Thankfully, I have kept to my goal from my last post to attend Dailey Method classes 5 days a week!  However, I definitely did a lot of overindulging the week of and weekend after my birthday.  It is what it is, and, while I’m not happy I did it, it made me realize how far I have come.  Even though I overdid it, I was easily able to get back into the groove of things the following week.  Before, I would have just given up or found another sweet substitute for the sweets I really wanted.  So, that’s that!  I’m back into the Whole30 groove with an occasional indulgence 🙂

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop at The Dailey Method about taking your practice to the next level.  It was taught by Natalia, who I remember from when I took my first classes back in 2010.  She has been teaching these classes for three years, and she is great!  She always has a big smile on her face and gives great detailed instruction.  Here is some of her background, taken from The Dailey Method site:

Originally from Puerto Rico, Natalia began training in ballet at age 4. She continued her training throughout high school and into college at the University of Illinois, where she discovered modern dance. She currently lives in Chicago where she dances with the Leopold Group modern dance company and works as a dance teacher, in addition to her work as a fitness instructor. She teaches modern dance at the North Suburban School of Dance, and is a teaching artist for the Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement Program. Natalia began taking classes at the Dailey Method in December 2008, and began teaching in March 2009. She is very excited to be a part of the Dailey Method family, and to be doing what she loves!

It was challenging to take pictures from my phone and take notes while trying to participate in the workshop, but I tried my best!  I definitely learned a lot which has helped me this week during classes.  The running “theme” throughout the workshop was the importance of form, especially for the back muscles.  During class, I always hear teachers talking about engaging the rhomboids and serratus anterior muscles in the back…I knew they were muscles in the back, but I didn’t realize how important it is to strengthen them. These muscles pull the shoulder blades/scapula down and back, which helps with opening the chest and gives us better posture. Here’s a great diagram:

Source

I am definitely a sloucher…when I stand, while I sit (I just corrected myself while typing now, hehe), and also sometimes when at The Dailey Method! I thought I always had my shoulder blades back and down like I am always instructed, but there were a few positions I wasn’t doing so. One of those positions is the plank!  I didn’t realize how much I “slouched” and brought my shoulders forward instead of back with planking.  Natalia talked about how important it is to engaged the back muscles because this works the back instead of being rigid and going into the neck.  When the strain is no longer in the neck, the abdominals work harder as well!  Everything is connected 🙂 Here’s a pictures of Natalia teaching while someone demonstrates a doing a plank with the shoulders in the correct position:

Here is Natalia demonstrating downward dog incorrectly (top) and correctly (bottom).  Here, it is easy to see the difference in the shoulder placement.

Not only does this work the serratus anterior to strengthen your back, but it also strengthens the Achilles, stretches your calves and hamstrings.  Natalia gave a great visual to help make sure your shoulders are in the correct position: Pretend you are opening two jars with your hands without moving them.  It might sound silly, but it worked for me!

I also learned my Low C Curve position can be so hard for me as opposed to High C Curve.  I have a very short torso, so it’s hard for me to reach my thighs without straining my neck when I’m so low to the ground.  I’m really glad I learned this because I was beginning to think something was wrong with me!  I was happy to learn that I am A-OK 🙂

High C Curve (I don’t have a pictures of Low C Curve, but it is where your back is lower, but your shoulder blades are still off the ground. Basically your arms are stretched out more.)

One thing Natalia kept emphasizing throughout the workshop was that all of our bodies are different in terms of shape, flexibility, muscle tightness, etc.  Some positions are easier and harder for some of us than others.  We need to find what works best for us as individuals!  This was a key takeaway for me.  The instructors always say this in class as well.  However, even though I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others, it’s hard not to while I see others class do complicated movements while they are holding a plank.  However, when I focus on myself, my form is better, I become stronger, and I get better!

Overall, the workshop was very clarifying and reinforced why I go to The Dailey Method!  Great instruction, impeccable form, and an amazing workout. Period.

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