When was the last time you were dancing?


Dancing as a Holistic Practice


I have a long-time fondness for dance. It is always satisfying to me when I take the time to tune into that magical space where inner rhythm and flow expresses through choreographed, physical movement.  To drink in the energy of a beat and lyrics, to sense artistic expression within, and move in a delicious mix of physical, emotional and spiritual senses, is ecstasy. Dance is an act of inner and outer surrender intertwined to simultaneously enrich each other; a primordial journey to discover the body as healer, teacher, pleasure center and guide. For me, dance is an invitation to imagination, a prayer and an opportunity in spontaneity that sets me free in surprisingly gleeful ways; a gateway to transcending time and space.

The experience of being uplifted and transported to a new realm while dancing isn’t new.  Evolutionary science suggests that gathering in groups and moving rhythmically together was a way for our ancient ancestors to bond, communicate and build relationships. “Early humans might have danced to attract a mate as far back as 1.5 million years ago” explains Steven J Mithen, an archeologist at the University of Reading in the U.K.  Researcher Dimitris Xygalatas of the University of Connecticut says, “There’s a communicative aspect but also primordial, instinctive aspect; to follow rhythm, be driven by it.”   He adds, “Humans flock to night clubs, bars and outdoor events to hear their favorite disk jockey play tunes that provide that euphoric feeling.”  The interaction of movement and sensory experience releases emotion, improves mood and stimulates neuro-receptors in the brain that release endorphins.   A 2011 study found that dancing as we age helps improve cognitive flexibility, known to decline in higher-functioning older adults.


Dance Flow


In practical terms, when you are enjoying the movement, dance welcomes you where you are on your path in the moment.  It has no age limit and doesn’t require perfection or performance. Techniques can be taught for everyone to increase body awareness, balance, and reduce risks for falls. In metaphysical terms, dance is an invitation to you to shed the defenses, boundaries and fear and reconnect with the beauty of your authentic self through breath, sound and movement. It’s a metaphor for harmony and flow within the mind, body and soul relationship.  Dance can ignite your capacity to renew and replenish by stimulating a loving, interactive dialogue between feelings, memories, muscles, limbs and creative inner impulses. You can explore a diverse spectrum of experiences through the combination of physical and emotional expression.  Setting intention to dance as a practice to re-attune to your soul’s wisdom allows space to re-discover your forgotten essence.


How to Rejuvenate by Dancing


The object of dancing to rejuvenate, even when you don’t know any dancing technique, is to be in the moment, to deliberately use space and time to let tension melt and become more open and receptive to the eternal flow of life sustaining energy.  When we dance our mind rests.  Immersed in the sensual pleasure of movement, our body surrenders to the rhythm of the music and we are naturally in harmony with the soul.  Dance can be a profound expression of our joy to be alive. Yet getting to that exhilarating experience is often a process of allowing the whole body to feel the sensation.  Depending on your state of being, dancing to the rhythm of music or the beat of a drum may begin as an experience of releasing emotional pain.  If that’s the case for you then start by consciously letting the vibrations from the music flood through you. Doing so will spontaneously lead to restoring inner harmony as you effortlessly absorb the vibrations within. Bask in these beautiful moments of energy-filled transformation.  This is your soul speaking to you through dance.


Here are a few ways to renew and replenish with dance:


  • Make it social – There’s something electrifying about dancing with other people, whether it’s a partner or a full class of fellow dancers.  Dancing together inspires you to get in shape and have fun with others at the same time!
    • Zumba, NIA, Soul-Sweat, Jazzercize are a few of the ways working out in a dance class can help you get into the groove, and get a great workout to boot.
  • Dance in the living room or kitchen –  If you are nervous about dancing in front of others, then start out moving to some tunes in your own home. Don’t be intimidated by a voice in your head telling you you’re not a good dancer. Just start moving to a song you love, and let your body lead the way.  It’s about moving in a way you enjoy, and that feels good to you.
  • Buy an exercise dance DVD or subscribe to dance courses online – Invite a friend or do it alone; there’s lots of options for more structured dancing and dance styles like Hip Hop, Ballroom, Irish Step Dancing, Belly dance and more.  Check out https://www.learntodance.com
  • Dance Night – Remember those Friday night social dances where groups of friends would dance together in school?  There are lots of dance-night-like traditions where the focus is on a particular dance style or steps, and the music is a more private language.  These activities range from American country-western to Latin Tango, to American Indian Festivals and African Rites of Passage.   Dance is done for deeper or more cultural levels of enjoyment.   You can learn the steps and participate in local dance traditions by joining a dance club or recreational dance center.


Marilyn Decalo Logo, Phoenix

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