Breathing Exercises

Need a Breather?

Do you get nervous or overwhelmed when auditioning, performing or taking an intimidating class? Relax! Stress can hinder your performance and even cause injury. DS asked Rebecca Dietzel, an anatomist and former dancer who teaches for The Ailey/Fordham BFA program, for some simple breathing exercises that will help you control your nerves and stay focused. Try them the moment you start to feel anxious or stressed.

The Situation

You’re backstage waiting to perform and feeling jittery and shaky.

The Solution

•    Using your thumb, gently press on the outside of your nose, blocking your right nostril. Slowly inhale and exhale through your left nostril.

•    Repeat on opposite side.

•    Repeat as necessary.

The Situation

You’re in bed the night before a big audition, but you can’t seem to calm your mind and fall asleep.

The Solution

•    Lie flat on your back and place your palms on your lower abdomen.

•    As you inhale slowly through your nose, allow your abdomen to rise.

•    As you exhale, concentrate on slowly lowering your abdomen. Be sure not to force the air out at the very end.

•    Repeat as necessary.

The Situation

Your back-to-back classes are overwhelming and you feel tense.

The Solution

•    Stand with your feet slightly apart and your arms at your sides.

•    While inhaling, slowly raise your arms above your head with your palms facing up and clasp your fingers. Exhale in this position.

•    Inhale again, stretching upward while keeping your hands clasped and raising your shoulders.

•    Exhale, letting your arms and shoulders fall slowly, while keeping your rib cage lengthened and expanded.

•    Repeat as necessary.


Super Beans

We all know that salads are healthy and nutritious and that we should be eating them often, but sometimes they just aren’t filling enough. Instead of piling on croutons, cheese and salad dressings, which are high in fat and contain preservatives and additives, opt for some garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). Garbanzo beans have a nutty, buttery flavor that makes a salad heartier and more satisfying. Plus, these powerful little beans are high in protein, fiber and energy-boosting minerals. So dig in!


Did You Know?

The tight, confined, sweaty space in your pointe shoe is the ideal breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Try soaking your feet in cool tea for 15 minutes a day for one week, or sprinkle some crushed sage leaves into your pointe shoes before you dance. Tea and sage are high in tannic acid, which reduces sweating and odor significantly.


Quick Tip: Stretching not only improves your flexibility, but also helps deliver oxygen and important nutrients to your muscles. Plus, it makes it easier to burn calories during exercise. So reserve a few minutes before rehearsal and after class to stretch.

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