Dance – a powerful healing tool

I don’t need scientific evidence, to prove to me that dancing is good for my health, on every level.

But the science on dance is a powerful validation of what ‘us dancers’ know: dancing is deeply connected with happiness, lifts our moods and makes us feel positive.nia-dancers

Research shows that dance demands a heightened level of anticipation and co-ordination. And our brain loves anticipation, as we listen to a tune and find a pattern. Then the music changes and so does the dance; we are surprised and rewarded at the same time. No wonder we are in an altered state of consciousness, a moving mediation, in the present moment, when we dance. All of this is a recipe for reduced stress, improved memory, increased creativity and mental ability. [Ref. 1]

Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. For one, our muscle memory allows us to learn how to perform a dance without thinking about the steps. According to neuroscientist Daniel Glaser, this happens because “the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing,” he told The New York Times.

Some research suggests the endorphins released after performing a successful move causes the brain to store it as the ‘correct way of moving’ — a process that constantly rewires the brain’s neural pathways. And this constant rewiring, increases the youthful neuroplasticity of the brain.

A 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found freestyle dancing, (called Freedance, in Nia classes) which requires rapid-fire decision making, is essential to keeping a sharp mind because it forces the brain to regularly rewire its neural pathways, especially in regions involving executive function — mental skills to help us get things done — long-term memory, and spatial recognition — using reasoning skills to decipher objects in 3D and draw conclusions from them based on limited information.

Dancing can ward off brain diseases and increase mental acuity at all ages. Participating in dancing or similarly engaging activities can dramatically reduce the occurrence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. [Ref. 2]

I have been Nia dancing 3-6 times a week for the last 10 years and it has seriously changed my life and my body. I suppose if you do anything several times a week for 10 years it’s going to have an impact! …inevitable really. But even students who have been coming to Nia once a week for several years tell me how it has changed their lives and their bodies.

Here’s what some of my Nia students say:

“I’m more in my body and I have new revelations each week about myself, life, the universe and everything while I am dancing.”

“Through the music and movement Nia puts me in touch with my agility and my lightness and my being. I feel joyful and liberated like a free spirit. It is if I remember who I really am beyond who I thought I was (or think I am) and I can bring this joy into my ordinary day to day life. I love it!”

“After a few weeks of Nia classes I have felt more energetic which in turn has had a brilliant knock on effect on my creative energy too – I have begun painting again after many years- which I am sure is down to the way Nia unblocks my energy and releases something joyful within me.”

“My body is able to express itself freely for the first time really since I was a child. And the group holds however each one of us wants to be, quiet and reflective, wild and big, sensual, hesitant, vulnerable, giddy and all in the space of an hour, which is much more suited to women’s bodies than a gym workout. I really exercise all of me, but never feel aching or exhausted afterwards. Just good.”

“I have found that my energy levels, stamina and suppleness have increased, and it’s not only because of “lots of sweaty movement” per se: it’s the joy that infuses most of the movements, with a lot of variety, and space for personal improvisation too.”

If you want to explore how Nia dance fitness can become your healing tool, contact me:

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