People today are experiencing stress for many different reasons and try to find solutions to reduce it. Many of them have sought out yoga to help regain balance in their lives, as well as improve their health.
I find that many students give up yoga due to a feeling of lack of improvement even after having trained for an extended period of time. This could be due to numerous reasons, including repeatedly incorrect body movements, which may potentially lead to physical injury.
With yoga, you should never not have time. Just as if you were to plan your next day and time out your 20-minute shower before work, you should time out your morning or evening yoga.
The Body's 'Training' in Dance and Yoga
While most of us will never become professional dancers, we can certainly appreciate the drive and determination it takes to train and develop the body into a beautiful piece of moving art. One of the first lessons for the dancer is learning correct body alignment. This is an essential element in conditioning and training the body.
A dancer’s strength, balance, and body control are learned and developed through proper body alignment. A non-dancer can also benefit greatly from a correct and secure body alignment, including good posture, strength, and confidence while eliminating and reducing stress, risk of strain, injuries and pain.
This is what we yogis can learn from dancers.
When you are starting out, it is so important to know your body and learn your alignment. This also builds muscle appropriately and adds a little bit of obstacle to keep you determined.
Strength and Alignment Are Key
The spine, the muscles, the bones, and the joints must all be working properly and in combination with one another to secure a strong and correct position. If you learn this in the beginning, you will never have a problem with yoga or your posture.
We all have muscular imbalances that will affect our alignment and posture, but a dancer doesn't start out with perfect posture. It is something you must understand and correct.
These imbalances can be lessened by stretching and strengthening the body. If you free your muscles and stretch out your knots and strings, it will help you with your flexibility and ability to maintain good posture.
There are many styles of yoga that will teach how to move the body properly. It is about choosing one that offers the greatest benefits to you, by enabling the development of flexibility, strength, and balance through proper alignment.
There is a synergy between dance and yoga. Take the positive parts of dance, a strong alignment, deep emotion, and bring this all to the yoga mat. This may take some time, but the outcome will be well worth it.
In yoga, a student typically learns by observing the teacher and then imitating, just like in dance. From your class to your home, or wherever you may practice, you must never quit. Just as if you would practice your dancing to get better, you should also practice doing yoga.
Yoga requires lots of movement, strength, emotion, and of course, breathing. Your breathing is essential to create a strong sense of relaxation and connection to the movement of your body. The more you practice, the more it becomes a habit, instead of a routine.
On Dancing, Precision, And Alignment
My background as a professional dancer has given me a habitual and acute awareness of the precision of every movement—down to the pointing direction of a finger and the extension of a toe.
This precision is extremely crucial in forming a solid foundation that allows students to learn from their teacher the correct way and to continue building their skills. Proper alignment is essential and necessary in all forms of movement.
A suggestion when you are starting yoga, or for those of you who already practice: do your yoga in front of a mirror. Whether it be in your home or at a studio, watch your workout to correct your alignment. This will keep you safe from injury in the future.
Also remember patience, perseverance, and positive thinking are the ways yoga (and life) work: if you continue to work hard, you will surely succeed.
Image Credit/Yogi: Michelle Lou Lan