Tag Archives: natural posture

10min Tango Practice on posture, rotation and ochos

How we can make our ochos better or easier or better and easier…?
Classic question, asked by possibly all Tangueros and Tangueras around the world.

At the end of this post, there is a practice video that can surely help in that direction…
You can scroll straight down to it if  you like…
But if you want some extra tips keep reading through my quick story of a light bulb moment I had, while swimming in the Greek blue seas

A central glow…

I love to swim!
Generally I love being in the water… but I hate just sitting there. I want to move, to feel like I am cutting through the water.

My swimming skills are not really anything special, I make my way across with some success–aka not feeling super comfortable but still having fun.
So I started looking into Total Immersion Swimming Technique and started breaking it down to little exploration tasks for each swim.
For example, one day I was trying to really feel how my legs are moving my hips and what effect that has to the rest of my body and my swimming experience. The next day I would focus on a different body part and the third day I would explore the two together.

And then magic happened..!

When all the bits and pieces of my explorations fell into place…
Once each part of my body was moving in balance with all the rest…
My laps became so smooth, so effortless; I was just flowing through in the open sea

It was truly beautiful… But also a valuable lesson!
It gave me the opportunity to feel how movement can be rearranged if we manage to share equal amounts of energy in every direction starting from our bellybutton outward, creating a central glow!

How this applies to ochos and Tango in general..?

It doesn’t only apply to ochos, and Tango but to movement in general; as it helps us understand and experience our axis as a 3dimensional element.

So I want to encourage you to go through this video at least 3 times, following different paths:

  1. The first time you focus on the lower body, noticing any trouble, any blocks, any pain but also moments of comfort
  2. Then the second time you focus on the upper body again looking for glues, for ways to make the movement as effortless as possible
  3. And the third time focus on connecting the upper and lower body through your bellybutton. Specifically exploring the axis as a 3dimensional element, growing upward, downward, to the left and the right, to front and the back.

You can of course narrow your explorations down even more if you like.
Especially if you are feeling discomfort in a specific place in your body, it is always good to take the time to understand what it is that is causing the discomfort and if there is way you can move that can make things a bit more comfortable for you.
Always though finish your practice, with step #3 noticing how all things are connected.

Enjoy

Chrisa

P.S: Join the bautanz for more tips and drills like this one that are only shared with our subscribers

 

A 20min Tango practice on posture, walks and ochos

When we hear “tango practice” what is the image that comes to mind?
Most popular answer: “Hours in a studio practicing with and without a partner on things we suck at..!

Does it have to be this way though? NO!

Tango Practice can be enjoyable and motivating!

Tango practice doesn’t need to be that painful.
It can be hard work, but if it is structured correctly and timed properly it can actually be short, sweet and fun!

As you will hear me say in the beginning of this video, a Tango practice can’t start before we identify what the problem really is… Going in a studio to practice just because someone said you have to, will only get you frustrated.

So before you start your practice, take a moment to:

  1. think of any struggles you might be facing regarding, posture, walks and ochos (or Tango in general if you are not following the video above)
  2. find what you are REALLY good at regarding posture, walks and ochos
  3. draw the connecting line between what makes you good and what makes suck…
  4. build your practice based on #3… like a story that builds on a narrative.

So even though most people will tell you to just practice to correct your shortcomings, I want to encourage you to do almost the opposite!
Double down on what makes you good.
Figure out what is that ONE thing that makes you good. And then see if you can use that to correct what you suck at it….

*Note: I said “if”…
We all suck at something and we are all really good at something else. Nobody is perfect at everything. There maybe somethings you can’t fix… Accept them and bet on your strengths instead!

Tango practice can be short, sweet AND fun!

There is also another myth, around the length of practice…

For some reason most people think that the more the better. But really what is the point of practicing  for hours if you are going to be on your phone or on autopilot..?
And most importantly… what is the point of practicing when your technique is failing you?

As Terry Laughlin, swimming coach and founder of Total Immersion had said: “Stop when you realize your technique is failing you
And Luis von Ahn, the founder of Duolingo suggests around 20mins of practice a day to avoid burn- out..!

So why do we think dancing is any different than swimming or learning a language..?
Going past a certain time- limit, just for the sake of being in a studio will offer zero results and bring only disappointment and frustration.

What should we do instead?

Remember step #2 mentioned above?
*find what you are REALLY good at regarding posture, walks and ochos*

After you go through the Tango scan in your mind on what makes you good at posture, walks and ochos, change ochos to pivots and then revisit ANY activity you are really good at.
All activities have some version of posture, walking, and pivoting.

Bring drills from those activities into your Tango practice.
Everything is connected… believe me! The only thing you need to do is identify the connecting path.

