For those who come to TangoBreath, you have heard us often recall the image of Michelangelo’s David. We talk about sinking into the standing leg through the whole side body and dropping, or relaxing, the free hip. Much to our delight, when we were in Tuscon, Murat and Michelle Erdemsel showed a picture of David in one of their classes on alignments! They also shared a picture of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, which provides us a connection to the feminine form.
You can observe in both Venus and David that their free hip is relaxed and dropped, and their corresponding shoulders are lifted slightly. On the other side, the side of the weight bearing, standing leg, the shoulder is dropped toward their weight bearing, standing hips.
With these images in mind, the challenge is to engage the standing hip (see Creating Stability in our Pelvis, and Finding Release in the Pelvis), while aligning your upper body in such a way that you can “settle” into the standing leg. Standing on your right leg, to start, find your balance and engagement in the right pelvis, and then allow your right shoulder to drop. Imagine a column connecting your entire right side, compressing (passively) into the ground. Relax here and then change sides.
Allow your body to adjust to these alignments, without collapsing or creating too much tension.
Pay attention: Notice if your body collapses. Your hip might pop out or you might collapse in your lower back. If this happens, try easily re-engaging your pelvic floor and core, without over tightening. If your core or your upper back, between your shoulder blades, is not engaged in a supportive way, you might notice that your “standing” shoulder drops, but your other shoulder does not correspond with a balancing movement (it should rise some). Try to find a balance of engagement through your core (your deep muscles of the pelvis, back, diaphragm, and abdominals) and relaxation.
Notice, also, if you are so tense that you have to consciously make, or even force, the alignment. If this is the case, you might feel one part of your body adjust, but without effect on the rest of your body. Allow your body to soften some. You might visualize a netting around your body that supports you and knits all of your muscles and bones and together, reducing the need for you to hold everything in or together.
Making natural alignment a habit
As you stand throughout the day, make slow changes of weight to find these natural alignments. Can you balance here if you pick up your free foot, maybe moving it forward, to the side, and back? Finding these alignments as you go through your day will help you create healthy habits, and you might find that they enter seamlessly into your dance, providing you more stability, balance, and responsiveness.