May this Guideline of my dance practice also help you to stay sane and constantly stimulate your personal growth! This article was originally written for the wellbeing magazine Journify.
On bad days I just feel like locking myself into my room, staying in my bed with my Kleenex box, eating lots of chocolate and feeling sorry for myself. I would keep on listening to the loop of negative thoughts in my head, being carried away by my sadness or anxiety, even surrendering in it. Weirdly that state of being is some kind of comfort zone - isn't it?
One day in June I was very worried about my 75-year old mum who had an operation. The kind of moment when you want to be with your family, but the pandemic would not allow it. I was afraid that something could go wrong and I would not be able to see her again.
In the evening I had my Biodanza online class. As usual we started the class with a "caminata", a simple walk. I was exhausted from crying, from scarcity and it seemed impossible to just walk. To keep going. To move on. To just put one step after the next. To trust that this way is leading SOMEWHERE. My mind has possessed my body the whole day and would not loosen its tight grip so easily. My body had to fight in order to gain its autonomy back. So: despite of feeling low, despite a complete lack of motivation, I just gave myself that push and walked. Slowly. Insecure. And with every step my inner resistance, my desire to stay in the role of the suffering human being, shrinked. After two hours of dance and movement I was be a different person. I managed to shift my energy. It is just these first steps that are so damn hard. Getting out of that bed. Stepping out of the victim role. Leaving the comfort zone.
E-motions are energy in motion
Since forever dance has been a source of my wellbeing and happiness. When I move, I feel connected to my essence, my soul, my superpowers. I usually don't copy any movements dictated by a teacher but would allow my body to move as it needs to move. Sometimes I need to shake it off. Sometimes I need to stretch beyond my limits. Sometimes I need clear directions. Sometimes I need trust and confidence through connecting with the earth. My intuition tells me which music to put on and naturally my body takes me where it needs to go. Energy moves within me. As emotions are also one kind of energy, they transform while we dance. Know that feeling of a heavy sadness sitting on your chest? Why not rolling with it over the floor and be curious what this does to you?
The important thing is to not fight against your emotions, but integrating them while you move, otherwise your movement won't be organic. True transformation happens when we accept what is FIRST.
Believe it or not: Dance is the new Yoga!
Consider dance as a new form of meditation: when we move, we think less. We don't hold on to resentment of the past or worries about the future because we focus more on the present moment.
The mind-body connection is reciprocal. How we feel is expressed through our body, but also our brain has the ability to regulate emotions via changes in body postures and movements. This is one of the reasons why yoga & meditation are so popular, but there is way less hype about mindful dance practise, for example Dance Movement therapy.
If you jump up and down with your hands up high for five minutes you'll smile eventually...(Try it out!)
Dance has been used as a tool in various aspects of mental and physical health treatment: to deal better with depression and anxiety, Parkinson, Alzheimer, with elderly people to prevent falling & help with stiffness and pain, Cardio health etc.
We live in a society where we often repress our feelings, we don't want to show our vulnerability, disappointment, anger, depression. These feelings get stuck in our system, they "eat us up" from the inside. Through expressing them in our movement we give them the chance to be released and transformed, we clear our inner space and make room for new emotions.
Dance activates us and stimulates positive sensations such as joy, confidence, power, vitality, creativity, connection, love, trust, passion and many more.
Get 12 hugs a day and you are good!
If you are lucky and live with other people during qurantine: get some hugs! A daily dose of 12 is recommended. When we hug each other, a true hormone cocktail kicks off in our body (endorphines, serotonine, oxytocine and dopamine), we boost our immune system, have an impact on our cardiovascular system and practise anti-aging! And now imagine to dance AND hug at the same time....!! This is why I dance Tango and moved to Argentina. Tango gives me this sensation of being held, protected, taken care of. And, simultaneously, being seen in my playful, elegant and creative self-expression.
Now you can imagine that NOT moving and NOT being with other people is not good for our physical and mental health.
Brené Brown, a researcher and story teller I admire a lot, says that we "hardwired for connection" and people who are lonely are more likely to have a lower life span than those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
So let me get this straight: in this quarantine we stay at home in order to not get sick physically but it makes us sick mentally and therefore backfires on our physical health...
The only thing we can do is making this collective trauma we're in as pleasurable as possible. Let's choose to see the potential in the crisis - reconnect to yourself and reach out to others. The internet is an easy place to make friends, you don't have to stay isolated communication wise.
So: there are plenty of possibilities to dance together online. Check them out! Shift your energy together with others. It REALLY works! (You can do this with me too, if you like!)
If you prefer to move solo, let me give you some guidelines here!
Guideline for your solo movement practise:
Either read it or watch my Video on You Tube, so you can follow the lead there!
Set up a sacred space: close the doors, light a candle and an incense stick. Anything that makes it "special". Make sure to not be disturbed by anyone.
Either stand or lie on the floor on your back. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Let go of your thoughts and be present.
Tune into your body. How does it feel? Where do you hold some tension? Is it stiff?
You can put your hands on your heart. Send a message to your body that you are listening.
Allow yourself to move. If you have no clear movement impulse yet, use your breath to guide you. Anything is allowed that wants to show up: rolling over the floor, swinging your arms, stomping on the ground, shaking...
Don't worry how your movement or dance looks like!! This is not about matching a form but about diving into an experience.
Open your mouth and make sound if you wish.
Include touch in your movement: you can tenderly caress your face, give your limbs a firm and grounding touch or wash something off your body.
You can stay in silence or put on some music that supports you.
Do this for 5 minutes or 2 hours. As long as you need.
After your session take some time to tune out. It might be helpful to write.
You may want to reflect on questions like:
What feelings showed up?
What surprised you?
What felt really good?
How do you feel now compared to when you started your session?
Did your body have a message for you?
I hope these tips are useful for you and help you to get in touch with your body - the messenger of your soul. If you want to be guided personally, you can follow my You Tube Channel or book a session with me as your private dance coach. If you have any questions about this practise or would like to share how you felt, please reach out! I'd be thrilled to hear from you!