Intent on making 2017 your Best Year Ever? We can help with that, thanks to our 2017 Coach of the Month series. This April, ABT Principal Dancer Misty Copeland shares some tips from her just-released fitness and nutrition guide, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You. In her second installment for the month—each one will be an excerpt from the book—she shares her go-to stretches to help improve your posture, the foundation for a graceful, healthy body.
Strong posture is perhaps the first and most basic step toward honing your ballerina body. When your stance is solid, it keeps you conscious of your physical self, reminding you constantly of how vital your body is and how important it is to do all you can to nurture and strengthen it.
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Stretches to Help with Posture
1. When you find yourself slouching, stand, clasp your hands behind you, and then stretch them down and away from your body. While doing this, you may find that your head goes slightly forward or back. This is fine. Try the stretch both ways: Let your head fall forward as you stretch your arms behind you. Then try it allowing your head to go back, looking up. Do not stay in this position longer than feels comfortable; a few seconds is enough. Release and come back to a neutral stance. Repeat in the direction—head forward or head backward—that feels the most helpful, as that is what your body needs at the time. For some both directions relieve tensions.
2. Whenever you have a towel (which is probably at least twice a day) or a long belt in your hands, hold it so there’s enough space between your hands for you to bring it over your head with out bending your elbows. Bring it behind you and back again, again without bending your elbows or losing the symmetry in your shoulders. Do this two or three times in a row, keeping a slow tempo.
Excerpted from the book Ballerina Body by Misty Copeland. Copyright ©2017 by Misty Copeland. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.