Marie Ferguson, a Feminine Embodiment Coach, Youth Empowerment Mentor, and Thought Leader, sparks transformation through ancient wisdom and holistic practices, backed by 16 years in education. An international author, she empowers individuals to excel, leaving a legacy while advocating for arts, creative education, and holistic wellbeing.

Dance & Thrive: Harnessing Movement as Medicine for Women's Wellbeing

Dance & Thrive: Harnessing Movement as Medicine for Women’s Wellbeing

Rediscovering Dance

Amid pulsating music and blinding lights, my heart raced as I stood backstage, eager for the performance to begin. As the familiar song enveloped me, I instinctively began to move, feeling an electrifying sense of power and expression. I was 15. Dancing had always been my channel for storytelling, for feeling truly alive. Yet, as I embraced adulthood with its demands and responsibilities, why did I stop dancing for me?

Unravelling the Neurological Impact

From infancy, we instinctively react to music, moving in rhythm before we can even walk. Recent studies uncovered the neurological impact of dance, revealing its role in sensory integration, coordination, and emotional expression from an early age. A 2008 Scientific American article proposed an intriguing idea: the synchronization of music and movement in dance represents a “pleasure double play”. The scientist highlighted that music stimulates the brain’s reward centers, while dance simultaneously activates sensory and motor circuits.

Babies, even at a few months old, respond to music by swaying or moving in rhythm, showcasing an inherent connection between music, movement, and brain development. This primal link supports sensory integration, coordination, and emotional expression from infancy.

What if we could take the lead from our children, and dance every day? It’s like a daily gift I give myself. Let me tell you why it’s incredible for us women. Firstly, it’s an amazing workout that not only gets our bodies moving but also lifts our spirits. It’s a natural mood booster and stress reliever.

But it’s more than just exercise – it’s a chance to express ourselves freely. Dancing connects us to our emotions and unleashes our creativity in the most joyful way possible.

You know what else? It’s a confidence builder! They bring out a strength and grace we might not have known we had, reshaping how we see ourselves. It’s my little escape from the everyday grind. Dancing lets me tap into my playful side and find joy, even amid life’s chaos.

Dancing every day isn’t just about fitness; it’s a holistic approach to feeling good. It touches every part of my life – body, mind, and soul. And let me tell you, it’s a practice that brings warmth, happiness, and empowerment into every single day.

Dancing is a powerhouse for brain health and our feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin. When we dance, especially in a way that feels enjoyable and engaging, our brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This surge of dopamine contributes to the feelings of joy, satisfaction, and motivation that dancing often brings.

Additionally, dancing stimulates the release of oxytocin, often dubbed the ‘love hormone’. Oxytocin is linked to social bonding, trust, and emotional connection. When we dance with others or even solo, the physical movement and the social interaction associated with dancing can trigger the release of oxytocin, fostering trust and empathy.

Dancing, with its release of neurotransmitters, elevates mood, alleviates stress, and reduces anxiety and depression. The brain’s response to dancing creates a positive feedback loop, encouraging us to continue this activity that brings us joy and a sense of well-being. Personally, dancing helps me process emotions (even when I’m sad or angry), shifting me to a higher state when dopamine and oxytocin kick in.

Improving Focus and Engagement

In various school environments, be it primary or secondary settings where I’ve taught, there’s a clear craving among children and teens for movement/brain breaks. Did you know that incorporating dance into these breaks has shown a 65% increase in students’ engagement and focus levels?

Dancing’s impact on brain health is evident in its challenges – learning steps, coordinating movements, and memory – aiding neuroplasticity.

Research reveals that frequent dancing reduces dementia risk by 76%, as detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine. This holistic practice, blending exercise, social engagement, and emotional uplift, fortifies various brain regions.

Regular dancing, whether at home, with family, or in a class, offers immediate physical and emotional benefits while also supporting long-term brain health. It’s a fun and effective way to stay mentally sharp and resilient as we grow older.

Embodied Expression: Grounding the Physical and Spiritual

Dance became a sacred ritual in my journey, a canvas for emotions and intuition, bridging the physical and spiritual.

Whether it be barefoot, under the open sky, or on a stage where I would breakdance and step into my hard-core hip-hop vibes, I danced. The divine feminine, intricately linked to the Earth and its cycles, found solace in the rhythm of my bare feet against the ground. It was more than movement; it was a conscious connection to the Earth.

In the dance’s ebb and flow, I felt the activation of energy centers, the chakras within me. Like ancient wisdom whispered through movement, dance awakened my energy centers. A rhythmic journey through my spiritual landscape – releasing stagnation and welcoming life force.

Reclaiming Body Wisdom: A Sacred Celebration

Consciously and intentionally, I moved. In a world that objectifies women’s bodies, dance became my intentional reclamation of ownership and wisdom over my sacred vessel. It declared my body a revered temple, inspiring my daughter to honor her expression and creativity.

Dance embodies life’s rhythms, guiding us to harmonize with the world. It’s my meditative path – a sacred connection to inner wisdom, guiding every aspect of my life’s journey. How do you dance through life’s sacred moments, finding grace in every step, breath, and experience?

References:

Edwards, S. (2015). Dancing and the Brain. Retrieved from https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/dancing-brain 

Verghese, J., Lipton, R. B., Katz, M. J., Hall, C. B., Derby, C. A., Kuslansky, G., … Buschke, H. (2003). Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(26), 2508-2516. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa022252

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Marie Ferguson, a Feminine Embodiment Coach, Youth Empowerment Mentor, and Thought Leader, sparks transformation through ancient wisdom and holistic practices, backed by 16 years in education. An international author, she empowers individuals to excel, leaving a legacy while advocating for arts, creative education, and holistic wellbeing.

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