Lucia Vergnano is a Dancer with Aterballetto Dance Company, a Mother, and a GYROTONIC® Trainer based in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Vergnano now contributes to an blog called Mamma, Mi Racconti (Italian for Mom, Tell Me).
In this post, Vergnano shares her thoughts on breathing, the importance of oxygen, and how the GYROTONIC® Method helped her further understand this necessity.
BREATHING AGAIN by Lucia Vergnano
[Translated by Lucia Vergnano from ‘UNA MAMMA IN GYRO‘ (A mother in Gyro) – ‘Juggling family, dance, travels and the Gyrotonic Method’]
Each of us as a child breathes, breathes well, without any constraints or problems. Then, with time, we forget. We get stuck. The mind begins to control our breathing unconsciously. We do not think it’s so important anymore.
What are the consequences? Aches, muscle pain, joint pain, stomach ache, headache to name a few… I am not saying it all depends on how we breathe, but it is certainly influential, and knowing how to breathe well could help to prevent these problems.
For example, musicians use instruments to make music, painters use brushes and colors and dancers use the body. The body and soul of the dancer are their tools and, as every tool must be treated with care, it should be cleaned, polished and pampered.
What better ingredient to feed your body than oxygen? Oxygenating your blood, muscles and mind correctly means preventing contractions. It means learning to maintain a correct posture and dealing with stressful moments (which are plentiful!) in a more conscious way.
In addition, the diaphragm is the muscle that has the main role in breathing, in which the Gyrotonic Method truly teaches how to make the diaphragm more elastic and, at the same time, stronger in order to control it voluntarily.
The Gyrotonic Method also teaches us that a certain type of breathing must be associated with each type of movement: a gentle and deep breath when movement is wide and slow; a more rhythmic one if the movement is fast and small; and a stronger and more intense one if the movement requires greater physical strength.
Improving my breathing has greatly helped to increase my physical strength, mobility and prevent injuries. I feel that Gyrotonic is a method that can really work for anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness. It is a method that helps people to breathe consciously to oxygenate both the body and mind.
After practicing the Gyrotonic method and its breathing techniques for years, it has definitely made a difference. Just couple of hours a week and you will see a change in your life, because knowing how to take a deep breath at the right moment can change your day.
More About Lucia Vergana
Lucia, 33, was born in Turin but moved to Florence to follow her dream to become a ballerina. And she did. In the last 15 years Vergnano has been working as a professional dancer, first with Balletto di Roma in Rome, then with Aterballetto in Reggio Emilia.
However, while dancing in Rome, Vergnano became injured but was fortunately introduced to the Gyrotonic Method. From that moment on, she realized that she didn’t want to be without this method, so pursued to becoming an instructor.
She has been married to Hektor, who is also a dancer, for 3 years. They met in Rome in 2000 and after a difficult start they decided to try to build a life together. A little more than 2 years ago she became a Mother to Lorenzo, which is her “greatest pride and joy.”
Follow Lucia Vergnano here:
Above: Mara Cimatoribus, founder and blogger of SHE-SMILES
In no particular order – these new blog platforms are equally amazing, inspiring and necessary for dance, fitness, health, and wellbeing enthusiasts alike.
One thing these blogs have in common is that all of the founders/creators/directors/bloggers took the initiative to use their experience and knowledge to create a fun, enthusiastic place for other like minded people out of the goodness of their hearts. Check out these topics ranging from ballet fitness to self-esteem improvement to yummy innovative recipes.
Lazy Dancer Tips – Best New Dance Vlog
Former dancer of Royal New Zealand Ballet and current dancer in New English Ballet Theatre Lugoboni seriously doesn’t miss a beat in her new blog. Nearly everyday, dancers have access to exercises and tips on everything from ‘how to tie your pointe shoes’ to ‘how to exercise on the beach’.
Lazy may not be the case ‘per se’, but this lovely laid back approach to using ballet as fitness is accessible to anyone for anytime and everywhere. It is, of course, also great for those already deep in the ballet game. She’s got your back with in depth yet simple explanations of how to improve leg extensions, balance, and port de bras, just to name a few.
In addition, Iacopo Di Luigi, Lugoboni’s other half and business partner, works in Visual Effects and clearly has an eye for detail. This great collaboration manages to create the dynamic combination between video and blogging, which works flawlessly with both depth and clarity.
