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When in doubt…Breathe!

The below article was written by Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. Check out more of their work here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/

Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response

Relaxation techniques such as breath control via deep breathing

Updated: March 18, 2016   Published: January, 2015

The term “fight or flight” is also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.

Health problems are one result. A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression. We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the relaxation response, through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply.

The benefits of deep breathing

Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.

For many of us, deep breathing seems unnatural. There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is considered attractive, so women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.

Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.

Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.

Practicing breath focus

Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.

First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).

Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of breath focus. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.

Ways to elicit the relaxation response

Several techniques can help you turn down your response to stress. Breath focus helps with nearly all of them:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga, tai chi, and Qi Gong
  • Repetitive prayer
  • Guided imagery


And yes, you can even find time to breathe on the job, in your car, on the train, in rehearsal or any other environment.  We can help you get there. Contact us now for a complimentary class for your organization!



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Everything Comes to an End.

Dear Loyal Supporters, thank you.

Thank you for the past 6 ½ years of your prayers, well wishes and support. Thank you for watching our performances, whether we were Off-Broadway, on television, live streaming or simply presenting at an open mic. Thank you for taking our classes and workshops. Thank you for dancing with us in the streets of New York City during our Get Up & Move (Flocking) series. Thank you. We are so grateful. But as most things in life, they come to an end.

Full Force Dance Repertory, after 6 ½ years is coming to a close, as a dance company. Starting in January 2017 we will be re-launching as a new organization! Our new mission…

DUALISM: Holistic Wellness + Dance Performance

Our programming will be more dynamic and our resources more modern to fully embody this mission. Not only will we showcase high quality dance performances, but we will help you to become your best self through our highly developed and thoroughly tested classes. Our workshops will incorporate more holistic modalities and we will be offering specialized courses for organizations, corporations and groups. Starting in January 2017 Full is changing as you know it! Come and see what the new Full Force is all about…

Full Force, don’t just take a class. Take your class.


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“I’ve danced for years and haven’t caught my big break😢😢😢”

This blog post continues our Tales of a Frustrated Creative series that started in March 2015. For this post, we give credit to our guest writers from Femme La Kray, Maleeka Harris and Katrina Lee.

How many dancers go through periods of feeling like an outcast in an industry of over thousands of thousands of thousands of dancers?! What happens when only a selected few dancers receive the major tv commercials? Or Broadway gigs?

Oh of course, the chosen hired dancers are amazing and talented! But what happens to the rest us who perhaps:
1)Didn’t catch the audition choreography fast enough?
2)Didn’t fit the visual casting?
3) Have very little formal dance training?

I’ll tell you what happens, we struggle! We struggle and hustle, hustle and struggle (*repeats 4ever*). We settle for local shows and nonunion or off the grid low/non-paid dance gigs. We become the leftovers(dancers who didn’t make the cut). We are still fantastic performers! Truth is, we are constantly overlooked and heavily neglected. Unfortunately in this fast paced society, industry figures don’t invest their time to mold “potential” movers.

Maybe you can’t afford dance classes due to financial circumstances. I mean, $20 a class? We can barely afford $1 pizza! Maybe you didn’t receive that special arts scholarship to dance. Should one STOP dancing because they are not with the Top dance company? Did you not work hard enough? Maybe your dance language doesn’t fall in trend with the commercial selling dance disciplines. These are all different thoughts that came to my mind and I’m sure to the mind of many Artists.

Stop the FREAKING press!! Leftovers are delicious and sometimes tastes even better than the original dish. (*sips tea*)

DANCE is universal and it is not reserved for a few individuals! You have to get to a point where you don’t give a flying f#*k! Be YOUR OWN Supporter. Always surround yourself with other artists/people whom will influence you positively & vice versa. Help each other be the best! Put on your own damn production, learn from watching/volunteering and don’t always wait to be picked up by one. Let those industry cats come to you as you mold and shape your artistry. Dance for your reasons and not for anyone else.

Stop comparing yourself to others, create your own lane baby!! Do you baby!!

So my leftover dancer friend 😊, you are a mover, never stop moving. Where there is a will there is a way and your time will come.
In fact, all of the dance events, shows, teams, volunteer work, blood, sweat, and tears are all apart of your dance journey SUCCESS!

So keep dancing and uploading your art because the only direction is forward! Besides, nothing happens over night. Stay consistent and Persevere!

* This is advice from my personal experience and dialogue exchanged with my dance friends and All kinds of artists.*

XoXo Tea & Honey XoXo

Written By: Maleeka Harris (Artistic CoFounder)
Revised & Edited By: Katrina Lee (H.Q) (Artistic CoFounder)

Femme La Kray (Copyright 2016)

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