There are many similar health benefits between the two disciplines and many dancers advocate yoga as a great way of keeping fit enough for their dance classes, but when compared and contrasted, it seems dancing is generally better for you.
Total Body Workout
Yoga is undeniably good for your body as the core is constantly engaged while the standing postures build leg strength and the twisting poses massage internal organs. However, the practice is predominantly peaceful and it is only the recent trend of the fast-paced Ashtanga Yoga which is both vigorous and physically challenging.
Dancing is an excellent workout for the whole body as it combines both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, meaning that you can improve your stamina, lose weight and increase muscle mass all at the same time. Travelling around the room will raise your heart rate, the Cuban Motion of Latin dances helps smooth out the hips and waist, maintaining topline composure in ballroom styles creates a strong core, and the fancy footwork of the faster dances builds up shapely legs. As an all-over workout, dancing appears to have the edge.
Good Mental Health
Meditation and focussing on the present are key elements of yoga, and so the discipline naturally slows your body down and promotes relaxation from the stress of everyday life.
Dance is not only a fun hobby which helps you to relax, but it is also very sociable. Making new friends and laughing as you learn is proven to lower stress levels and release endorphins to help lift your mood. While meditation can be a useful technique to learn in life, if laughter is the best medicine and letting your hair down is the quickest way to unwind, then dancing is the answer for good mental health.
Balance and Co-ordination
Balancing is a common aspect in yoga and the poses offer varying levels of difficulty which continually challenge your core strength as you struggle to stabilise your wobbling body. All the balances improve body awareness and co-ordination as you work first on one side, and then the other, comparing and contrasting your flexibility on each side.
Many people say they can’t dance because they have two left feet, but regular practice at having to process instructions to move arms and legs in different directions can significantly improve overall co-ordination. Dancing is all about the smooth transfer of weight without over-balancing, so yoga can help the equilibrium in dancing, but dancing offers more complex elements.
Move Your Body
Yoga is typically performed as a series of poses, often connected together as a sequence called an asana. Learning to link breathing to movement is an important part of the practice and, when mastered, provides greater awareness of the body.
The art of dancing is being able to transition between steps in one fluid movement, and it is important to feel the music in order to stay in sync with the beat. Both disciplines heighten the awareness within the body and improve general movement.
Yoga has many similarities in terms of building physical strength, improving co-ordination and reducing stress, but dancing will also give your heart a good workout. Come along to Arthur Murray to try it out for yourself.