Tips for stretching

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I’ve recently been asked by a couple of friends, students, even my trainer at the gym “How do you get so flexible?” For me it was a mix of being naturally flexible, which is lucky for me as it’s one less struggle I need to think of, but also constant practice and perseverance to keep up my flexibility.

Obviously to become more flexible you need to start stretching. Stretching can be such a chore. It can also feel really uncomfortable and slightly painful. But trust me, it’s so good for you. For dancers it’s great for getting your legs up, bending further in back bends, higher arabesque lines and so on. For people who enjoy lifting weights, it will release the fascia and muscle fibres therefore you’ll be able to use your muscles to their full capacity, therefore getting you to lift heavier weights plus you’ll be less prone to injuries caused by tight muscles. For the everyday person, it’s great for your posture, blood circulation and believe it or not your energy levels.

So now that we’ve discussed the benefits of stretching, here are some tips that have helped me with my flexibility.

First of all I will stretch after I have warmed up so after barre and class or after a workout. Many people think it’s a waste of time but I won’t stress enough on how important it is to be warm before stretching. If you’ve not warmed up before stretching it can lead to injuries, which is something we do not want.

The foam roller is always the first thing I go to when I start stretching. A foam roller is designed so you can self release your muscles and trigger points. Releasing your muscles before you stretch will help lessen the discomfort and pain. To use the foam roller all you have to do is place the roller under a muscle group, put your body weight on it and roll back and forth on the roller. When you feel a tight spot, stop and let your body weight sink into the roller. This will release the tight knot in the muscle, this method called trigger pointing. You can trigger point release using a tennis ball, a golf ball, or even your hands.

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From then I would do basic stretches like stretching out the big muscle groups, such as hamstrings quads, and glutes. Sometimes it will be painful. To lessen the discomfort, take deep breaths so the oxygen circulates to your muscles giving your muscles more elasticity, it should also calm and relax you. Make sure you do not grip your muscles whilst stretching. It will restrict you from getting the full benefit of the stretch which may slow down your progress. Listening to music, talking to a friend, or even scrolling through social media always helps take your mind off the pain.

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I will then move on to specific stretches that will help benefit my dancing. For example, front and side splits. As I am already down in my splits I will add yoga blocks or anything that will give leverage to enable me to start doing over splits. Splits will take time and perseverance. This applies to all stretching. Don’t give up after a day or two, keep going you will see results if you work on it everyday little by little.

PNF stretching is a technique which involves isometric stretching (contraction of muscles) and passive stretching (use of outside assistance). It is quite intense and shouldn’t be a replacement of normal stretching.

Please note: This technique is not recommended for anyone under 18 as it may interfere with the development of your growth plates. If you are to do PNF make sure you are with someone who knows this technique well and is preferably qualified. You should only perform PNF after 48 hours since the last time you used the technique and only use it one muscle group per time you use this technique.

For stretching your hamstrings using PNF you would start by lying flat your back with your leg up in the air to wherever you feel a stretch, you can have your partner hold your leg if you want. Hold this for 10 seconds.

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Then you would push your leg against your partner and contract all your muscles. They should apply appropriate amount resistance against your leg. Hold this for 6-7 seconds.

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Go back to your relaxed state stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds.

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You can repeat this process 2-4 times.

If you don’t have a partner use could always use the resistance of a theraband (resistance band) to replicate the technique.

Remember that gravity also plays a huge part in your stretching. Incorporating breathing + relaxation of muscles + gravity will help with your sitting down hamstring stretch, middle splits against the wall or anything where you want a part of your body closer to the ground.

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The idea of everything in your body being connected has really helped improve my flexibility. So if your hamstrings are tight it might be linked to your back being tight or even your neck. If you roll everything out and stretch all your muscle groups you’ll begin to see faster progress and feel less discomfort.

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Like I said before, stretching takes time, perseverance and hard work. Don’t expect to see crazy results the next day. You need to keep working at your own safe pace. Once you do see results it’s extremely satisfying, but you need to keep stretching. Flexibility can slowly decrease if it’s not used!

I hope this has given people motive to start stretching. If you have any questions about anything feel free to leave a comment or send a message! I would love to see your progress photos too! I wish you all the best!

Thanks for reading.

Much love,

Jana x

 

 

 

 

 

How teaching has helped my dancing

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I’ve been training to become a professional dancer, but aside from that I have been teaching students as young as six to fifteen. Teaching has given me a different perspective towards my own dancing and in fact I believe teaching has made me become a better dancer.

