How to Stretch Your Back for a Better Arabesque

Improve your arabesque with a yoga stretch.
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An arabesque is an elegant, sweeping ballet pose that uses all three major muscle groups of the back. Extensor muscles hold up the spine; flexor muscles lift and arch the lower back; and oblique muscles maintain proper posture. In an arabesque, you want to avoid overarching your back because the movement is one of elongating the spine. You can increase strength and flexibility of your arabesque with the back-stretching yoga pose Downward-Facing Dog.

    Step 1

    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes facing forward. This is not “first position,” but do ground through your feet and elongate through your head to lengthen your spine as if you were in a ballet pose.

    Step 2

    Soften your knees and bend forward from the hips until your hands are resting on the floor. Take several deep breaths in this position and allow your hamstrings and back to relax. Open your shoulders and keep them away from your ears. Hold position for 30 to 60 seconds.

    Step 3

    Plant your hands shoulder-width apart and step your feet 2 to 3 feet apart to bring your body into an inverted triangle. While in this position, focus on elongating your spine from head to tailbone, allowing those spaces to release. Hold position for 30 to 60 seconds.

    Step 4

    Bend your knees and kneel on the floor with your body resting on your thighs. Stretch out your arms, palms-down, on the floor in front of you. Take several deep breaths and hold position for 30 to 60 seconds.

    Step 5

    Slowly stand up. You may feel dizzy because this pose is inverted, which allows blood to flow to your head. You can slowly reverse each position to return to standing or simply lift your head from the final position and stand up.


    • Engage your pelvic floor and low-core muscles to better support your arabesque. Core and pelvic floor muscles are like your body’s power center. One way to tell if you have properly engaged your low-core muscles is to feel the muscle contraction at the front bony protrusions at your hips. In ballet, engagement is the pulling in and up of the abdomen.


    • When stretching to improve an arabesque, focus on elongating the back rather than arching it. Your arabesque flows through the spine, lengthening the pose whereas arching your back will put stress on those low back muscles and possible lead to an over-use injury.

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