The similarities between this and ballet are pretty clear (passe, anyone?) but even less clearly dance-related poses offer dancers a wide range of benefits.
We’re working on releasing the first dancer-specific yoga practice. While we’re putting the finishing touches on, we’ll be offering background information on the practice of yoga and its benefits for dancers.
It’s a question so many dancers ask. Even as yoga becomes a more popular cross-training method, Pilates and cardio are still the key go-to workouts. While it’s crucial for dancers to strengthen the core muscles and get the heart rate up, yoga has a unique list of benefits.
First, it works the body in ways that mesh with the demands of dance. Most dancers, for example, have tight calf muscles and quadriceps. Yoga helps release the body through a full range of motion. Working on the mat turned in and turned out from the hips helps strengthen stabilizer muscles– often underused in dance classes–which will in turn improve your balance.
Yoga also has a strong focus on the upper body. Strong arms and a strong back are vital to the look and function of a dancer’s body. Upper-body strength is often low on the priority list for female dancers, which can lead to shoulder or wrist injuries, especially in partnering work.
Last but not least, yoga’s much-touted mind-body connection can help you zone in on how your movements feel (as opposed to how they look). Taking that awareness back into the studio makes it easier to apply corrections, maintain alignment and stop judging your dancing by looking around the room (ok, try not to–it’s a hard habit to break).
Welcome to The Dancer’s Yoga. This concept started to evolve one cold night before Nutcracker when Oriana, the ballerina half of our yogini-ballerina team, was nursing an aching back on the couch and watching Mary, the yogic half ( and mom!), flow through the beautiful movement of a Sun Salutation. Feeling inspired by the graceful, muscle-lengthing movements, Oriana got off the couch and entered into the flow. After a few rounds of saluting the (very distant) sun, she started to warm up and feel the tightness from hours of rehearsal melt away as she worked body parts that even the rigorous demands of dance overlooked. The next day, she woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the weekend of performances that lay ahead. By the end of the run, she saw the benefits of balancing work in the studio and on the mat. Over the next few months, she and the yogini developed a cross-training program that adapted a traditional vinyasa class into a sequence tailored to the needs of dancers.
The first class focuses on core strength, extension, injury-prevention and stress relief (every dancer needs that!). The 60-minute practice will be available in digital download or DVD form soon
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