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- Dance Mama Live: Back On The Road-£5pcm
By choosing this option you would commit to pay the £50 fee over 10 months at £5 per month - spreading the cost . Supported by Arts Council England, join us monthly either LIVE or on REPLAY as we visit 10 leading national dance organisations to bring parents in the professional dance sector an incredible programme of creative dance workshops and indispensable industry expertise to keep your dance passion alive, and your body moving and your career on track. Kids are welcome. All sessions will be broadcast via Zoom for your convenience. Three of the workshops will be hybrid sessions (in person and online) in London, Birmingham and Leeds where special children’s dance workshops are available at the same time. Of course children are most welcome to stay with you during the adult session if you prefer (it’s a safe space – us dancing parents have seen it all before!). Supported by Arts Council England, the programme will be delivered in partnership with 10 national partners; Sadler’s Wells (London), Once Dance UK (National), Fabric (Birmingham and Nottingham), Dance City (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne), Company Chameleon (Manchester), Dance East (Ipswich), Swindon Dance, East London Dance, Cscape and Hall for Cornwall. Each organisation will bring its own flavour to the programme through the creative dance workshops and webinars from experts at the forefront of progress for parents who move from the arts, sport, medicine, psychology, advocacy + more. The Dance Mama Live 21/22 programme saw over 130 professional dance parents taking part, from rehearsal directors and performers in the larger companies such as the Royal Ballet and New Adventures, to teachers in the state and private sector.. Now more than ever, we need creative touch points and a forward-thinking community for parents in dance. ‘This is amazing! I wish I had this sort of organisation when I was a young Mum.’ – Etta Murfitt MBE, Associate Director, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures ‘…so inspiring to dance with other mothers…’ - Bethany Kingsley-Garner (Principal, Scottish Ballet) ‘This has been life changing.’– Michaela Collings, Dance Artist & Participant FOR FULL INFO GO TO 'LEARN' MENU Disclaimer By completing this registration form you are declaring you are free from any injury or any conditions where taking part physical activity may exacerbate your symptoms or cause you injury or harm. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new physical activity.
- Dance Mama Live: Back On The Road - DEC
This is booking for 1 session only (workshop & webinar) part of a larger programme running monthly from November 2022 to July 2023 supported by Arts Council England. Join us either LIVE or on REPLAY as we visit 10 leading national dance organisations to bring parents in the professional dance sector an incredible programme of creative dance workshops and indispensable industry expertise to keep your dance passion alive, and your body moving and your career on track. Kids are welcome. All sessions will be broadcast via Zoom for your convenience. Each month consists of a webinar and workshop and will be delivered in partnership with 10 national organisations; Sadler’s Wells (London), Once Dance UK (National), Fabric (Birmingham and Nottingham), Dance City (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne), Company Chameleon (Manchester), Dance East (Ipswich), Swindon Dance, East London Dance, Cscape and Hall for Cornwall. Each organisation will bring its own flavour to the programme through the creative dance workshops and webinars from experts at the forefront of progress for parents who move from the arts, sport, medicine, psychology, advocacy and more. Three of the workshops will be hybrid sessions (in person and online) in London, Birmingham and Leeds where special children’s dance workshops are available at the same time. Of course children are most welcome to stay with you during the adult session if you prefer (it’s a safe space – us dancing parents have seen it all before! Want more? - Purchase a subsidised place for the rest of the programme for £50 (saving you £250). There is an option to spread the cost and pay monthly for just £5 pcm. - we will reimburse the cost for this session too! ‘This is amazing! I wish I had this sort of organisation when I was a young Mum.’ – Etta Murfitt MBE, Associate Director, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures ‘…so inspiring to dance with other mothers…’ - Bethany Kingsley-Garner (Principal, Scottish Ballet) ‘This has been life changing.’– Michaela Collings, Dance Artist & Participant FOR FULL INFO GO TO 'LEARN' MENU Disclaimer: By completing this registration form you are declaring you are free from any injury or any conditions where taking part physical activity may exacerbate your symptoms or cause you injury or harm. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new physical activity.
