Intelligent Tango: Our posture is a movement NOT a structure

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 31 May 2017 | 0 comments

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- posturePhoto credit: Thomas Hawk via / 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.

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:
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 #1Photo credit: via / CC BY-NC-SA
posture #2Photo credit: via / 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.

Visit, for the full guide on Tango practice


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


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Published: 31 May 2017 @ 12:05


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