From teaching students, I see their weak and strong areas. As a teacher one of my goals is to help dancers strengthen their weaker areas in their technique and performance so it is up to par with their strengths. Now, I will tell you that it is a rollercoaster and it will not be an easy ride. Sometimes students will pick up the correction in a flash and other times for whatever reason they just can’t do it. This is where I would give them different ideas, imagery or ways of thinking about the correction, from there the dancer can try out the different methods and see what works best for them. It is all trial and error, and when the dancer clicks and get the “ooh I get it now!” moment it the most satisfying feeling in the world. This really helped me with finding my own way of correcting myself. It has made me more aware of my body. So for example, when I am off-balance I will stop and ask myself what the problem is, try to pin point it, and then use different methods of fixing the problem. Self-correction is such a useful tool for a dancer.

Teachers will come across different and unique dancers in aspects such as physical, emotional, mental and behavioural. There are some students who are really serious about pursuing dance as a career whilst others do it as a form of exercise or as a side hobby. You need to treat them all equally and not have what people call “favourites”. Everyone is in the class to learn and to better themselves. They won’t become any better if you only correct the serious or “good” ones in the class. Favouritism can bring the energy of the class down if you only focus on one or two people in the class. I know this as I have observed it from a student, teacher and spectators point of view and it is no fun at all.

Not every class is the same, some days the kids are bouncing off the walls filled with excitement, wanting to do grand allegro all lesson which is absolutely fantastic! But other days they are just really low, tired and they give the vibe that they don’t want to be there, which is really hard but you learn to not take it to heart and everyone has their ups and downs. From this I learnt to adjust and adapt to the students energy level for how they are feeling that day. This helped me with my training as I knew when I had endless energy and could push myself and when I needed to take it slow, calm down and focus on my body. If I were to push myself when I was low on energy I would surely injury myself.

When you are having a bad day and you feel like your teacher is picking on you by saying “It’s on count 6 not 7” or “do it again” a million times, you forget that they are doing this to make you the best dancer you can be. So please do not take any of their “mean or nasty” corrections to heart. They only want the best for you. When I was younger I would feel so emotional when my teacher corrected me. I felt like she was picking on me because I was failing. But really she was only doing this to make me look the best I can. The dance industry is a harsh world. You need tough skin to become successful. Be thankful for your teachers “not so pleasant” corrections, it will definitely help in the long run.

Teaching has really made me appreciate the persistence, hard work, care and love my teachers have put into helping me get to where I am now. But also, teaching students really inspires me to become a great role model and makes me strive even more for my goal of becoming a professional dancer. I’m thankful for experiencing both sides as it’s given me more motive and drive to become a better dancer and teacher.

Thanks for reading.

Much love,

Jana x

 

 

 

Lost childhood?

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4 years old

Hello again beautiful people,

Thank you for all your support and kind words directed towards me starting this blog! Please feel free to add your comments, opinions, and questions! I would love to hear from you all.

I had an interesting conversation with someone about my first blog post and they asked, “Don’t you feel like you’ve missed out on your childhood?”

It really got me thinking, so I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts with you all.

As I talked about in my first post, I started dancing at the age of three. I never did anything else apart from dance, unless you counted my side hobbies which were piano, cross country and drawing.

Dancing is my passion and my love. I chose to pursue it ever since I was six years old, but to be honest I never really knew anything else.

Yes, I never had the “typical” childhood that other kids would have like, going to parties every other weekend, going to sleepovers, catching up with friends and so forth. I would always have to use the excuse “Sorry, I can’t come. I have dancing”. I always felt bad for not being able to see or spend time with people. It was natural for me to think thoughts like, what if I were to miss out on one lesson? Maybe I should quit dancing so I can be normal? But I realised that I would get bored instantly and through my eyes my life would be meaningless without dance.

They would the ask me, “Can’t you just skip a lesson?” I felt frustrated every time someone asked this, only because I was too naïve to realise that I was lucky enough to have found something that I am passionate about and determined to commit my life to at such a young age.

From reading this you may think that I am psychopathically obsessed with dancing (which I kind of am), but I did make a huge attempt to balance my schooling, dancing and social life. (Sidenote: going to dancing lessons is social in its self.)

