Lauren Carlstrom, O+ Team Member |
As a former classical ballet and modern dancer who embodied the teachings of Martha Graham, George Balanchine and Loyce Houlton and until taking the old collegiate detour, I have a deep, personal appreciation for the rigorous demand placed on the body – and mind – of professional dancers. The endurance, precision, grace, strength and flexibility that makes my position today in the audience so enjoyable, comes with great sacrifice that many (including myself) cannot, or will not, make.
Although it really should have come sooner, I first made the connection between the benefits of breathing oxygen and ballet and modern dance when a professional ballet company purchased Oxygen Plus online while on tour in Aspen, Colorado. It was then that my past routine of training four hours a day, six days a week for more than a decade, pirouetted Oxygen Plus into the picture as a must-have ballet-bag-helper.
Before you dismiss the need of this ballet company as ordering O+ oxygen for Vail’s altitude, consider the fact the dancers were aware of, and benefiting from, the performance and muscle recovery benefits associated with supplementing with portable oxygen. One of these dancers, who smoked cigarettes, was accustomed to taking a few deep breaths of Oxygen Plus prior to going on stage – for an oxygen boost of energy and to help her relax.
Performing in front of an audience is one thing. Performing with precision and grace in front of an audience where perfection must mix with vigorous physical activity is quite another. That’s the platform of a professional dancer. In addition to great physical demand and stress, dancers also grapple with the mental or emotional drain of a flawless performance. These dual stresses – and resulting demand on the mind and body – is why knowing how to properly breathe is key.
Professional dancers need to perform while their movements look easy, light and effortless. To do this, they must master breathing through their diaphragm, as diaphragmatic breathing helps optimize the oxygen pumping through their blood cells.
A Mayo Clinic article on diaphragmatic breathing reports that “Studies have found that deep, yogic breathing helps balance the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as temperature control and bladder function…” which “…may help ease symptoms of stress-related disorders and mental health conditions such as anxiety, general stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder” (Peterson, R.N.).
The inherent mental and physical demands placed on a dancer is one reason diaphragmatic breathing, which is directly tied to utilizing oxygen to its fullest at the cellular level, is part of the professional dancer’s repertoire.
Most professional dancers have mastered how to breathe. The next level ballet and/or modern dancer, however, is moving with the idea of what to breathe in order to help their body perform better and recover faster when their body’s demand for oxygen is increased beyond its normal, resting state. The efficacy of breathing Oxygen Plus – which is more than four times the amount of oxygen found in ambient, everyday air – is easily understood in terms of aerobic and anaerobic activity, and their effect on oxygen deficiency and oxygen debt.
Both aerobic and anaerobic activity occurs within the dancer’s body, and when this happens, oxygen deficiency and oxygen debt occur. As a refresher, aerobic training – which can be sustained for an extended time period – requires the presence of oxygen, and “helps to increase muscle endurance and capillary size, and generally helps the heart muscle to pump blood more efficiently” (Hogan, Jr.). In contrast, anaerobic activity – which is not sustainable for an extended period of time – does not require the presence of oxygen, and increases the muscle’s size and strength. Both forms of exercise impact a person’s post-workout level of oxygen debt.
Ballet and modern dancers can benefit from breathing oxygen for aerobic activity (endurance and performance) and anaerobic activity (recovery), which can result in fatigued, sore muscles caused from lactic acid build up. That’s why Oxygen Plus pure recreational oxygen – which replenishes depleted oxygen levels to optimal levels on-demand – comes to the rescue. Portable, lightweight canisters that can be stored in a ballet bag or stage right, Oxygen Plus is there to help elevate professional ballet and modern dancers any time they are training or performing.
Dancers…places, please. The next performance is about to begin.
Hogan, Jr., Paul. Is Cardio Really The Secret to Fat Loss? https://www.issaonline.edu/blog/index.cfm/2016/is-cardio-really-the-secret-to-fat-loss. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
Peterson, R.N., Laura A. Mayo Clinic. Decrease stress by using your breath. Diaphragmatic breathing. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197?pg=2. Retrieved March 13, 2018.