I took up yoga for one semester as a PE class in the University of the Philippines Diliman back in 2001. I found it challenging and engaging, and at the same time, very calming and relaxing. I picked up the poses easily, unknowingly leading the other students to believe I was the teacher’s assistant. They saw me staying after class practising the handstand or trying my best to get into the headstand unassisted. I was into yoga so much that I stopped eating meat; until now I’m still pescatarian. I continued to practice yoga by myself about a year on, then did it rarely afterwards. When I went into pole dancing in 2011, the effects of yoga on my strength and flexibility were still evident. I went back to doing yoga occasionally at home as a supplement to my new fitness activity. In this post, I’ll share with you the benefits of yoga in pole dancing.
The most obvious effect of yoga in any practitioner is improvement on flexibility. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, how old you are or how unbendy you think your body is; yoga can help you achieve those pretzel poses it is popular for in no time. Let me emphasize that yoga is not a sport so do not force yourself into “leveling up” — let your body slide naturally into position and always seek guidance from your instructor on poses you’re having difficulty with. I’m saying this from experience; I hyperextended my shoulder in one of the twisted seated poses because I was aiming to lock my hands behind me. I didn’t consult anyone with the mild injury I sustained and just let it pass. Ten months after starting pole, my left shoulder acted up. Only a decade after the fact did I go see a doctor. When you’re young and reckless you tend to exert yourself too much, only for wear-and-tear to catch up with you later. So learn from my story. Be aware of your limitations and treat your body with respect. Indeed, flexibility in a well-conditioned body is one of the keys to having a long and successful pole dancing career.
In yoga, it is important for a practitioner to develop proper breathing. “This is good for bringing strength into the muscles, pacing the body, gaining endurance, and calming the mind and nerves necessary for overcoming challenges in pole dancing, including pain,” said Dr. Francisco ‘Kit’ Navarro (Pole Tiger, Yoga Practitioner, Yin Yoga Teacher at Yoga for Life Philippines, and Doctor in Acupuncture). “Yoga not only gives you the physical capability to execute pole tricks, such as inversions and generally not being upright — getting used to staying upside-down, suspended from high up, or spinning around — it also helps you conquer the major psychological factor of fear,” continues Doc Kit. From your inner peace through yoga comes physical and mental strength for pole.
3. Body Awareness
According to Doc Kit, “Since flexibility gives you an advantage in improving your range of motion in pole dancing, body awareness follows suit. Yoga teaches you to know how to move specific body parts in combination with others.” In pole dancing, where you have to move in relation to either a static or a spinning pole, and sometimes with a partner, body coordination is highly needed, and patience and determination, strongly recommended.
4. Body Acceptance
For this, I would like to quote our Mommacat, Christina Dy (Polecats Manila Founder, Yoga Practitioner, and Internationally Acclaimed Artist):
“Yoga has helped me a lot in teaching pole, and in my personal pole practice as well. It has taught me about anatomy, physiology and proper alignment; how to properly use the different body parts to avoid injuries while pole dancing; and of course, flexibility. Through yoga, I was able to achieve my splits and I am continually opening other parts of my body. But more than all of the physical benefits of yoga, it has taught me acceptance, non-violence and patience. Pole dancing is tough on the body, especially for someone like me who has never danced before, and who is not naturally strong or flexible. A lot of pole tricks are difficult for me to do because of how my body is. But yoga has taught me to accept my body, not hate it. This has led me to be patient with myself when learning pole things; to not push myself to overexertion and injury; and to take time and enjoy the process instead of focusing on the outcome. By being able to accept myself, I am more patient and understanding of my students in turn.”
A couple of my friends who also do pole find yoga a bit boring as compared to pole dancing, but this might be because pole can be considered an extreme sport and therefore addictive, while yoga is more of a way of life, where balance is of utmost importance. Now, don’t take our word for it, try pole with yoga and see for yourself.
PS: Have you heard of ‘Polga’ — yoga on the pole? Check out this site.