Do you walk into the studio and automatically pop your leg up on the barre flying into a stretch? What about leg swings? Full splits?
If you answered yes to any of these, you are not alone. Dancer warm-up habits are passed down and inherited. But in today’s wiser world of cross-training and new functional anatomy lessons, there is a plethora of safer warm-up methods to employ BEFORE intense stretching.
Even if it is the hottest day of the summer and you're feeling limber, the body still requires time to build some internal heat and awareness to ensure safety in your movement. This can be accomplished through breathing, light joint and spine mobilizations, waking up the proprioceptors, and perhaps even rubbing your hands along the muscles to awaken them.
A yoga practice can provide you with some good ideas for a new warm-up, as it combines breathing, focus, and full-body connectivity while moving. I suggest that dancers explore a yoga practice guided by a teacher who teaches a well-sequenced and alignment-focused class sensitive to injuries.
If you cannot take a full yoga class before technique, try these very simple yoga ideas:
Before class resist the temptations of the barre and get down on hands and knees. Practice a few cats and cows to wake up the spine, then stretch your back body as you fold your hips into a child’s pose. Make sure you breathe full cycles of the breath as you work. “All-fours” or being on your back are great places to take twists and stretch the side waist. You can explore reaching the legs one at a time or challenging the upper body to get involved in a plank pose. You may explore a bent-knee downward dog to give hamstrings and lower back extra care but still expand and extend the torso, waking up the arms and legs. Make your way to your feet and roll up through your spine to find standing. Then step to the barre to take first position!
Yoga revolutionized my technique and performance career. That is a longer story. But in terms of this post, I have personally found that I can always stand at barre with a connected focus and bright awareness when I begin the day warming up with my yoga practice.
If you would like to learn additional warm-up options that keep your safety in check, take class with a Mind Body Dancer teacher! Follow this link to visit our open class schedule: http://mindbodydancer.com/classes/open_class_schedule.html.