- Pre/Postnatal Pro Dance Technique Class
Welcome to Dance Mama’s live online class programme. Our Pre/Postnatal Dance Class - Pro Level is a pioneering, dance session specifically designed to support parents who work professionally in the dance sector. The classes draw on Ballet & Cunningham techniques. This fun and uplifting dance session is led by Dance Mama Founder, Lucy McCrudden, who will mindfully guide you through a hybrid of ballet and Cunningham-based technique class designed with the maternal individual front and centre. Lucy will lead you through a grounding technical class that will give you the opportunity to explore alignment, posture and musicality, giving you the opportunity to move and be expressive and importantly, give you time to connect to yourself and your art form.
- Competence, connection and control: The core challenges of motherhood
Guest blog from Imogen Aujla PhD, dance psychology lecturer, researcher and life coach, Dance in Mind In my last blog I wrote about mum guilt, in the context of the range and intensity of emotions that come with being a mum. More joy than you could have imagined, a love so fierce it can feel overwhelming, incredible pride. On the good days you may feel like you can give and give and give until you have nothing left. But then there are those less wonderful days. When you still love your children more than anything, but perhaps you aren’t feeling so joyous. Perhaps you aren’t feeling so fulfilled. Perhaps you are exhausted by being needed so relentlessly. Perhaps you feel like just as you were getting the hang of this parenting thing, the goal posts have shifted (again). You may have spent much of your adult life feeling fairly secure in your abilities: you may have developed a satisfying career in the dance industry, be in a stable relationship, have a good group of friends, and a pretty clear sense of who you are and what you can do. Then along comes a baby and poof! When reflecting on the challenges of motherhood, it struck me that one psychological theory which I have taught and adopted in my own research for many years is particularly relevant to motherhood – especially if you are a new mum (or mum to a new baby, because even if you have had one before, you can almost guarantee that the next one will be totally different). That theory is Self-determination Theory, created by well-known psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Self-determination Theory is quite complex, comprising several mini-theories that make up the whole, so I will just share one aspect of it here, and how it relates to the experience and challenges of motherhood. Basic psychological needs You may have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic physical and psychological needs which states that we need particular key needs to be satisfied before we can ever reach a place of fulfilment or optimal functioning (he terms this self-actualisation). Deci and Ryan hold a similar view but focus solely on psychological needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness. When these needs have been met in our lives, we are likely to experience positive wellbeing and be in a good position for psychological growth and development. If these needs are undermined, though, our wellbeing and ability to develop can be negatively impacted. These psychological needs are universal in that they are essential to everybody, regardless of their age, cultural heritage, status or location. Let’s have a look at each one in turn and consider why they are so important in relation to being a mum. Competence A friend of mine recently returned to work after maternity leave with her second child. I asked her how work was going. “Pretty well,” she replied. “It’s nice to be doing something I actually know I’m good at.” Competence is essentially the belief that you are capable of doing what you have set out to achieve, that your abilities in a given area are sufficient. And wow, can having a baby make you feel incompetent! You may have spent much of your adult life feeling fairly secure in your abilities: you may have developed a satisfying career in the dance industry, be in a stable relationship, have a good group of friends, and a pretty clear sense of who you are and what you can do. Then along comes a baby and poof! All those feelings of competence and ability can disappear in the face of a small wriggling creature with rather unreliable communication methods. As you know, babies do not come with a manual. There’s also a good chance that your attempts to get them to follow the manual (so to speak) are unsuccessful, at least some of the time. This is totally normal and there will be several times that parents, new and old, feel completely out of their depth. The funny thing is, nobody starts a new job expecting to be an expert on Day 1. So why do we expect that of ourselves as mothers? Why do so many of us believe that it should all just ‘come naturally’? Certainly, some things may feel instinctual but many others won’t. And just once you’ve got the hang of sleep/weaning/tantrums (delete as appropriate), along comes another milestone or developmental shift that leaves you feeling clueless again. This feeling is often exacerbated by the fact that a day spent with a baby or small child can feel like groundhog day, with little to show for all the work you’ve put in. A