Options in Self Care: The Benefits of Dance

With the seemingly millions of self-care and healing practices going in and out of mainstream popularity birthed from and housed in community and cultural practices within which you may or may not identify, it can be very difficult to keep up, let alone figure out what’s right for you. So let’s start to break down a few of these practices over the next several posts. Let’s start with dance.Dancing

Sweet Water Dance & Yoga offers Capoeira, hip hop, tap, ballet, modern, belly dance, samba, Orisha, pole, and Bharathanatyam - all for adults, many for kids. Dance does many things for us; here are just 4:

1. Physical: Some western medical practitioners have researched various creative and cultural practices and how they affect the brain and body and how they can, as a result, be turned to physical healing. Anecdotally we know that things like dance change the way we feel. Medical researchers have taken a look at the place of dance in western paradigms of medicine and seen the way that it improves memory and depression and positively affects people diagnosed with Dementia and Parkinson’s - both of which have proven very difficult for western medical practitioners to treat.

2. Social: Ever heard of “kinesthetic empathy?” Neither had I. Academics call the feelings of empathy that we experience when we move with other people “kinesthetic empathy.” This is especially true when we mirror movements, we can literally use this process to feel another person’s story. Of course, anybody who has danced with another person or with a group understands how to feel somebody through dance. If you have ever danced with a group you understand the resulting bonding and communal spirit.

3. Intellectual: Dancing, especially improvisational dancing, forces us to make spontaneous decisions. That decision-making requires a complex set of interactions in our brain that improves our problem solving.

4. Spiritual: We’ve saved the most beautiful and comprehensive for last: that of spiritual healing. Dance is clearly an expression of culture, it’s done to celebrate, to tell stories, to mourn, and to heal. The power of dance is found in feeling your ancestors, in understanding how the oppressed have used dance to subvert the power structure, in claiming Freedom. Freedom from self doubt - all of the beliefs that we have about what we can and cannot do. Freedom from constraining expectations - what society believes about our gender, our race, our sexuality. Freedom from all of the chains that we or anyone else places on us.

At SWDY, we promote dance, first and foremost as a way to reclaim ourselves, our experience and our communities. An hour observing yourself, while training your movement and expression can be highly meditative, and helps develop confidence and flexibility. Come check out the variety of dances offered at SWDY. Try one, or a few styles, on for size with one of our unlimited packages. Or look for our Pop Up Community Dance Classes when we offer our regularly scheduled dance classes by donation.

Sweet Water Dance & Yoga

876 Gerard Avenue, 2nd Floor,

Bronx, NY 10452

Phone. 718-992-2484