Dance Therapy: The Connection Between Motion and Emotion
Considering that well being is more than the absence of a disease, integrative and alternative medicine, with its holistic approach to a persons mind, body and spirit is proving that this approach to health is about creating a life defined by being well. For true empowerment and lasting healing when talking mental health, the team at the Bel Esprit Clinic have opted to include Alternative Therapy in their treatment plan. Head of the Alternative Therapy Department at Bel Esprit, Kirstin van As, has prepared this guide for us on understanding a form of Alternative Therapy, dance.
Dance Therapy: The Connection Between Motion and Emotion by Kirstin Van As
“Music and dance is a universal language which crosses all barriers therefore, anyone can benefit from dance therapy. Even if physical mobility is limited, just listening to music or being present at a dance event, will have positive benefits.”
Therapeutic dance is a natural way of moving to music which expresses the soul of the performer. People from all over the world can relate to dance in its different forms, originating from the various cultures and tribes. Music and dance is a universal language which crosses all barriers therefore, anyone can benefit from dance therapy. Even if physical mobility is limited, just listening to music or being present at a dance event, will have positive benefits.
“There is a lightness that emerges when the body, soul and mind align which allows the heaviness in the body to lift and transform.”
Dance or movement therapy is based on the premise that motion and emotion are interconnected, just as body and mind are interconnected, and a change in one initiates change in the other. There is a lightness that emerges when the body, soul and mind align which allows the heaviness in the body to lift and transform. It can be said that dance is like a form of alchemy: turning the heaviness – the lead – into light – the gold. The physical transformation then spills over to influence the mind and the soul.
After years of practicing dance in different forms, I came to realise that the freedom of self-expression helped improve self-esteem, mood, outlook on life, and most importantly: self-perception. In studies using PET imaging, The Harvard Medical School – Department of Neurobiology, wrote on “Dancing and the Brain” that dancing reduces levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – and stimulates the feel-good centres of the brain, releasing serotonin. With the right therapist or teacher, the dancer will evidently experience change from within.
Dr Joe Verghese at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied a group of older people over a period of 21 years rating from a list of activities to determine which ones improved their sharpness of mind. In an article by Health Guidance, ‘The best means of avoiding Alzheimer’s is dance?‘ by Juliette Siegfried, which looked at this study, dancing is rated as one of the best anti-aging activities because it creates new neural pathways in the brain, strengthens existing pathways and also helps stimulate a lot of different regions in the brain. “Scientists gave little thought to the neurological effects of dance until relatively recently, when researchers began to investigate the complex mental coordination that dance requires.” – Scott Edwards, author of Dancing and the Brain, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurobiology.
Keeping the brain active and stimulated is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul.
“Different rhythms, moods, styles and tempos that dance and music bring to this platform, is what allows us to experience these different states of consciousness and relate them back to the different circumstances that every-day life brings.”
Dance therapy creates a safe platform for people to express their emotions in a non-judgmental environment, develop their personal identity and create mind-body, as well as spatial, awareness. Different rhythms, moods, styles and tempos that dance and music bring to this platform, is what allows us to experience these different states of consciousness and relate them back to the different circumstances that every-day life brings. In other words, it enables us, whilst adapting our behaviour and mindset in different environments, to still keep a common rhythm throughout the different states of mind – which keeps us intact. It creates a gentler transition between life’s curveballs. The awareness of what impact our movements and gestures has on the environment and vice versa, will help us deal with our reactions to them more effectively.
Below is a list of issues that can be positively affected through dance therapy, adjusted from GoodTherapy.org, ‘Dance/Movement Therapy’.
- Chronic Pain
- Childhood Obesity
- Cardiovascular disease
Mental Health Issues:
- Disordered Eating
- Poor Self-esteem
- Post Traumatic Stress
- Communication Issues
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Domestic Violence Trauma
- Family Conflict
- Social Interaction
- Interpersonal conflict
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” – Aldous Huxley, Island
Nia Dance is a form of dance therapy that offers many therapeutic benefits and is offered in Windhoek by two instructors: Michele Gregan (reNiasense) and Livia Pack (Nia Dance).
For more information on Bel Esprit, visit their website by clicking here
Alternatively, contact them on (061) 455 0945 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or stay logged in to the 99FM website as we share more from this new clinic in next week’s MYD Heart.