Tango: The Insistent Guru

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Heartland Tango Festival provides impetus for Former Yoga Practitioner to Reflect

Tango, Argentine Tango especially, chose me, and it is, has been and will continue to be my most insistent Guru.

A while ago, I had been teaching ballroom dance for a number of years, and I had been taking Iyengar Yoga classes and also teaching a non-traditional beginners’ yoga class. And there were pronounced and subtle similarities between the Iyengar Yoga Experience and the Dance Experience, of that there was no doubt:

  • Awareness of my breathing and even its reliance on Source;
  • Awareness of the subtle physiological workings of my body and intention;
  • The excitement of new and personal territories to explore;
  • The release of endorphines and the letting go of worldly cares;
  • The ecstasy of moving into the body and then beyond.

But then I found Tango. The Tango, as a Yogic practice in and of itself, has courted me, loved me, and promised its faithfulness to me eternally.

Why, why Tango? Why not Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or Kundalini or any of the other "real" styles of yoga available today?

Well, if transmutation of desire is the goal or the reward of Yoga, then Tango is as worthy a yogic path as any. Yoga Guru Paramahansa Yogananda speaks of the Astral Plane in his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. In that plane, if he desires, for example, to be a king of an empire, he can do so and yet not accrue the karmic debt he would if he were truly king of an empire on this plane. Yogananda and his devotees use Kriya Yoga and deep meditation to have the luxury of such a karma-free experience.

Tango as my Guru promises this as well.

When I get ready to perform a Tango, teach Tango or enjoy Tango, there is at first the resistance. Am I willing to go where the Guru is going to take me? As I step into my shoes and onto the floor and the sweet smell of my partner’s sweat and cologne bring me into my breath, I begin to to listen: I listen to his psychic signals, to his heart and to mine; I listen to his center and I move and focus: Core to Core.

My focus becomes my center, and as we move through the dance and its story, my emotions, desires and sensuality, all that give me this human existence, surrender to another plane of existence. All is experienced, all is complete. There is no acting out, no karma-producing activity; there is only the breath, the heart and the Guru.

Physically my lower body grounds and finds agreement with my partner; my core pulses, finding rhythm with his; my upper body stretches, arches, and communicates. Like a beautifully executed yoga posture, I am rewarded by that stillpoint of balance so sought after in the yoga experience.

Tango is an expression of my soul’s earthly passion, and in that, I find my Yoga. Each dance is a moving meditation, a soul-awakening vacation and a lifetime dedication. That is my Yoga, and in that I find my Tango, my insistent Guru.

Heartland Tango Festival will take place May 9-11 at Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. The festival is open to everyone. For more info, see www.heartlandtango.com.

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