Stretching For Front Splits

If you’re struggling with getting all the way down in those elusive front-splits, there are two areas of flexibility that you’ll want to pay special attention to: the hamstrings and the hip flexors.

Spending some time working to increase your range of motion in each of these areas individually will help you achieve your ultimate goal when put to use in the split.

IMAGE An example of a Pigeon pose in Yoga by someone in jeans, a hoodie, and sneakers. IMAGEHow To Stretch The Hip Flexors

The most common way to stretch those hip flexors is the lunge. However, there are a few other ways to get at this muscle group. The standing lunge and two other possibilities are detailed in the video by Deborah Vogel (The Body Series) below. I’ve also found that several Yoga poses, when done correctly, are wonderful for stretching the hip flexors, particularly the Warrior, Triangle, and Pigeon poses. As in dance, a knowledgeable Yoga instructor will guide your form and help you get the most out of these positions.


Watch this video on YouTube.

How To Stretch The Hamstrings [Read more…]

Goals and Reverse Resolutions

[image] Happy New Year 2011 [image]Resolutions made at the start of a year are notoriously broken. With the whole year ahead it’s easy to try taking on bigger goals than you are ready to complete, disappointing yourself as a result. There’s nothing at all wrong with goal-setting. In fact, I encourage it.

First though, take a moment to make your list of Reverse Resolutions. These are the things you’ve accomplished over the last year, written as resolutions crossed off your list.

Here is my list, including the personal and professional:

2010 Resolutions
  • Expand my Houston-based dance writing
  • Return to teaching at a studio
  • Complete potty training with my son
  • Help us both (my son & I) make the transition to preschool
  • Enjoy more getaway time with my husband
  • Be part of a dance film project
  • Welcome 500 Dance Advantage subscribers and our 100,000th visitor (since moving the blog in ’09)
  • Reach 1000 Facebook fans
  • Introduce an initiative to celebrate the significant and various ways dance matters and makes life better
  • Find new ways to engage and reach out to readers and fellow dance bloggers

I don’t know where the concept originated but I first encountered the practice of making Reverse Resolutions from another blogger named Amber. Amber was blogging at Dance Primer when I first started Dance Advantage in 2008 but has gone on to a master’s degree and a career teaching music (not to mention managing a family). She’s kept up the practice of listing Reverse Resolutions on her family blog and I’d like to encourage you to give it a try.

Make your list! Share it with us in the comments.

Setting Goals

After you’ve thought about your achievements, think about the steps you took to accomplish them. Did you take one gigantic leap or many small actions to get there? Did you take some risks along the way? Was the outcome actually different from what you expected?

Reflect on this and get ready to set some new goals.

[image] Click this Goal Page image to download the pdf [image]If you keep a dance journal or even a personal planner or diary, you can easily keep track of goals, the steps you take to achieve them, and also your progress and achievement.

I’ve included a Goal Worksheet (click on the image to the left to download the pdf). Use this as a guide or print copies to insert directly into your journal or binder.

Use the top half for setting goals.

Write down your goal, your plan for reaching that goal, and how you’ll stay motivated along the way.

Example Goal: Improve front splits by the summer.

List the specific steps you’ll take: Take a few minutes after class to stretch while you are warm; Allow time after your shower to go through a slow routine that works through the muscles surrounding the hips and lower back and finishes with gentle split practice; Spend time visualizing yourself in a full split

How will you backup your plan? Ask a classmate to join you and hold each other accountable, or listen to your favorite song only while stretching, make an inspiring picture your desktop photo.

Use the bottom half for reflection.

Three months, six months, or a year later have your splits improved? Even if you didn’t reach your goal, write down what you did achieve or what you are proud of yourself for accomplishing.

List the things you learned about yourself and your goal. Maybe improving splits takes more time than you thought, or you found that certain times of the day are better for you when it comes to flexibility.

Note the things or people that helped you the most. Did your teacher suggest a stretch that really worked for you? Maybe your mom was especially encouraging, reminding you to stretch.

The big picture:

  1. Keep a categorized list of to-dos: This is your big list of goals in different subjects, dance styles, or aspects of your life.
  2. Decide on the actions and tasks you’ll take to achieve select goals (maybe the most important or time-sensitive) from this list.
  3. Schedule those tasks into your day or week.

Teachers, need more ideas or want to help your students with this exercise? Check out this post.

What goals are you setting for yourself this week? this month? this year?