Incorporating Relaxation in Dance Class
Anyone who has been to a yoga class is familiar with shavasana/savasana – the deep relaxation and meditation led by the instructor at the end of class. Otherwise known as corpse pose, this is a time to bring together the principles and practice of yoga and usually leaves participants feeling a euphoric sense of ease. Why not incorporate this sense of unifying principles and practices of the day as well as a deep sense of relaxation for participants in dance class? Personally, I have noted how my dancers leave my classes feeling relaxed and happy with a sense of understanding about the day’s lesson/practices and with a clear intention for the next class or the work required in between classes.
Providing your dancers with a deep relaxation, meditation, or shavasana at the end of dance class holds great value and opportunity for balancing the mind-body-soul relationship. Here a only a few of the benefits of guiding your dancers in achieving balance through relaxation and meditation at the end of dance class:
A time to recap the class or the day’s important points. There should be more than one important aspect to the day’s lesson no matter the length of class. Use this time to highlight what those lessons were and thereby draw together the objectives of that class for dancers.
Allows the body and mind time to cool off at the end of a long day and long dance class. As the last teacher of the day, you have the unique opportunity to guide dancer’s bodies in a physical, emotional, spiritual cool down after a long dance day. As physical artists we push and strain our physical bodies, which can be just as grueling on our emotional and spiritual selves. Use this time to guide a physical cool down by having dancers lay supine with all muscles relaxed, but also guide them in their minds to release any emotional or spiritual tension carried from the day or week.
Perhaps most importantly, shavasana reinforces the mind-body-soul connection that is of ultimate importance in the art of dance. The physical relaxation of the body, the release of stress and tension from the emotion teaches dancers not only that the mind, body, and soul are connected but also allows them to experience that connection.
Conclude by giving reminders or practice items for upcoming classes. This is a perfect time to give reminders since dancers are quiet and focused on you the teacher.
Incorporating relaxation into your classes can manifest differently for every teacher and in every class. Feel welcome to tailor your relaxation for your dancers specific to their needs as they vary day to day. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
Have dancers lay supine (on their backs) with their limbs relaxed at their sides.
Put on some gentle instrumental music or conscious music (discussed in this blog post). Dim the lights.
Guide dancers in relaxing either from feet to head or head to feet (and change it up!). Start body part by body part or muscle group by muscle group. Some are more able to relax when the instructor provides visualization for participants to focus on like a flowing stream or a soft cloud or floating on either of these.
Pause in between portions of the body or between visual images to allow participants to hear the music again, to release thoughts about anything other than relaxing, or to experience the feeling of that muscle group/area of the body in a state of relaxation.
When you have finally come to the neck, face, and head, pause for a greater amount of time for dancers to experience the full body in a state of relaxation.
The power of affirmations at this point of relaxation can be significant. Perhaps you choose a different affirmation to recite before bringing your dancers back to the time and space of the physical body.
Ease them slowly into movement again beginning with small movements of the fingers and toes. Bring up the lights and turn down the music. Remind them about practice items, etc.
THANK YOUR DANCERS for a job well done. It is appropriate for them to also thank you!
A quick Google search will help you discover your unique means of guiding your dancers in achieving relaxation at the end of dance class. Do not be afraid to try different techniques. Remember how important it is for you as a teacher as well to make time and space for your own relaxation (as we discussed in this post). Most importantly, remember that there is no wrong way and each teacher must discover for his/herself what works for his/her dancers!
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