Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Yoga and Flamenco: The Connection
I had an epiphany the other day while I was teaching a private lesson. I am working with a woman who allows me to pick apart the flamenco body, the movements, the postures and has opened my eyes to see more and more the connection between flamenco and yoga. Yoga (c. 3300–1700 BC) is much older than flamenco (c. 16th Century). The original gypsies were from Rajisthan. When they finally arrived in Spain they had been practising yoga for many years and then they created this dance we call flamenco and so many of the movements seem so connected to the roots of yoga posture.
This week, an idea that I had already been formulating, arose and it occurred to me that the way we hold our body in flamenco is actually an upper back , backbend. I have always thought the posture was created in the shoulders, but since the shoulders are only connected to the body in the very front at the sternum, it makes more sense to see the arched back as a backbend that anything else.
I feel Tadasana when I stand erect in my flamenco stance. My feet are grounded, my legs like the trunk of a tree. My torso growing forth from the trunk, side ribs lifting, energy rising up to my shoulders, and my heart lifts from behind, arching my back. I LOVE BACK BENDS!
tada = mountain asana=pose
Step by Step:
1. Stand with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart (so that your second toes are parallel). Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them softly down on the floor. Rock back and forth and side to side. Gradually reduce this swaying to a standstill, with your weight balanced evenly on the feet.
2. Firm your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps, without hardening your lower belly. Lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches, then imagine a line of energy all the way up along your inner thighs to your groins, and from there through the core of your torso, neck, and head, and out through the crown of your head. Turn the upper thighs slightly inward. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and lift the pubis toward the navel.
3. Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down your back. Without pushing your lower front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Widen your collarbones. Hang your arms beside the torso.
4. Balance the crown of your head directly over the center of your pelvis, with the underside of your chin parallel to the floor, throat soft, and the tongue wide and flat on the floor of your mouth. Soften your eyes.
5. Tadasana is usually the starting position for all the standing poses. But it's useful to practice Tadasana as a pose in itself. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing easily.