Ballet and yoga are extremely different from each other. However, there are some exercises that you can steal from the yogi so you can become a better ballet dancer – learning how to relax your body and mind and how to lead a healthier life.
Ballet is all about motion – elegant, graceful, short repetitive movements is what makes the dance beautiful. It is about rhythm – it will take you time to learn how to follow it. Keep in mind that ballet needs persistence, you will most certainly feel inadequate and clumsy in the beginning but the key is not to give up. What ballet develops is your coordination, concentration, even memory (you do have to learn your dance routine, don’t you?). I would say it develops your ability to handle stress as well (if you’re on stage and you suddenly forget the steps, you will know what I mean). Ballet requires determination and hard work but it is proven that no other dance or sport develops and trains at the same time so many muscle groups, so if you are looking for something to transform and change your body completely, from head-to-toe, this is it.
However, I admit, it can get very stressful. This is where yoga comes in. Many ballet studios started including yoga exercises as a part of their stretching routine – a few breathing techniques make a difference when trying to concentrate and relax your body. If I have to compare I would say yoga is completely different. It is more static. It consist of slow movements of the body, changing the positions gracefully every few minutes, not seconds as it is in ballet. What yoga manifest is a simple, healthier life. You can incorporate that into your dance routine.
In other words even if you are killing yourself practicing 5 days a week it wouldn’t matter if after every lesson you go to the nearest McDonald’s to reward yourself with a double cheeseburger. I would say that yoga is a way of life rather than a workout. If you, however, feel like you actually need the workout (summer is coming and not all of us have gorgeous bodies to show off at the beach) then maybe yoga is not something that you should take up on its own.
The important thing to remember is that you have to enjoy yourself. Recently I read an interview with Cassandra Smith, who’s been training with the Boston ballet since she was 17. Cassandra is one of the first ballerinas who started doing yoga together with ballet. What impressed me most when I was reading her interview is how she described that there is a difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. After doing yoga for a while she admitted that it made her a better dancer. In other words she didn’t quit dancing, she just incorporated in it something that made her feel good and totally capable to keep up with the exhausting rehearsals.
So, whether you will choose yoga or ballet is a matter of personal interest, depending on what you want to achieve. The important thing is to feel good and enjoy yourself and soon you will see the result of the efforts you made.