BARRE CLASSES ARE a great way to tone and strengthen, head to toe. Those many reps of micro-movements at the ballet barre offer an intense challenge for your feet, calves, thighs, hips, butt, and abs. But the commonly used turned-out position (heels close together, toes pointed out) may also cause undue stress to joints like your knees and the sacroiliac joint that connects the lower back to the hips—especially if your turnout is greater at the feet than the hips. Practicing yoga poses that encourage external rotation of the hips before barre will warm up tissues and joints and protect these vulnerable areas so you can plié and leg-lift safely. Try this energetic four-pose sequence three times on each side before heading to the barre.
GOOD FOR Strengthening your thighs and improving hip mobility.
Stand with your feet wide, heels turned in, toes turned out. Lower into a squat by bending your knees, and shifting your hips back and down as you bring your thighs almost parallel to the floor. Keep your torso straight. Gently align your knees over your ankles. Activate your pelvic-floor muscles and lift your lower belly. Press your hands together in front of your chest. Hold for 5 breaths.
Virabhadrasana II – (Warrior Pose II), variation for Barre
GOOD FOR Encouraging external hip rotation, ankle stability, and toe mobility; stretching the inner thigh.
From a wide stance, turn your right foot forward and your left foot in slightly. Bend your right knee so it’s over your right ankle. Lift your toes slightly to activate your feet and raise your arms to shoulder height. Gaze forward and lower your toes. Lift your right heel vertically to balance on the ball of your foot. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utthita Parsvakonasana – (Extended Side-Angle Pose)
GOODFOR Strengtheningthefront hip, encouraging spinal mobility, and increasing body awareness.
From Warrior Pose II with your right foot forward and heel lowered to the ground, side bend to the right to place your right forearm on the space above your right knee. Lift your left arm up and over your left ear, and reach through your left fingertips.
Pull your belly in and up to engage your abdominals to support your lower back, and keep your chest open. Hold for 5 breaths.
Anjaneyasana – (Low Lunge), variation with a twist
GOODFORStretchingthebackof the hip; encouraging hip extension.
From Extended Side Angle, lower your arms, placing your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Spin your back heel vertically to
turn your hips, left foot, and torso forward into Low Lunge. Release your left knee to the floor. Engage your glutes and lift up your lower belly. Stay here or bend your left knee and reach back with your right arm to grab your left foot. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat sequence on the other side.
For an online Barre class with the author – head to yogadownload.com