Hi, DS readers! In an effort to get you even more fun and up-to-date dance news, we’re adding a few guest bloggers to the site! Julie Diana, a Principal with Pennsylvania Ballet, will be writing to you every-other Wednesday to let you know what's new in her life and in the dance world. To read up on Julie and learn more about her extensive list of credentials, check out the Pennsylvania Ballet website.
Downward dog, triangle, tree, warriors one and two…either you’re already familiar with these terms or you’re wondering how these random words could possibly relate to your dance training and performance. They are actually names of popular yoga poses, and they can benefit your body, energy, and sense of focus more than you might think!
I started practicing yoga when I danced with the San Francisco Ballet. I was reluctant to give it a try, since I had always associated “yog-(ees)” with uncomfortable chanting and bizarre mystical speeches. But it proved to be a great supplement to my dancing - the poses forced me to pay attention to muscles that we, as ballet dancers, are not typically trained to use. Much of yoga works in parallel, so it stretches and elongates muscles while developing their strength and stability. (In fact, it is the only prescription for my ridiculously tight hamstrings!) I’ve become more grounded thinking about an even weight distribution, spreading all ten toes across my yoga mat and then transferring that same feeling into my pointe shoes. This connection to the floor has given me a steady calmness that I had previously struggled to achieve.
Once you become familiar with some poses and stretches, you can practice your favorites before barre, or rehearsal, or anytime you feel motivated. I try to take a yoga class once a week if I can fit it into my schedule and I’ve incorporated at least 10 minutes of yoga into my pre-performance routine. It makes me focus on my breathing, which then helps quiet my nerves and delivers much needed oxygen to fatigued and over-worked muscles. But yoga is also great to practice during a break or if you’re ever out with an injury. It is low impact, meditative, and offers a tremendous sense of restoration and healing.
You can skip the chants and the famous resounding “Om”, but don’t dismiss yoga’s potential to streamline your body and to enhance just about every aspect of your dancing!