Next Tuesday, October 30, is the penultimate installment of the Opening the Space series. Anna Leo, Associate Professor, will be teaching a Yoga Class open to all levels. Below, Leo tells us how she has connected Yoga to dance and how it has been implemented in the Emory Dance Program.
What are a few of the many ways in which Yoga can be beneficial to the dancer?
I have begun creating what I call "modules" of yoga poses for specific dance classes. For example, George Staib came to me seeking a way to help students access the arch in the upper back, I put together a series of yoga poses (a module) that address this area of the body, and provided a new way for students to observe that area of the body. A singular pose may enable students to gain insight into a specific dance concept that they couldn't find through regular dance technique channels. I have worked on various dance concepts through modules including leg rotation, pelvic placement, specific ballet positions (such as passe, arabesque, and attitude, and general alignment. For Greg Catellier's Fitness for Dancers course I prepared a module that works on strength, and then another for flexibility, especially of the hamstrings.
Yoga focuses a lot on breathing, something that can often be overlooked in dance. How do you think the breath work in Yoga can positively assist the dancer?
Although I include attention to breath in yoga poses and in dance classes, I actually teach about breath in separate sessions. The practice of pranayama (refinement of the breath) is a class in itself.
It is my belief that a sense of well being is often the result of self awareness attained through activities that connect the mind and body - like yoga. Great for dancers and everyone!