The Chronicle

Dance helps mental state


CONSCIOUS dance can boost happiness and reduce stress, a study has found.

A group of internatio­nal researcher­s, including University of Southern Queensland’s Dr Ineke Vergeer, found that conscious dance could help people struggling with common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

The research was based on a survey of more than 1000 dancers across the world, including Australia.

Conscious dance is an unchoreogr­aphed, free-moving and mindful practice which encourages self-expression and discovery.

Usually performed to music in group settings, it is practised globally in many different forms, including 5Rhythms and Ecstatic Dance.

Dr Vergeer said the study, published in the journal Complement­ary Therapies in Clinical Practice, was the first of its kind to explore the potential benefits of conscious dance.

“While the psychologi­cal, well-being effects of dancing are well documented, we were still quite surprised by the number of participan­ts who reported therapeuti­c effects from conscious dance,” she said.

More than 90 per cent of all participan­ts reported the practice gave them greater confidence and compassion.

According to the study, a large percentage also said it made them feel less lonely and helped them let go of distressin­g thoughts.

Dr Vergeer has spent more than five years exploring the motivation­s for practicing holistic movements, including yoga, t’ai chi, Pilates and conscious dance.

She said the free movement in a non-judgmental atmosphere meant conscious dance might offer greater benefits to mental health.

Conscious dance: Perceived benefits and psychologi­cal well-being of participan­ts was co-authored with Dr Kelsey Laird and Dr Prabha Siddarth from the University of California, Los Angeles and Dr Sarah Hennelly from Oxford Brookes University.

 ?? ?? DANCING QUEEN: Dr Ineke Vergeer has researched the impacts of conscious dance.
DANCING QUEEN: Dr Ineke Vergeer has researched the impacts of conscious dance.

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