So to answer the question, no I don’t think I’ve missed out on my childhood. Everyone had a different way of being brought up, a way of seeing life. Everyone is unique. No one has experienced the same childhood, though I will admit mine is slightly out of the norm.

My childhood is dancing and I couldn’t/wouldn’t want to picture it any other way.

Thanks for reading.

Much love,

Jana x

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5 years old
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11 years old
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12 years old

Let me introduce myself…

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Hello beautiful people,

Thank you for taking the time to have a look at my new blog!

I’ve started this blog so I can push myself to new limits. I know this blog will help motivate me to experience and learn new things. It’s also a way to connect and share my experiences with you!

As my first blog post I thought it would be nice to introduce myself so here’s a little story about my life so far…

On hot and rainy December’s day, I was born in a hospital in Quezon City, Philippines. Two years after my arrival into this world my parents decided to pack up everything to have a new lifestyle in New Zealand. We ended up in windiest capital in the world, Wellington. A year later my little sister Jeline was born! There were now two troublesome children in the Baldovino household!

I was an energetic child I couldn’t keep still, but it was strange that I was super shy! I was always being active, running around, swinging on monkey bars, playing jump rope but I was always alone. At the age of three, my mum had the idea of sending me to ballet classes to; a) to learn a disciplined and beautiful art form, b) to be social and make friends, and c) to calm me down. I attended my first ballet class which was at a church hall in a little suburb. We twirled and galloped inelegantly and uncoordinatedly around the hall wearing pink tutus and tiaras. From that moment on I fell in love with dancing.

At five, I attended school for the first time. It was a little suburban catholic school. I started private lessons and I competed in my first local ballet competition and won a prize!

By the age of six, I knew dancing was what I wanted to do in the future. All I would think, say, and do was dancing. During this time I would go to ballet classes straight after dancing, so sometimes I would go to school with a slicked back ballet bun which was not a good look with our maroon and blue tartan uniform…

At eight years old, the ballet studio shut down. I was absolutely distraught. My mum and I went around looking for dance schools that did exams and competitions. We ended up at Paula Hunt Dance Studios. It was pleasant shock to me as it was a massive studio that ranged from toddlers to 18 year olds. Every chance I had I would peek through the studio window to see the older girls dance. I was so inspired by them! I went to my first audition the year after starting at the new studio. I was auditioning for this program connected to the New Zealand School of Dance. I was ecstatic when I got in. It was just another motive for me to keep dancing.

As I got older, I started going to the studios more often. I would train in the morning before and after school. I’m so grateful that my parents really support me and were willing to drive me to most of my practices! I joined more and more competitions where I was lucky enough to get to the finals and get placings! But, it was not all easy-going for me… It was and still is a roller coaster of a journey; injuries, rejection, self-doubt were huge obstacles that I had and will forever need to overcome.

I started high school at St Mary’s College Wellington. It was a whole new experience going from a tiny co-ed primary school to a huge all girls college. It was hard trying to balance dancing, school and just the daily struggles of a teenage girl. It was one of the first big challenges that would impact my life, but in saying this I made many wonderful friendships during my time at high school that I will forever cherish.

I still danced before and after school, but I knew that it wasn’t enough to further my passion and career in dancing. I decided I would need to go to a full time dance school. I started full time training at Alegria Dance Studios in Sydney, Australia. So yes, I had to move away at the age of sixteen which is pretty out of the ordinary. I had a new challenges that I had to face such as, cooking, cleaning, doing my own laundry after a long tiring day at the studio, I would taking public transport everywhere, and budget. It was a huge shock to the system. As time went on, things got easier as I found a rhythm that fitted my schedule and my personal life. I believe, living independently really pushed me to become more mature in the ways of thinking, it made me more organised, social, and it has given me the opportunity to find who I am.

So now here we are. We’ve caught up to the present. I’m seventeen on my way to London to start at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. I will be studying for three years, the first two years will be a foundational degree, and the third year will be a Bachelor of Arts. I’m nervous but also super excited for the new challenges I have face. I’m so keen to meet new people, explore London and hear the gorgeous British accent everyday!

I really would love to connect and be able to relate to each and everyone of my readers. Please feel free to ask questions, drop opinions, anything! You guys will really inspire me to create content that you will be interested in reading.

I’m super thrilled to start this new chapter in my life, and I cannot wait to share many more of my adventures with you beautiful people!

Much love,

Jana x