Welcome to the 10-Day Dance Like You’re in Class with Mercedes Ruíz Home Challenge. I’m looking forward to the next ten days of virtual dance class with you!

Before we get into today's activity (an exercise to help you breathe better and in turn dance better), did you get a chance to think about your why? Why do you dance flamenco? How does it make you feel? Do you have performance goals or do you just like dancing in class and on your own? Do you dance professionally or for a hobby? You can share your why here

(If you want to review how this 10-day challenge is set up, you can do that here.)

Okay, on to today's challenge.

Day 1:

In class Mercedes reminds us to breathe.

Respira, she says again and again. 

I find it helpful to remind myself of this all. day. long.

Respira.

Notice your body right now.

Where are your shoulders? Up or down? How are you breathing? Barely or fully? How are your facial muscles? Tensed or relaxed?

Let’s take a moment to breathe fully and anchor into our bodies.

Take a deep breath in. Feel the breath enter your nose, your throat, your lungs. Feel how it moves within your body. Now breathe out and feel the air leaving your body. Notice how the air creates movement in your body. Repeat with your eyes closed. 

That’s easy enough to do while sitting and focusing on the breath alone, but not necessarily so easy to do while learning a new dance step or executing a difficult move. I get it!

We often unintentionally shorten our breathing when concentrating on something else. This inhibits our ability to dance with ease and grace. It can cause us to tire more easily. It can make our brains feel full and it cause us to feel separate from our bodies. We want to keep the air flowing steadily, so we must train ourselves to breathe consciously, and allow the breath to be a part of our dancing (even when learning something new).

Today's activity will help us do just that.

An Activity for Better Breathing While Dancing

  1. Choose a move or combination to work with. (It can be as long or short as you’d like.)
  2. Dance it, and notice your breath. How does it flow? Is there a particular point (or points) where you stop or shorten your breath?
  3. Stop for a moment, and close your eyes. Take one or two deep breaths to center into your body then open your eyes again.
  4. Continue breathing consciously, and do the same move or combination again. Does it feel any different?
  5. Do the exercise as many times as you’d like reminding yourself to breathe fluidly as you go. 

Take the challenge on the road:

As you’re going about your daily activities today, check in on your breathing. Practice adding more breath to everything you do today. (Washing the dishes, having a conversation with someone, reading, driving...)

How did you do?

What did you notice about your breath while dancing? Was it distracting to focus on your breathing? Was it helpful? How did it impact your dancing? How can focusing on your breath during your daily activities serve you in flamenco? Let me know in the comments below.

I’ll see you tomorrow for the next activity. Make sure you sign up here to get it delivered so you don’t miss a thing.

By the way, all of the things touched on during the original Dance As If You Were In Class With Mercedes Holiday Challenge will help us this time around. Here are links to all of those posts:

The Warm Up

Day 1: Explanation

Day 2: Exercises & Review

Day 3: Maximize

Day 4: Encouragement & Accountability

Day 5: Squeezing it In

Day 6: Teach Something to Someone

Day 7: Moments of Opportunity

Day 8: How to Keep it Going

Reflection & Three Ways to Grow as a Dancer Even When You Have No Time

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