Follow this blog and you’ll never be out of touch with improving your fitness, ballet technique, and the cuteness of Lugoboni’s cats!
Sweet Om Yoga – Best New Yoga Instagram Account
Not a formal blog, but Filitsa Thomopoulou’s photos are extremely well shot. She manages to capture some of the most intriguing yoga poses in unique angles. They all seem to tell a story, like a dance. This former ballerina ( á la the National Greek Opera School of Dance) has transformed her life from the stage to the mat after foregoing hip surgery. After living and dancing in London she returned back to her home in Athens, Greece and now teaches yoga full time.
She’s now beginning to incorporate video on her Instagram account, which further adds to the dance-like element; flowing into poses as if one sentence. Instagram and yoga have quickly become the perfect combination – and it’s everywhere. So what sets this account apart? Her precision and poise. Suitable for those who want to see how someone uses their technique to the fullest, safely and beautifully.
Traveling to Greece? Contact Thomopoulou for her class schedule here.
Wavelength – Best New GYROTONIC® Blog
Thanks to Cina Canada, founder/producer/director of Human Picture Initiative and now (thankfully) Media Coordinator at GYROTONIC® International Headquarters, the very much global yet exclusive Gyrotonic community official have outlet direct from the source. Here – trainers, clients and anyone else alike can be informed with what others trainers and master trainers are doing and, most importantly, read what they have to say.
Useful sections and series includes ‘Tips for Trainers by Trainers‘ and specialized course highlights where Master Trainers are interviews to further explain the development of the course and, basically, ‘what inspired them?’. Gyrotonic headquarters also have a YouTube channel that features ‘The Gyrotonic Interview Series‘ (a must-see).
I have a great gut feeling that the Gyrotonic community fully appreciates to finally have this kind of dialogue accessible and out in the open. Always wanted to know more about the Gyrotonic Method and how it can improve your technique, posture and alignment? This blog is not to be missed.
Dance Longer, Dance Stronger – Best New Dance Science Blog
Insights on dance, dance science, and injury prevention? Yes, please. Dance Longer, Dance Stronger was founded and entirely created by, budding entrepreneur, Claire Farmer. Farmer doesn’t seem to take ‘no’ for an answer, especially when it comes to improving the dance community. So much so, she’s just created an app called The Performers Health Hub, which is now available!
During and after obtaining her MSc Dance Science degree, Farmer seemed to quickly know in which direction she was headed. Her goal was (and is) to find ways that important and useful information is available to dancers, especially involving health-related issues as she clearly describes on her website.
Want to know more about Dance Science and how to get involved? This one is definitely for you. You can also check out a range of articles that Farmer’s arranged that include topics such as “Anxiety and the Dancer” and “Health Before Money”.
Lucy Panou, Best New Lifestyle Blog
Lucy Panou is so matter-of-fact and to the point, I can only imagine that girls around the world are feel like they finally relate and feel right at home with her insightful and plentiful posts. Clearly written and driven from personal experiences, Panou dons an MSc in Dance Science as well as a certification in Lifestyle Coaching.
Her background as a dancer and the experience she’s had with body image further proves that she’s hugely passionate about what she courageously brings to the surface. Her straight to point blog posts include topics such as “Why Perfectionism is a Pain in the Ass […] and “How to Conquer Resiliency“.
In addition, she currently has a free package called “Discover How to Love Yourself and Your Body”, which includes an ebook amongst other useful information, like how to ‘Stop Worrying About the Mirror’. Don’t just take my word for it, see what Lucy’s clients have to say by scrolling down to the bottom on her home page.
Want a self-esteem boost? Contact Panou directly for advice here.
She Smiles, Best New Food Blog
If you love acquiring new ideas for food then you’ll fully appreciate this one. The blog was created by Italian native and now Londoner, Mara Cimatoribus, after she realized she wanted to live and eat healthier. Within first glance, you’ll be able to tell you’re in for dozens of treats. Cimatoribus’s recipes are original, innovative and fresh, and provides mostly vegan and plant-based recipes.
She’s begun a section that documents her travel experiences. Here, she shares ‘where to stay’ and, of course, ‘where and what to eat’. Her photos are stunning and will no doubt will inspire you to visit said places and eat all of the food! So far, she’s documented her stays in Marrakech, Puglia, and Albuquerque. Stay tuned for more.
