. Don’t want to reinjure it or make it worse, after all. For now, I’m pleased that the swelling has gone down, it’s not sore or tender to the touch, and I’m getting extra help and attention from Boyfriend now that he’s back in town. Always nice to have an excuse to not help with the chores, lol. At the same time, I miss practicing my plies and releves while waiting for water to boil for cooking!
After PoetsandPirouettes   mentioned arnica, I remembered that I had picked up a bag of dried arnica leaves awhile back. I’d heard that arnica was good for inflammation. Since I love do-it-yourself projects – and I have all this extra time since I’m not practicing ballet – I made an arnica-infused massage oil for my ankle. It worked! I will probably also continue using it for sore muscles as well.
Anyway, instructions are below in case anyone is interested:
1)   Double boil some water. I used a medium (small?) pot of water and put a heat-safe glass bowl inside of it. I brought the water to a boil, then lowered the heat to medium.

2)    Place the dried arnica leaves inside a small glass jar. Cover the leaves completely with oil. I used coconut oil, but grapeseed, olive, sesame, etc. would probably work as well. Mostly I used coconut because it hardens in low temperatures, in case I decided to later add in beeswax and make it into ointment.
3)    Place the jar (with contents) into the glass bowl in the pot. Stir the contents periodically, making sure the leaves remain covered in oil. Replenish the water periodically as well, since quite a bit will evaporate eventually. I let the leaves infuse into the oil for about 4 hours.
4)    Carefully (pot holders!) remove the jar from the hot water.
5)      Strain through cheesecloth. I put the cheesecloth on the mouth of the jar and secured it with rubber bands. Then I flipped the jar upside down and let the oil drip through into a different jar. Once most of the oil had gone through, I took the remaining oil-drenched leaves, wrapped them in cheesecloth, and squeezed more oil out from them.
6)   Finish, store, and use. Optionally, add a couple drops of lavender essential oil. Store in a glass container since oil can possible dissolve plastic.

I’ve been massaging this oil into my ankle as often as I remember, and I think it’s been helping out quite a bit. Aren’t little do-it-yourself projects fun?!