Tag Archives: walking is relaxing

Taking Lessons From Ballet Class Out…

… into the “real” world.

No, this post is not about my tendency to strike up a ballet pose at random, or attempt traveling steps the second I have an open area of more than 8ft by 10ft in front of me… though those things have been known to happen quite frequently. Perhaps a misleading title again…

Anyway.

I found myself with some rare extra free time, so I went “hiking”. I put hiking in quotes because, due to curently not having a hiking buddy for safety, my hiking options are somewhat limited; I usually end up on this local-to-me mountain – more of a glorified hill, I suppose – that, while it does have some legitimate hiking trails, the vast majority of people end up on the main trail, which is a narrow paved road. So, it’s more of a steepish uphill walk. But it’s still one of my favorite local places outside of ballet class and my garden – and a great leg workout nonetheless – so today I ended up there.

Where the ballet relevance comes in is my posture while walking. I like to use the opportunity to really focus on my posture, staying pulled up, core held tightly, collarbones open, sternum up, shoulders back, lats engaged, tailbone down, head up – all the things that a ballet teacher corrects on during class. I’ve found that doing this when I’m doing stuff around the home really helps keep the muscle memory more active than just letting it all go the second I leave class. It’s also a sign of progress for me, because back when I first started ballet – and even as late as over a year into my ballet journey – even just standing there pulled up for a long time was a huge challenge. To be able to keep that posture while doing housework and chores would have been unthinkable. I’m getting stronger, hooray!

There’s also the being in public aspect of it. A few months ago, I read this blog post online that basically stated that our posture and body language is a function of our self-esteem – or lack thereof – and that to work on the posture of the body from the outside in, rather than the other way around (work on self-esteem first, posture will follow) was foolish. I have to admit, I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction against what he was saying. ‘No way!’ I thought, ‘Give me someone with terrible self-esteem and have me train them using Pilates and ballet, and I will get them to stand up straight!’. After all, it’s about having the knowledge of your body and engaging the correct muscles. I mean, before starting dance I didn’t even know I had lats, let alone how to engage them.

Then I did more thinking (yeah, I’m one of those people who overthinks everything, whatever…) and, well, perhaps there’s something to what he was saying. I mean, no, it’s not impossible to train someone with low self-esteem to stand up straight, but there’s more to it than that. I’ll continue to use myself as an example (I don’t know if I (still) have low self-esteem necessarily, but at times I have a hell of a lot of anxiety).

I’ve noticed, and have known this for years now, that even if I consciously choose to stand up straight, when in the presence of someone I perceive as intimidating my body will sort of close itself down. Like, I’m telling it ‘shoulders back, head up’ and I do it, but slowly start shrinking back down. I found something online that said that I’m subconsciously trying to make myself smaller, to appear non-threatening, to not challenge the other person, to avoid confrontation. Which does seem quite accurate, if I must be honest with myself.

So, I’ve been practicing keeping my good posture even when surrounded by people, especially if I feel intimidated. I’m hoping to lessen the anxiety surrounding it, until it eventually goes away completely. Will it work? Who knows, but for now I am showing signs of progress and that’s all I can ask for.

The “hike” reminded me of my old hiking buddy Lindsay (I wrote about her on here before, mostly about how I haven’t told her than I’ve been doing ballet since she moved away because I didn’t want her to tease me about it), and times past before I started ballet-ing. As a weird way of keeping the memory alive, when I came home I took a nice long bath with candlelight and essential oils, totally a Lindsay thing to do. I took a book with me to the bath, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, which I found at a thrift store a couple months ago but hadn’t had a chance to read because homework and chores. Only got about 60 pages in before the timer went off  (I had set the kitchen timer to go off so I didn’t turn into a prune in the bath…), but still, an extremely relaxing time was had.

 

My Newest Friend

It’s now been 4 weeks (so it counts to me as a month, even though it might not technically be a month. We could pretend it’s, like, February or something.) since I took my unfortunate mid-summer slide  down the stairs and two weeks since I stopped experiencing any pain or discomfort while walking. A month seems like a nice, neat time frame to celebrate something, so I’ve been celebrating by… walking, which just so happens to be one of my favorite things to do.

I’ve been focused on working my way up to what was my usual pre-fall morning route – a 1.8 mile (3.6 miles round trip) series of tree-and-cactus-lined residential streets, winding up and down through the foothills of a small (3000 ft.) mountain. Not yet, but I’ve been getting closer every day this week. Perhaps even tomorrow. It’s been mostly the heat that’s made me decide to turn back, not my fatigue level. Not that we’ve been having a heat wave – if anything it’s cooled down a bit and today was downright nice. But I’ve been waking up a little bit later than usual, due to staying up too late enjoying my last week of summer vacation, and have not made it out for a walk as early as I would have liked.

