By Elana Altman soloist with San Francisco Ballet. July 25, 2012
Here I am in "dancer" pose.
Yoga has been a significant part of my life for about 8 years now. It has been monumental in balancing my mind and body throughout the strenuous performance seasons. Recently, I decided I wanted to go deeper and learn how to teach others the healing powers of yoga–this lay-off I retreated to a serene canyon north of Santa Barbara for a yoga teacher training at White Lotus.
Feeling refreshed and renewed upon my return, I’ve started offering informal classes to my colleagues. As dancers, so much of what we do is about pushing our bodies to the extreme. This is what makes ballet so exquisite, but unfortunately can also cause injury. Yoga doesn’t have to be another discipline in which we push harder. From Day One of the training, my teacher said, “start where you are and stay there.” The healing benefits of yoga come from listening to our bodies and not pushing too far beyond our limit.
I also started teaching some non-dancer “civilians” and they’re great teachers for me. Learning how to use my voice to communicate opens up a whole new set of challenges from which I’ve tended to shy away from in the past. I am much more accustomed to communicating with my body and movement. This is another way that yoga balances out my dancing, and I truly hope I can use both of these art forms to change people’s lives for the better.