friend of mine recently returned to work after maternity leave with her second child. I asked her how work was going. “Pretty well,” she replied. “It’s nice to be doing something I actually know I’m good at.” So how can you develop your feelings of competence when you are feeling anything but? Firstly, treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Remind yourself that you, like your baby, are a work in progress as a mum. You are both learning together and learning to be together. You are aiming to be a “good enough” mum, not a perfect one. By all means, read parenting books and blogs, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. We are all feeling our way through it. Secondly, find ways of acknowledging all the things you are doing. Sometimes it will be obvious – how you helped with your baby’s first steps, first words, sleeping through the night, toilet training, the toddler who finally eats their broccoli, and so on. But often the smaller things that are fundamental to developing a secure and loving relationship with our child go unacknowledged. And we rarely high-five ourselves for keeping the house running, looking after a small person, and checking emails. So for a week, write down all of the things you have done every day, even if they seem insignificant. Here are some examples of things that count: - Had a shower without anyone crying - Got out of the house and went to baby group/the supermarket/a friend’s house, etc. - Dealt with a contender for the world’s most disgusting nappy - Got the baby to nap in the cot. Result! - Got the baby to nap on you. Delicious! - Got the baby to nap in the pram. Fresh air, excellent! - Played a fun game with the baby - Had cuddles and songs - Put a wash on - Got a smile from the baby. Gorgeous! - Made dinner There will be many more – in fact, once you’ve written down every single thing you’ve done in a day, you might be amazed by just how much you’ve done! Keep doing this to help you reinforce just how much you are achieving and how much all of this means to your baby’s development. You are brilliant! If you are feeling up to it and not too tired, go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You can handle it! And you will feel really good about it afterwards. Another great way of feeling more competent is trying something new. Maybe there’s a baby group you’d like to try, but you don’t like the route there, or you don’t know anybody else who goes. Maybe you want to go shopping with your toddler but are worried about meltdowns and tantrums (yours and the toddler’s). If you are feeling up to it and not too tired, go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You can handle it! And you will feel really good about it afterwards. Getting out of our comfort zone can be a really effective way of increasing feelings of competence. Connection (relatedness) There’s a reason that psychologists emphasise positive social relationships: they are the number one predictor of happiness and wellbeing. Deci and Ryan call this relatedness, which means having positive connections in the social environment. This includes any social relationship – with your child or children, partner, friends, wider family members, neighbours, and so on. But being a mum can be lonely. You are never alone of course – but the company isn’t always that stimulating. And if you do arrange to see friends, the meet-up can be hampered by nap schedules, feeds, or demanding toddlers. Some days you may just feel that you can’t be bothered to get out of the house, because it truly can require mammoth effort levels when you are exhausted. But try and remember that positive relationships with others are crucial to your wellbeing, and think about how you can incorporate social interaction throughout your week. Baby groups and soft play can be great as they are full of people you will have something in common with, and starting up a conversation can be fairly easy. There’s a reason that psychologists emphasise positive social relationships: they are the number one predictor of happiness and wellbeing. Of course, continue to meet friends and if you can’t see them in person, schedule in video calls when your baby is sleeping, or call them when your child is in the pram or buggy. I often call some of my closest friends who live far away when we are all on the school run – we only have about 10 minutes to chat, but it’s a great way to check in with each other every week. Perhaps you can video-call family members who will love to coo at your baby as well as chat with you. And although it can be difficult finding quality time with your partner when your days are full with sleep and feed schedules, try and find just 10 minutes each day to check in with each other and have a meaningful chat. Even short interactions with strangers can give you a little wellbeing boost. So have a brief chat with the person at the checkout, another mum in the park, or someone smiling at your baby on the bus. While your child is very young, it may be better to think ‘little and often’ rather than ‘deep and meaningful’ in terms of social relationships, but it does get easier. Trying to keep in touch with a range of people in your life will serve you well in those early years with children. You can even schedule this in on your diary or calendar to help make sure that you do it! Control (autonomy) In Basic