Health & Body

DT's Favorite Yoga Poses for Dancers

Nikki Calonge at Jaya Yoga Center in Brooklyn. Photo by Rachel Papo

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously asserted "Life is flux." Dancers most certainly know this to be true. Whether they are early in their training or seasoned professionals, change is your students' persistent companion. Dancers must nimbly adjust to shifting expectations, choreography and opportunities, as well as to transformation within their very own bodies, the instrument of their art. Physical change occurs, for example, as young dancers come into physical maturity and as adult dancers meet the natural process of aging. Dancers of any age may face change in their bodies due to injury.


The constant change in our lives is often experienced as stress. The need for tools to deal with this stress is one important reason that yoga has become so popular. In yoga class, change is actually welcomed, and time is spent tuning in to fluctuations in the mind, breath and body. Students are encouraged to let go of fixed ideas about their capabilities, and reminded not to compare themselves to others, but to consider the class a supportive community.

Although a full yoga practice may convey the most benefit, it is also possible to introduce elements of yoga into your students' regular training. Below are some ideas on how to explore virasana (hero's pose) and natarajasana (king-dancer pose), two of my favorite asanas for dancers.

Virasana

Virasana is a great posture to help students center themselves and focus their attention at the beginning of class or rehearsal. Many students will benefit from using a yoga block (as pictured) or a folded blanket or towel between their heels to avoid overloading their knees. Experiment with the height of support that feels most comfortable.

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