Beauty to the Eye
When we think of ballet we envision performers with graceful motion, flawless pirouettes, grand leaps and perfect form. In reality, the performers must have endurance and strength, as well as perfect balance and position.
They must have an outstanding breathing capability in order to perform these flawless movements. How do they achieve this breathing ability? Through sustained ballet breathing exercises.
It is About the Quality of the Breath
You don’t have to be a ballet student or performer to desire a better breathing capability. In fact, anyone can benefit from the exercises presented in this article. This is because it is the quality of your breath that determines the health of your body. As such, ballet dancers learn early on the specifics of a better quality of breath.
Exercise 1: Understanding Your Breath
Lie on the floor. Place one hand on your ribs and the other hand on your belly. Relax. Feel your breath as you inhale, then exhale. After a few breaths notice if your hands are moving equally. If they are not, if one hand moves and the other hand remains stationary, you are not gaining the benefit of optimal breathing.
Relax again. Try to picture a balloon as you inhale and attempt to blow up the balloon with a slow even breath, filling the bottom, then sides, then finally top of the balloon completely. This visualization is termed ideokinesis.
If you become light-headed discontinue exercise and try again later.
Exercise 2: Balloons
Sitting in a chair, with correct posture, attempt to blow up a balloon using a slow and steady breath. This sounds easy, yet it is extremely challenging as you are not pushing air into the balloon, merely steadily filling it. If you become light headed, discontinue the exercise.
Practice Good Posture
The key to good breathing is great posture. Studies have shown that individuals who have poor posture have greater difficulty filling their lungs completely and efficiently. Standing at the barre, practice both the demi and grand plie with the exhale upon the rise. Blow gently and steadily, do not pant or puff. Use the mirror at the barre to make sure you are maintaining proper posture throughout this exercise.
Repeat this exercise with all five feet positions.
Get A Great Cardio Workout!
Just as athletes are learning ballet for the benefits it can offer with respect to balance and form, ballet dancers can benefit from a great cardio workout for the great assistance it offers with respect to better breathing. Getting a good aerobic workout is great, if you know how to breath.
- Always exhale upon exertion.
- Try to maintain normal breathing patterns, with longer inhalations and exhalations.
- If you find yourself having difficulty breathing, stop, slow down and try to get back to normal rhythmic breathing.
- Avoid shallow breaths as they indicate the beginning of hyperventilation.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit.
Begin With The Basics
Understanding the basics of breathing, and the quality of the breath is key to a better ballet performance. Anyone can become more healthy by using these simple to do ballet breathing exercises. A healthier you is only a breath away.
The Art of Ballet: Pilates – www.artofballet.com
Dance Teacher: Breathing Techniques – www.dance-teacher.com