Posts Tagged: alignment

Alignment, Posture, and Tango

Alignment and Posture and your Tango

What is the difference between these 2 words? When I hear alignment I think of my car: when it is aligned it functions properly. Posture makes me think of someone “posturing” a presentation to the world that may or may not be alignment.

We talk about our tango posture – how we configure our body to be able to dance tango.

But what about alignment – can we be aligned and dance tango?

Thanks for the picture https://www.funnyjunk.com/Posture/funny-pictures/5597251/5

I bring these ideas up, yes, because of my Restorative Exercise Certification and current obsession but also because I have dancers who come to me in a lot of pain thinking that is the end of their tango careers or that they need new shoes (which maybe they do) or that they will only dance with certain followers/ leaders (which might be good, too) but with some suggestions regarding alignment versus posture they’ve been able to change their dancing for the better.

So how can we define alignment?

The online dictionary offers us this: arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.
That’s the direction we are headed but still not how I want to contextualize Tango and Alignment.
In the Whole Body Alignment course I took for the certification we spoke about alignment in these terms:

Alignment is NOT for the purpose of aesthetics, conveying an emotion, or to identify culture. It is the required skeletal position to achieve the desired outcome of accessing your full potential energy. Alignment is for cellular regeneration. We want to use our skeletal position for cellular regeneration. In order to get cellular regeneration we use our alignment to maximize the potential energy into kinetic energy. The best geometry = the least amount of joint friction or compression (which would cause pain or injury.)
(Daniela’s notes from lecture Whole Body Alignment )

amanda standing barefoot

Thanks Amanda

Alignment from the Restorative Exercise standpoint is a necessity to obtain optimal health. If your cells are regenerating they are healthy, they are receiving oxygen and expelling toxins and are essentially happy. (That’s the very short form!) And in reality this is not a new idea. Think about what chiropractors do, Alexander technique, or other similar modalities. They try to line you back up! So the concept is not new… but the approach might be.

In Restorative Exercise we use alignment markers, which are essentially boney landmarks on the body, that we want to align in relation to each other and, in whatever position we might be in, we are looking to have the best possible alignment of these markers. For example: If I am sitting on a chair, on the floor, or standing, my pelvic markers can be aligned, my feet, my knees, my head, ribs, etc, can all join in.

Ashlee dumping

Thanks Ashlee and Erick

I believe that we need POSTURE to dance tango.

Posture as defined by Merriam-Webster:
the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose

But how much POSTURE is too much? Is there such a thing as too much posture for tango? And can you use alignment markers to help your posture? I SAY YES! If you are in a lot of pain at any point in your dancing, then I say, clearly something is wrong.

I think we all need a tango coach and we all most definitely need an alignment coach. Alignment is needed for our overall health and well being as much as tango is needed for our health in other ways. For me they work synergistically.

Get in touch and peruse online videos for Restorative Exercise Nutritious Movement(TM).

 

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Tango: A Pain in the Neck?

Is Tango a Pain in the Neck?

I have not known how to broach this subject of tango being a pain in the neck, and it seems to be a common recurring theme as of late. After returning from another 3-day tango dancing event, several people shared with me their “pain in the neck” or their “pain in the back, effecting their arms.” Does posture in tango have to cause so much pain? I really believe that it does not. But if you have been dancing for many years the same way, to change this habit may be too much to ask for.

Our bodies really are our autobiographies, the sum total of all that we have done, our histories, up until this point in time. But if you are in pain dancing, I wonder why you learned it that way in the first place. Monkey see monkey do perhaps? Maybe there’s a weakness in several body areas, accompanied with a lack of knowledge about the body and its biomechanics that has afforded you this painful posture. I know that the minute I point out why you are having so much pain I might be in for some controversial backlash, but here it goes.

That head tilt to the left (their ear is nearly resting on their shoulder) that some leaders have, compounded with a raised left elbow, and 2 scapulas practically kissing each other – are you in pain just from reading it? I am! And with this the whole spine is now curving unnaturally in 2 directions and in 2 planes: in a spiral and in an arc. All of this is further pronounced with forward projected ribs, compounding undue pressure on the vetebrae of the spine.

But just changing one part of the system, like just the neck or the cervical spine, will not take away your pain. Your system, your whole body, will suffer from this posture and static positioning more and more over time. I think you can have whatever look you want in tango but that static stuck fixed posture is also causing pain.

