Why dancers should practise yoga

What do you think yoga and dance have in common? Being a dancer since young, I’ve realised that dancers are always too focused on achieving their own goals (eg. getting that kick real high, perfect backbend curve, a particular dance stunt) that eventually neglected and negatively impacted our body. When I turned to yoga, I realised that every dancer, especially those at a professional level should try it.

Ways that yoga can benefit dancers and individuals:

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. By taking the time to fine tune the details of proper alignment 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

Many of the standing poses in yoga develop the same muscles which are used for jumps, balancing and backbends! Yoga also promotes and cultivates the idea of stretching the body in all directions, (eg. trikonasana) the pose creates an opposing stretch, a key concept in strengthening the core muscles as well as perfecting the sense of balance for the dancer.

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. Sometimes, we get so uptight the precision and the perfection of the moves, we sometimes forget to breathe at all. Yoga brings our awareness to breathing with each movement.

Don’t get me wrong, the health benefits of dance are still vast. Research has indicated that dancing releases endorphins and reduces stress and it physically strengthens our heart, lungs, muscles, endurance, and bones. It also helps improve coordination, agility, flexibility, balance, and proprioception. However, dance is a very competitive form of art, especially at a professional level, and could have a negative impact on some individuals. But together with the benefits of yoga that goes beyond physical, it can help dancers increase their performance skills, while keeping up their levels of wellbeing!