Health & Body
Courtesy AQUA Studio NY

As a dancer, cross-training is a non-negotiable aspect of staying healthy. But sometimes the prospect of another dreary gym session is…less than inspiring. Banish boredom and take a cue from these three pros—a ballet dancer, a modern dancer and a Broadway performer—who shake up their cross-training with unusual activities. We asked Kendall Alway, DPT, a physical therapist who runs SF Performing Arts Physical Therapy and is the associate director of the ODC Healthy Dancers' Clinic in San Francisco, CA, to weigh in on the effectiveness of each method. Look no further for exciting cross-training regimens that can keep your dancer body challenged, balanced and injury-free.

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Health & Body

News flash: You’re probably going to overindulge a bit on Thanksgiving—and that’s OK! Ultimately, a single day of eating too much has very little impact on your health. That said, the very full feeling you have immediately post-feast can be pretty awful. Bloating, cramping, gas—they’re not the most pleasant sensations. We turned to Giulia Pline, a yoga- and Barre-certified trainer at BFX Studio in NYC, for four yoga poses to beat the bloat. Hold each pose for 8–10 deep breaths.

(Photo courtesy Giulia Pline)

1. Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees open

in a butterfly position. This pose helps with digestion by promoting blood flow to the stomach.


(Photo courtesy Giulia Pline)


2. Seated Spinal Twist

Sit on the floor and cross your left leg over your right leg so your left foot is on the outside of your right thigh. Hook your right elbow on the outside of your left thigh and twist to the left. Repeat on the opposite side. The twist squeezes your colon to help ease digestion.


(Photo courtesy Giulia Pline)

3. Cobra Pose

Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push through your hands to peel your chest off the floor. This position applies gentle pressure to your stomach to relieve gas and promote digestion.


(Photo courtesy Giulia Pline)


4. Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your feet planted on the floor, hips-width apart, and your arms by your sides. Beginning with the base of your spine, peel your backbone off the floor until your hips form a straight line with your thighs. This pose stretches your abdominals to relieve discomfort, and stimulates your thyroid gland.


Eyes feeling tired and dry after a long day in the studio? Try this trick to stimulate your tear ducts: Rub your hands together until they begin to feel warm, then cup them over your eyes. Take three deep breaths and move your palms up, applying light pressure to your eyeballs. Hold for a few more breaths, and release.


(Photo by Johan JK/Thinkstock)

#365 Happy Days

What made you smile today? Was it a good grade? A compliment from your favorite dance teacher? A delicious dessert? Chances are, something made you at least a little happy—even if it was only the feeling of your comfy bed after a tough rehearsal.

That’s the idea behind the Instagram trend #100HappyDays, where users post one photo each day of something that made them happy. The hope is that by taking time to recognize the little things that make you smile, you’ll gradually become a happier person in general. And it turns out the hashtag’s power is backed by science! Research shows that individuals who take time to record a few things that make them happy each day have a more positive outlook on life.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, thankfulness is on all of our brains. But what if we thought about it every day? Maybe then we could have #365HappyDays.


(Photo by O. Kovach/Thinkstock)

Fall Back, Not Down

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 2, this year—which means many of us are about to get an extra hour of sleep! But before you make grand plans for your extra-long Saturday night, consider this: Research shows that we’re actually more likely to lose sleep when November fallback rolls around.

Since most of us are on pretty strict schedules (hello, school, dance and homework!), shifting the clock back an hour can really get us out of whack. Our bodies resist the change, wanting to stick to our old schedule. We force ourselves to stay awake to adjust—with the promise of sleeping in an extra hour. But when the sun comes pouring into our window at the same time in the morning, we end up waking up before we want to. Cue a sleepy and cranky day.

It’s a vicious cycle, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a couple of things you can do for a gentler experience:

1. Make the switch gradual.

A few days before November 2, start inching your bedtime later. Consider 20-minute increments: If you usually go to bed at 11 pm, try 11:20 pm for a couple days, then 11:40 pm, etc. This will ease the blow when it’s time to set back the clocks.

2. Eat meals at the same time.

At first, you’ll likely feel hungry for dinner an hour earlier. Try to hold off. If you can adjust your eating patterns to the time change, your sleep patterns will follow suit.

3. Forgo the “snooze” button.

Your body is confused enough—don’t make it worse by giving yourself several wake times. Set an alarm and stick to it. It may seem tough at first, but eventually, you’ll find yourself waking up refreshed and ready to go at the first alarm.

Did you know?

Laughter is the key to new friendships. A recent study published in Personality and Individual Differences demonstrated that sharing a laugh with a new acquaintance increases the likelihood that you’ll become friends down the line. The laugh functions as a social cue, signaling to the other person that you’re interested in what they have to say—an important trait in a good friend!


Dance News

June 19th marks the start of NYC Dance Week 2014—a.k.a. a huge perk for dancers spending their summer in the Big Apple. For 10 days (until June 28th), NYC Dance Week offers free(!!) and discounted dance and fitness classes throughout the city. So if you're in or around NYC, be sure to check out these highlights:

Contemporary class at The Ailey Extension
(Photo Kyle Froman)

Channel Elle Magazine’s recent fashion feature and stop into an Ailey Extension class at the Ailey Studios. This Friday, TweetBoogie is holding a free hip-hop class from 6:30–8:30 pm. The Ailey Extension is also offering an extra free class to any studio newbies, and returning students can take advantage of discounted class cards.

STREB in rehearsal for Human Fountain.
(photo courtesy City Center)

Other major studios are also getting involved: Peridance Capezio Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, Ballet Academy East and Gina Gibney Dance Center are all offering free and discounted classes. But you might consider stepping out of your comfort zone—the classes are free after all. Get your flipping, tucking and Parkour-ing on with a free session at STREB@SLAM, the home of Elizabeth Streb’s company STREB EXTREME ACTION.

Want to add in some fitness? There are countless Zumba, yoga and Pilates classes on the list—great for cross-training to prepare for your summer intensive. And if you have any questions about an injury or nutrition, bring them to one of The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries free Q&A and injury prevention seminars.

For the full list of events and classes in styles ranging from capoeira to Bollywood to tap to something called Ballet Gymnastics (um, yes please!), visit the NYC Dance Week website. See you in class!

Style Lab

Dancers pack a lot of gear—leotards, tights, shorts, tops, skirts, sweaters and tons of shoes. And that doesn't even include workout clothes! To lighten your load, check out these crossover pieces that work anywhere.


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