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The Healing Power of Dance

I just read a column for a newsletter that I wrote 7 years ago entitled Healing Through Dance. I had written it after my 53rd birthday...yes, that makes me 60 years old now (just had my 60th a couple weeks ago, yikes!). And the essence of what I wrote in that article still holds true for me today, that dance is healing.

In the article, I was sharing how some painful feelings were opening up for me in celebrating my birthday. Any of you know that experience, where celebrating your birthday brings up issues!?

A few days after that birthday I was teaching at my studio and because of my struggles around my birthday, I had no inspiration to teach, nothing to give. Yet the music spoke to my spirit and the pain I felt around my birthday transformed into the joy of dance.

So as I just turned 60, I still have the same joy through dance as I had in my teens!! I would have never imagined when I was in my late teens and discovering dance as a career path that I would be dancing like this at 60!

Not only that, I still feel as connected to the grace, power, and aliveness in my body-maybe even more so then I had over 40 years ago. As I've cultivated more mindfulness and connection to energy within the body, it actually feels like I feel MORE joy and life force moving within me as I dance now. What a blessing!

What's the secret to healing through dance? My sense is what makes dance healing is that it keeps our spirit young. When rockin' music is playing what do kids do? Yes, they dance! Put the same music on in a room full of adults and what do they do? They usually talk. Something has happened to the spontaneity of our spirit that we had as children and how our spirit was intimately connected to our body!!

I will perhaps explore that disconnection of body and spirit in a later column. In this one I want to assert that we can recover this lost connection of body and spirit! That's why I call Shake Your Soul, the yoga of dance. When our body and spirit return to each other THAT is yoga! The key to recovering our spirit's youthfulness through dance can be as simple as putting on a piece of music that moves you and let it move you! Honestly, that is a big part of it. Trusting our movement instinct! Yet, there is something even MORE wonderful when we have this kind of communion experience of our bodies and souls in a community of other bodies and souls. Dance, indigenously, was a community experience for the most part.

For me, the art of teaching a dance class that invites people's spirits and bodies to unite is in the linking of meditative movement disciplines like yoga and qi gong into the dance experience. This provides participants a direct connection to embodied spirit that can then find its way into the dance. Alongside this, I build in creative dance exercises into my classes, what many of us did as kids, like follow the leader.

We all need permission and support to reconnect to our creative spirits. We all get the encouragement to exercise, become more flexible, and increase muscular strength and cardiovascular health-all so very important. Yet what about the health of our being that IS about reconnecting our bodies and movement with our life force or spirit? How can we be both disciplined in terms of building movement back into our lives, but at the same time connected to the FREEDOM of our spirits that dance can bring us?

I invite you to answer these questions experientially through dancing with me at Kripalu. It would be a joy and privilege for me to support you in uniting your body with your spirit through dance.

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