Cimatoribus also usefully puts together a range of suggestions for beauty, wellness, kitchen products, books and more (here’s an example). Once you’ve opened the menu on the homepage, scroll down and click on ‘Shop’ to explore.
Gyrotonic [Exercise] has been the perfect addition in my training and performance as a dancer after battling with injuries for years and trying different kinds of crosstraining. Gyrotonic[Exercise] helped me understand where my movement starts and what parts of my body should be working less (with less tension) and which ones I was ignoring. Every Gyrotonic session gives me valuable information about my body, but also makes me trust it more. The body knows how to work efficiently if we listen to it and follow the nature of the movement, Gyrotonic[Exercise] is the perfect way to reconnect and strengthen your body.
– Maria, Ballet/ Contemporary Dancer, Pilates Instructor
What’s generally needed to enhance dance performance?
Healthy psychological levels
A sense of playfulness
What does the GYROTONIC® Method focus on?
Breathing patterns for optimal expansion and contraction
Maintaining less effort for more power and increased flexibility
Postural and movement alignment
Relating movement to everyday things, places, and objects
Whole body awareness
Rhythm and playfulness
How does the GYROTONIC® Method enhance dance performance?
Firstly, the method’s movement intention and philosophy is parallel, if not the same, to dance training and most movement.
The body is viewed as a functional instrument that is beyond aesthetics.
You have to accept and be honest with your own anatomical make up and eliminate the need to imitate someone else’s (e.g. flexibility, turnout).
It improves both postural alignment and alignment during movement by increasing awareness.
It emphasizes using necessary effort to avoid working ‘too hard’, mentally and physically.
Thus, it helps the body to exert an effective amount of energy for longer lasting power.
It helps to overcome old habits that previously increased injuries, aches and pains, even mental barriers.
It helps one to take risks safely, explore movements fully, oh, and HAVE FUN!
A dancers’ performance skills could be broken down even further to elements such as self-esteem, cognitive learning, goal setting, fitness, and dieting. While performance enhancement needs further research within the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis community, let alone the dance community, this barrier could be broken by reporting more experiences, more case studies, and relate findings to existing movement and sports research.
Here are 5 key reasons why all dancers should work with the GYROTONIC®, regardless of their discipline.
As a classical ballet and contemporary dancer, with almost 18+ years under my belt (started super young like most of us), I thought it would be a great idea to share with all the dancers out there what my favorite benefits of GYROTONIC® are to helping your craft. Whether you’re a professional or just a casual taker of class, GYROTONIC® has some real positives for you. I’ve also included a really informative video at the end.
Opening of the Hips (A.K.A. an easier turnout)
We all know forcing turnout isn’t great when trying to maximally achieve a desired position. The Gyrotonic Method helps you to find the correct initiation of turnout (top of the hips). Gyrotonic exercises work in both parallel and turned out which helps the body to further it’s potential of correct use. Not only is this good for performance but it’ll basically help you survive in the long run.
To Move from the ‘Centre’
Gyrotonic is great for the core (abdominals and pelvic floor). There are many exercises that adhere to both strength and keeping your movement coming from the centre, or ‘seed centre’ as it’s called in this method. This is important because there is less strain on the rest of the body and the joints.
When I’m teaching dancers how to make use of Gyrotonic during class or even warming up, one of the biggest benefits is keeping the toes wide. Whether you’re en pointe or doing floor work, keeping the ankles heathy with Gyrotonic exercise and homework for warming up reduces the risk of injury and improves strength in the feet.
Less Effort, More Power
You know that feeling of heaviness during or after class/ a performance? This is because we’re using way too much effort. Gyrotonic helps me to lengthen my muscles by using only what’s necessary. Therefore, I’m able to avoid overuse which enhances my performance (making me feel like a lean, mean, dancing machine).
Use of Breath
One of the issues I see with dancers, particularly when learning complex phases, is remembering to breath properly. Gyrotonic focuses heavily on using the rhythm of the breath with movement. This means you’re able to use only the muscles you need to maintain fluidity.
Overall as a dancer and Gyrotonic instructor, I always make of use these benefits interchangeably both inside and outside the classroom. There are many more benefits, depending on they type of dancer you are and your needs. Most importantly, Gyrotonic can help you reduce or even prevent injury which is necessary for the length of your career.
I’d love to hear your comments on the above.
In the meantime, check out this great video from To-The-Pointe.Org on ‘Gyrotonic and Ballet’ with dancer, Adriana Suarez.