When I was younger, I understood the concept of practice in the context of the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition: “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”. As a child who participated in many sports and played multiple musical instruments, practice referred to the events I worked on to improve my technical skills. At practice, I would learn how to do better through acts of repetition and intentional change.
Eventually, I chose to centralize my practice towards my passion for dance. With my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, practice took on a whole new layer of meaning. I worked daily and repeatedly at a set of physical movements in ballet to improve and refine my technique. This repetition led to growth and mastery within ballet and my practice became understood as a necessary means that would result in self-improvement.
As I got older, my conception of practice began to evolve. My practice became grounded in the habitual sense of coming back to something. There was still a level of mastery that I was after, but it was more so realized as a continuous and infinite pattern that I felt compelled to return to. Year after year and almost every day, I would start again at the ballet barre where I would repeat the same series of physical movements. But the sameness of this repetition never bored me, because everyday was different and I was different everyday. Every day brought its own joys and challenges, and everyday I came back with 24 more hours of lived experience. Everything surrounding me was in a constant state of change and the stability of my daily practice became like a refuge for me, one that I could always return to and find comfort in.
As I reflect on how I approach my practice in the present, I have found that in many ways, practice is similar to a routine. The habitual nature of both concepts are the same, but practice puts an intentionality to the repetition and implies a sense of growth. The contents of our daily routines can be the same as our daily practices, but approaching our daily routines as daily practices can drastically reframe how we approach our lives. For me, practice no longer only refers to the physical practice I put into my dancing body. My daily practices encompass how I approach my life, what I eat, what time I go to sleep, how I take care of my body, and how I take care of my mind.
After being involved in swimming for over a decade, I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that swimming is the best workout that anyone could do. Swimming offers a relaxing, serene workout, but can also push you to your physical limits. Swimming has helped me stay at my peak physical fitness level and has helped me feel happy and healthy every day. Here are the top 10 reasons swimming is the ultimate fitness activity:
1. To swim you have to use the majority of the muscles in your body Swimming engages the entire body. To pull through the water you must use your arms and shoulders. To propel yourself through the water you use all of the muscles in your legs to kick. Your core stabilizes your body in the water and gives you the strength to breathe side to side. Swimming even gives your lungs a workout. On average, swimmers hold their breath three strokes at a time. Holding your breath builds lung capacity. All in all, swimming is a total body workout!
Growing up in Southern California, I was privileged enough to be driving distance away from many popular national parks. Every winter and summer break, my family would take a trip to a new national park. During the winter, we would stay in hotels or motels and explore the parks during the day and during the summer we would go camping. Camping and exploring national parks is a fun activity for families or friend groups to take part in over a long weekend or vacation, so here are my top three national park choices that I highly suggest you visit while you’re in California!
1. Yosemite National Park
This is one of the most popular national parks in California. It boasts beautiful mountains and waterfalls. The campsites in Yosemite fill up fast, so the best time to book them is in February or March if you want to camp around June. The best place to camp within Yosemite is in Yosemite Village because of its proximity to the best hiking trails and sightseeing locations. Some of their most beautiful hiking trails are the Vernal and Nevada Falls trails. These trails take you to a beautiful spot where you can get very close to the waterfall and if you go earlier in the summer, you will get soaked by the waterfall. The park is very family-friendly and has hiking trails suited for younger children.
2. Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is known for its gigantic trees. The biggest one yet is called the General Sherman Tree and it’s something that must be visited if you end up going to Sequoia. The park is about 3 to 4 hours away from Los Angeles. This place is also best to visit during the months of May to June because the weather is perfect for hiking. Sequoia is also home to various wildlife species and you might be able to see some bears and deer! If you want to get more done while you’re up there, Sequoia is also only an hour and a half away from Kings Canyon National Park, a park with mountains and waterfalls that are beautiful to visit at sunset.