Healing Minds, Bodies & Souls
Nearly everyone experiences stress at some point in their life. Recent events—the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and racial and social justice—have taken stress to a whole new level in 2020. As the world continues to encourage physical distancing, a virtual world of dance and movement has become one of the best tools to survive and thrive.
Look anywhere online, and you can see people of all ages, from all walks of life, broadcasting videos of themselves dancing and moving at home, either alone or with loved ones. The Today Show shared a story featuring an Italian couple dancing along with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to cope with the quarantine. Medical professionals across the country are participating in dance challenges to help them blow off steam, create solidarity, and bring smiles to their patients during the demanding coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone can benefit from movement and dance, especially during times of uncertainty. Eryc Taylor Dance Outreach (ETD Outreach) has created a schedule of public Zoom classes to share the power of dance.
The Challenges of the past several months have been especially difficult for vulnerable populations. We also offer private virtual workshops for community organizations, schools, camps, etc. that can be modified to suit all participants’ needs, from physical and developmental disabilities, mental illness, or other physical limitations. Our collaboration with community organizations, such as the Lantern Community Services in New York City, has provided several 15-minute videos featuring a variety of styles their residents and staff can access at their convenience.
One of the many great things about virtual programming is that it allows us to make our workshops available to individuals and community organizations near and far.
Using movement to manage stress isn’t new. Throughout history, humans have used dance and movement to celebrate, tell stories, solve problems, express themselves, and cope.
It feels good to dance and move, even when we do it alone. We know it has physical benefits, but it’s more than that. Dancing and movement are good for your mind, body, and soul, and there’s science to back that up!
It Relieves Stress
According to a study, hip hop not only improves energy and increases mood but is a major stress reliever much the same way aerobic exercise is. It makes sense. When you do fast-paced movement— hip hop or Latin dance, in particular—your body is in constant motion. You’re moving in ways that increase blood flow and ups your heart rate. Moving also increases endorphins, hormones that are known for decreasing cortisol (stress hormone), which makes you feel better. Check it out every Friday with ETD outreach instructor Johari Mayfield’s LiveInTheMovement Afro Cardio Jam.
It Helps Curb Anxiety
Another psychological benefit is how dance and movement can lower anxiety levels. For decades, some therapists have prescribed dancing as an effective therapy for those who suffer from social anxiety or fear of public speaking based on research dating back to the 1980s. The idea: if you can loosen up enough to boogie in front of strangers, you’re a lot less likely to feel self-conscious when hanging out or speaking in front of an audience. There’s nothing like 30 minutes of virtual Dancehall with Jeo to quell your anxiety!
It Can Deepen Your Self-Awareness
Throughout time, Native Americans have used dance and movement as a way to develop a deeper connection with nature. Religious worshipers also use it to celebrate and connect. In much the same way as meditation, dance and movement can deepen your self-awareness and awaken your consciousness.
It Can Connect Us With Our Heritage
Dance and movement are cultural as well as spiritual. People use dance and movement to bring them closer to their ancestors. For example, Tongan Samoan rugby teams begin their games with Siva Tau, a famous traditional war dance.
One of the great things about dance and movement is that it benefits people of all ages, from all walks of life. Children love to dance, but it can be an enormous boost to older people as well. A study published in 2017 linked dancing to improved “white matter” integrity in older adults’ brains. It’s all very scientific stuff, but it goes something like this: our brain’s white matter can be thought of as its connective tissue. That tissue tends to break down gradually as we age, which leads to a loss of processing speed and the thinking and memory problems that arise later in life.
Dance and movement are powerful! Whether you’re an individual or part of a group, find out how our programs—Movement Expressions, Dancehall, Strength & Conditioning, Pilates & Yoga, and Samba/Salsa—can heal mind, body, and soul. Groove with us in one of our weekly dance workshops!