Yoga is a must after a session of dancing for me. It really helps my muscles relax and avoids the possible sore muscles that I would experience the next day. There are a few poses that I love that really help stretch the body in isolation. Yoga can be really hard to get into, especially if your go to work out (like mine) is cardio. After getting some more practice in, I have found that even though I am impatient, my body NEEDS yoga! I do so much better the next day and my performance in dance increases as well.
Just some quick benefits of yoga is flexibility (SO important for dance), weight loss (who doesn't love this), good circulation which helps promote positive health, improved performance in physical activity, protection from injuries, and yoga is really good for your mental state. In fact, yoga has become one of my self-care techniques!
Here are some tips to get through some stretching - a few of these are especially important if you are a Kathak dancer (like the calf stretches). You can Google images of these poses to get an idea what what I am referring to but I will also describe them below.
Runners Pose is one of my favorite yoga postures for stretching my legs. In this position, your body will be in plank pose and one leg will stay stretched, while the other leg is bent with the knee near your shoulder and towards the front of your mat. The trick is that you really need to engage your whole leg. When you are in runners pose, engage the muscles in the long leg and push back with your heel - it makes a huge difference!
My all time favorite pose is Triangle Pose. With the triangle pose, you are standing with legs apart and bending forward. The great thing about this stretch is that this stretches the entire back side of your leg. Play around with this position - you don't need to be simply bend right down the middle. You can walk your hands to the right leg and scoot on over to the left - this will help stretch more than just your legs. These leg grabs in triangle pose stretches the sides of the body and feels really good after some intense workouts!
Bow Pose - Best. Quad. Stretch. Seriously - this pose will always be a challenge based on how you engage your muscles. In this pose, you are laying on your tummy and you reach back to grab your ankles. Typically in bow pose, you lift up your legs and upper body off the ground. Try just holding your ankles first and really feel the stretch in the front of your quads. When you have breathed in and out (same pace of breathing in and out) about 4 times, slowly lift your upper body and legs off the floor. This goes from being a quad stretch to a whole body stretch.
Back stretches are especially important when you are active and have a bad back. Please take caution when trying any of these poses. The first thing to remember is to slowly move into these poses. The bow pose mentioned previously is actually an excellent posture that helps strengthen the back. The other back stretch that I thoroughly enjoy (and funny enough, stretches quads too) is the Pigeon Pose. In this pose, you have one leg flat and bent towards the front of your mat, while your other leg is flat and long. First start off by doing a slight back bend in this position. When you have taken some moments here, slowly move into bringing your forehead to your mat. In this latter position, you will get a nice stretch in your back - this is one of the basic moves relieving back pain.