Needs Theory, and many other psychological wellbeing theories, autonomy is crucial – the sense that we have a choice and a say in what happens to us. It’s the feeling that we can exert some kind of control over our lives and environment. You may have got to a point in your life where you are very used to being in control, and feeling like you are on top of everything. A baby or small child can undermine this feeling like nothing else. Sticking to a nap schedule? Eating your lovingly prepared meals? Listening to a word you say? If only! As with competence, try and be kind to yourself. It can be hard to accept that we aren’t in control, and to ‘go with the flow’ if that isn’t in our nature. Remind yourself that you can’t change a baby, but you can change yourself: again, try to lower your expectations and not put too much pressure on yourself. The sooner you accept that you cannot control everything, the easier it will be. Babies develop and behave according to their own unique biology, so try to respect this. It may also be helpful to read up on Stoicism – you cannot control events and other people, just your reaction to those events and other people. ...consider what you can and can’t control. You might want to also consider what you can and can’t control. For example, you can’t control when your child will sleep through the night but you can ‘nudge’ it (develop a bedtime routine, try gradual retreat, etc.), and engage in some serious self-care to help you be as rested as you can. Similarly, you can’t control what and how much your child will eat, but you can ensure that you are offering them a range of nutritious foods. Finally, there will come a time when you need to relinquish control to let your child have more control – autonomy is important for their development, too. So let them wear the bizarre outfit they chose, or have 3 oranges in a row (I must admit when my son asked for a fourth, I did stop him at that point). As the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff! Boost your basic needs Becoming a parent may be the best but hardest thing you do in your life. Sometimes, psychological theory can offer insights into why it is difficult, and what we can change or modify to make it feel less difficult. Basic needs theory is relevant to anyone at any stage in their life, but the fundamentals of competence, connection and control can be really undermined in motherhood. Reading this article may have helped you to identify which of these needs you are lacking in (it may well be all three), so try to incorporate the ideas I have suggested and have a think of other strategies that are likely to work for you. Acknowledge and be proud of everything you do, try new things, schedule regular social interactions, and try to let go of what you can’t control. Doing so will help you navigate the highs and lows of being a mum, and might just help you in other areas of your life, too. For more articles from Imogen, online courses, worksheets, and more, visit: www.danceinmind.org These are all areas that you can develop in our online class programme too. Our next PRO Pre/Postnatal Class block specially designed for pre/postnatal Mums who work in dance led by #dancemama Lucy Balfour continues on Wednesdays, 23 Feb – 23 March, for the next 5 weeks 10.30 - 11.45am, £45 / £30 Dance Mama Live! Participants Book my spot (Psst! You can join Dance Mama Live! for FREE here for the discount)
- Guilt: the mother of all emotions
Welcome to our blog takeover to kick off 2022 with #dancemama Imogen Aujla PhD, Dance Psychology Lecturer, Researcher and Life Coach, danceinmind.org Motherhood can be an emotional rollercoaster sometimes. Our feelings can be so much more intense than before we had children: joy like we’ve never experienced; a love so fierce and primal it’s hard to put into words; pride that makes us literally want to burst (and, let’s face it, new levels of frustration, rage and exhaustion). But we also get the emotional bonus prize that nobody wants: guilt. Lots and lots of guilt, about anything and everything. In recent years it has become fashionable to describe guilt as a useless emotion, but I don’t subscribe to this idea. Guilt does have a role to play, because fundamentally we feel guilty when we have done something wrong, and making things right can be important for our learning and development. The issue is that we sometimes feel guilt when in reality we haven’t actually done anything wrong, and that is often the case with ‘mum guilt’. What is guilt? Guilt is a negative emotional state that occurs when we have done something we believe to be wrong: caused physical or emotional harm to someone else, or broken some personal ethical or moral rules. It can prompt us to review and reflect on our actions and seek ways to make amends. From this perspective, guilt is useful: it helps with self-awareness, holds us accountable for our actions, and encourages us to develop more pro-social behaviours. And, of course, making amends can mean a huge amount to those people we have hurt, and may be necessary in order to repair relationships with them. You need to try and be kinder to yourself when situations are outside of your control But there are two problems: firstly, when we ruminate on our guilt and struggle to move past it, even when we have attempted to fix the problem. In this instance the guilt