9 Ballet Stretches to Do for 10 Minutes a Day to Improve Your Flexibility
1 / 12
Why ballet is good for flexibility and posture
There you are in your makeshift workout zone (née your go-to fitness studio), following your e-trainer’s moves, keeping perfect posture as you effortlessly touch your toes, move into downward dog and then down dog splits. No, not you? Same. For some, flexibility and good posture doesn’t come quite as naturally as it does for others and instead requires extra effort. For that, you may want to try certain stretches—ones that target tight muscles, work areas that are easily neglected, and elongate the body—like the ones that are popular with the ballerina set.
“With ballet, everything is about the extension of the body through space,” says Mary Helen Bowers, founder of Ballet Beautiful and previously a ballerina with the New York City Ballet. She created the model-loved fitness program (which is offered in-studio in New York City’s Soho neighbourhood as well as online) based on the fitness routine she put together for herself when she was dancing. Inspired by real ballet moves, Ballet Beautiful helps build strong, long muscles, improve posture and increase flexibility, she says.
“Everybody can increase their flexibility,” says Bowers, but the only way you’ll be more flexible is if you make stretching a priority. “One of the most important things for flexibility is consistency,” she says. You need a series of effective stretches that can easily be squeezed into your daily schedule—after your morning shower, during an afternoon break, or while your dinner cooks in the oven, says Bowers. So, pre-quarantine, we met up with Yukiko Kashiki, a master trainer at Ballet Beautiful in New York, to learn the best stretches for improving flexibility. Here, an easy routine that takes just 10 minutes a day.
(Related: 4 Expert Tips You Need to Know to Stretch Properly)
2 / 12
What to know before you begin
The best time to stretch
“It’s always better when you’re warm,” says Bowers, “but I think the most important thing is to just do it when you can—when you have the time.” Worry less about performing the stretches at a certain time, and worry more about being consistent by making time to stretch every single day.
Hold each stretch for four sets of eight
Count slowly when holding each pose. “Holding” doesn’t mean freeze, says Kashiki. Focus on maintaining the correct placement and feeling the stretch.
Focus on your breathing
When counting, concentrate on inhaling and exhaling. It helps to reduce tension while allowing your body to open up and sink deeper into each stretch, says Kashiki.