Martha Graham, one of the most famous American dancers of all times, said “Dance is the hidden language of the soul”, while the famous Paulo Coelho’s quote is ‘’When you dance you can enjoy the luxury of being yourself’’. Dancing is an ancient form of moving energy, releasing blockages, freeing the body, mind and spirit, and improving overall fitness.
What is Dance Therapy?
Dance/movement therapy, or DMT, is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration. DMT can help people to improve their physical and mental health. Dance exercise therapy is commonly used to treat issues such as:
- Physical Issues: Chronic pain, Childhood obesity, Cancer, Arthritis, Hypertension, Cardiovascular disease
- Mental Health Issues: Anxiety, Depression, Disordered eating, Poor self-esteem, Posttraumatic stress,
- Cognitive Issues: Dementia, Communication issues
- Social Issues: Autism, Aggression/violence, Domestic violence trauma, Social interaction, Family conflict.
Benefits of Dance Therapy
Dance therapy has a number of benefits that can make it a helpful addition to other treatment approaches. Where many treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), focus on cognitions or behaviors, dance/movement therapy incorporates body-based strategies. Dance therapy has a number of benefits:
Promotes calm: DMT can provide body-based strategies to support down-regulating the system, which allows for an increased sense of relaxation.
Self-awareness: In the treatment of eating disorders, building self-awareness can help people feel more connected to their body’s physical signals. Clients learn to develop the awareness necessary to recognize physical and emotional sensations of hunger and fullness.
Coping skills: DMT can build coping skills to use outside of the therapy setting. By using movement and understanding your movement preferences, you can explore the strengths and signals of stress, anxiety and their triggers.
Building such skills allows you to recognize the change in your body-based experience outside of the therapeutic space and use it as insight if you are tending towards maladaptive beliefs or behaviors.
How Does Dancing Help Your Body
Regardless of age, dancing is a beneficial activity that helps not only improve your overall physical condition but might also enhance your brain function. Some of the positive effects for your body are:
- Improves body flexibility: As you get to know your body and your moves become more fluid, your body becomes more flexible.
- Stimulates memory: Dance is a great brain exercise. You need to concentrate on the sound of the music in order to follow sequences and learn new steps.
- Strengthens the heart: Several cardiologists recommend dancing to prevent or reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Helps you lose weight: It is said believed that dancing makes you lose approximately 200 calories in 30 minutes.
- Produces adrenaline and gives you energy: Dancing is a great way to increase your activity levels. Being more active can help improve mood, energy, sleep patterns, and overall well-being.
- Helps improve balance: Movement therapy can promote body balance, strengthen your hips and ankles.
- Better coordination: The brain gives your body a signal to perform certain movements, thus achieving better balance and coordination. More precisely, dance engages your whole body, and the brain needs to coordinate different muscle groups at the same time.
- Lower risk of dementia: Dance therapy can help prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s and related disorders as it improves blood flow to the brain.
How Can Dance Help You Mentally
Dancing allows people to express themselves and let go. The body subsequently releases happiness hormones such as dopamine. This hormone helps lift a person’s mood and alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Discover what dance therapy can do for your mental health:
- Ease Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety: Physical activity releases endorphins (hormones) which can elevate your mood and reduce stress. When dancing you are also likely to spend time with others who share your love of dancing – this will help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation that can lead to depression.
- Can Improve Your Mood And Attitude: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. When serotonin levels are low, you may feel depressed or anxious. Dancing can help boost serotonin levels in your brain by increasing blood flow and body temperature.
- Improves Your Self-Esteem: When you are dancing, you tend to focus on the way your body feels when you are in motion. This will help improve self-esteem because you will start to notice all of the things that your body can do for you rather than focusing on areas where you don’t feel attractive.
- Encourages Social Interaction: Dancing is a fun way to socialize and spend time with others. Socializing is good for reducing feelings of depression and loneliness. It also increases the number of positive experiences you have, which can help improve your mental health.
- Enables Self-Expression: Dancing can strengthen self-expression. This can be especially helpful for people who struggle with social anxiety or public speaking, as it allows them to learn about their own emotions and take the focus off of others.
Working with a trained, board-certified dance/movement therapist can help you focus on both the mind and the body processes as you gain insight and tools for managing daily life. Have a look at the MY BODHI site and explore the women’s empowerment circle and enjoy daily dance inspirations.