For dancers, practicing Pilates has a lot of benefits, and strengthening core muscles is one of the most important. Whether you're a ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, or any other style dancer, movement quality starts with a strong core. Dance Konditioning with Pilates can help you turn better, balance better, move in and out of the floor better, and so much more. Here are some of our favorite Pilates exercises that will help strengthen your core. Keep in mind these are guidelines and general descriptions - it's always recommended that dancers get professional Pilates training.
The Hundred is a wonderful way to start waking up your core and getting blood flowing throughout your body. A lot of dancers like doing this exercise before class starts while everyone is coming into the studio, finding their spots, and doing their own personal warmups. You can really focus in deeply on your lateral breathing while performing the hundred. The exercise is performed on your back, with your head lifted up and arms reaching forwards.
1- Start laying on your back your legs in table top and arms strait reaching towards the ceiling
2- Extended your legs out to about a 65 degree angle while pressing your arms down next to your hips, and your belly button is scooping in towards the ground. Using your triceps you pulse your arms up and down, breathing in for five breaths, and out for five breaths, for a total of 10 times - hence the name, the hundred.
This exercise challenges your core strength as well as pelvic stability. Your center needs to work very hard to keep your body stable while your leg is rotating. To perform this exercise you start by laying on the floor on your back. Feel equal weight over both your pelvis and your shoulders, press your hands into the mat, and take a few breaths to encourage your ribs to rest on the floor. Bend one knee so your foot is flat on the mat, and then extend it straight up to the ceiling. On your inhale, the leg moves up towards your shoulder, and on the exhale it crosses over the body to make a circle. Do five to eight circles in each direction. The key thing here is to keep your torso stable - that's where you're getting all that great core work.
Single Leg Stretch
You start this exercise laying flat on your back with your legs in tabletop position (your shins are parallel to the ground.) Inhale first, and on your exhale you will lift your head and shoulders up off the mat, one of your legs will stay in the table top position and you will give it two gentle pulses and exhales, while your other leg extends out in front of you. Inhale when you switch legs, and keep your torso still and stable.
Double Leg Stretch
Start the double leg stretch lying on your back, and then lift your head and shoulders up off the mat, bringing your legs tight into your chest in a ball. As you inhale, extend your legs out in front of you and your arms out behind you, at a diagonal about 45 degrees. The goal is to keep your abdominal muscles scooped in and engaged, and your torso very stable. On your exhale you will bring your legs back into your chest, while keeping your shoulders and head off the mat.
This is a quintessential Pilates move - and for a very good reason. This one is a challenge, but the benefits for dancers are many. You'll develop strength, flexibility, control, and improved balance. All of these things will improve your dance technique as well. To prepare for the teaser, you can practice the hundred, roll up, double leg lower lift, chest lift, and one leg teaser. It's much more important to feel strong enough to do this exercise correctly so you don't end up straining and injuring yourself by doing the full teaser too soon. When you're ready, start laying on your back and connect with your breath. Then your legs are extended out to 45 degrees, inhale, and as you exhale you start rolling your spine up, hands reaching towards your feet, and your legs stay stable at that 45 degree angle. Inhale when you come to the top of the position, and exhale while scooping your abdominals in as you roll down. Repeat this three times.
Learn More About Dance Konditioning
These are just a couple of our favorite core strengthening moves that will help dancers in their training. There are so many more that we would love to teach you. If you are a dancer and you're looking for a way to improve your technique, get noticed more in auditions, start winning competitions, or get attention at conventions, we would love to meet you. Contact us to learn about Dance Konditioning and see how it can benefit your dance training.