Free

5 DAY YOGA CHALLENGE

FOR TANGO DANCERS

begins Thursday, March 19!

Missed the start date? No worries! below is a link to the classes you missed as well as a transcript of the emails that were sent out including tips on how these practices relate to your tango dance. If you haven't signed up yet, drop your email below to have the next practices and tips delivered directly to your inbox!

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DAY 1

Hello My Yogi Tanguero Friend!

How are you handling your quarantine and dance withdrawal? I hope you are managing to keep your spirits lifted, using this time to connect with loved ones (if only virtually), and remembering to find gratitude for all of the abundance we are still surrounded by. I was tempted to insert a toilet paper joke here but I think there are plenty of those circling around on facebook. ;)

I'm certainly very grateful to be able to continue with my yoga practice and I'm thrilled that so many of you have joined me for this 5 day yoga challenge for tango dancers!!! So let's dive right in!

In today's class the focus will be on hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Because so many of us have sedentary lifestyles, these areas are often the tightest places to open up, so this class will clear the road for what's to follow.

THE PRACTICE:

You can find today's practice at the following link:
https://youtu.be/fbflRdkRnxE

**** Please remember to always respect your body! Trust that strength and flexibility will come in time and it is not necessary to do every thing I will demonstrate right now. If some thing does not feel right please listen to your body first and foremost. Cultivating awareness is far more important than twisting into some pretzel shape. If you have any doubts about injuries please don't hesitate to get in touch and ask me your questions! ****


Read below to find out how this practice relates to your tango dance:

 


1. Hips and Hamstrings:

Tightness here can prevent us dancers from accessing "good" tango posture, which is essential for so many aspects of the dance to function, including stability, freedom of movement, a comfortable embrace, quality connection with our partner, and musical expression! (wow, so like pretty much every thing!).

Releasing tension in your hips can facilitate the proper tilt of the pelvis which consequently releases stiffness in your spine (hence why our spinal flexibility class will come after we do some work on the hips). The proper tilt of the pelvis can also give weight to the standing leg, inducing that "grounded" feeling in our dance, and give more freedom to the free leg (the non-weight-bearing leg).

So this will consequently also improve our tango stride. When the hips are stiff, our stride is stiff, and when our stride is stiff the upper body feels rigid and tense to our partner. When your body is rigid, communication between you and your partner becomes muddy. It's like you build a wall that your partner's signals cannot permeat. Emotionally, even if it is on a subconscious and unintentional level, this can feel like your partner is not "letting you in" and here we miss out on one of the most beautiful aspects of the dance as it keeps connection and intimacy on a superficial level.


Loosen your hip area (and this includes hip flexors, outer hips, glutes, and hamstrings) and you invite fluid strides into your dance, clear communication, connection and intimacy. 

 

Read more about the role of hips in tango in my blog article "4 Ways Hip Openers Can Benefit Your Tango"

2. Shoulders:

Hunched shoulders can also be an issue for our tango posture and again those of us with computer / desk jobs are prone to a lot of rounding here. Hunched shoulders can cause us to dump our weight too far forward, which will consequently throw us off balance, pretty much all the time. I know this VERY WELL because opening up the shoulders was one of my biggest struggles and still is if I don't give it some attention on a regular basis. The kind of posture that tango teachers were asking of me was simply not possible with my shoulders as rounded as they were. 

When you hunch your shoulders you are also creating distance between you and your partner because your chest collapses inward and cannot meet your partners.' This again, on a subconscious level does not invite your partner into your well-intended embrace. It can also be the reason for you to "have to" open the embrace in more dynamic figures that involve torsion. Yes, a lot of things can be done in close embrace believe it or not, if only those dang shoulders didn't get in the way!


You can find more about how to open up the shoulders in my blog article "6 Shoulder Openers for a Comfortable Tango Embrace"

 


If you have any questions about any of this before or after you start your practice please feel free to contact me. I know many of you will not be able to dance with a partner right now, but I encourage you to dance on your own for a bit after the class to start to bring awareness to how the practice changes your dance.

