Balanced Health : The power of restoration

Asian woman drinking after practicing yoga at home on the yoga m

What does restoration mean? The dictionary definition talks about returning to a particular state or bringing something back to its original use or existence. That’s easily understood for furniture or vintage cars, but what about people?

For us, renewal is key to restoration. To understand this concept, it helps to start by acknowledging what we originally had within our storehouse, reservoir, or supply. In other words: what is the stuff we are made of?

Next, consider all we are capable of being and doing. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of helps us assess what we have in our storehouse, what might be running low, or what might be thoroughly depleted.

In my previous story I spoke about how we are tripartite beings—body, mind, and spirit—and how it’s important to tend to the self-care of all three. Now let’s consider those three elements in the spirit of restoration: as dance people, how do we restore ourselves to achieve maximum effectiveness and productivity?

Bone health

When we are young, bone health is not often a concern. However, peak bone mass is achieved around age 30, after which our bones become less dense, which can lead to the clinical diagnoses of osteopenia (low bone density) or the more-serious osteoporosis. While bone density loss is a fact of aging and cannot be fully restored, there are steps we can take to intentionally manage our bone health and slow future loss.

  • Eat plant foods rich in calcium (oats, beans, and leafy greens) and vitamin C (cruciferous vegetables, spinach and kale, citrus, strawberries, cherries, bell peppers); both are critical to building healthy bones.
  • Spend time outdoors in the sun. Even just 15 to 20 minutes of sun a day helps us obtain the vitamin D our bodies need to absorb and retain calcium.
  • Do weight bearing exercise (walking, biking) and strength training, which encourage healthy bone cell production.

Joint health

Consuming anti-inflammatory nutrients promotes healthy joints. Nutrition from plants is key, including cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, lentils, and beans. Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to reduce inflammatory proteins in the body and joints—and work to improve brain function. Find them in cold water fish, algal oil supplements, walnuts, and seeds such as flax, hemp, and chia. Other contributors for joint health include:

  • maintaining an ideal weight
  • strengthening muscles
  • increasing range of motion

Therapeutic and somatic modalities

While we improve and maintain physical wellness, it’s equally important to boost our mental and emotional health. There are several therapeutic and somatic modalities that use movement methods to improve an individual’s health. Most are also effective in the treatment of pain, and work to improve posture, alignment, coordination, and balance.

Dance movement therapy engages our physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral concerns, such as poor impulse control. It is a mechanism for self-expression or connecting meaning to the embodiment of our emotions (for example, being aware that body signals—such as increased heart rate or an upset stomach—may be linked to fear of confronting a disgruntled customer). This modality aids in mood and stress management, is used to improve the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s and other brain-degenerative diseases and might even reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer.

Physical therapy provides specific and isolated assessments of a body’s movement functions and offers an appropriate course of treatment that works to increase or restore range of motion, manage or reduce pain, and prevent disability. This hands-on therapy may involve strengthening and stretching exercises, ice and/or heat treatment, ultrasound therapy, or electrical stimulation.

Yoga and embodied prayer are spiritually based disciplines that involve meditation and/or prayer, breath, body postures, and movement to enhance connections of the body, soul, and spirit, and promote relaxation, overall health, and spiritual connectedness.

Pilates, Gyrotonic and Feldenkrais methods, and Alexander and Simonson techniques promote proper use of alignment and core control, enhance strength and flexibility, build stamina, and aid in sensory awareness. Each is a uniquely individualized form of exercise that assists in injury prevention or rehabilitation: you may find that one will specifically aid you in this season of your life.

Energy boosters

We do not always work conscientiously to maintain our energy levels—but we should. Here are some tips that will help you maintain enough energy to meet the demands of your life each day.

  • Hydrate. If your body feels sluggish and tired, it’s telling you that it’s dehydrated. Keep hydrated with water, fruit (or fruit-infused water!), veggies, and/or electrolytes all day long.
  • Eat a breakfast rich in the right kind of micro- (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals) and macro- (protein, fiber, carbohydrates) nutrients. My personal choice is a power-packed, protein-rich, plant-based smoothie.
  • Consume a power-snack with protein, whole grains, and carbohydrates. I love my homemade energy protein bites, an apple with nut butter, or veggies and hummus.
  • Eschew processed ingredients.
  • Get off those devices and get moving! A walk in the sunshine will increase your vitamin D intake, clear your mind, and refresh your spirit.
  • Prioritize sleep. Take a power nap when needed—just 20 minutes can boost your energy level.
  • Use essential oils to improve your mood. I love peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon.

Work and rest

Our lives are split between labor and leisure. It’s important to take time away from our stressful careers to revitalize and experience peace—but how?

Think about your studio. You set a beginning and ending time to classes and rehearsals, set fees and payment structures, create guidelines and policies, and stipulate the hours when your business is open and closed. These are boundaries necessary if your business is to thrive, so why not set similar boundaries in your life? In other words, what are the studio’s hours of operation and what are yours?

The impromptu ease of email, text, and social media makes it appear to those reaching out that you are always available. Be intentional about designating time to attend to yourself and your needs. Time and space away from the studio when you can rest and reset for your next day’s responsibilities will boost your effectiveness as a leader.

Mental and emotional health

Take some time to remember why you are in this field. In earlier years, you chose dance or dance chose you. When did that first occur? What did you feel?

If you are like me, you may not be able to recall a time in life without dance. I come from a line of bluegrass musicians from the back hills of the Appalachian Mountains. I’ve been told stories of family members standing around singing and clapping their hands while, as a 1-year-old, I danced without inhibition on top of the kitchen table. Obviously, I do not remember those first dances! However, I do know how dance makes me feel: when I am alone, I play a favorite bluegrass melody and just dance my heart out. As the power and joy of dance was passed down to me, I frequently have dance parties with my six grandchildren to continue this legacy.

Do you need to renew your connection to dance?

Through restoration, we create space to rediscover our passions, regenerate our health, and reclaim our lives. Use this practice to represent your core values to others and take responsibility for your role as a revitalized leader.

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