“Dance is the hidden language of the soul. It makes the mind, body, emotions and soul to merge and become one”, says Anita Damania, a professional Kathak dancer who has won prizes at international level and now shares her expertise with budding dancers. She adds,”Dance releases the rigidity of the body, lifts up the spirit and chases away the blues.” Another Kathak dancer, Monica Patel says “Dance helps express the inexpressible.”

Dance is an innate art that is often considered as the best form of expression. Also, most of the old dance forms are culturally invaluable and have helped people keep in touch with their rich traditions. Whether it’s the energetic Bhangra or enchanting Ballet or romantic Salsa, each form is unique in its own way and raptures our attention. Whether you love dancing in secret or in public, whether you are a hip-hop lover or a Tap-dance enthusiast, you’ve been exposed to the joy of dancing and know how satisfying it is.

Diversions in dancing

Any dance is worth enjoying if the dancer enjoys it as much and performs it with passion. A good performance is possible only when the body is healthy and the mind is free. As a dancer, if you find yourself too tense before a performance or feel physically stiff during practice, chances are that you may not be able to do your best and eventually feel disappointed. Barriers like these hinder your dance and should be dealt with effectively.

“During my initial performances, I used to feel very nervous and would even even get angry because I could not express my emotions properly during the performance” says Monica. It was at this time that she took up yoga to help overcome these hindrances. “Yoga gave my body the flexibility I desired and also helped me improve my expressions. It also brought more grace and contentment in me” she says. Anita too felt that yoga blended easily with her dance practices.

Why you should be doing it!

Yoga is a combination of physical and breathing exercises that help keep the body healthy and the mind calm. It’s an ancient technique that helps dancers improve their expressions, gain more flexibility, become more graceful and boost confidence. Monica believes that “Yoga is nothing but a very slow dance that feeds the need of the body while increasing the stamina.”

Let’s have a look at a few yoga postures that can help you with your dance practice:

Begin your routine with a few body loosening exercises like neck rotation, shoulder rotation, knee rotation and ankle rotation.

Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

The Triangle pose aids dancers to strengthen their legs, knees, ankles, arms and chest. It also strengthens and opens the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. This yoga posture also increases the physical and mental equilibrium and relieves dancers of anxiety, stress and back pain.

Utkatasana (Chair pose)

The Chair pose exercises the spine, hips and chest muscles. It aidsa in strengthening the lower back and torso. It also tones the thighs, ankles, leg and knee muscles. This yoga posture assists dancers to balance the body and brings determination in the mind.

Poorvottanasana (Upward Plank pose)

The Upward Plank pose strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, back and spine. It also stretches the legs and hips.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing Dog pose)

The Downward facing Dog pose is a rejuvenating yoga posture that brings strength throughout the body, especially the arms, shoulders, legs and feet. It tones the muscles, increases circulation to the brain, lengthens the spine and strengthens chest muscles. This yoga posture helps dancers calm the mind and also relieves them of fatigue or head ache.

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)

The Bridge pose strengthens the back muscles and stretches the chest, neck and spine. It also relieves the body of back-ache and calms the brain.

Shavasana (Corpse pose)

The Corpse pose rejuvenates the body by bringing it into a deep state of meditative rest. The yoga routine should be ended by lying down in this pose for a couple of minutes.

What to do before a performance

Doing a few rotation exercises and a few stretches will help prepare your body for the performance. A couple of rounds of Surya Namaskar will also loosen up the body and add more energy. If you are feeling particularly nervous, practice the Bhramari pranayama and shake off any nervousness that you might have.

Boost your performance

Once you start putting in effort on the physical, mental and emotional level through the practice of yoga, dance becomes almost effortless. As a budding dancer, yoga will help boost your confidence and help retain your peace of mind. It’ll also make you more adaptive to situations. Professional dancers can also achieve much better stamina and enhanced physical fitness by practicing yoga.

Keeping the passion alive

“A dancer must dances to express, not to impress,” feels Anita. Monica concurs and has this to add, “Dancing is not just movement, its more like meditation.” Passion is the essence of dance and yoga helps keep it alive. Reposing in yoga postures for a couple of minutes everyday can help balance your body and mind. So, incorporate yoga into your routine and see how yoga can help take your dancing experience to a whole new level of passion and expression.

Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Art of Living Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and an Art of Living Yoga teacher. Find an Art of Living Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on courses or share feedback? Write to us at [email protected]