I'm also always open to feedback as I would love to know how I can best serve our dance and yoga community's needs! Thank you for practicing with me!

NAMASTE

DAY 2

How are you doing out there? As of last night we are now on official quarantine here in Buenos Aires. I am glad the government is taking extreme action early on, but woah am I really wishing I at least had a pet, if not a roommate! 

Anyways, how was yesterday's kick-off class for you? Did you discover any thing new about yourself, your body, practice, or dance?


Remember, that yoga is not about achieving some advanced pose. It is about what becomes revealed to you, about you, along the way.

Pay attention to what comes up, physically, emotionally, energetically and mentally. This is where the real lesson lies and when true growth can happen. 

If you found this first class really challenging.. GREAT! That means you have SO MUCH ROOM for growth and that is EXCITING! Remember when you first started dancing tango and every thing was new and then you kind of hit that plateau later where you have to search for the more subtle things to change? Yoga is no different! So let's continue on.


In today's class we are going to focus on one of the tango dancer's biggest struggles - BALANCE! This goes hand in hand with strength and in particular, core strength.

There's a reason ballet dancers spend so much of their training on core strengthening! So why should it be any different for other dance forms? A strong core can significantly improve your balance.

Here is the link for today's practice:
https://youtu.be/qC35eYkHl2A

Read below for details on how this practice relates to your tango dance:


Balance can certainly feel like a never-ending struggle for tango dancers, and even more so if it's your first experience wearing high heels! I remember the first time I put on a pair of tango shoes and was told I need to walk backwards in them. My mind was like, "You want me to do WHAAAAAAAAAAT? ooooh uh uh! that is NOT happening!"

But aside from the high heel learning curve, some of the things that can cause us to fall off balance is collapsing our posture (i.e. laying into one hip, tilting a shoulder, a wobbly pelvis, a tired back that makes you hunch). How we step can also throw us off balance. It's very common to step with the weight going to the outer edge of the foot instead of distributing it evenly throughout. Then there is how we distribute weight in our body - some times we are too far forward and some times too far in our heels. Not to mention, managing your partner's axis if they are also having a hard time with their balance!

When we practice balance postures in yoga we can familiarize ourselves with how to root down and where to distribute the weight in our body.

These poses teach us how to "use the floor" and find "opposing directions" as we hear so often in tango. Take Warrior 3 as an example. The standing leg presses down into the floor and lifts you up. The extending leg reaches out behind and you lengthen through the crown of your head and your finger tips in the opposite direction. The more you extend in opposite directions the easier it is to balance. In tango, although your extended leg is not lifting off the floor, the "opposing directions" concept is the same. (And now that you've loosened your hips from our first class, your extending leg should be free to stretch out nicely ;)

To read more about balance for tango dancers read my blog article How to Improve Your Balance in Tango With Yoga.

When we strengthen our core muscles (which by the way is not just the abdominals but also includes muscles of the back, hip flexors and glutes), it becomes easier for the body to hold itself up and avoid the type of collapsing I mentioned above.


To read more about how a strong core can have positive affects on your dance read my blog article 3 Ways a Strong Core Can Do Wonders For Your Tango.


Lastly, the practice of awareness you cultivate in yoga, in general, is incredibly helpful for your balance because staying in the moment sharpens your reflex for responding to all of the balance challenges that come up in your dance.

Okay, that was a mouthful, are you ready to get started with your practice? Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or feedback! And remember, even if you don't have someone to dance with now, try to spend some time dancing alone after this class to make some observations about how this practice affects your dance.

NAMASTE!

DAY 3

How are you feeling after 2 days of yoga? Did you have a chance to dance a bit on your own afterwards? Do you have any doubts or feeling ready for more? I'm here to assist you in your practice so please don't be shy to share your experience!

In today's class we will focus on 
spinal flexibility, and torsion. Torsion, as you know is a big part of dancing tango. It assists with basic figures such as front and back ochos and giros, from which more advanced figures such as boleos and lapices stem.

