Yoga and dance

Why yoga should be part of every dancer’s training:

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Increased body awareness

While all dance classes focus on position and alignment, yoga classes take this one step further. The slower pace of a yoga class naturally allows for greater precision. For example, instead of just putting your feet into a parallel position, you have time to check that the outside edges of your feet line up the with the outside edges of your mat, your weight is equally distributed to all four corners of your feet, your toes are spread wide and your pinky toes are anchored firmly into the floor.

By taking the time to fine tune the details of proper alignment (including your pinky toes) you learn to build each pose from the ground up to create a strong foundation, and to stack the joints for greater stability and power. In this way, every movement is conscious and deliberate, a moving meditation. Moving slowly and deliberately allows more opportunity to notice and correct habits that might create issues over time, such as rolling in or out on your ankles as you balance.

Increased strength and flexibility


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Many of the standing poses in yoga develop the same muscles that are used for lunges, ball change and hip isolation while other poses build strength in areas that are often overlooked like smaller muscles which will help us have greater control and stability while transitioning from one step to another, having greater fluidity and grace.

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The upper body strength developed from downward dog and handstands is useful during promenades and lifts with a partner. Balancing poses have direct application in center floor and finding our centre balance for steps such as spins and the Samba roll, and backbends and back strengthening poses such as the locust pose help develop our posture especially in the Paso Doble (Spanish Bullfight dance) where the entire routine has to be danced with the pelvis tilted upwards and lifted over the toes and back is slightly arched.

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Even though dancers are flexible, most of us have certain tight areas. Poses that focus on these areas will help you unlock greater range of movement and since yoga stretches are generally held for longer periods, you get greater results and make the body less prone to injury.

Linking breath to movement

One of the most valuable tools you will learn in yoga is breath control. Many dancers haven’t been taught to use the breath to help power certain actions. Even worse, we sometimes forget to breathe at all. Most yoga classes begin with tuning into the breath, focusing on lengthening the inhale and exhale, and working from there to maintain a slow, steady breath through the rest of class. Inhales are used for expanding movements, such as arching your back or lifting a leg, exhales are naturally suited for contracting actions such as stepping into a lunge or bending into a forward fold. Learning to link breath to movement helps you harness the energy of breath and use it to your advantage, which is especially helpful with maintaining posture and stamina throughout your routine and where you need extra power to burst into powerful steps and look broader to fill the entire dance floor with your presence.

Focused breathing has a few other benefits: it helps to keep your mind from wandering, and serves as a way to measure when you have gone too far past your limits. If it’s too challenging to stay for at least three breaths in a pose then that’s a clear indication you are pushing too hard. Developing this awareness is a way to learn to tune into your body’s pain responses so you can avoid injuries.

Good vibes only

Finally, the best part about yoga is the community built as yogis are extremely friendly and humbled. Sharing and receiving each other’s energy will inspire and uplift you, bringing that positive energy to your training and motivating you to push that much further.

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200hryogattc, weekday – Riane Low