From Intern to Instructor | Tatiana Valencia Shares Her Moving For Life Story

Tatiana ValenciaMoving For Life has been blessed to host internships with some amazing students. Our most recent intern, Tatiana Valencia, a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, wrote a wonderful reflective essay about her internship. Here is a short excerpt about how her experience as a Moving For Life intern has turned her passion for dance into a desire to share its powers with the community around her.

In my opinion, dance encompasses a universal form of communication and embraces an endless array of possibilities. Through dance I developed an immense sense of gratitude for the vast amount it has given me: freedom of expression, a connection and love for my body, awareness of internal and external forces, a heightened appreciation for the health of my body and its flexibility to adapt and openly handle whatever comes its way…the list goes on. Reflecting on this, I started to ask myself:  If movement could give me this much – and if there are so many people in the world who live their entire lives completely disconnected to their bodies because of too many different/individual reasons – then how special would it be for me to one day be able to dissect each one of their personal reasons and alleviate or even extinguish it?

It is often thought that as people get older they become jaded to society and lose their youthful spirit. The truth is that one NEVER loses their youthful spirit. It simply gets compiled with responsibilities, more awareness, knowledge and fears… but one never loses it.

As one gets older, however, “life happens,” a saying that means responsibilities exhaust, disorders get stronger, traumas develop or deepen; and although one may argue that this is what is making someone who they are, this clutter often detracts a person from their true internal life. A rebuilding of connectivity to the self – and in turn, to the world – happens only when specific attention and energy is given to the issue. Many people find it extremely difficult to do this on their own, thus, it can only be fully realized through the help of a professional. I want to be that facilitating figure in people’s lives; someone who bridges the mind/body disconnects.

Tatiana Valencia leading Moving For Life dancers in the 10th Annual NYC Dance Parade, 2016
Tatiana Valencia leading Moving For Life dancers in the 10th Annual NYC Dance Parade, 2016

My internship ranged from administrative tasks to actively participating in the field. Occasionally I would attend Dr. Martha Eddy’s lectures, which helped broaden my understanding about cancer as a whole, and in doing so, helped me feel more comfortable interacting with patients. I also translated several documents including the Moving For Life Guidebook for Safe Exercise During Cancer Recovery. Translating material helped me learn Spanish anatomical terms and other vocabulary related to cancer that I otherwise would not have known how to translate to a Spanish speaker. I was also able to assist Martha with research for her new book, Mindful Movement.

On Saturday, March 12th, Martha presented me with the opportunity to represent Moving For Life at a Domestic Violence Health Fair in Harlem. The fair was formed by an organization called CONNECT, which is dedicated to preventing interpersonal violence and promoting gender justice. I led a gentle aerobics class to social workers, children and parents who are all part of the domestic violence movement. It felt amazing to make people feel comfortable in their own skin and ultimately take them to a place of healing. I was able to observe through people’s eyes how grateful they were for the hour I provided to solely connect with their bodies. At the end of the event, participants were interviewed and asked what their favorite activity was throughout the health fair (yoga, nutrition, self-defense, massage therapy, etc.), and the two girls I listened in on said that it felt so good to move to music in such a meditative way because they were able to feel fully alive again. This was so beautiful to hear.

This internship gave me the opportunity to learn through observation and active participation. The unexpected challenges I was presented with helped me grow as a student in the Dance, Body, Science and Motion concentration, but most importantly, as a person. My internship experience with Moving for Life gave me a real life opportunity to see with my own eyes how uplifting movement can be towards a dwindling human spirit. Being a part of Moving For Life has also motivated me to eagerly engage in my next learning experience because with love and great care, I am fully capable of completing whatever I set my mind, body, and energy to.

Thank you Moving For Life!

~Tatiana Valencia

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Health Benefits of Tai Chi for Breast Cancer Survivors and People with Other Long Term Conditions

by Candy Gulko

People doing Tai Chi outside St Martin in the Fields, London.
People doing Tai Chi outside St Martin in the Fields, London.

Middle-aged and older women with breast cancer often suffer from other conditions, including osteoarthritis, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Tai Chi has been shown to be an exercise that helps women with all of these common conditions.

A meta-analysis of 33 studies revealed that Tai Chi tended to improve walking distance and knee extensor strength in people with these conditions, and it also relieved the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.[1]

How Moving For Life Incorporates Tai Chi

Martha Eddy has incorporated some of the key qualities of movement found in Tai Chi into the Moving For Life DanceExercise™ classes. A simultaneous combination of grounding, sustained flow, spatial awareness and balance are evident in the Eddy’s gentle aerobics cool down.  The section of the class called ‘Tai Chi Ice Skating’ is a time for each mover to find her or his personal dance – like a figure skater enjoying solo time on the ice (but in this case in the company of other appreciative colleagues). The Moving For Life instructors compassionately guide newcomers so they are comfortable ‘doing their own thing’ along with other participants.

Further Reading: WebMD, Tai Chi Might Help People With Long Term Conditions – Link – http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/20150917/tai-chi-might-help-people-with-long-term-health-conditions

[1] Source: Chen YW et al. Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094388

Candy Gulko is a freelance medical writer.
Candy Gulko is a freelance medical writer.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Inspiration and YOU – Join MFL in Addressing Health Disparities

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This is just a quick message to say that Moving For Life (MFL) believes that the process of dealing with health difficulties is on the continuum of working for equity for all.   As we each seek balance and equilibrium, MFL helps people harness their own creativity and joy to recuperate from the challenges of life. Nevertheless we come across bumps in the road – the cost of things, the access to what we need or want, the extra burdensome bits of bureaucracy and yes, still the injustices. There continue to be disparities in health services – in insurance, in health care delivery, and in health education.

Moving For Life is an allied medical service – a wellness model – focusing on healthy lifestyles with expertise in movement, exercise and dance as well as in mindfulness, meditation and rejuvenation.  We also are committed to partnering with groups like Cook For Your Life that teach about healthy eating and guide us to better nutrition.

We are also committed to overcoming disparities in health care delivery.  It is an uncomfortable fact that fewer African-American women in the GREATER NYC area experience breast cancer but MORE die from it.  For Latina women – there is a large percentage of women that just never get the services that others have access too.

In 2014 a team including Holly Mills nutritionist, Darlene Nnanyelugoh and MFL director, Martha Eddy were accepted to present Moving For Life’s model at the Columbia University, Teacher’s College Health Disparities conference. Dr. Eddy also presented a case study from Latina SHARE.

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We invite you join us in this drive to bring knowledge and active guidance in safely changing habits to life-enhancing behaviors to ALL. We appreciate your spreading the word about Moving For Life programs, and our need for tax-deductible funds as well as volunteers for events and office administration.

We have been honored to share Moving For Life DanceExercise for BREAST CANCER and REPRODUCTIVE CANCER RECOVERY through our partnerships with the Comprehensive Breast Center and SHARE, for CANCER RECOVERY for Women and Men (at Gilda’s ClubQueens Cancer Center, Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx), and MFL DanceExercise for Health with all people looking to improve their health at Emblem Health Neighborhood Center in Harlem. With our new status as a tax-exempt non-profit we are growing  quickly to share these programs in more sites throughout the boroughs!

Wishing you a day of envisioning and healthy action.