 

THE PRACTICE:

You can find today's practice at the following link:
https://youtu.be/UoN_4sili8E

Read below to find out how this practice relates to your tango dance:

It's no question that a tight back can prevent us from accessing fluid torsion in our dance. As I mentioned in our first lesson, tight hips and hamstrings can also jam up the spine, putting a compensational pressure on the lower back, which can lead to pain in this area, and can also extend down to the knees.

If you have pain in your lower back or want to learn more about spinal movement in tango/yoga read my blog post Why Your Lower Back Hurts From Tango and How To Prevent It.

When we lack flexibility in the spine, we can still dance tango, but we will be some what limited in terms of what we can do. However, many of us are not aware of what requires torsion and what does not, so some times the issue is that we try to force a movement that requires torsion, but because the spine is not very mobile, we compensate and put that effort into other parts of our body, such as the arms! I don't think I need to mention why that's no good!

Timing can also be affected by a lack of mobility in the spine. When our torsion is reduced, our movement can feel very rushed. Ever heard the term "spiral movement" in your tango class? Ideally, our spiral should travel gradually through the body. When there is no mobility, we cannot create very much spiral and so our movement becomes choppy even if we are not intending to give our dance a choppy dynamic. This can create a disconnect with our partner, as if we are each in different time zones, and also limit our dance musically as we're stuck with just the one choppy dynamic. Maybe I'll look for you in the D'Arienzo tanda, but count me out for Di Sarli!

There are a few things to take into account to create spiral movement / torsion in tango, which yoga can teach us a good deal about since the concept is exactly the same. First, the lower body and in particular the hips need to be stable. That means, leave them out of the twisting. You know that area between your lower ribs and the top of your pelvis? Lift and lengthen through there, both in yoga and tango (that cue to draw your belly button in towards your spine). Then engage your obliques for the twist. Then let that motion travel up into your lats and pecs. You see how the spiral travels up the body along a path?

To learn more about twisting in yoga and tango check out my free class on torsion: https://youtu.be/Aj5WRmjwT80. I briefly explain and demonstrate twisting in the beginning and then you can put it to the test in this 25 minute class.

Alright, ready to get back to your mat? I'm going to continue to reiterate that flexibility takes time, so please remember to be patient. Don't compare yourself to what you see on the screen. Use your own body as your measure for when to push more or when to pull back. Finding your edge day in and day out is one of the most incredible ways to become present and get to know your true self through this practice. Allow yourself to see your strengths and weaknesses without judgement. Trust in time and cultivate patience.

Lastly, don't forget to dance on your own after you practice!!! Or if you are lucky enough to be quarantined with a dance buddy, try it out together and give each other some feedback.

NAMASTE!

DAY 4

We are now more than half-way through our 5 day challenge and have worked on opening up hips, hamstrings, and shoulders, improving balance and strength, and increasing spinal flexibility to improve torsion. I've heard from several of you that you've done some of these practices more than once, some times even on the same day, or even combining all of the practices to make one long sequence! I'm thrilled to hear how dedicated you are to your body and your practice. The more consistent you are with your practice the more benefit you will receive!

Now it's time to circle back to our topic of posture but looking at it from another angle. In this class our focus will be on overall
posture, quads, upper back and heart openers.

THE PRACTICE:

You can find today's practice at the following link:
https://youtu.be/wGtkPIw6rCo


Read below to find out how this practice relates to your tango dance:

As I mentioned in my first email, when you improve your posture, you improve almost every thing else in tango. This is probably why you hear your tango instructor teaching the basics of posture over and over again.

I realized, however, in my own dance, as well as in teaching my tango students, that while there are plenty of great tango posture exercises, the real issue is being limited by what your actual, non-tango posture is. In reality, you need both the knowledge of how to position the body for "good" tango posture, as well as the accessibility in your body.


Heart openers are a great way to begin to reverse the effects of bad "habit" posture (along with hip openers, spinal mobility, and core strength - all of which we've touched on already). So now we can begin to go into deeper backbends which will refine posture even further. To access deeper backbends, quads and hip flexors need to be open and the back body strengthened (i.e. glutes, hamstrings, back).

