I’d like to use my first post as an opportunity to show the importance of tea in an athlete’s diet. I’m a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet, a company known for having one of the most demanding schedules in the dance world. The need to perform at the top of my game every day and night when my body is running on empty has made me a much more health-conscious athlete. For me it’s all about getting the most out of what I put into my body.
Growing up, my mom was always drinking tea, but it wasn’t until I was accepted into the New York City Ballet and felt the rigors and physical demands of being an athlete that I came to realize the benefits that tea could offer me.
As a dancer with NYCB, our performance days usually last from 10:30AM to as late as 11PM, with performance seasons lasting up to as long as 14 weeks. We start out with technique class in the morning to get us warmed up and ready for the day ahead. This is followed by rehearsals which continue on until 6PM. We then have the performance which starts at 8PM and usually ends between 10-1030PM.
There are periodic breaks throughout the day. Just enough time to catch your breath, run out to grab some lunch or a small bite before the show, put your feet up for a split second or squeeze in a 15 minute physical therapy session.
This schedule means that not only does every moment count, it also means there is a dire need for the most effective and helpful food and drink to keep your body running as well as possible, for as long as possible. Energy, alertness, brainpower, focus, stamina… these are some of the most important things for a dancer trying to get through her day.
These constant physical demands also mean that we are incredibly injury-prone. Even if you do not have a full-blown injury, the day to day stresses on your body create a constant battle against exhaustion, dehydration, muscle soreness, and inflammation.
I’ve had the misfortune of having multiple serious injuries throughout my career. Those times have helped push me even further in trying to find the right mix of elements to help my body heal. One of the things that I find helpful is tea. For me, my favorite is green tea. The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties mixed with caffeine is a great combination for a dancer who’s body is inflamed and tired, but needs to keep going all day.
As a contributor to T Ching, I will be commenting on the benefits of tea for athletes, as well as visiting various tea houses around the city, giving you my perspective as someone who seeks out high quality tea to improve not only my overall well-being, but also my longevity as an athlete in a field I love.