Timing's everything when it comes to dancing—right down to the timing of your breathing. And when the choreo you're performing calls for one quick, demanding sequence after another, you need to be sure you've caught your breath before you take the stage again. But that's easier said than done! Dance Spirit spoke with Alexis Robbins, a dancer and personal trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club, to find out how you can avoid getting winded.
…onstage, about to go from one intense combo to the next.
“If you need to catch your breath immediately following a short burst of movement, take two to four deep breaths, focusing on filling your diaphragm and expanding the rib cage before exhaling," Robbins says. The deeper breaths fill more of the air sacs in your lungs, which means more oxygen gets to your muscles.
…at a pause, with a few minutes to go before your next entrance.
“Clasp your hands behind your head while standing or slowly walking," Robbins says. The elevated arm position helps engage your diaphragm, which lets you fully fill your lungs.
Resist the urge to sit down or bend over. “Staying upright allows for more direct blood flow to and from your heart, improving oxygen delivery to your muscles."
Drinking water is important, but “avoid taking huge gulps—your body can't digest them properly while you're trying to breathe steadily," Robbins says. Instead, take very small sips.
…at the end of a long, intense performance.
“It's normal to want to immediately crash on the floor once you exit the stage," says Robbins. But that won't help your breathing, and sitting right away will actually cause your muscles to tighten up. Instead, walk around slowly while your body regains its equilibrium. Allow yourself to breathe heavily and deeply, which will help your heart rate decrease.