WHY YOGA?

ffb081d2dc2f2c5706997c322bcd17d3WHY YOGA? I’ve been practicing yoga since before I was born. Apparently my mom thought the unitards were cool, and joined a class so she could wear the outfit.

She claims to have used her pregnant belly (aka, me!) as a bolster to lean on while practicing Upavistha Konasana (wide leg forward bend). Her impressive collection of yoga videos, plus her strong encouragement, inspired me to start my own practice as a teenager.

As an adult, I found out that the benefits went way beyond stretching. I use yoga breathing techniques to calm, energize or clarify my mind. As a dancer, I was always drawn to the more active, flowing styles of yoga, but I have learned there is equal value in stillness.

People sometimes ask what kind of yoga I teach, and that’s a tricky question. I’ve come to think of yoga not so much as a thing that I do, but as a way that I do things. That’s not to say I don’t practice classic poses – I do! Since they were designed to help a person practice the HOW of yoga, they are an easy way to get to my calm centre. And I apply the principles of yoga to all my movement practices. I breathe deeply, I aim to balance strength and softness, and I seek out moments of stillness even when I’m in motion.

joy of yogaMy yoga teacher training, plus my long injury history, taught me how to modify and adapt poses so they would be do-able by any body. I love finding ways to make yoga work for everyone.

The first yoga video I ever owned was Sarah Ivanhoe’s Joy of Yoga, which you can try here on youtube.

 

WHY PILATES?

method-pilates-precision-toning-jennifer-kries-vhs-cover-artWHY PILATES? I was introduced to pilates in high school by my mom’s workout video collection (you can try Jennifer Kries’ classic 1996 workout on youtube). I was originally drawn to its ballet aesthetic. I’d been taking ballet classes since the age of 6, so pointed toes and long lines were already very familiar. We always did sit-ups and crunches as a warm-up in dance class, so I knew strong abs were important.

The principles of precision and flow appealed to my dancer brain, and like yoga, pilates uses the breath to bring awareness to the body. Later on, when I discovered my naturally extreme flexibility actually made me more prone to injury, I used pilates to balance my bendiness with strength. But it wasn’t until I took my teacher training that I truly understood the importance of activating the deepest abdominals. It’s actually their job to keep the body in steady alignment, and now I’ve made it my mission to spread the word.

Quick-Fix-Screen-Shot-1-cropThe first thing I teach to new students is how to engage their transverse abdominus, and it has a huge impact not only on how they move but how they understand their bodies. To try it yourself, check out my Pilates Quick Fix video.

Oh What A Night!

Kool--The-Gang-Ladies-Night-517839What do you get when you combine three sassy ladies, a funky soundtrack, lots of core strengthening and a whole bunch of belly laughs? You get Piladies Night! I’m really excited to start this semi-private class back up again.

Tonight’s 8:30 class is full but I’m looking to start more sessions. You and a couple friends can have a pilates-fusion class of your own, and I can help match you with some sassy new friends if yours aren’t available.

I have times available most nights of the week, and prices are very reasonable. Message me if you’re interested and I’ll hook you up!

Guidelines for Dance Improvisation

  • Relax – there is no ‘right way’ to move, you are expected to experiment, no judgements
  • Respond to instructions with your body, not your brain (don’t overthink)
  • Take chances, do things that might look silly or weird
  • Physically commit, do your chosen moves with enthusiasm

Use the images in your head to inspire your next movement

Dance in School Makes Kids Smarter

We know this already, but it’s always nice to have some science to back it up 🙂

How Learning Dance in School Can Produce Smarter Kids by Sheri Leblanc

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“Using dance to teach standard subjects allows students to have fun with the material, but also helps them gain a deeper understanding of concepts by approaching them from new angles. “

“In dance class, Carter explains, students practice physical exercises that “‘stimulate mental alertness, modeling, sequencing, attention to detail, and memorization skills’… —thereby promoting the learning process.” “

DIY Dance: Handshake Dance

A great way to inspire creative movement and begin group choreography.girls-shaking-hands

  • Have students work in pairs (make a group of three if there are an uneven number of students)
  • Instruct students to create a 4-part handshake with their partners
  • Students will choose four movements in which they make contact with their partner (high five, shake hands, touch elbows, etc)
  • Have students practice performing their handshake to the beat of a song, repeating it several times
  • Now ask students to make each of the four parts of their handshake into a larger, dancier movement
  • Have students practice their handshake dance to the beat, but at a slower pace to allow for the new, larger movements
  • Take it a step further by combining pairs into groups of 4-6, and have students re-work their movements to fit the larger group

DIY Dance: Dance Recipe Choreography

The teacher may create a recipe checklist for younger students, but older student may participate in choosing the elements to include in their dance. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Name of dance and choreographers
  • Music (and length)
  • Dance moves learned in class (you provide a number, students will list the ones they choose)
  • Dance moves created by students (you provide a number, students will list their choices)
  • Elements of dance to explore (see Elements of Dance Cheat Sheet)
  • Emotions and related gestures to include (based on the music or story narrative)
  • Entrance and exit strategies
  • Group movement conventions (see Elements of Dance cheat-sheet)
  • Costuming/Wardrobe ideas

Here’s a Soccer Dance Recipe Worksheet from a dance done with grades 6-8.

DIY Dance: Stick Together

Based on the ‘Step on the Beat’ video by Kate Kuper http://youtu.be/J90FlKP-YmU

  • Have students spread out in the space
  • The teacher (or a student) will call out two body parts (both elbows, or hand and hip)
  • The students will stick those parts together, and keep them together as they dance
  • The teacher may play music as the students dance in their ‘stuck’ position
  • Repeat with different combinations of body parts
  • Have students connect their body part with a partner or group of other students

DIY Dance: Alphabet Soup

Get students of all ages warmed up with this classic game.

  • Students stand in a circle, facing each other
  • Choose one student to lead. The leader will choose a letter and call it out
  • The other students will find a creative way to make that letter with their bodies
  • You can have students create the alphabet in sequence, in reverse, or try spelling short or long words
  • Try working in pairs or teams to create letters, numbers or shapes