I’ve also been doing some midday walking, which is not my favorite – it’s hot! there’s people! – but I wanted to be supportive of Boyfriend’s efforts to get some exercise and spend some quality time before I start school. It was his birthday this past weekend, and the consequent partying is a big factor that led to my desire to increase the exercise level. Class is coming up tomorrow, the start of the semester of ballet next week, and leotards, tights and mirrors are unforgiving.

Also, ever since I started going to class I’ve resumed practice at home. My first week returning to practice I just worked on the most basic moves there are: plies and tendus. I didn’t even go up on releve. This past week though, I’ve gone back to regular practice – without any jumping, although we did sautes and changements in class last wednesday and my ankle felt fine.

The familiar soreness is back – and I love it! I could almost swear that the time I was off, before I started doing floor barre, my muscles felt noticeable weaker and were almost visibly shrinking. Or it could be my imagination. I hope.
Anyway, along with the awesome all-over-body soreness seems to come the (also familar) not-too-pleasant foot soreness. Not pain, nothing related to any injuries, but just a soreness that is usually (temporarily) aliviated by a foot massage.

A couple days ago, I remembered something about a tennis ball. I wasn’t really sure what I was to do with it, so I set it on the floor and rested my foot on it, feeling it’s rough texture against my foot. Then, I applied pressure, almost curving my foot and sort of “rolled” it around for a few minutes.

Best Feeling Ever! Not only was it amazing during the time I was rolling it around, like a foot massage, but afterwards the soreness was completely gone, unlike a foot massage.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before!
Thank you Mr. Tennis Ball!
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Now, if only I can keep you safe from my dog…
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She’s not looking. RUN!!!
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Walking Along the Road to Recovery

I’ve been taking it really easy on my body during this whole healing process, and every day I’ve been noticing improvement. So, this morning I thought “It’s been practically two weeks (minus some 22 hours) since I sprained my ankle. And it doesn’t hurt anymore at all. Time to get off the couch and explore a little!” Patience has never been one of my strong points,though I’m working on it – ballet helps in that department – and I just couldn’t wait until it has officially been two weeks.
I went for a walk today. It wasn’t a very long walk, nor did I stray too far from home. In fact, I literally just walked up and down the street next to our apartment complex. But you know what? It was awesome!

Prior to my fall I had been walking several miles everyday, mostly on uphills (and consequently back down on the downhills). I had been mostly doing uphills because I’d heard, from my running-loving friends, that walking for exercise is pointless unless it’s done on an incline. Since we lucked out and our apartment complex is located in the foothills of a mountain, I have uphill walking available almost right at my doorstep.
But since I was planning on something not too strenous, I decided to settle for just walking up and down the same relatively flat street, with the added bonus of being able to return home quickly if my ankle started to act up. It rained all day yesterday, so the humidity level was up but I wasn’t minding it at all. After being couched for the past two weeks it was nice to just get out of the house for a while get some fresh air, watch the little insects fly around from flower to flower, and just observe the wildlife up close. I think I was just super grateful to get the oportunity to go explore again!
As for walking on uphills versus flat ground, I have to say that I disagree with my friends. Walking on flat ground is a form of exercise as well. How do I figure? Because every moment that you are walking you are supporting your own weight and keeping yourself upright, things that you would not be doing if you were on the couch. When I go for walks I always check to make sure that my posture is correct and that I am engaging my core. I noticed (during this time of recovery and rest) that the more time passed by that I didn’t get to walk the harder it seemed to maintain correct posture while standing. It’s almost as though my muscles were deteriorating due to not being used to support my body’s own weight. Due to that alone I think it’s better to walk, even if it’s on flat ground, than to not exercise at all. Every little bit helps!
There’s also the added benefits, of course. Walking relaxes me and helps me get my thoughts in order. I tend to get extremely hyper and have trouble just sitting still while thinking, so going for walks is one of the ways that I handle this. My hyperness is at an all-time high in the morning so going for a long walk first thing in the morning is a good way to keep from irritating anyone around me with my early morning chatter. It also brings out my creativity – I have come up with lots of great ideas for a short story or essay while in the middle of a walk. Next I just have to take my own advice and remember to bring a notepad along.
My body appears to have handled that walk well – no pain, no swelling, no limp – so hopefully I will be back to ballet (minus the jumping) in no time!