Opening up the upper back can allow us to situate our chest in the embrace in a way that "fills" the embrace naturally. You remember when you first learned to embrace in tango and the first thing you did was puff up your chest and stick it out awkwardly to make contact with your partner's chest? And then you were told you are too far forward and need to "engage your back" so you collapsed your chest entirely? 

Backbends can teach us how to arrive at a happy medium between these two extremes where your back body is engaged and your front body is in contact with your partner. They can also help to keep the clavical and pec area above the point of contact to remain lifted and open, rather than rounding forward and throwing you off balance. Your embrace can begin to feel voluminous and present, yet light and unobtrusive to your partner's axis.

Lastly, let's think about the emotionally healing quality of heart opening and what that means for your tango embrace. The more open we are able to feel in our hearts, the more we are able to give in our embrace, creating opportunities for profound connection.

So, are you ready to get back to your mat and continue improving your dance? Don't forget to spend some time dancing around in your living room to notice the effects of this practice on your dance! Tomorrow, for our final class, we are going to begin putting all of these practices together in a fluid, dance-like yoga sequence.

NAMASTE!

DAY 5

You've made it to the final day of our 5 day challenge! Congratulations! Take a breath here and thank yourself for taking this time to honor your body. I am so happy to be able to share this beautiful experience and want to thank all of you for practicing with me!

Do you want to continue practicing together? You didn't think I was going to leave you hanging after these 5 days did you?

I've been hard at work preparing a lot more opportunities for us to continue practicing and growing together in the coming weeks, and I cannot wait to share this next thing up my sleeve! A lot of you have been asking for longer classes, more detailed exercises for tango, and live streamed classes. Several of you who are newer to yoga have also been asking for more details on some basics. I've got you all covered!

What I've been creating is a lot more in depth! Stay tuned because tomorrow I will be sending out an email with detailed information! For now, mark your calendars:

  • This Friday at 12pm EST you can join me for a live 60 minute all-levels yoga class

  • Monday, March 30 I roll out a more in depth version of my yoga for tango dancers course (enrollment is open already in case you're gung ho about signing up!)

Take a sneak peak here: 
www.verokrutayoga.com/yogafortangodancerscourse

Now back to our 5 day challenge:

In today's final topic we are going to focus on fluidity, which is a huge part of making our dance really come alive! Rather than holding poses for a long time, in this practice there will be more emphasis on the transitions between poses, making this yoga sequence feel like a dance.

THE PRACTICE:

You can find today's practice at the following link:
https://youtu.be/cAa41XqOgQU

Read below to find out how this practice relates to your tango dance:


Fluid movement in our tango dance requires that a lot of other things be in place, such as our balance (this is why we practiced our balance and worked on our strength in one of our previous classes). When we are able to control our movement and find fluidity, we are able to express the music in all of it's complexity, rather than just stepping to the strong beat - or fallingto the strong beat I should say.

Finding fluidity in our body also means actively engaging our whole body for the movement, and this gives the dance a different sensation all together. Here we can really express not just various musical dynamics but also the energy of the song. Is it fast and furious? Is it sweet and melodic? Is it dramatic and suspenseful? How are you going to express the energy you feel?

This cannot happen when you are thinking only of your foot, or your shoulder or head. It is of course, a necessary part of the learning process to focus our attention on different body parts, but can we also keep the whole body in our awareness at one time in order to move freely?


To read more about utilizing yoga transitions to access fluidity in your dance read my blog article 5 Yoga Transitions Tango Dancer's Should Practice

To read more on how other yogic principles can affect your musicality read my blog article
How Attention to Breath Can Enhance Your Tango

With that said, grab your mat and let's get started! Please keep in mind that although we will be moving rather quickly in today's sequence, it is not necessary to achieve each pose perfectly! This sequence will challenge your balance and concentration so if you need to, try the practice several times. If you are a newbie and are still working on getting the hang of the poses, remember that in time and with consistent practice you will find more ease in each of these practices.

Thank you again for joining me for this challenge and remember to check your email tomorrow for information on how to keep up with your yoga practice in the coming weeks!

NAMASTE!

© Veronika Kruta 2019