Most dance classes focus on positioning, posture, finding your center, and alignment, among other things. But yoga really takes dance training a step further for dancers. In Latin dance, “You have to understand your technique, have clean footwork, great timing and body placement. Just to name a few things,” says Artistic Director and Owner of Latin Rhythms, Maricza Valentin.
But in yoga, you add in breathing, strength training, and mental clarity,according to Blanca Aviles, LR’s In-House Yogi. This combination of skills shapes some of the most controlled, balanced, and composed dancers we see on the scene. Blanca and Maricza help us break down the key elements of yoga, and why you might want to consider incorporating yoga into your dance training.
A key element when practicing yoga is breathing. Breath control is used through movements. Inhaling helps expand movements and exhaling contracts movements. Breathing is key to building endurance. With high-paced dances like most styles of Latin dance, it is important to have endurance. Allowing you to keep up with the pace and enjoy your dances through their entirety.
STRENGTH & FLEXIBILITY
Although most dancers are flexible, there is a handful of us that are not. Most yoga poses can help stretch those tighter areas and unlock a larger range of motion. Yoga poses that focus on upper body strength and balancing can help both leads and follows. For example, balance and centering your body are integral for spinning and turning. Yoga poses are also held for longer periods helping with elongation. Elongation equals great lines!
“When you are aware of your body and positioning, you will have better posture. Resulting in you looking even better on stage or on the dance floor. -Blanca Aviles.
Whether you are a lead or a follow, there is plenty to keep track of. Your brain is working overtime! Yoga allows you to stop, breath, and focus on the present. This can transform your mentality from go-go-go to a more meditative state. With regular practice, you will notice the shift in your focus in all things, including dance. Social dancing, in particular, is very spontaneous. As a lead, you can remain calmer and sharper when executing combinations. While follows can become more in tune to their leads and will be more receptive to their signals while dancing.
And lastly, it’s just plain good for you! There are a ton of health benefits to yoga like lower blood pressure, healthier heart and lungs, better coordination and more. It’s important to keep your body healthy so you can dance for more years to come.