Yoga is a transformative practice for any person. No matter your age, size or experience, it is one discipline that can be learned at your own pace, the benefits deepening as you go. Yoga is a workout for the mind, body, and soul. Here are some reasons why Yoga is especially beneficial to athletes and dancers.
Yoga challenges us to hold poses for extended periods of time, helping to improve our endurance and strength. Much like dance and athletics, initiation of movement comes from the core. The slower pace of yoga allows us to really feel into each muscle group that we are engaging, providing increased strength and body awareness.
We can become more in-tune with our bodies through the practice of yoga. Moving intentionally and with our breath allows us to listen and feel what is happening in our bodies deeper. As a dancer, this connection is paramount. The more aware we are of our bodies and how it feels to be present in our bodies, the better we will become at tuning in when we dance.
Connecting to the breath
Many of us are not aware of just how much our breath does for us on a daily basis. Besides keeping us alive, our breath can help us sing, run, and dance better. Any movement that is done from a deep, full breath can be equally as impactful. Plus, connecting with our breath can help us to become more calm, relaxed and clear headed.
Lowered tension in the body and nervous system
Our nervous system is what connects us to sensations and stimulus in the world and in the body. With such a fast paced way of life, our nervous systems are often on high alert, anxious and over stimulated. Practicing yoga helps to calm and regulate the nervous system. It aids in returning our base line of how we feel to a more relaxed place of comfort and ease.
Stretching and elongating muscles
Yoga is brilliant for dancers in that it helps to tone and stretch muscles we may not otherwise access in dance positions. Yoga is a beautiful way to elongate muscles through stretching and achieving poses through a calm state. Intentionally breathing into each muscle group during yoga helps to bring oxygen and blood flow to specific parts of the body, allowing us to stretch deeply and with focus.
Yoga is one of the best activities that dancers can participate in outside of the dance studio. Some dance studios even offer yoga! It is a loving and gentle practice that allows us to check in with our bodies and give ourselves the attention and time we need to become centered, strong and focused.
Do you practice yoga? How do you feel it helps you as a dancer? Let us know in the comments!