By doing that you are not starting from 0.
You are starting from something you are already good at, you are already confident with and you are taking the details you find are common to Tango, into your Tango practice.

Not to mention how much more motivating this strategy is…
You are not practicing in the dark, you can actually have a plan. Then you are not starting from 0, even if you are a beginner in Tango. And lastly, you start from a place of confidence, from a place of power and that allows you to explore more and at a deeper level.

Is this something super easy to do..? No, but it is totally worth it!

And if you need help, subscribe to bautanz and you can get videos just like this one weekly in your inbox… Along with other inspirational goodies every Sunday..!

😉
Chrisa

P.S: Did you know we have an online course based on these very principles?
Check it out here: Intelligent Tango

 

 

 

 

 

Posture–2 exercises to make it better

In the beginning I was looking for better posture just because the rules of Tango said so.
Then I was looking for better posture because I felt it to be my personal little dance before I connected to my partner.
It helped me get into the mood, https://bautanz.com/2017/05/08/intelligent-tango-posture/

And now, I see posture as a chance for me to capture the subtleties of Tango. My chance to be more creative in my body and offer something of greater value to my partner than simply following!

2 exercises for a juicer posture

I so like this title better..! haha

Yes! this is the purpose of this video: flow-y, juicy, effortless posture

A few extra info to accompany the video tips

Mr. Skeleton here is going to help us out a bit..!

First let’s revisit one of the most common cues that has messed up everyone–or almost everyone– in Tango

“Lift your sternum/ chest up”
I am sure you have heard one or more teachers say that, only to see them, come back a few minutes later to say: “Relax. Breathe!” haha

Well, one affects the other… Let’s see how..!

You can definitely lift the sternum up by pinching your shoulder blades together, but that will cause tension and shortness of breath and it won’t really help you expand the rib cage in any enjoyable way.

Look at the picture below…

The rib cage is a set bone structure that connects to the spine at the back and the sternum at the front. Now notice the shape of the rib cage. It is oval and with a downward orientation–aka anterroinferiorly.

So from this picture can you now imagine what happens when you LIFT the sternum?
If not… go ahead and give one last try… noticing how it makes you feel, noticing how the spine where the ribs meet is pressing forward…

Look at the picture again… it makes sense, no?
Since we have this oval, downward shape, when you lift the front up, you are going to have a compression from the back…

Instead of expanding we are actually compressing, with the heart and lungs being squished, causing shortness of breath and possible heart circulatory problems in the future…
So not only it is uncomfortable, it is also dangerous..!

Taking your focus to what really matters… effortless movement

Tap into our breath, and expand the rib cage to the left and right, front and back, instead of up and down.
During the inhale things are rather obvious… As you inhale the thoracic diaphragm flattens, as you exhale it comes back to THIS original shape, you see it below:


Notice the dome shape of the diaphragm, imagine the floating energy it has during every exhale.

It works like a ball that you press under the water…
Remember when you did that as kids or for your kids?
What happened when you released the ball?
2things… The ball went up and some water left and right..!

Do the same with air coming in and floating out!
Inhale and feel your diaphragm grow and then exhale feel the diaphragm going back to normal and the rest of the energy giving your ribs an expansion to left and the right.

Find movement from within–Getting stuck is the REAL problem

Our spine can move in many many MANY different ways, all beautiful and healthy.
Limiting your options and getting our body STUCK even if it covers all the criteria of “good” posture is actually BAD posture.

Don’t look for good posture, look for a healthy spine, for full movement, that can give you a structure that breathes

Enjoy,
Chrisa

P.S: More on posture?
https://bautanz.com/2017/04/04/posture-argentine-tango-feel-unnatural/
https://bautanz.com/2017/04/19/posture-tango-feels-unnatural-2-reasons/
https://bautanz.com/2017/05/21/intelligent-tango-posture-element-embrace/
https://bautanz.com/argentine-tango-technique/tension/

 

 

 

 

Intelligent Tango–Posture and the element of the embrace

And so we have been chatting about posture and as we all know that chat never ends…NEVER! haha
So I won’t break such important traditions, instead I will keep on chatting on posture but this time through the embrace!

“The frame might have rules but the embrace is yours..!” Sebastian Arce

This is the beauty of Tango, so many rules that can be broken from within from anyone willing to get past the intimacy boundary and explore him/herself a bit further while in a partnership.

The embrace is the first place that you start to see such a differentiation. People getting a bit more expressive, slightly changing the embrace depending on the partner they are dancing with or the song or their mood. And they are still dancing Tango, or better NOW they are really dancing Tango.

