As a dancer and a regular yoga practitioner, I am drawn to more dynamic styles of yoga, a favourite being Ashtanga. Think non-static poses that flow into one another as opposed to holding positions for extended periods of time. I do, however, attend Iyengar style classes to complement my ballet training. Even something like classical ballet can be asymmetrical if the foundational steps or poses in this genre of dance such as the arabesque, legs in À la seconde or even actions like Épaulement are not practised equally on both sides.
Many a time these types of repetitive movements can create imbalances in the body leaving one side weaker or less flexible than the other. My teacher Yana Lewis tells me that this is inevitable with a ballet performance or jazz choreography where sequences of steps force the muscles on one side of the body to be engaged more strongly. Yoga, highly regarded as a healthy alternative to other cross training methods, is an art that has helped improve not only my flexibility and body awareness; something I have found is key to advancing in ballet- but also negates the imbalancing effects of dance. It works both sides of the body equally and opening out(increasing natural body facility) and strengthening parts of the of body used for dance. It has been invaluable to me as an adult who took his first ballet class at the age of 20.
Any dancer understands what it is like to express one’s physicality across a stage and what Iyengar yoga provides is a chance for us to do the same while being still.
SO WHAT DOES THE PRACTICE ACTUALLY ENTAIL?
Iyengar yoga, unique in its nature compared to most other styles, incorporates the use of props to help access more advanced poses that we would not be able to execute otherwise. According to the The Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York (IYAGNY), B.K.S. Iyengar introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners access to the benefits of the postures regardless of physical condition, age, or length of study. Props help all practitioners (including the most advanced- here is where us dancers can benefit greatly) gain sensitivity to the use of effort and receive the deep benefits of postures held over significant time periods.
Props are introduced from the beginning for students with specific physical limitations and gradually in regular classes to enhance personal understanding of a posture and its effects and to develop skill and confidence, always working towards the final expression of a given pose. The tenacity of this practice lies in details paid to alignment in all asanas making it safe for all ages and abilities. An Iyengar class generally contains poses sequentially linked together to culminate in the primary theme for that particular class, at the discretion of the teacher. Like IYAGNY rightly states, the instructors come highly qualified and are rigorously trained, committed to excellence in teaching. They provide a safe and systematic progression of postures to develop each student’s ability and skill, both within each class and from class to class. Sequencing that develops strength, flexibility, stamina, concentration, and body alignment, which are integral aspects to the training and development of a dancer i.e. improving one`s body. Individual corrections are always given out as well as knowledge of how to adjust postures for common physical problems for example minor injuries which dancers might sustain from their training regimen, on stage, during rehearsals, etc.
Yoga Class Schedule at The Foundation :
Monday @St. John`s Church Road, 8am to 10am [For intermediate to advanced practitioners of 5 years or more]
Wednesday @St. John`s Church Road, 7am to 8:30am
Friday @St. John`s Church Road, 7am to 8:30am