Maldivian Mermaid! The benefits of dancing in water . . .
As you may have seen, I recently spent time in the Maldives at the luxurious Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa. As you do! If you didn’t know that already, where have you been for the last 4 weeks?!
In the middle of hosting my Ballet Retreat, I also took the time to concentrate on my own workout program which is something that often gets neglected when back in London teaching my full schedule. Nearly as much as I love being in the ballet studio, I love being in water. Up to my neck actually! I feel a safety in that water hug that makes me feel very peaceful and light, like a meditation. So it’ll come as no surprise that whenever I can, I dance in the water!
At White Lodge (The Royal Ballet Lower School) we had a swimming pool and during our training we regularly took part in ‘water ballet’ classes (mainly for fun until we were told of the benefits of training in water) which to this day, I LOVE!
There are a few reasons why I love water ballet so much:
Reason 1) you feel virtually 100% lighter than you do when on land which means all your movements feel like they last longer, you can jump with more grace and buoyancy and your leg extensions go higher.
Reason 2) exercising in water is amazing for your cardiovascular stamina which as we know can rapidly decrease if you don’t workout regularly.
Reason 3) the water provides the ideal resistance for you to find the dynamic needed for movements such as port de bras, adage, balance and fondu.
The experience of feeling lighter means there is much less impact on your joints when doing allegro, running or simply just standing en demi pointe in water. The protection the water gives your joints is great if you suffer from impact related injuries such as ‘runner or jumpers knee’ (basically patellar tendinitis), shin splints, achilles tendinitis and any kind of ankle sprains, stress fractures or tight ITB (iliotibial band in the legs). The anti-gravity effect also means you can safely work through your barre or center work, albeit at a slower speed and correct your alignment, improve your balance, postural issues and find how to articulate your feet while jumping and landing. Due to the waters resistance, your muscles are working a lot harder, particularly in adduction (closing of the legs together for example, tendu, grand battement, beaten allegro) so brings great awareness to how hard you must work when on dry land!
When I was recovering from my back injury and subsequent lower leg injuries, I found taking my ballet class and rehab program into the water not only positively changed how my movements felt but it allowed me the time and focus I needed to be truly mindful of myself and not distracted by others. Being surrounded by water meant I felt cushioned and assisted (literally and metaphorically) and it was a sensation I then tried to take with me back into the ballet studio. So seeing as the summer season is fast approaching, why not try some water ballet when on your holidays!
Or even better, join us on one of our exciting Ballet or Mini Retreats where we can experiment altogether!!!