becomes counter-productive and self-limiting. Secondly, sometimes we think we have done something wrong, but we are unable to fix the problem because there actually is no problem! The unique challenges of ‘mum guilt’ I’m sure dads feel guilty too, but mums often seem to be shouldered with the ‘mum guilt’ burden. As mums we tend to hold ourselves to unrealistically high parenting standards and subsequently end up feeling guilty about anything and everything, including but not limited to: - Our birth experience - Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combination feeding - Going back to work - Not going back to work - Feeding our baby or toddler shop-bought pouches and jars - Feeding our baby or toddler family meal leftovers - Going out or away without our children - Negative feelings towards our children - Screen time - Needing time or space away from our children - Not playing enough with our children - Not doing enough ‘developmental activities’ with our children - Not always being present with our children - Shouting or snapping at our children - Not being able to afford the toys, clothes, etc. we would like for our children - Giving too many toys, clothes, etc. to our children and worrying we are spoiling them - And on. And on. And on! You may notice that there are several contradictory items on this list: you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Many of these examples represent things we think we have done wrong, or that we should feel guilty about. But our thoughts are not facts, so we need to try and be more objective when dealing with our guilt. So how do we do it – how can we move past the guilt when it isn’t valid, and how can we learn from it when it is? Guilt about things which are outside of our control When you are feeling guilty about something, the first thing to consider is the extent to which what happened was due to your own thoughts and actions, and the extent to which what happened was beyond your control. Perhaps you had a difficult birth and were not able to do skin-to-skin in the early days as you had hoped. You may have read about the importance of skin-to-skin and feel guilty that you did not have that experience with your baby. This is a difficult situation and one which may have taken a physical and psychological toll on you. But how much control did you have in this situation? For example, did a necessary medical intervention prevent you from holding your baby immediately? Is there anything you could have done differently if you could turn back the clock? I’m guessing not – labour and birth rarely follow our carefully considered plans, so the guilt in this situation is doing you a disservice. There are also so many other ways to bond with your baby as they grow. As a mother who works in the dance industry, there’s a good chance that your job is part of your identity and may be a huge source of fulfilment and satisfaction for you. You need to try and be kinder to yourself when situations are outside of your control, because there is nothing you can do to change them – and, therefore, no reason to feel guilty. It’s not always as simple as this, I realise, and you may find yourself ruminating on the situation. To try and stop the negative cycle of thoughts, have a go at a though diary. A popular technique in CBT, thought diaries help you to gain some distance between your thoughts and feelings, to examine the evidence for and against the guilty thought, and to see things from a different perspective. Do a thought diary as often as you need to, whenever you feel guilty about something that is outside of your control, or that you know deep down you don’t really need to feel guilty about. You can find one here. Over time you should find that you are better able to distinguish thoughts from facts and diminish overwhelming feelings of guilt or rumination over these types of situation. Guilt about our choices Let’s think about another common source of guilt: returning back to work after maternity leave. This can be really hard. I found the guilt of returning to work (even after having switched to part-time, flexible working) almost unbearable after I had my first child. It was slightly easier after I had my second, but still difficult. If we return to work after having a baby, it tends to be for a variety of reasons. Maybe we have to, for financial reasons. Returning to work is a necessity, a non-negotiable, so again be kind to yourself because there is no reason to feel guilty here. You may find thought diaries useful in this situation too. When we return to work because we want to rather than have to, we may experience more internal conflict between our love for our child and our need to be engaged in work. As a mother who works in the dance industry, there’s a good chance that your job is part of your identity and may be a huge source of fulfilment and satisfaction for you. This can be tricky, because you may feel selfish for wanting to spend time away from your children so that you can nourish this other part of your identity. But it isn’t selfish: if it will make you happier then you will be a better mum. It’s as simple as that. If you have made the decision to return to work because you want to, be confident in that choice. You love your child and you love your job, and nobody is asking you to choose between the two! Also, remind yourself that feeling