12 Jun Yoga Stretches for Dancers, Poses, Sequence & Benefits
Some people are just innately born with excellent dancing abilities and other who love dancing well they have to practice a bit. “Adi Yogi Shiva” is an eternal spiritual being who is considered the first Yogi and a superlative dancer. The most familiar is “Shiva or Nataraja” as a dancing figure seen in a circle of fire. Hence Yoga and dance are naturally associated since the ancient times. Yoga Poses for Dancers and Yoga stretches benefit on mind, body and spirit levels giving you finesse in your performance.
Yoga provides all-round development and benefits the dancers immensely. Yoga pranayama help improve the vital capacity of lungs and benefit the stamina of the dancer. Relaxation and meditation techniques enhance the focus and concentration levels. Bhavas and yoga asanas improve the expressions and flexibility of the body.
Warm-ups or Stretches are basic routines of dancers. Yoga stretches for dancers give them a gentle way of warming the body. Yoga stretches and asana are one of the most beneficial conjuncts to a dancer’s health routine for many reasons. Sahajbhavasanas or yoga stretches help to increase body awareness and provide the deep flexibility needed for the practice of any form of rhythmical movement during dancing.
Sahajbhavasanas or yoga stretches for dancers
Starting position for all variations: Stand with feet slightly apart or at a one-foot distance. Keep the eyes open. Hold the head straight and hands by the sides or on the thighs. Keep the abdomen tucked in and shoulders squared so that an erect posture is maintained. (*Do few rounds as per individual capacity at least three rounds each)
Head and Neck yoga stretches for dancers:
- Gently, as you inhale, allow your head to drop towards your left shoulder without lifting the shoulder. Exhaling, bring it back to the centre. Drop it to the left shoulder, as above, and return to the centre.
- Inhaling, tilt the head backwards as far as possible without moving the shoulders or the body. Gaze upward and backwards at the ceiling. Exhaling, bring the head down towards the throat, tucking the chin into the throat cavity. Inhaling, return to the centre.
- Inhaling, turn the head to look far right. Exhaling, return to centre. Repeat on the other side.
- Inhaling, drop the head to the right and gently rotate the head, taking it back, from right to left to reach the left shoulder.
- Exhaling, return to the starting position–up straight. Note: there is no forward bending of the head. The above steps are to be done in one gentle continuous motion.
- Repeat the above steps starting from the left. This is a clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation of the head.
Shoulders yoga stretches for dancers:
- Keep the hands by the sides. Inhaling, lift the shoulders as high up as possible, towards the ears, to form a “cup”. Exhaling, relax the shoulders.
- Keep the hands by the side. Practise shoulder rotations taking the rotation from the back, down while exhaling and then the front, upwards while inhaling. This shoulder rotation can be done with each shoulder separately too.
- Place the fingers on the respective shoulders, with the elbows touching each other in the front. Rotate the shoulders, raising the elbows up in the front and then going outwards while inhaling and down to come back in the front to the starting position, while exhaling. Now rotate in the opposite direction, i.e. while exhaling move the elbows downwards, outwards and then inhaling up, return to the starting position.
- Keep the arms relaxed and straight by the side. Rotate them by the side–clockwise and then anti-clockwise. This arm rotation can be done with each arm separately too.
Hands yoga stretches for dancers:
- Clasp the hands in front of the chest; intertwining the fingers and palms facing the chest. Inhaling, stretch them outwards, parallel to the floor. Exhaling, bring them close to the chest.
- Clasp the hands above the head; intertwining the fingers and palms facing down. Inhaling, stretch them upwards, straightening the elbows. Exhaling, bring them down towards the head, bending the elbows.
- Keeping the hands straight, clasp the hands at the back; intertwining the fingers. Inhaling, raise the arms upwards, as far as possible, keeping the trunk straight. Exhaling, relax and bring the hands down.
- Take both hands behind and join the palms (fingers pointing up) to form a Namaskara Mudra at the back. Maintain the pose for 5 seconds; breathe normally.
Elbows yoga stretches for dancers:
- Raise both the arms in front, at shoulder level. Inhale. Exhaling, bend the elbows and touch the shoulder with fingers.Inhaling, straighten the arms again. Keep repeating few times.
Wrists yoga stretches for dancers:
- Raise arms in front, at shoulder level. Close the fingers and rotate the fist–clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
- Raise the arms from the side, at shoulder level, palms facing down. Keeping the arms straight, flap the palms up and down.
Trunk yoga stretches for dancers:
- Stand straight, with feet 20-24 inches apart with hands on the waist. Gazing straight ahead, bend the trunk to the right, inhaling. Keep the hips and legs fixed, only curve the spine. Exhaling return to the centre. Repeat to the left.
- Gazing straight ahead, bend backwards, arching the spine, inhaling. Keep the hips and legs fixed, only curve the spine. Exhaling, return to the centre and bend forward. Inhaling, return to the centre.
- Gazing straight ahead, exhaling, turn right, twisting the spine. Inhaling return to the centre. Now repeat to the other side.
Knees yoga stretches for dancers:
- Stand erect, gazing straight ahead. Tighten the knees and then relax it, alternately.
- Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and lift the right leg up from the hips. Bend the right knee to keep the thigh parallel to the floor. Holding the right thigh up, rotate the right knee–clockwise and anticlockwise. Repeat with the left leg.
- Stand erect, keeping the feet together. Bend forward and cup the knees with the respective palms. Rotate the knees, keeping the feet fixed, clockwise and anticlockwise.
Ankles yoga stretches for dancers:
- Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and lift the right leg up from the hips. Bend the right knee to keep the thigh parallel to the floor. Holding the right thigh up, rotate the right feet clockwise and anti-clockwise. Repeat for the left leg.
Benefit of yoga stretches for dancers:
- Practice results in a leaner and stronger body
- Functions as ‘warm up’ stretches, imperative to any asana session–loosens taught muscles.
- Helps initiate the flow of blood and energy through the body.
- Provides a gentle but deep internal awakening of the musculature into action.
- Breathing rhythms–aids energy flow to each cell.
- Builds immunity against several infectious ailments. Improves overall dancing stamina.
- Keeps the dancers fit and youthful.
- Reduces the risk of injury related to dancing and muscle spasms.
Recommended yoga asanas for dancers
- All types of dancers can benefit from yoga practice and recommended are three poses that help
Nauka asana or the Boat Pose
- All dancers need a strong core. Highly recommend practice this posture for at least 60 seconds. When done correctly this pose helps to develop the core muscles without the risk of back injury.
Setubandhasana or the Bridge Pose
- Bridge pose builds core strength, awareness about the legs, thighs and butt. Opens and broadens in the chest region– beneficial qualities required for improving the dance technique. Draw awareness to your breathing and do this for at least 1-2 minutes at a time.
Hastapagangustasana or Hand-to-Toe Pose
- Many dancers have to perform movements that require standing on one leg as the other leg is extended and this posture will build the core-strength and help in coordinated movements.
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