I know that many who read this will not be happy with my suggestions but change will be the way to get rid of pain and hopefully dance until you are 90 (if you want to).

We really must look at the whole body because just taking away or changing your neck and shoulder habits might not get rid of your pain, as they are probably tense in the first place as a way to cope with the forces created by how you are walking. (Katy Bowman Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear)

Let’s take the model of alignment found in Restorative Exercise (thanks to Katy Bowman). Here we find 25 bony landmarks to help us align our bodies, working with gravity and a system of corrective measures and exercises we start aligning the body. And I believe that with this understanding as a measuring tool we can free up our tango posture and dance pain free.

So why does the head tilt to the left? Either the follower is imposing their heavy head into the leaders space as opposed to keeping her head on her spine and in her own alignment, or / and the leader is attempting with a very tight right shoulder to wrap completely around the follower’s back. This excessive wrap, with already tight shoulders, hinders the embrace. Often this is compounded with an already tight scapula. This is those shoulder blades practically kissing each other. Those shoulder blades squeezed together tells me there’s a weakness not only in the back but also in the front of the shoulders. There are other muscles in the back that can support the weight of your arms and they are not being used or even considered. The left elbow sticking out is a sure indicator of this; which then protrudes the ribs to try (I guess) for a “chest connection”. And now the pelvis is so far out of alignment (dumping forward – as I call it – there’s a blog on that!) and the majority of weight of the leader’s axis is now around or beyond his metatarsals. And he doesn’t fall over? Probably because the follower is matching this falling posture.

So let’s back up a bit. Alignment affords health. This is the premise I am working with. Health means oxygenated blood coursing through the body without being hindered by bumps in the road. But health also means less pain.

There are ways to use the spine dynamically in its vertical axis with 3 natural curves; there are ways to support the arms and have a chest connection with a partner without thrusting the ribcage over your toes.

As opposed to hanging onto bad body mechanics and being in serious debilitating pain, consider the following:

  • Stretch those calves and hamstrings.
  • Widen those scapulas.
  • Hang from a bar.
  • Put your head on your spine by ramping up your head several times a day.
  • Drop those ribs.
  • Check out my blog at My Alignment Practice and check out Katy Bowman’s video on all About the Shoulders.

You can really dance pain free and without being so tense.

If you came to me for an alignment session, for example, I would start with you standing and aligning your feet, with the weight in the heels, and placing your pelvis in a neutral position. I would then follow with placing the ribs into their alignment, which is the lower rib on top of the neutral pelvis. We would allow the head to fall forward and slowly begin to ramp it up. I would include calf stretches. Then to tackle a bit of the shoulder area we would move to the floor in a quadraped position (on hands and knees) and do some hand stretches and exercises for those tight muscles between the scapulas.

I really think there needs to be more awareness drawn to the body and its’ mechanics. Maybe you walk through life in a fixed posture – because you probably also spend a lot of time sitting in the same posture, so you probably dance in a very painful fixed posture.

This can change!
I would like to get you to dance dynamically both as a leader and a follower. Using this model of alignment to work the body in a more friendly, productive, and pain free way.

Let me know if you are ready to let me help you with your posture..

PS – spread the word – more body awareness makes for happy dancing… ☺ share with people you like..

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Happy Holidays Everyone!Christmas Cactus 2014
I made it to Austin, TX after a whirlwind of excitement in Albuquerque, NM where I made a short, but well received presentation on Alignment vs Posture in Tango to 25 or so members of the Tango Club of Albuquerque. Thank you ABQ: Gail, Richard, Kipp, Cynthia, Risa, Daniel, & Michelle. My alignment geeks will be so happy to know that I introduced more folks to the joy of “Toe Sox”! I danced a short time there then rushed to Santa Fe to dance with friends there and then taught some more the following day! Followed by a road trip to Austin with my dear dad! About 11oo miles in my little blue car!

I saw a lot of Texas! And had plenty of time to think and reflect on my intense year and all the wonderful students who have blessed my path. The student learns, the teacher learns, their successes are mine. I love what I do. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of emotions that others showed me and that I too felt prior to leaving. I think I am still transitioning and laying the groundwork for my new year and new travels. Thanks to all for your support. And to Rommel Oramas, my partner for the last 10 years or so!

