Adriana Palanca (a great writer and a yogi who has recently added some tango to the mix) wrote something a couple weeks ago that absolutely stuck in my head:

you don’t breathe to improve your yoga practice, instead you practice yoga to improve your breathing.

Somewhere in my head I knew this, but reading it right there in the open was such a reminder. I took yet another frustrating yoga class the other night. (I really must stop going to random classes at my gym instead of making it to the ones that I know have good instructors!) Every asana was shown correctly, and she even had good reminders, but either she has the smallest lungs in the world or she forgot that yoga is all about breathing. She said the words “inhale” and “exhale” over and over, only without the time needed to actually inhale and exhale! I felt like I was running a race.

But the point is that a good yoga class will help you breathe better. And each yoga class will help you bring that breathing into your life more and more consistently. Until one night you are dancing tango, and for a few moments you remember to breathe while dancing. Some nights I am very attuned to my breath, and when that happens I use it to fully dance. In modern dance it is the same—you can use your breath to propel yourself and suspend yourself and fully commit yourself to the movement.

When my partner is really breathing, and I am really breathing, I feel like we can really dance the music together. We can dance the feeling that is created by our breath within the space of the dance floor and the music. Even just a single moment where we both remember to breathe can bring us back into the moment, to each other.


5 thoughts on “Breathing

  1. I wrote about this less than a week ago: “I discovered a practice myself this morning while driving to work. Listening to Pugliese on the road, I suddenly found that I was breathing along with the music. I thought that this is a good exercise. Like in Yoga practice, I was always told to just enjoy the breath, pay attention to the breath and let it take me to the presence. I think it also works in dance.Try that: find any tango music and try to breathe along the music. It is a good exercise. It helped me to be more center and relax in the dance, more submerging in the music and the embrace. “I think we both move in a different level of dancing. 🙂

  2. Detlef and Melina were teaching in Seattle, and had students breath together as they step. I like this, and now am aware of breathing as I dance, and aware of his breathing, and of the breath with the music. It is very centering, calming, aids the dance in so many ways.

  3. Tango Pilgrim, that is fantastic. And I never really thought to just sit and breathe with the music … but it makes perfect sense! A great way to train my body so I keep breathing once I start moving.Elizabeth, exactly. You are making me want to take class with Detlef and Melina. 🙂I have been thinking that some of the leaders who I feel are just rushing through movements and aren’t as connected to the music are like the yoga instructor I had the other day. Maybe they just need to get in touch with their breath.

  4. I received a nice omplement from someone once who commented on how much she enjoyed our dance because she felt that my breathing was synchronized to my movements, which in turn were done to the music. I believed it came after a tanda of Pugliese.It was not a delibrate effort at that time, and most who dance musically will do so instintively, like holding his breath in anticipation, and then breathing out at the moment of the step (think Salida).However, I do delibrately use breathing to communicate ocassionally. When I am dancing with a partner, usually one who is relatively new to tango, and may be somewhat excited or distracted. I will use the pause in the music, stay motionless and take a couple of long deep breaths. It sometimes helps to calm her down so we can (re-)establish our connection.

  5. Thank you for another great post. There is a yoga studio near my tango studio. I think I am going to drop in for a beginner class and see what I’ve been missing.

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