Treat Yo' Self

August 12, 2015

This summer, many of you will experience a rare and beautiful thing: a week (or two!) off from dance. You may feel tempted to spend your time cross-training at the gym or giving yourself a daily barre (and if you’re heading to a summer intensive, you should). But consider giving your body and mind a well-deserved break, too. Certified yoga instructor Keely Garfield explains three healthy and relaxing indulgences to try during your time off. After all, Nutcracker auditions and competition rehearsals will be back before you know it.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Restorative yoga pose: Lie on your back with your calves resting on the seat of a chair in front of you. Your knees should be over your hips with your shins parallel to the floor. Place a pillow under your head so your neck is comfortable.

Garfield says: “This pose refreshes your whole body, calming your nervous system and mind by promoting circulation.”

Meditation: Sit comfortably and still for five minutes. Alternate paying attention to your breath in your nostrils, chest and belly.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Garfield says: “Meditation lets you observe the backdrop of stillness and silence. This attention can help reduce stress by training your mind to focus on the present moment.”

Aromatherapy: Put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton pad and inhale, taking care not to get it in your eyes.

Garfield says: “Lavender oil is relaxing, clarifying and grounding; lemon is refreshing and balancing.”

Still wound up? Here are three more ways to give yourself a little TLC.

Try self-acupressure. There’s an acupressure point located in the middle of your sternum, between your nipples. Pressing down on it with your fingertips will help you calm down by encouraging you to breath more deeply.

Give yourself a foot massage. Quickly swipe your hands across the tops of your bare

feet several times to warm them up. Rub and rotate each toe, and draw diagonal lines across the sole of each foot with your fingertips. For an extra-special treat, use peppermint oil, which will create a refreshing cooling sensation as you rub.

Take a warm bath to soothe your skin, relax your muscles and reduce stress. Bonus: A hot bath before bed can help you fall asleep more quickly.

Food Cures: Sunburn Edition

Don’t be the girl who returns from summer vacation looking like a lobster. Not only does sunburn look and feel terrible (leotard straps + peel-y shoulders = OUCH), it also increases your risk of developing melanoma later in life.

(Photo by Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

In addition to applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and sunbathing

responsibly, try these foods to boost your body’s natural sunburn protection.

Tomatoes and/or organic ketchup
protect your skin from sun damage because of their high lycopene content, which helps neutralize the harmful effects of UV rays.

is rich in vitamin C (one fruit contains five times more than a medium-sized orange), which can boost your skin’s healing properties.

contain ellagic acid, which protects your skin cells from damage by both UVA and UVB rays.

Green tea
contains catechin compounds, which provide some protection from solar radiation. Studies suggest you should drink two cups a day.

If you already have a sunburn…
Certain foods can also help ease the sting when it’s too late for prevention.

Rub raw potato slices
where your sunburn is most painful. The starches will help alleviate the sting. For more intense relief, use grated raw potato.

For a soothing bath, add one cup of ground oatmeal to a tub of cool water and soak your entire body in it for at least 15 minutes.

Mash up strawberries
and rub them over your sunburn, rinsing with cool water after letting the mixture sit for a few minutes. The berries’ tannins will help with the pain.

Boil lettuce leaves in water
. Strain the liquid and let it cool, then use cotton balls to dab the lettuce water over sunburn. The analgesic properties of lettuce will help with pain reduction, and its vitamin E will moisturize your damaged skin.

Did You Know…

…thinking through the exercises as you observe class can help you retain strength? According to a study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, your nervous system plays a significant role in overall muscle strength. So if you’re sidelined by an injury or illness, push yourself to pay attention and imagine yourself participating in class. It may feel frustrating now, but it’ll pay off when you get the OK to dance again.