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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Yoga & Pilates for Core Strength and Flexibility


danceprincess

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I'm considering taking Pilates once a week and yoga once a week to enhance my core strength and flexibility for ballet. I know most people say for yoga or Pilates to be effective you have to do it at least 2-3 times a week. However, with my current dance schedule I can only fit in once a week for each.

 

My question is would it even be worth it to invest in classes for once a week? Would I receive any benefit if I remain consistent? I still need work holding my leg high in développé and I'm almost in my splits...I was told that yoga & Pilates would help me build my core strength and enhance my flexibility. My ballet teacher observed me and told me that she doesn't believe that I have problems with flexibility it's just learning which muscles to use. I'm hoping yoga & Pilates will help me with that.

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Pilates and yoga are popular among dancers that's for sure. I do have a sense that your ballet teacher may be onto something, however. So many times I've read on this board that when a beginner or intermediate dancer has trouble of some sort, the first thing they jump to is the assumption that weakness is the source of their difficulty. Weakness may be true for some, but it's not true for most. Ballet does require a good deal of flexibility, but not a tremendous amount of physical strength. Ballet isn't weightlifting. You also develop the specific strength you need for ballet just by going to class a lot.

 

Having said that I do think it is nice to experience both Pilates and yoga. If you decide to do some modern, you will find Pilates an excellent way to get in touch with your torso muscles. I often tell myself that if I knew what I know now, as a beginner I would take two ballet classes a week, a Pilates mat class for 2-3 months, and do some daily yoga again (I've done it before).

 

I do believe that to really benefit from Pilates or yoga you have to do them often. But who says you can only do these activities in a class setting? You can do them at home. For Pilates, you can take a mat class (where you learn the exercises and basic principles) once a week and then do a couple of 20-30 minute sessions at home. You can do a "home" session as a warm-up for your ballet classes. Yoga is similar. You can take a class to learn the poses, or you can learn just from reading and then take a class or two. Long ago I learned yoga by reading Swami Vishnudevanda's Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and then went to a few classes more for social reasons than for anything else. Those were the days when yoga wasn't popular and classes barely existed. I have some dedicated yoga friends who much later got me to go to classes in other styles. I have to confess I'm pretty much a yoga drop out now.

 

Personally, if you do yoga, I'd recommend doing it at least 5 days a week. My friends love doing it first thing in the morning. that's too early for me. A 20-30 minute session will be fine.

 

Several years ago, I went to a class that I think was absolutely the best auxiliary exercise for dance. It was an hour class that blended floor barre, Pilates, and yoga stretches. The teacher was an ex-dancer. I don't think she was a Pilates or yoga teacher. It was sorta like the abs, stretch, floor barre bits of the NYC Ballet Workout, but lasting a lot longer. After doing that I spent a few years making up my own combinations of the three, always to music, and treating it like a long improv where only the movements and poses could be used.

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Pilates and yoga are popular among dancers that's for sure. I do have a sense that your ballet teacher may be onto something, however. So many times I've read on this board that when a beginner or intermediate dancer has trouble of some sort, the first thing they jump to is the assumption that weakness is the source of their difficulty. Weakness may be true for some, but it's not true for most. Ballet does require a good deal of flexibility, but not a tremendous amount of physical strength. Ballet isn't weightlifting. You also develop the specific strength you need for ballet just by going to class a lot. Having said that I do think it is nice to experience both Pilates and yoga. If you decide to do some modern, you will find Pilates an excellent way to get in touch with your torso muscles. I often tell myself that if I knew what I know now, as a beginner I would take two ballet classes a week, a Pilates mat class for 2-3 months, and do some daily yoga again (I've done it before). I do believe that to really benefit from Pilates or yoga you have to do them often. But who says you can only do these activities in a class setting? You can do them at home. For Pilates, you can take a mat class (where you learn the exercises and basic principles) once a week and then do a couple of 20-30 minute sessions at home. You can do a "home" session as a warm-up for your ballet classes. Yoga is similar. You can take a class to learn the poses, or you can learn just from reading and then take a class or two. Long ago I learned yoga by reading Swami Vishnudevanda's Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and then went to a few classes more for social reasons than for anything else. Those were the days when yoga wasn't popular and classes barely existed. I have some dedicated yoga friends who much later got me to go to classes in other styles. I have to confess I'm pretty much a yoga drop out now. Personally, if you do yoga, I'd recommend doing it at least 5 days a week. My friends love doing it first thing in the morning. that's too early for me. A 20-30 minute session will be fine. Several years ago, I went to a class that I think was absolutely the best auxiliary exercise for dance. It was an hour class that blended floor barre, Pilates, and yoga stretches. The teacher was an ex-dancer. I don't think she was a Pilates or yoga teacher. It was sorta like the abs, stretch, floor barre bits of the NYC Ballet Workout, but lasting a lot longer. After doing that I spent a few years making up my own combinations of the three, always to music, and treating it like a long improv where only the movements and poses could be used.

 

Thank you so much. This really helped me.

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