While many teachers say that yoga is a great thing for dancers, so is Pilates. They both develop strength, balance, tone, breathing, and body awareness. Their focuses are different though - there are many different kinds of yoga, some focusing on spirituality and breathing, while others focus more on the physicality, but in general, yoga is more spiritual while Pilates is straightforward core strengthening. Yoga is as much about training your mind and cleansing your spirit as it is about becoming healthier and stronger physically, while Pilates focuses on the second part.
I like yoga too, so don't get me wrong! But for the dancer who's just looking to strengthen (or maybe someone who can't stomach all the spirituality stuff), Pilates is amazing. My ballet teacher's been telling me to take Pilates for the longest time, and I'm glad I finally took a class today.
So you're probably wondering what I'm doing talking about the amazingness of yoga and Pilates if I've only just had my first Pilates class. Good question. I wanted to encourage dancers of all levels to take yoga or Pilates on the side to help them focus on their bodies more, but mostly I wanted to introduce a workout tool that I used in class today: the Theraband.
Therabands are basically long, thin sheets of latex rubber (or if you're allergic to latex, I've offered a non-latex band below that serves the same purpose). While it doesn't sound like much, I promise that whatever weights, machines, or push ups can do for you, this band can help you do it just as well, and maybe even better. Okay, if you're bench pressing 250, maybe not, but for the rest of us dancers that struggle with the 15 push ups, it's amazing. Here are a few videos to give you an idea of what's possible: Arm Pulls, Mid-Back, Abs. There's so much you can do, and it's portable, cheap, and can work for anyone! I will definitely be taking one to college with me in the fall, plus a yoga mat so I can work out even in my dorm room!