I heard that phrase from the great Sebastian Arce back in 2015 but it took some time for me to wrap my mind and body around those words.
I was working so hard to make the rules fit my body that when I danced my ego wouldn’t let go…
“Don’t you dare leave this posture… After 2 hours a day of practice YOU are NOT letting go!” Chrisa’s Ego

haha

After some time though I missed feeling free, I missed moving. And that was when I started practicing on experience, on how things feel, and not on how they are supposed to look or feel.

After a couple of months I danced with a friend I hadn’t danced in a long time. I found myself enjoying our dance so much and avoiding the discomfort his habits caused me in the past, by allowing his embrace to affect my embrace and partly my posture–within the Tango boundaries of course, we didn’t end up dancing salsa don’t you worry.
Maybe that wouldn’t be the way, the style, I would personally choose to dance in but it was the way I could enjoyably dance with him and that is what made it special!

Don’t fight it, embrace! 😉

How can the different types of embrace effect your posture

Before I give you the video, I want to say this…
When we read or hear the word “effect” immediately we get defensive. As if something really bad is going to happen…Really really bad! haha
But think about it, do you hug your grandma the same way you would hug your daughter, or your spouse?
I hope not..!

So why would you embrace everyone in the same way. They are different people, different body types, you probably have a different relationship with each one of them and most importantly they are offering a different embrace too.

In the video following you can see the different embrace styles, taken down to 3 basic holds and connected to the movement of the spine which creates our posture.

Here is your video: Intelligent Tango: The element of the embrace

The purpose of this video is to offer insight on how the movement of our arms is connected to that of our rib cage, and therefore to that of our spine.
Also to give you a nudge to start exploring all the different cues different teachers have given you regarding posture and the embrace so you can figure out the common ground supporting all styles, understand how you have your whole body involved to the embrace to make it more efficient and enjoyable, plus find the styles that work best for you!

What this video doesn’t intend to do is say which is the real, the true the one and only, the absolute best Tango embrace.

Find YOURS!

Chrisa

 

Intelligent Tango: Our posture is a movement NOT a structure

We have been talking about posture in our last few posts, examining why it feels unnatural and how you can make it feel more effortless, more comfortable.

Recently I got a comment from one of my readers saying:

I would like to work more on being aware of the posture and feeling the balance all the time while dancing to the music

I love these questions that tap into how our posture feels instead of can you give me the 10-ways-to-straighten-up type of questions

Dance your way in posture– Stop feeling like a robot..!
robot- posture
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

There is nothing more frustrating than doing exercise after exercise and then going on the dancefloor and cringing through every step.

We have worked so hard to get our posture to a certain level, we are  still trying to find the BEST back exercise, the best hip stretch etc. to be able to maintain the posture.

OP! HERE IT IS!
Our biggest mistake about posture: MAINTAINING!

The reason we are feeling like a robot when we are dancing is because we believe posture to be a set structure. But posture is NOT a structure, posture is a movement.
If we are thinking of posture as a fixed stack of bones with muscles around keeping it place OF COURSE we can’t move.
But if we think of posture as a motion of our spine, and focus on relearning that motion, on understanding how our spine can move then things might start becoming a bit easier.

Creating a pattern for the movement of your  spine.

The truth is, you know HOW to get into your posture. You know where every part of your body needs to be.
You have heard all the rules like a million times now.

  1. Shoulders back and down
  2. Chest out
  3. Hips back
  4. Heels together etc

Notice though how all these cues deal with each part of the body separately, and not in a natural unison.
For our brain all of that is ONE movement the extension of the spine.
By working ONLY on separate parts and not on the motion of extension we make that path, that link, that map as Pete Blackaby says weak, poor.

The funny thing is, we have been working on that very movement for many, many , many years…
I mean, if you get annoyed by Tango teachers trying to teach you how to walk, as if you are a 2 year old, I don’t know what you are going to do when you see this:

posture
http://www.mommyish.com/2015/04/15/cloth-diapers-are-the-worst/

You see for how long we have been practicing THAT extension…That POSTURE!
Daaaamn! haha

So what happened?
Well it is simple. When we were at that age every movement was new for our body and our mind. The years passed, only just a few of them…Hahaha…and we stopped trying to make that movement better.

Why? Because it is good enough! As long as we can go about doing our chores no problem, as long as nothing breaks down, like my father’s old car, then its good enough!
Until something actually breaks down…mmm

Great news for us Tangueros and Tangueras… We get to re-pattern that movement in our brains and bodies through something we love, Tango, instead of rehab..!

How can we go about doing that?

