Dance your blues away

Get your dancing shoes on. Dancing is a psychological therapy that provides a great mind-body workout

Dance your blues away! Ever heard of this expression?

Dancing can be magical and transforming. On a physical level, dancing can give you a great mind-body workout. Researchers are learning that regular physical activity can help keep your body, including your brain, healthy as you age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. And dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences boosts brain power by improving memory skills.

Benefits galore

Research shows that like other moderate, low-impact, weight bearing activities, such as brisk walking, cycling or aerobics, dancing can help:

  • Strengthen bones and muscles without hurting joints
  • Tone your entire body and manage weight
  • Improve your posture and balance, which prevent falls
  • Increase your stamina and flexibility
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Build confidence
  • Provide opportunities to meet people
  • Ward-off illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, and depression.

So if you're tired of the treadmill and looking for a fun way to stay fit and healthy, it might be time to kick up your heels!

Dance as therapy

Sudha ChandranDance's expressive aspects help people process feelings they may have trouble dealing with in conscious. "Dance allows people to experience themselves in ways they didn't know they could," explains Sudha Chandran, an eminent dance professor; "You can change your internal state through external movement." Sudha Chandran is a famous actress, who overcame her disabilities through the healing power of dance movements.

She says, "Dance forms can be used to help teenagers with severe emotional disabilities. Dancing is all about moving to a rhythm, and is therapeutic because it is a unique way for people to express themselves and connect with others. There's a cathartic aspect to dance. It helps people regain lost pride and feel good about themselves."

Many dance therapists believe that the use of non-verbal movement communication, combined with verbal therapy, can open the door to the unconscious mind. By evolving this state of self-awareness, dance therapy can repair scars of childhood trauma, providing a non-verbal communicative language for stroke or accident victims, who have limited verbal language ability.

The connection between the body and emotions, and the healing power of dance has been suggested for centuries. The Ancient Greeks believed dance to be healing because it provided a safe opportunity to release emotions. It has also been said that dance is used as a form of non-verbal psychotherapy to treat people with serious psychosocial and behavioural problems, including schizophrenia, depression, autism, and eating disorders.

Shiamak Daver"But you don't have to be unwell to benefit from the therapeutic effects of dance forms," elaborates Shiamak Daver, renowned modern dance enthusiast. "Dance is my passion and to do a show with a spiritual theme appeals to me. It also gives one an incredible platform to present spectacular theatre. It saddens me that messages through dance that inspire you, that help you believe in goodness and in values are considered to be "out of fashion". People would rather be entertained in a sensational dance manner, so why not give them a bit of both?

"Dance is more about moving the spirit than just physical motion. My dancers are my extended family, who have travelled the world with me and our energy drives us to a higher level. Along with our international performers, they brought my vision to life. Social IQ surely develops through dance as well," he adds.

Sense of wellbeing

Dance boosts mood more than exercise alone. The effects of dancing are multi-faceted, along with physiological effects, there are many psychological effects of dance.

"First of all, there is the sense of wellbeing associated with any form of regular exercise. Neurotransmitters such as endorphins are produced during exercise, increasing physical feelings of wellbeing, which in turn translate into emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as a reduction in tension," elucidates Neenu Khanna, Reebok "aerobic dancercise" trainer who uses hip music and dance fusions to enthuse her classes. "Dancing has cardiovascular effects, helps to increase health and decrease blood pressure, as well as improves fitness levels and reduces obesity. This increased level of healthiness often increases a sense of wellbeing and the reduction in risk factors may help alleviate anxiety and stress about future ill health."

Fun for kids

Speaking to eminent theatre actress Rael Padamsee regarding the fitness aspects involved with dance exercises in her theatrical plays, she says, "Summer is back and so are performance-oriented workshops for little actors and budding divas! It is filled with unlimited fun, plays, and dances! Workshops are specially designed to let children "break free" and encourage them to shed their inhibitions and unleash the star in them. It allows kids to enter a world of drama and fantasy and break-free from school, studies and exam pressure!"

Rael further adds, "Body movement is essential for every child. Dance is a multi-beneficial form of exercise for kids. Not only is it fun, and a great way to make new friends, but it also helps build muscle strength and increase flexibility. It aids children in developing a sense of balance, agility and coordination. Children learn correct physical postures and discover ways to express themselves."

So, there you have it, dancing is like a psychological therapy itself, bringing out the real person from the shy interiors! So put on your dancing shoes and turn up the volume, you could be on your way to bliss!

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