guilty after a bad drop-off at nursery is natural, but ultimately won’t help your child (although having a good cry in the car park may help you, so let it out!). Be kind to yourself. Feeling guilty after returning to work is completely natural, but it isn’t entirely without its uses. What can we learn from guilt in this scenario? Perhaps it prompts us to be more present when we are with our children, to make the most of the time. It may also help us to create stricter boundaries between work and home than we had before, which is good for everyone. Guilt about our behaviour A final example of guilt is another common one: shouting at your child. Of course, there are times when this is absolutely warranted – when they’re hurtling headfirst towards a busy road, for instance – but often we shout at our children over relatively small things when they have pushed enough buttons, or when we are stressed, sleep-deprived or under pressure, and we know in our hearts that we are reacting disproportionately to what has happened. Firstly, treat yourself with compassion and kindness. Everybody shouts, everybody loses control, and you are only human. Don’t tell yourself you are a “bad parent” because you had a bad moment. Having said that, this is one example where guilt is well and truly helpful. What can you learn from this situation? What might you do differently next time? What steps might you need to take to stop this from happening again? Let’s say you need to get to work but your child has decided that they really don’t want to put their shoes on, thank you very much, and would much rather run around the house singing at the top of their voice than go to pre-school. You are under time pressure and feeling out of control of the situation. Will shouting really create the desired behaviour from your child, or prompt her to act up even more? If you do snap and shout, how will you both feel afterwards? In this scenario, the guilt is probably warranted: yes, you are under time pressure, but if you weren’t, your child’s actions would be less likely to result in “mummy’s angry voice”. So you can certainly learn from this. Think to yourself: what could you do instead of shouting? You may come up with a range of ideas: get up earlier; make a game out of getting ready; set a timer for leaving the house; pretend it’s a race to see who can get their shoes on first. How might this change the situation for the better? How will you both feel afterwards? Oh, and do apologise to your child if you have treated them unfairly. Even though you’re the grown-up and you’re in charge, you still need to show that you’re fallible and make amends. Finding the good in the guilt Next time you feel guilty about something, ask yourself the following questions: is this situation within or outside of my control? Do I need to take a step back and examine my guilty thoughts and their accuracy? Is feeling guilty helpful in this situation or unhelpful? Can I learn something from the guilt, change my behaviour or make amends? Can I do this while also treating myself with kindness and compassion? See if you can either move past unhelpful guilty thoughts, or find the good in the guilt, and be proud of yourself for making positive changes. For more articles from Imogen, online courses, worksheets, and more, visit danceinmind.org
- Are you breathing correctly?
Part of our guest blog take over with Niamh Morrin, Baby and I@babyandi.herts Is there a correct way to breathe? Surely if air is entering and exiting then that’s all we need to worry about? Well – yes for sustaining life – but maybe not for aiding optimal function of the musculoskeletal system! Can we assume all postnatal dancers have a disrupted breathing pattern? Yes, most probably! Good breathing patterns are our foundation – they affect our entire body. Our diaphragm, pelvic floor and core muscles should move together with each breath – the co-ordination of these muscles is essential in regulating intra-abdominal pressure – poor pressure management within our core canister can lead to pressure leaking out of a “weak area” – leading to the risk of hernias, prolapse and a persisting diastasis recti. In addition, poor breathing patterns can lead to excessive holding of tension in our pelvic floor, core and neck and shoulders. Tension holding is not a sign of strength and will eventually lead to a weakening of a muscle as it is not being stimulated correctly. Pregnancy can alter and disrupt optimal breathing patterns. During pregnancy the rib cage widens and the diaphragm gets pushed up (LoMauro and Aliverti, 2005) – the diaphragm struggles to contract and flatten and rib cage movement reduces – this make it difficult to get a deep inhale or exhale. These changes can throw us into shallow breathing pattern (all neck and shoulders) or belly breathing (where the inhale pushes the belly out). Can we assume all postnatal dancers have a disrupted breathing pattern? Yes, most probably! And as a side note, I haven’t worked with one dancer, young or old, male or female, prenatal or postnatal with a good breathing pattern! This begs the question – do dancers have poor breathing patterns? To be honest, I can’t answer that with any scientific back up, but in my experience, neck and upper abdominal tension is a very common “habit” in dancers. I believe every dancer needs training in correct breathing