Originally written by Zara M on 15 October 2013
Everybody went off to dance Tango in London after the class, but I decided not to follow the crowd. Instead, I went home to spend some quality time with my self, and reflect on the Back to basics Yoga4Tango session, which was held at the very cool and hip Vibe Bar on Brick Lane this week.
I love the fact that the Yoga4Tango sessions have been held at the same venues as the weekend Tango classes, Practicas and Milongas recently. It makes sense to combine the two. Plus it is a great way to try and spread the word and get more people involved. I love being part of such a new and exciting concept that links both Yoga and Tango. I think that once people in the Tango community become more aware and familiar with what we are doing, then the good vibes will expand and spread.
A friend of mine asked me why I do yoga instead of just going to the gym. I told her that my idea of a gym is an intimidating and competitive place where people go to improve their bodies and health. I have never really liked the idea of going to a gym, especially not by myself. I’m not very inspired by solo exercise, even if it is in a gym full of other people all doing the same thing.
Yoga, for me, isn’t just about the exercise, I also benefit greatly from the social aspects. I get to see my friends, make new friends, have a laugh, and go for a hot drink afterwards. This weekend we had the added bonus of coming out from the class onto Brick Lane, which was buzzing with life on a Sunday afternoon. My new yoga friends are also people who share my interest in dancing Tango and I can find out about anything that may be happening within the Tango community, like performances and events. A few weeks ago one of the girls decided to throw a private Milonga house warming at her new flat after the yoga session. When you put Yoga and Tango together, only good can come of it!
Personally, I go to a Yoga4Tango session to stretch and challenge my body to it’s full potential within a relaxed, friendly and supportive community of like-minded people; and clear myself of all the bad toxins and negative energy that makes me close up, hunch over and scowl at anything that seems to cause conflict in my life. I find that I am not only physically opening up my chest and hips in each session, but also my mind and heart, inviting all kinds of opportunities in.
I try to go to the yoga sessions regularly every week because I feel like I am doing something good for my body, my soul and my lifestyle. It is that feeling you get when you start off your day with a healthy breakfast, and as a result you glide through the day feeling energized and focused, and then at the end of the day you have been so productive that you don’t feel guilty about going out to relax with good friends. Consistent good intentions and a regular routine get great results. I already feel after just 10 weeks of starting Yoga for the first time in my life, that my body, my mind and my social scene has benefitted greatly from it.
My body seems to be adapting well, which is being highlighted in the Back to basics sessions I have been attending. Today I felt like I was sweeping through the pose sequences like a pro. The hour went so fast, I wanted more!
Grounding all four corners of my feet and hands into the ground feels extremely satisfying now that I am used to doing it. I feel solid in my poses. In fact I’m experiencing a rather pleasant sensation when I arrange myself into a pose, that seems to combine a feeling of strength and softness – which I believe is what we are all aiming for.
I am remembering to relax the parts of my body I don’t need to use, like the muscles in my shoulders, which don’t need to be hunched. Hunching my shoulders plays no part in assisting with any of the poses we do, so why on earth am I always tensing them? Talk about wasting the opportunity to open up and breathe into a stretch! Becoming more aware of relaxing certain muscles in the yoga sessions has also made me become more aware of how I hold my body on a daily basis throughout the day.
When I am writing, for example, I try to write at my desk instead of on the sofa, and I feel much better when I use my core muscles to hold my own weight and improve my posture, rather than slump and collapse into the chair. Improving posture also makes me feel more assertive in everyday life. I feel like people notice and take me more seriously when I stand up tall and pull my shoulders back.
I am also finding my attention being brought more actively to my hips in many of the yoga poses. I am appreciating that my hips don’t have to be tight in order to keep my balance. In fact, if I loosen up and draw strength from other muscles, then my hips can open up, and for some reason that helps me to balance and stretch a whole lot better; perhaps because I am spreading my weight evenly and focusing on the bigger picture, rather than pulling all the energy in and focusing it on the small areas where the tension is.
When we were all preparing to get into the tree pose, our Yoga Instructor drew a comparison between loosening the muscles at the hip joint of the free leg so that the leg can move flexibly, in the same way as when we are on the dance floor and we want to loosen the leg at the hip to follow a Boleo or Gancho; which I found to be a relevant point, and something I hadn’t thought of before. My Ganchos and Boleos are always a little on the stiff and over-performed side. This is probably because Ganchos and Boleos are supposed to happen naturally within the movement, energy and flow of the dance. When you allow your focus to spread out to the bigger picture rather than force your body to behave in the way you think it should be, then your body is more willing to what feels right,
I am looking forward to integrating this newfound nugget of knowledge at the next Milonga. Sometimes Yoga4Tango provides great general chitchat for those awkward conversations in between songs!