At any given moment, and especially during pregnancy and early motherhood when your body shape is constantly changing, your body is trying to tell you something—the question is, are you listening?
Listening to your body may mean being able to understand what makes you feel better and may mean making it more natural to follow your instinct.
For those of you who know me, you know that I am a big fan of establishing a connection with your body, listen to it and learn to react to its signals.
These are things that I learned through my 20 years of ballet: making regular exercise is a way to establish a connection with your body, and with your mind.
Ballet is more than just a physical form of exercise; all those pliés, relevés, and balances we practice during the class have the amazing ability to improve the way your mind functions.
Here 5 exciting things that Ballet can do for your body, your mind, and (and as a consequence) for your baby:
1) Give you strength and focus
Strength means getting up from bed with a heavy 9 months pregnancy bump, go to work, make the shopping or simply only get dressed! It also means wearing your 9 months old baby in your wrap for 2 hours no stop because you don’t want to wake him up.
But strength means also not giving up, believe in your self, empower yourself to make decisions to nurture and nourish your baby even through the most challenging situations (or the most sleepless nights!)
Ballet gives you physical strength, mental focus.
2) Boost happy chemicals
When you dance, you are releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones, that create feelings of happiness and euphoria and enhance a sense of well-being in your body and your mind.
Ballet can also boost happiness by helping to reduce stress in your body.
It is common to experience moments of stress during your maternal journey: fear for the birth, worries for the new life approaching, sleepless nights that can lead to less control, both emotional and physical.
When you came to a class, you enhance blood circulation in your body, giving you more energy.
The focus you dedicate to the exercises during the class will clear you mind and will boost your creativity to react to your feelings in a different way.
And… the strength and length you gain during ballet classes will give extra space for your baby to move in the womb, will make your digestive organs work better (wow, less heartburn!) or will let you wear again that pair of jeans that have been sitting in your wardrobe during the long 9 months of pregnancy (and most likely even after!).
All these sensations will give you a moment of pleasure, of joy!
3) Improve self-confidence
Do you like the feeling of your body lengthening, your legs getting stronger and longer, your back holding your baby close to you with less effort… and your posture and movements being very elegant and graceful even 2 weeks before your expected arrival of your baby?
Ballet leads to feeling good in your body.
You may feel fit. You might look at yourself in the mirror and see you fit.
These feelings are translated into a positive perception of yourself.
Your self-confidence and self-esteem are boosted.
Your body awareness empowers you.
4) Boost your power brain & your memory
Oh yes, you’re feeling more reactive and bright at the end of the ballet class.
Various studies have shown how dance improves brain performance as it activates several brain functions at once (rational, musical, kinaesthetic and emotional).
Sometimes during the class, I see your smiley faces staring at me when I demonstrate a sequence a bit more complex than usual. But there’s a benefit to that… If you work on learning new things, like a dance sequence, you can work on building different mental routes and paths.
The effort you’re applying in remembering the choreography or the barre exercises, is rewarded by a boost of memory too … so “baby-brain”, off you go! Ballet is coming!
5) Increase relaxation
Often mums that have trouble sleeping tell me how they sleep better after the evening Pregnancy Ballet class.
Exercise raises your body temperature, and when the temperature drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals your body is ready to sleep.
The focus you apply during the class, combined with soothing music, helps to clear your mind – no thoughts for one hour, you are only concentrating on your body and your baby.
A clear mind means a more relaxed body, breath and baby.
Ballet, and dance is general, is a great way to maintain and improve your body and brain function.
So dance now and dance often!