You may have spotted our previous blog on hip and back strengthening exercises for arabesque. Perhaps you wondered why we would leave out flexibility when discussing a position that clearly needs both the hips and the back to be flexible? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Here is a set of exercises to help you improve your flexibility for a better arabesque line. Remember – flexibility is not everything. Practice the strengthening exercises, too!
Easy Back Stretch
This exercise will stretch the natural curve of the back and the fronts of the hips, allowing the leg to lift the arabesque line higher when standing.
Begin by lying on your stomach, placing the hands flat on the ground and slightly forward from your shoulders. Keep the elbows on the floor and in line with your shoulders and hands – don’t let them stick out to the side. Keep the legs together, with the ankles touching.
Raise your chest by lengthening and curving forward and up, keeping the elbows on the floor. Pull the sternum bone forward and up. Hold there, keeping the lift through your chest.
Extend the elbows to increase the stretch in your back, keeping the shoulders down and the legs engaged. Hold, and then come down. Repeat.
To increase the stretch, you can move the hands further back along your side. Remember to keep the elbows in, chest lifting and shoulders out of your ears.
Hip Flexor Stretch
This exercise will elongate the front of the hips and thighs, making it easier to lift the leg up at the back in arabesque.
Kneel on the floor with the knees hip distance apart (keep the knees in line with the front hip bones, not the outer hips).
Raise the right leg in front, placing the foot on the floor so the knee is at a 90 degree angle (thigh parallel to the floor, knee above ankle). Hold the hips square, and make sure the back leg is also parallel – not turned out.
With the tailbone pointing downwards, lower the hips to stretch the front of the right hip and thigh.
To increase the stretch, you can step the foot further forward, and lower the hips more. Always check that the hips are square.
The Leg Lift
This exercise will not only help to increase back and hip flexibility for arabesque, but will also strengthen the core.
Stand with your back to a chair in 1st position. You need to measure the distance between yourself and the chair so that you can place your foot on the seat of the chair behind you. Raise the right leg onto the chair seat, keeping your ribs and shoulders square to the front. Maintain the turnout in the supporting leg, lifting up through the supporting hip. Fondu (bend) and stretch the supporting side, maintaining the alignment of the shoulders, ribs and hips, as well as the turnout in the supporting leg.
To increase the stretch, find something higher to place your leg on, without loosing the alignment. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, try lifting the working leg off the support and hold the arabesque en l’air once you have done the stretch.