Most of us picture mediation as that 10 to 30-minute period of the day where you sit crossed-legged with closed eyes and tune the world out. (Think Beyoncé in “7/11.”)
Prima ballerina Misty Copeland, however, chooses unconventional methods of finding her personal zen. In an interview with The Cut, the recently married dancer explained how ballet transports her to a calmer place. “It’s really about finding moments in the day that are for yourself,” she says. “Ballet class is a form of meditation for me. It’s something that I do every single morning, and it’s nice to have a space in time where your body knows that you’re working to become stronger.”
You can imagine the first African-American woman principal in the American Ballet Theatre spends a bulk of her time dodging the weight of a busy schedule and nail-biting stage performances. Luckily, Copeland finds enough quiet moments before her shows to muster up the mental calm to kick ass. “There are times before shows where I put on music and focus on my breathing just to stay calm and not get too nervous about the performance.”
It takes more than deep breathing to reach her history-making dancer status, though. The Under Armour athlete discusses how she achieves her agile ballerina body, including a few hardcore workouts. “When I’m in my off seasons I’ll do other cross trainings, but when I’m in season I’m in ballet class every day, rehearsing for eight hours. The ballet technique is so smart and beautiful and for hundreds of years it has been able to create strong bodies that look beautiful all on its own. Off season, I take Pilates floor mat classes, Gyrotonic on the Reformer, and run on the elliptical machine for cardio — I don’t use any resistance because I tend to bulk up quickly.”
Coming from Copeland, pairing peace of mind and physical strength sounds like a breeze. But to be like the dazzlingly fit ballerina, practice both consistently.