During times of stress and anxiety, the nervous system can enter a state of dysregulation. This can cause us to feel trapped and stuck in our negative self-views and thoughts. It also makes it even more difficult to get out of the uncomfortable feeling.
It’s an ancient practice that has been used by indigenous peoples, slaves, and many cultures around the world. Not only does it help to form bonds with others, but it helps us form a relationship with ourselves and our bodies.
Native Americans incorporate shaking and releasing sounds to let go of anything that does not serve us. African tribal dances focus on powerful, bold movements that build strength. The Maori (the indigenous peoples of New Zealand) still participate in the Haka, a performance that can express anger and grief at a funeral or joy and pride during a wedding.
These were rituals that were in place before scientific discoveries such as psychological interventions.
Somatic experiencing is a type of trauma therapy that can be helpful for those who have experienced physical and sexual abuse. It allows the client to develop a trusting relationship with the practitioner to feel more connected to themselves and others.
Dance is an art and a therapy that can include touch but does not require it to form interpersonal connection. It can regulate the nervous system by letting out emotions that stay stuck in the body.
Many trauma experts such as Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, have discovered that traumatic experiences can live in the body unless they are released.
Some of the most effective methods include talk therapy, creative therapies, group therapy, and movement therapies. Each one of these are unique to the person and foster a sense of support, connection, and confidence.
Trauma survivors as well as those who struggle with self-esteem and body image may be used to negative comments about their bodies or feel as if they do not have choice in what their body does or looks like.
Freestyle dancing classes such as Nia, Journey Dance, and 5 Rhythms allow the dancer to be guided by the music and the instructor without the need to follow along perfectly. You can choose to mimic the dances but you are ultimately encouraged to notice your body and move in the way it wants.
Although we cannot go to dance classes in person during the quarantine, there are many online dance classes such as Journey Dance. You can connect with others and choose to turn the camera off if you would like.