Posts

6 Ways to Make Creativity a Habit

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By Kate Feinberg Robins Working on creative projects reduces stress and anxiety, and improves problem-solving skills. So that’s great! We should all do it, right? But for adults who don’t make art as part of our jobs, it doesn’t always feel so simple. Here are some tips. Focus on the process, not the product. Give yourself a regular time and place to do your art, where you can focus on the doing without judgement. This might mean closing your door, covering mirrors and cameras, or putting on headphones. Any kind of creative expression counts. Make a list of creative activities that you can easily do. Remember—focus on what you have the resources to do, not what you consider yourself good at. Your list can include things as varied as writing, baking, playing music, dancing, or designing inventions. Choose anything on the list that you’re in the mood for. Play and explore. Try letting go of things like recipes, sheet music, and choreography. Give yourself the freedom to play with your m

Art is Good for Your Brain

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By Kate Feinberg Robins Creativity improves brain plasticity. When we improvise dance or capoeira movements, we create and strengthen neural pathways in our brains. This conditions our brains to learn and process new information more readily. It makes us better learners and more skilled at coping with new situations. A growing number of scientific studies show that engaging in artistic endeavors physically changes the brain structure. Art helps with focus, memory, and creativity, as well as reducing stress and anxiety. Read more at npr.org and neuroartsblueprint.org .

How to Exercise with a Torn Back Muscle

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By Kate Feinberg Robins How Do I Know I Have a Torn Back Muscle? Here are some signs that your back pain might be due to a muscle tear: You can remember the moment that it started hurting.   You feel lopsided, with one side of your back much tighter than the other. The pain gets worse when you try to use the muscle. How Did it Happen? Think back to that moment when your back started hurting. You might have torn a muscle if you: stretched abruptly without warming up. forced yourself to stretch further than you were ready for. lifted too much weight suddenly and with poor form. Any movement that causes a sudden strain may cause a muscle to tear. How Can I Prevent it from Happening Again? Always warm up before stretching . Make sure you’re doing the the right kind of stretching at the right time. Stretch gently, giving your muscles plenty of warmth, breath, and time before deepening the stretch. Practice proper form with resistance or small weights before increasing your weight load. Give

You Will Succeed - An Interview with Misty Copeland

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By Kate Feinberg Robins In a 2014 piece from NPR's Morning Edition , American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland discusses her children's book Firebird and how important it is to tell children, "You will succeed." Here are some highlights. On the challenges of women of color breaking into the field of professional ballet: I don't think that every African American or Latino or, you know, have the same body type, but yes, that's been one of the excuses, I think, saying that African Americans are too muscular or just aren't lean enough, and usually they say, "Oh, they have flat feet. So they don't have the flexibility that it takes to create the line in a pointe shoe." When people meet me in person they're usually surprised at how petite I am, because there's this idea that because I'm black I should look a certain way.... They hear those words from critics saying I'm too bulky, I'm too busty, and then they meet me in pers

How to Stretch for a Warm-Up and Cool-Down

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By Kate Feinberg Robins Warm-up stretching  should increase your mobility in preparation for more intense exercise, without putting yourself at risk of pulling a muscle. Be gentle and dynamic.  Move continuously rather than holding a position.  Keep your stretches small and your muscles in motion.  Cool-down stretching  decreases muscle soreness and tightness, and leads to long-term gains in flexibility. Sustain your position for several breaths or at least 30 seconds. Relax the muscles you're stretching.  Stretching for increased flexibility  requires repeated sustained stretches and lots of patience. Choose a moment when your muscles are very warm--like after a long walk or run.  Hold your stretch for several minutes, making sure not to put weight on the muscles being stretched.  Deepen your stretch gradually and with lots of breath.  The longer you hold the stretch and the more often you do it, the more gains you'll see in flexibility.  Never move suddenly into a deeper stre

The Privilege of Doing What You Love - A Conversation with Sylvie Guillem

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  By Kate Feinberg Robins In a recent documentary, acclaimed dancer Sylvie Guillem, now retired from performing, shares insights on wellness, life, and a career in the arts. Beautifully filmed, with striking clips from her performance career. Here are some highlights from the interview. On the deep sense of responsibility that comes with the privilege of getting paid to do what you love: We are so lucky to do this. Very few people have the opportunity to go onstage and go in front of an audience and be treated like we are now.... We have the studio. We have the clothing. We have the pointe shoes. We have money. We get paid for that. That's a responsibility we have. ...If you don't respect the work you are doing then leave. ...It's a lack of respect for you, for the work you do, for dance, for the audience, and for the [dancers] who can't get in [to world class professional companies]. On the wellness benefits of ballet barre and Pilates:  I train because I feel good doi

To Control Your Center of Gravity - Strengthening Core Muscles

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By Kate Feinberg Robins To find your center is to control your center of gravity . The most literal meaning of "finding your center" in ballet and capoeira is to physically control your center of gravity by developing and using strong core muscles. Many of the pains, imbalances, and physical vulnerabilities that we experience in our everyday lives can be addressed by strengthening our abdominal, back, oblique, and hip muscles. Lower back pain is what first drew me to Pilates . Many years after I had stopped training ballet professionally, I took a Pilates class and realized that my back pain was due to weak abdominals. I began to practice Pilates daily, which got my core muscles into shape and all but eliminated my back pain. I continued with low-impact Pilates throughout my pregnancy and post-partum, strengthening and rebuilding my core muscles in correct alignment after the bodily trauma of pregnancy and childbirth. If you'd like guidance in figuring out which of your