With the breath
Having someone explicitly ask you these questions puts you in a different frame of experience. I am more attuned to my body, more attuned to my emotions, knowing that I will be sitting down with my acupuncturist and he will be seeking answers from me to enable him to better help me. Often he asks me: did you experience any tightness of breath? Was your chest constricted? He reminds me that every action begins with an inhalation.
In my classes, I like to start with a little bit of breath work to get people centered and focused on the movement of the body as something that is driven by the movement of the breath. I find deep breathing to be something that can be at once relaxing and invigorating. I want people to get used to moving because the breath is lifting the body, focusing on the energy and lightness that air can bring.
In my intermediate classes, I start emphasizing the fact that true fluidity is more than just clean footwork. I tell my students: inhale as you step on your inside foot, exhale as you push away from the pole and find yourself airborne. How does that change your movement? As you land, inhale and feel how it grounds you. When you start moving again, make it tuned in to your breath. Give your muscles the fuel they need to work.
In life, as with pole work, when you hold your breath is when you hold in tension and anxiety. It’s only with connection to our lungs, heart, and body that we can truly dance with our full selves.