Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dance Medicine

I saw a Ted Talk with social scientist, Amy Cuddy (link below). The study explored how different body postures affect our hormones.  Powerful postures increase our “happy” hormone (testosterone) and decrease our stress hormone (cortisol).  Just two minutes of being in a certain position can change the way we feel.  It can make us feel good about ourselves and it can reduce stress.  In addition, our body language affects what others think about us.

It is a fascinating presentation and anyone who loves dance already knows this:  your mind can change your body and your body can change your mind.   This is why dance makes us feel powerful and just, well, really good! 

In my own life, dance has gotten me through tough times and enhanced my experience of the good times.  And while I still can have issues with confidence and self-esteem, in the studio I am home.  Dance is healing.

In dance we get to do those powerful postures while moving to music.  And I believe an enhanced version of the feel-good body postures is to also move from the core, from the inside out.  (But that’s just my own theory.)

Further, Amy Cuddy talks about a devastating and ultimately triumphant personal experience  that most of us can relate to, even if the events in our own lives are not as shattering, like feelings of “not belonging,” “I’m not supposed to be here,” or not being “good enough.” 

Recently I was asked to judge a dance competition and I definitely had all of those feelings. (“Really?  You want me? Well, obviously you’ve made a mistake.  Maybe you’re talking to someone behind me?”) 

I have a confession to make. At this event, I went into the ladies room and stood in one of the stalls with my arms in the victory V. (Truly, I did this!) It’s one of the power postures described by Amy Cuddy.

And yes, it really helped!

The body has an intelligence and a power all its own.  We need only learn to use it. 

Dance is medicine.

Here’s the link:  Amy Cuddy, Ted Talks


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