Using Yoga to Become a Better Dancer
Many dance students supplement their training with alternative practices, in order to aid their development as a better and stronger dancer. A popular practice is yoga, providing many benefits for dance students, and may be something you already offer as part of your timetable.
Yoga encourages increased body awareness, to a greater extent of that usually achieved in terms of posture and alignment in usual dance classes. Yoga classes move at a slower pace generally, so there is time for being mindful of the body and the positions it is moving into. The correct alignment that is consequently achieved creates a strong foundation for the body, giving way to greater stability and power when dancing.
Dance students naturally have a degree of flexibility and strength gained through their usual classes. However, yoga works to increase that strength and flexibility in different ways. Many standing yoga poses develop the same muscles that are used in ballet classes, and often upper body strength is increased too. Although many dance students can look even abnormally flexible, yoga helps tight areas that all dancers have, through poses that focus on unlocking those areas for a greater range of movement.
Yoga has many other health benefits; stretches are held for longer periods of time so dance students find they improve their flexibility and are less prone to injury. Yoga lowers the heart rate and decreases blood pressure, as well as linking breathing to movement to help the mind body connection. Yoga also puts gentle pressure on internal organs: handstands and headstands reverse blood flow and improve circulation by redistributing blood throughout the body: as a result this helps the mind feel clearer and calmer.
All yoga's benefits can be applied to dance, whether students are looking to build strength, improve flexibility and balance, or just gain a more relaxed state of mind.