Dancers Edition: Stress & Injury
When it comes to stress, dancers and performers especially can relate to this term.
Dance is a very physically demanding activity, especially for professionals and those in training. It is almost natural for dancers to believe that they need to push themselves and strive for perfection in order to make it in this highly evolving industry. This push that we give ourselves can definitely lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn could result in injury, again causing stress, becoming a vicious cycle of chicken or egg.
Injury from Stress
Through the course of dance training or performing, there is an underlying notion for dancers to keep going no matter what injury or illness – otherwise they could be viewed as weak or not working hard enough. This pressure on dancers to have to be on top of their game means that they could overlook what their bodies are telling them, which in turn, could subconsciously build up stress and anxiety.
On a more surface level, the long hours of dance training and the wide range of movements dancers explore, in itself, could cause a lot of pressure on the mind.
Going a step deeper, the self-expectation to be the best dancer coupled with the fear of failure could lead a dancer to feel anxious when they are not able to grasp a movement or perform it properly. Both of these put dancers into the category of high risk of injury.
Stress from Injury
It can be physiologically, physically and emotionally taxing for a dancer to have to sit out of a rehearsal or performance due to an injury. Dancers rely so much on the strength and abilities of their body that if anything were to feel “less normal”, it can cause stress. When we feel stressed, there is a release of a hormone called cortisol, which if released too frequently, decreases bone formation and affects the immune system, making it challenging for your body to fight the injury.
Although it’s apparent that breaks need to be taken from time to time and quite essentially following an injury, it could result in the dancer feeling like they have lost everything.
This cycle of stress causing injury and injury causing stress can be broken with active effort made to pay attention to what our body, mind and energies are telling us.
The 7 chakras
In the previous weeks, we saw that the chakras are energy centers along the spine that coincide with the organs, glands and muscles around them.
Since injuries can occur in any part of the body. It is important to keep the chakras in balance just like it is important to keep our physical and mental body strong.
Yoga Asanas to balance out the seven Chakras
Root- Garland / Malasana
Sacral – Triangle / Trikonasana
Solar – Cobra / Bhujangasana
Heart- Bridge / Setu Bandhāsana
Throat- Shoulder stand
3rd eye- Downward Dog
Most importantly, BREATHE. Take time every day to focus on 8-10 rounds of deep breathing from your chest and belly.
Simply being aware of the 3 major bodies, Physical, Mental & Energy Bodies, is a huge first step to taking care of them. The steps you choose to take afterwards with this knowledge will definitely be able to break the cycle of stress and injury.
Remember, we are the creators of our stress, so we most definitely can be the destroyers of it!