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.