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Barre
Fitness
Published Friday Apr 13, 2018 by Melaney Wolf

5 Reasons Why Barre Is Good for Your Body

Barre
Dance
Fitness
Expert Advice

When I tell people I’m a barre instructor, two-thirds of them don’t know what I’m talking about—or exactly what barre is. I tell them to imagine a class featuring a hybrid of ballet, yoga, Pilates, and some standard workout moves. Adding small, controlled movements, we use props like different stretchy bands, balls, and free weights, so you’re working your booty off (literally!). 

You don’t have to be flexible, a dancer, or even have experience exercising to benefit from barre. If you put in the effort, listen to your instructor, and have fun, barre can transform your body so quickly you won’t even believe how incredible you feel within weeks! 

Debating if barre should be your next sweat session? Or maybe you’re wondering if your first barre class was worth the burn? Here are five reasons why you should join in on the barre craze because it’s here to stay: 


1. Rapid Strength Gain

Barre is designed to exhaust—then stretch—every muscle group. This combo is a highly effective, low impact way to increase your physical strength super fast. Tired of getting tired going up flights of stairs? Take some barre classes and kiss that goodbye. Keep in mind your body position is essential to working the right muscles, the right way. If your instructor says “Keep your knees in line with your toes” or “Pull your left hip back and right hip forward to square your hips,” DO IT. The results you’ll feel (and see) will be worth the effort.  

Pro tip: Eat some protein and healthy carb combo (yes, both!) within a couple of hours after your class to fuel muscle recovery. That—along with some before-bed stretching—will help ease any soreness the next day. 


2.  Injury Rehab/ Prevention

With barre, you’re working all of your muscles, especially around your knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and spine with no impact or shock to your joints (in exactly the right body position, amiright?). By doing that, you’re giving your body the strength it needs to support you. Strong joints are instrumental in keeping your body safe from things like, let’s say, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, lifting heavy objects, and twisting your ankle on a dog toy in the dark. Also, as someone with herniated disk problems and knee injuries for the last 21 years, I can tell you that nothing at all, ever, has rehabilitated my broken body like barre. Strengthening the muscles around your injury (like I did) is essential to healing.

Pro Tip: Stretching the muscles around the joints is also necessary. Strong and flexible will keep you safe well into your “hip replacement years”...but without the hip replacement!

 

3. Improved Posture

barre

Every movement in a barre class involves working your core. This includes your back! You know how ballerinas are known to have amazing posture? There’s a reason for this—and it’s because of the core + upper back + hip strength needed at all times. So when you’re in barre class being told things like “Pull your belly button toward your spine” and “Lift up out of your standing hip,” you’re setting yourself up to walk out of class taller and poised than you’ve ever been! 

Pro Tip: Remind yourself to pull your shoulder blades together and down your back while lengthening through your neck, all day long. Do it while you walk, drive, sit at your desk, have drinks at happy hour (you get the point). Practicing good posture will prevent upper back and shoulder fatigue. Plus, you’ll also look and feel more poised and confident in the process. That’s a win-win! 

 

4. Increased Flexibility

So, maybe one of your excuses for not taking a barre class is, “But I’m not flexible at all.” Barre is so much more about correct body positions and tiny movements than flexibility. That being said, how will you ever become more flexible if you don’t try? In class, you’ll stretch what you’ve strengthened, and that combo is going to loosen you up everywhere. You have to give it some effort as flexibility doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll feel the difference as you become looser over time. Baby steps, my lovelies, and you’ll love the way you feel. 

Pro Tip: Holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds while taking deep breaths is the beginning of genuinely increasing your flexibility. But holding a stretch for 60 seconds or more is how you permanently start to change your muscle fibers, making the lengthening and flexibility really, really real.  

 

5. Focus and Meditation Enhancement

meditation

Speaking of breathing, this last part is probably the sneakiest (and maybe even the very best) part of busting your butt in barre. The breathing you do while working your muscles in class will not only support the effort you’re putting in, it’s also forcing you to focus your attention on the air coming in and out of your nose/mouth. A great instructor is going to talk you through this for the entire class—guiding you when and how to inhale and exhale. This is exactly what you do in mindfulness meditation to focus your attention inward. 

Breathing exercises are also instrumental in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. When you are fully concentrating on your breath and the precise muscle movements, you’re focused on what you’re doing at that very moment during class. Bam! You just meditated for 60 whole minutes. Notice that when you walk out of your workout, your mindset will feel entirely different (and more positive) than when you came in. Thank yourself, because you did that. 

Pro Tip: When you’re about to give up the current movement because your legs are shaking while simultaneously on fire, bring your attention to your breath. Focus. And I’ll bet you $50 you’ll make it to the end of the squat-pulse series that feels like it’s killing you. 

 

So, go kick butt in barre (you can even book a class on MINDBODY.io)! Plus, you haven’t lived until your muscles are numb and trembling during a workout, and you haven’t lived until you’ve given yourself a strong, healthy body you feel great living in!
 

Melaney Wolf
Written by
Melaney Wolf
Contributor | Barre & Yoga Instructor
About the author
Melaney is a barre, yoga, and meditation instructor in New York City, a professional photographer, and former ballerina of 20 years. She also enjoys long, meaningful conversations with her dog, is a world-class singer while alone in a car, and an expert at curating her Facebook to all funny animal videos.
Yoga sleep tips MINDBODY
Wellness
Published Wednesday Sep 18, 2019 by Amber Scriven

4 Yoga Poses for a Better Night’s Sleep

Yoga
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

We’ve all had sleepless nights. It’s the worst! Watching the wee hours of morning tick away. Wishing we could slip into a restful sleep before our alarm goes off . The frustrating feeling of knowing exactly how many minutes there are before you need to be up. Then, struggling through a heavy relentless morning filled with self-medicating coffee runs, and a tired, snappy version of yourself dragging through the day. 

There’s no one miracle cure for insomnia because there are so many reasons for not being able to sleep. Many people, however, find relief by curbing stress right before bed. One way to do that is with a few choice yoga stretches that mellow you out by encouraging your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to ignite your bodies “rest and digest” cycles. This is the opposite of the “fight or flight” system that helps you race away from oncoming tigers, or other more urban “dangers.”  

Here are a few shapes that calm the nervous system and decrease adrenaline in the body to help you rest and ultimately sleep better. 
 

Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

1
Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

2
Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

3
Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

4
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

Amber Scriven Acupuncturist
Written by
Amber Scriven
Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
About the author
A busy acupuncturist, yoga teacher and trainer, Amber has actively worked in the wellness industry for over 10 years. For her, yoga is a form of health care that she uses alongside acupuncture in the form of retreats, injury rehabilitation, and pain relief. Amber is renowned for building emotional strength while cultivating physical health.