Well it doesn’t really have to do just with body or only with the mind. Our mind has a poor pattern for the extension of the spine and therefore our body struggles with it.
More stretches or more exercises will not do the trick…

If you look around you, you will see many people who are fit but have really limited movement vocabulary, and really poor posture– don’t make me take pictures in the gym…Come on! Haha

Does that mean you can quit the gym? Haha
No my little couch potatoes!
It means you need to spend your time in the gym in a more clever way.
Find exercises that will involve the spine AND to actively focus on creating that motion again and again, noticing how you spine feels going through it.

What could those be?
Here are a few ideas:

posture #1
Photo credit: yogamama.co.uk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
posture #2
Photo credit: yogamama.co.uk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Do these exercises not focus on what your muscles are doing that will give your mind different feedback–not good or bad, just different. Focus on bones and specifically your spine.

How can you do that in your Tango practice?

If you don’t have a particular interest on fitness activities or if you want to add a little more of that motion into your practice routine here is a video to help you to do that: Dance your way in Posture

The first few times you might feel some stretch in specific spots of the body, but again that has to do with muscle, so don’t follow the feeling the stretch creates.
You are not doing that for the stretch, you are doing it to build the pattern of the motion. Go through the exercise as a best as you can bring aware of your whole spine moving, without getting distracted by the stretch.
Secondly, you don’t even know if those spots in the body need to be stretched further anyhow.

Go slow and focus on creating motion in your whole spine simultaneously.

Chrisa

P.S: For the movement “geeks” who like me can’t resist reading research such as this: Graziano’s study of the brain

Posture in Tango– Why it feels so unnatural? #2 (yOUR reasons..!)

I wrote this article on posture last week BUT there was a catch to it… There was ONE very important reason missing…YOUR reason on why posture feels unnatural.

I wanted to hear you guys out. See if there was something I was missing. Start a conversation on social media, on a fundamental Tango element.
And I am very glad I did that, instead of just writing the article in full!

Why posture feels unnatural? (yOUR reasons..!)

you mean moving with someone attached to the front of you is supposed to feel natural?” J.
Why tango posture SHOULD feel unnatural to anyone?”  I.

Really now, with all sincerity, since when do any of us walk around with someone stuck on our face?
Certainly NOT me!

So, basically when we get into Tango we are asked to keep our chest open, our shoulders back and down. Head UP!
Hips back, abs tight… (I am already tired just writing this…)
AND to top it all…ATTACH OUR BODY TO SOMEONE ELSE and feel NATURAL!

Even if you have physically managed to have a good posture, while practicing on your own, when you get into an embrace, your posture will get affected by the contact with the other person.
If you are comfortable with the intimacy of the close embrace your posture will become smoother and gentler, allowing you to merge in a real hug.
If you are still uncomfortable, though, your posture will get worse, will feel more and more unnatural and robotic.

It is awkward, the sooner you accept that the better it will be!

Why does everyone tell me that the posture should feel natural?

I am going to tell you a short story…

Being in Greece and learning Tango, I consider myself very lucky! We get many of the great names of Tango visiting.
So there was a period of time when I was meeting a lot of Argentinians.

For Argentinians, a hug and kiss when they meet you is protocol
For Greeks a handshake is enough. If you get passed the handshake, though you get two kisses! haha

So, after many…too many…hugs and kisses. Here I was presenting my thesis…you see it coming right?
A visitor and friend of my professor was there for the presentation.
I finish the presentation, my professor introduces me to our visitor aaaand no, the handshake wasn’t enough. I gave her a hug and two kisses!

Cultural mix-and-match!!!

She smiled at me awkwardly…poor woman!hahaha

I have been more careful ever since, after realizing that what might be natural to me, it might not feel natural to other people.

Why SHOULD everyone feel unnatural?

No, I am sorry you can’t blame your partners for your posture feeling unnatural!
The embrace will just reveal to you the awkwardness, but your partner is not necessarily the one to blame.

Accept the awkwardness and focus on finding what is the causes it.
Is it the connection?
Does the pressure against your partner’s chest, make you stiffen or pull away from your partner?
Is it the frame of the arms?
Do you feel pain in the arms or shoulders?
Is it in the hips and/or lower back?
Are you trying so hard to keep your feet and hips away from your partner that you end up stiffening up?
Is it the intimacy of the close embrace?
Do you change to a robot the moment you get into the embrace?

Find what creates the discomfort, to open up the path to a more enjoyable posture, to a more enjoyable dance!

Always keep in mind though that when dancing with someone, especially if you haven’t danced with them before, awkwardness is not only expected but also natural. Embrace the awkwardness to make the moment special!

Leave your comment below… I might have a few suggestions for you in the next article.

-Chrisa