Wednesday, December 07, 2016

when you really need to dance... resources for doing ballet class/fitness at home

The holidays are coming up, which means that a lot of ballet classes are sadly not happening. Where can I still get my fix? For those occasions, I like to do ballet classes or workouts at home.
This is me doing a ballet class in the fitness centre of a hotel.
Since several people asked me about it, here is an overview of resources I really like for that:

  • Lazy Dancer tips is a youtube channel with a lot of nice workouts, including this ballet barre for fitness and some 5-minute-beach-abs workouts. Good for dancers but also suitable for non-dancers
  • For $15 you can buy a download of the barre and the centre this class by Kat Wildish, a ballet teacher from New York City specialising in adults. Her style is very easy to follow and focuses a lot on correct placement.
  • Another youtube channel is Kathryn Morgan, who has some good workouts such as a pointe barre workout and a workout to strengthen your feet. She also holds online ballet classes, of which I really like the free stretch and strength class
  • If you would like to improve your core and your form, floor barre is excellent. Yumiko sells a wonderful DVD
  • On youtube, you can also easily dance along with Pacific northwest ballet school's Balanchine-style class
  • Another DVD that I like a lot is one with Andrey Klemm, which is quite easy to follow, a good workout, and gorgeous dancers
  • If you would like to improve your turns, then Finis Jhung has some good DVDs, although those are pretty pricy. I like the intermediate-advanced turning class, which unfortunately is no longer available
And of course, sometimes the most fun thing to do is just to put on some music that moves you and dance! 

does mindfulness mean we have no judgment whatsoever?

In a video on the bodhi Facebook page, Kimberly Poppe asks an important question here: can we suspend our judgment for a moment? What does this feel like? There has been a lot of controversy on mindfulness promoting non-judgmentalness and thereby condoning injustice, bigotry and violence in the world. I think what is shown here is that it is not about getting rid of judgments altogether, but rather taking a moment to first perceive what is, in a way that is as unbiased as possible, and then engaging in a way that is usually a lot more sane because you had a chance to think it over.

In this way, mindfulness can allow you to not become a zombie, but in fact allow you to see injustice more clearly and act in a more skilful way. By reducing the reliance on forming an opinion before you have had a chance to actually see, you can potentially go beyond your habits of thinking, especially those habits that are quite "sticky", i.e., those that involve your hopes and fears. Instead of running through patterns such as "I am a worthless..." or "s/he probably thinks I am a loser" or "these people are really stupid" again, and thereby making them stronger, we can also have a fresh look at what presents itself. Then we may be able to see different sides of a situation, and choose to do something different than the thing we usually do. So we can still have a strong opinion, and a strong commitment to act on an unjust situation, but now it is founded in a bit more of a grounded response.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

review of the Society for Neuroscience conference

A few weeks ago I went to the big Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego. This yearly conference usually draws around 30,000 neuroscientists. I was quite actively live-tweeting the conference, so for an impression of the current research on brain oscillations, decision making and mind-wandering, check out my storify: