As a former professional ballerina, I can truly attest to the effect that a barre class can have on ones body. There is something so effective about each exercise and how it has the ability to lift, sculpt, and tone your entire body. But, what happens when you add the element of a yoga class as well? BOOM! The most magical combination of intense body sculpting exercises with the tranquility of lengthening yoga postures.
What sets yoga barre apart from other workouts is that it consists of isometric exercises as well as orthopedic stretches. Using your own body weight as resistance targets the specific muscle being worked to a point of fatigue, followed by a deep yoga stretch. This releases and lengthens the muscle, creating a long lean ballerina line everyone so desires.
The whole idea of non-impact cardio makes Yoga Barre accessible to anyone, especially ones with injuries. You’re practicing in such a smart and safe way that you are able to work towards recovery while still getting the benefits of a great full body workout. Whether you have an injury or not, the key to facilitating your body in a yoga barre class is to always focus on alignment. In my class I am constantly cueing proper alignment. It is so important to understand how to the exercises should feel in your body when they are done correctly and how effective they then could be. The barre aspect is really prominent here since in ballet class at the barre it is imperative to maintain posture and carriage. It is the same with yoga, every posture you do has a purpose and when proper alignment is combined you are able to practice with more stability and balance. You essentially achieve an elongated spine and beautiful posture, in and out of the studio. Yoga Barre class harmoniously combines the concept of slow methodical exercises with deep stretches allowing you to building muscle and flexibility equally. You know it’s not a good workout until you feel you heart rate increase. This is your cardiovascular system working, which is your heart to lung connection. For me, there is no better feeling than a good calorie burn during the barre routines and trust me you are sure to feel your heart pumping to the energetic dance music in the background!
But of course, my second favorite part of class is when the music gets a little slower and the mood shifts to more tranquil. Yoga offers me an escape where I can calm and center my mind from all the hustle and bustle of life. Using yogic breath techniques during the yoga stretching series of class, really exemplifies the importance of your breath and how it can help you release your muscles as well as alleviate stress. Since we do hold stress in different areas of our bodies (mostly shoulders and hips) it is important to focus on deep inhales through your nose and exhales out through your mouth. The helps allow you to get deeper into your body and release some areas of tension. It is always a relief when I can just close my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths into those parts of the body that may feel achy, sore or overworked.
Finding Yoga Barre has been the greatest gift to my health and wellness. Not only do I have a passion to teach this class but I absolutely love taking it. The energetic, fun and challenging class offered me a totally new outlook on working out and what a cardio class is. It has the perfect amount of body shaking; sweat dripping hard work and deep relaxing, mental calming breathing and stretching.
Briana DeFalco completed 200 hours of hot yoga training along with 60 hours of yoga barre training, and she teaches both regularly at Hot 8 Yoga. She also continues to take ballet classes and enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.