patterns. I’m pregnant/postnatal – why care about my breathing? If we don’t re-establish and train correct breathing mechanics, we will miss out on strengthening and connecting with our core and pelvic floor in a natural way. A correct breathing pattern should naturally lengthen (inhale) and contract (exhale) our entire pelvic floor and abdominal wall. When diastasis recti, weakened abdominal and pelvic floor dysfunction are almost part and parcel of the maternal journey, correct breathing will be the first step in retraining your system correctly. Re-establishing correct breathing Correct breathing is not as simple as letting your belly rise and fall (this actually shows pressure leaking of a weakened area). Read the 4 steps below to see how you can improve your breathing pattern and work your core and pelvic floor correctly. #1 – Develop an awareness of your breath Position yourself in a comfortable kneeling position with attention to posture, shoulders over pelvis and pelvis in neutral (Figure 2). Wrap your fingers around each side of your rib cage (fingers on the front, thumb wrapped around to the back). Take a 5 second inhale and exhale. What happened on the inhale? 1) Did your neck get tense? 2) Did your shoulders move up? 3) Did your tummy expand? 4) Did you widen and lengthen your lateral abdominal muscles? 5) Did your rib cage expand in 360 degrees? (i.e. did it widen, expand out to the front and out to the back) 6) Did you notice any movement in your pelvic floor? #2 – Let’s get your ribs expanding in 360 degrees Now repeat your inhale and exhale and let’s get your ribs expanding in 360 degrees. Wrap your fingers around each side of your rib cage. On the inhale concentrate on keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed and instead “blow your rib cage up”! It should expand out to the side, front and back. To help with rib expansion we need good eccentric length in our lateral abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals and obliques). If you lack this strength you will notice very little expansion of the rib cage and your tummy will expand out (belly breathing!). To practice lateral expansion of the abdominals, drop your fingers down so they rest on your sides and under your rib cage. Breath into your fingers – you should feel your sides expand out into your fingers. Your tummy will expand a little but not a lot! Missing out on good rib expansion and eccentric lengthening in our lateral abdominal muscles will essentially mean we are missing out on a good opportunity to use our core muscles effectively. A muscle must first lengthen to get a good contraction; this is why dancers work their plie before they take off from the ground – this will give them better jump height because the calf muscles have been lengthened first. If we take this principle to the core we need to ensure that our breathing allows our core muscles to lengthen before they contract. In a nutshell, good rib expansion and lengthening of the core muscles gives opportunity for the muscles to contract well – thus providing lots of lumbopelvic stability. This is especially important when you are dancing – if your breathing patterns aren’t allowing good lengthening and therefore good contracting, then you will never be able to sustain correct core tension when performing exercises that require lumbopelvic stability! Video 1: Exercise to assist with rib mobility #3 Time to take note of your pelvic floor If you are starting to find good movement in your ribs and lateral abdominals then focus now on allowing your pelvic floor to relax and spread on the inhale. As you exhale you should notice a natural contraction or recoil. #4 The exhale If the inhale has done its job at lengthening the abdominals and pelvic floor then they are in a perfect position to naturally recoil (at rest) or contract more fully if required for exertion (i.e. dance, general exercise, lifting kids!). On the exhale allow your pelvic floor to gather together and lift whilst concentrating on contracting your tummy muscles evenly –contraction of your abdominal should start at your lower transverse abdominals (as low as hip bones and pubic bone) all the way up to your ribs. In a nutshell Co-ordinating the movement of your ribs, lateral abdominals and pelvic floor on your inhale and exhale will be key to retraining the muscles of your core and pelvic floor whilst teaching them to contract effectively for optimal function. If you are postnatal and are looking to retrain your core, heal diastasis recti, address pelvic floor dysfunction, improve overall strength for return to dance or even address pain and discomfort breathing patterns should be addressed first and foremost. Reference LoMauro A, Aliverti A. Respiratory physiology of pregnancy: Physiology masterclass. Breathe (Sheff). 2015 Dec;11(4):297-301. doi: 10.1183/20734735.008615. PMID: 27066123; PMCID: PMC4818213. Also see Niamh's other blogs on Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor
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MORE INFO WATCH FILM WINNER - CHANGE MAKER AWARD ONE DANCE UK AWARDS 2022 HELPING DANCE MAMAS MOVE THEIR WORLDS We believe that just because you start a family it doesn't mean you have to stop moving. We empower parents who dance to blend their caring responsibilities with their artform. We can support you in a variety of ways so you can be inspired, be informed and stay connected. MEET THE DANCE MAMAS IN OUR FILM EBONY MOLINA Performer & Choreographer CLARE HALSE Musical Theatre Performer BETHANY KINGSLEY-GARNER Principal, Scottish Ballet KATE TYDMAN Actor & Producer FILM INFO ARE YOU A DANCE MAMA? GET INVOLVED Join our e-news mailing list Subscribe Now WEBINARS & WORKSHOPS Develop your career with world-class specialists Join Dance Mama Live: Back On The Road for 2022/23 - our unique online programme for Professional Dance Parents, available as replays to fit in with your busy schedule, supported by Arts Council England ONLINE CLASSES Weekly sessions for pre/postnatal dance professionals Take part in our weekly, online classes for pre/postnatal parents who work in dance, where you don't need to find childcare and can join in from home. Join Dance Mama Live: Back On The Road and get a discount! COMMUNITY Connect with other like-minded colleagues Join our community of dancing families to share, connect and be inspired - through signing up to our e-news, follow our socials or take it further and join our classes, Dance Mama Live programme or one-off workshops and events CELEBRATE THE DANCE MAMA IN YOUR LIFE The perfect gift for mums on the move supporting mums on the move ACCESSORIES TOPS SWEATERS OVER 70 STORIES Our unique collection of over 70 stories, amplified online since 2014, traverse roles on and off-stage across the sector of parents from a multitude of family contexts. Read how parents navigate parenthood in dance and related sectors Listen to their stories of resilience in the face of challenge Watch them talk about their experiences and be inspired VIEW STORIES JOIN DANCE MAMA IN CONVERSATION WITH... LUCY BALFOUR Lucy, (Royal New Zealand Ballet, Rambert), who delivers Dance Mama’s specialised pre and postnatal dance classes for professionals, talks about her experience bending the many roles in life as a ballerina, dancer and mother, including dancing on tour during her pregnancy. KRISTINA ALLEYNE Kristina, Co-Artistic Director of Alleyne Dance, shares her experience of what it is like to be pregnant, performing, choreographing and co-running your own dance company, whilst also rehearsal directing for Akram Khan's Kaash at the Southbank Centre, London EMMA FLETT Emma, Filmmaker, Founder of Flett Films and dance teacher talks about her vast career in dance, theatre and film as a parent, with wonderful real-life stories of how she has navigated her career with three children - including emergency celebrity babysitters! CELEBRATING DANCE PAPAS #dancepapa Federico Bonelli talks to Dance Mama Founder, Lucy McCrudden, about his recent move from celebrated Principal The Royal Ballet to his new position as Artistic Director of Northern Ballet. giving insight and how his experience combined with Board membership of PiPA Campaign will shape the future his thinking as he embarks on this exciting new chapter. READ
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ACCESSORIES TOPS SWEATERS TREAT THE DANCE MAMA IN YOUR LIFE Support us in helping Dance Mamas move their worlds BUY HOW DO YOU WEAR YOURS? Worn and #shared by real-life Dance Mamas JOIN THEM Maternal Journal's new book Lucy is excited to be included in Maternal Journal's new book, which was published in October. Lucy contributed a dance guide as a great extension to the journaling process alongside other artists including celebrated poet, Hollie McNish and authors Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and Samantha McGowan. Laura has also been a featured Guest Speaker on Dance Mama Live! in 2021 BUY DANCE MAMA LIVE! build your portfolio with confidence Bourne, McCrudden and Lyons give a comprehensive guide to being a Portfolio Professional in all aspects including social media and selling - things dance folk don't always find easy! Includes Lucy McCrudden (Dance Mama Founder) as the arts case study. BUY new mama empowerment cards All new mums need a boost! That's why we've created this gorgeous digital donwload available on Etsy in collaboration with another #dancemama, where you can print out a messages to lift the spirits on those tougher days. A great, personal gift to a valued new mum friend. All proceeds go back to Dance Mama and help us keep parents in dance moving the world. BUY PRINTABLE
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OPPORTUNITIES Dance Mama CIC - Board of Directors Are you interested in supporting working parents? Maybe you are one. Do you care about talent retention and increasing opportunities for working families in the arts? Dance Mama CIC is growing our Board to include three passionate voluntary Directors who are interested in contributing their skills and talents in the following areas, as we forge forwards with our award-winning mission to improve the lives of parents working in the professional dance sector: Law Finance Dance professional (preferably working in a non-western dance style with lived experience of being a parent.) To apply, download our Terms of Reference and Impact Report and then submit a covering letter and your CV and/or LinkedIn profile to email@example.com by Monday 12th December 2022. Interviews will be scheduled between December 2022 and January 2023. Successful applicants will commence this role on 2nd March 2023. DOWNLOAD TERMS OF REFERENCE DOWNLOAD IMPACT REPORT Button STORIES TEAM LEARN