So with this I wish my dear community the best holiday season ever. You have all inspired me in so many ways and I thank you. I wish you a new year of happiness, health, and great dances.

Many blessings to you all and remember THERE’S STILL CLASS & PRACTICA ON TUESDAY NIGHTS with Rommel until the end of January.

I look forward to seeing those of you in Phoenix for a workshop in February.

Daniela

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FREE: Alignment 101!

Hello tango dancers:

Many of you have heard me talking about my new certification in Restorative Exercise (TM) and some of you have had the opportunity to try it. Well, here’s another teaser the Free Alignment 101 downloadable pdf for you.

This is the precursor to more alignment fun to come with a website and more downloadable exercises and corrective placements specifically for tango dancers!

In the meantime get started with any of the 5 suggested exercises on the downloadable handout.

Free Alignment 101

If you have questions or would like to book your own alignment session contact me directly.

In the meantime:

Alignment is for health and for better living !

 

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RES Certified with an Offer for You

I have been recuperating from an intense week of certification to become a RES-CPT (Restorative Exercise Specialist TM – CertifieRestorative Exercised Personal Trainer).

For those who have taken class with me, know that I am very interested in how the body works, interested in health and movement, and moving safely. (As safely as we can in 4″ heels!)

My love for movement started when I was a toddler, jumping off my tricycle and hanging upside down. After ice skating, gymnastics, track, swimming, ballet, I found my first modern dance class. Just after college I took a course called Anatomy for Dancers with Sarah White, who worked at the Massage School in Boston, MA. This was the first of many courses in Anatomy and Kinesiology that I would take.

I was fortunate to have a modern dance teacher in Cambridge, MA, Marcus Schulkind, who was very concerned with alignment. I was encouraged to drop my ribs, and put my head on my spine, and our measurement of being aligned was if we could balance in releve. (1 leg up and the standing leg on the ball of the foot). I spent some time traveling to NYC to study with Susan Klein, and her objective was to get our hamstrings as long as possible by hanging over our legs for very long periods of time. Along with the hanging we were learning to find and utilize a very strong and long muscle called the psoas. In graduate school at ASU I took Anatomy and Kinesiology and several other courses from Pam Matt, who I will begin to work with again in the fall. So no wonder my path has found me at Katy Bowman’s virtual doorstep.

Katy’s Restorative Institute teaches alignment for health. She is a biomechanist and the focus of alignment is for health and wellness. You can read more about aligning your body on her blog KatySays.com.

The RES Program includes the understanding of how the body works at a cellular level, muscular and skeletal level. We know being alive is about regenerating tissues, generating cells. We know that oxygen is food for all of our cells and if you’re not moving then that area is vulnerable to disease. In the RES program great all over body movement is walking and moving as much of your body throughout the day. Think about a little head hanging or a hand stretch. We want our body to work optimally for as long as possible. So we want to load those bones properly, we want our muscles at their correct length and we need to move.

The program starts with the 1A protocol: the basic foundation for the rest of the 50+ exercises!!!  The 1A protocol introduces the language and some of the alignment markers that are the foundation for the rest of the program. I know that my father has been doing the protocol for a few months and has already seen some measurable results. The 1A protocol has an emphasis on lengthening our posterior leg, think  lengthening our hamstrings. We need this posterior strength to be able to hold our bodies up and to be able to walk properly, without falling.

My week consisted of 6 private sessions with Master Teacher Trainers, sessions with Katy and Master Teacher Trainers, a written test, and a one-hour practicum on 2 different volunteers. Phew! I lengthened my hamstrings, dropped my ribs, expanded my scapula, and lengthened my psoas. It was a tremendous week.

For the rest of the month of June I am offering 40 minute 1A protocol semi-private sessions at my home studio in Tempe. I am offering them on the following Monday and Wednesday evenings the 17th, 19th, 24th, 26th. You must reserve your spot in advance. Limited to 4 people. Bring yoga mat and a towel (or I will provide). Wear comfortable clothes. $10 per person.
Available times are
6pm – 6:40pm
7pm – 7:40pm
8pm – 8:40pm.
First come first served.
Call me at 480-442-9550 or send me an email. I will call you to confirm your spot.

Come join My Alignment Practice…

Next blog – how alignment and tango (or any dance) work together…

 

 

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