The mashed potato, the twist, the limbo rock, the hustle, the macarena, the roger rabbit, the running man or the chicken noodle soup? Have you tried all of these moves?
Dancing goes back to ancient times body movements accompanied by music were thought to possess powers. During the Middle Ages, people in Europe danced to avoid the plague while many tribes in Asia and Africa danced to ensure a bountiful harvest or for train to come and end the drought. But more than just to protect them from disease and invoke the forces of Nature, dance was also used directly to heal illness and discomfort.
Dance or Movement Therapy has been used for many centuries to improve the mental and physical well- being of a person. Today, it is also taught as a means to focus a person's mind and body, which leads to health. Since dancing is an art, it increases self-expression and helps people connect with themselves and others. Dancing is a form of art that offers a way to explore psychological roots to overcome certain illnesses such as depression. Research have shown that dancing provide benefits that can help minimize depression's effects.
It is known that each one of our five senses sends messages to our brain through the nerves. The brain processes these messages, after which, our body makes a reaction or execute a movement. Normally, we jump for joy when we are happy about something, and slump when we are sad. When our body does not react to the messages of the brain, we might click an emotional bomb and burst into depression.
According to research, women are most likely to suffer depression than men. Statistics have shown that more women are into dance therapy than the opposite sex. The reasons are not clear but studies suggest that on a psychological level, women are more likely to internalize and take personal responsibility for their problems. In contrast, men are more likely to turn to distracting behaviors such as substance abuse or alcoholism.
Dance therapy provides an alternative way to externalize the suppressed feelings of women. In dance therapy, patients are taught to act out hidden hurts. It is believed that acting out past hurts and frustrations can help the individual come to terms with his emotional problems and thus, learn to deal with them. Women who have tried dance therapy to cope with depression found that it is uplifting and enhances their creativity. Certainly, once creativity is enhanced, problem solving comes next in handy.
Dance and movement therapy is usually led by a dance therapist. However, there are plenty of opportunities for dancing alone or in a group, even without a therapist. There are also books on the practice of dance and movement therapy available in most bookshops or over the Internet.
It is not known how dance and movement therapy might work. However, as well as the expression of feelings in movement, there might also be benefits from the physical exercise, from interacting with a group and from listening to music.
Although Dance Therapy is still a fairly new practice, it is known that it can provide an emotional release for pent-up, repressed feelings and, as a result, the patient may be sent on the road to improved mental health.
With all its moving, touching, twisting, and turning, dancing provides more than the daily dose of healthy physical activity. This art form also keeps the mind sharp and helps ward-off depression.