Written by: Jacia Kornwise, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
So, you started 2024 with all the right intentions to get fit, healthy, and grounded, but quickly, you are returning to the old reasons, routines, and excuses that have always stopped you.
Sound familiar? Statistics have shown that up to as high as 80 per cent of the people who get a gym membership with all the right intentions don't go back to the gym. Many of us lose our steam within the first few weeks of January or by mid-February.
Whether it is a lack of confidence to be out in public while not feeling your best, a lack of motivation from the inside, quickly reinjuring oneself by pushing too hard, or a fear of catching the colds that are inevitably going around, too many people feel stumped as they lose their motivation to make 2024 their best year yet.
Don’t get me wrong, a gym is an epic place for many people, but I have an unusual suggestion if you are already feeling blocked and stuck in achieving your goals. Maybe you should try dancing when no one is watching.
I felt all those things at some point until I discovered the multi-dimensional reasons why Free-form dancing changed everything for me. I have been using dance my whole life as a way to survive, regulate and free emotion, feel better, love my body more and accept myself. I’ve spent decades trying all sorts of ways to attend to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self and dancing is at the top of my list. In fact, I have dedicated the past 30 years to introducing this to my coaching clients and community and witnessed fast speed improvements for everyone involved.
Why is that?
Reason 1. Dancing teaches us to self-regulate
One of the fantastic things that Free-form Dancing, the kind of dancing where no one tells you the steps or the pace, can offer is the ability to reconnect with your body in a way that invites you to listen to your pacing. You can choose your music, your mood and your tempo. No one wants to be bullied into exercising by an inner critic or pushed into six more pull-ups that eventually tear your muscles.
Nor do we want to be held hostage to the music blaring that someone else needs to hear. I’ll never forget working with a personal trainer who put on music that ramped him up but took me right out of my body. Dancing lets us become the creators of our soundtrack. What we listen to impacts us.
It moves us into our bodies in a way that feels so good and nourishing that we don’t even realise we are exercising.
Reason 2. Dancing by yourself builds confidence and self-esteem
It allows you to work with your body and befriend it. The more we get comfortable in our meat suits, the quicker we enable ourselves to be around others in theirs. If we aren't fascinated and interested in our body’s rhythms, movements, sounds, feelings, and emotions, how can we even imagine anyone else becoming interested in us? Love from within builds when we listen to and honour our inner guidance.
Reason 3. Dancing teaches us to listen to our bodies and hear our bodies' wisdom
People who listen to their body's rhythms and pay attention to their movements injure themselves less than if they take formal dance, gym classes, or trainers that teach them steps and performative goals. Why might this be? Dancing in and of itself is natural. Can you think back to a time in your childhood when you put on music or heard music and just began to move? No one told you then to “move harder,” “ faster”, or to try “different steps”. Your body knew just what to do. You were born a natural dancer. Sadly, it was estimated in 2023 that nearly 75 per cent of formal dancers feel poorly about their bodies feeling pressure to lose weight. Oddly, similar to those of us headed for better fitness at the gym, we have let external beliefs from cultural standards of ideal rule our joy of living in our skin.
Reason 4. Dancing relieves trauma
In 2021, a U.C.L.A clinical study with over 1000 conscious free-form dancers with trauma history, anxiety and clinical depression demonstrated how dancing helps. It significantly improved 98% of them. Conscious dance: Perceived benefits and psychological well-being of participants - ScienceDirect.
The results showed the participants to feel more confident, optimistic, compassionate towards themselves and others, and less anxious. Dancing like no one is watching may be the key to beginning your wellness journey and eventually hitting all your fitness goals and beyond. Dr Bessel Van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score” calls free-form movement and dance one of the most highly effective modalities for trauma resolution.
Reason 5. Dancing releases feelings the body has stored and hidden
When we are in a safe space, we can give more permission to allow the grief, fear, shame, and anger lodged in our body's tissues to move safely out along with the emotions ( energy in motion) of the music. Dancing opens new neural pathways to safety, presence and joy.
Reason 6. Dancing is excellent for your physical health
It not only lowers the risk of dementia but also improves your cardiovascular physical fitness. According to University of California Berkeley’s Science Center researchers, it releases chemicals good for your brain: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. This chemical cocktail produces pleasure and pain relief hormones, bonding hormones and hormones that help you sleep better. Not surprisingly, dancing has been
used throughout all cultures and at all times to move through BIG feelings, whether that be Grief, War, Pride, Victory or Celebration..it is not an accident that dancing has such healing qualities.
Reason 7. Dancing is always an adventure. Try it because it's out of your comfort zone
Especially try it if your comfort zone brings you the same repetitive results and exhaustion.
If you are someone reading this, hear an internal voice saying, I don’t feel comfortable dancing. I don’t feel drawn to it. It makes me uncomfortable. Try Dancing for yourself and with yourself. It may be the unexpected right switch if you want to change your game for 2024.
What we are uncomfortable with is where the magic happens. It just takes an inner willingness to be present in our bodies with whatever we can be present with that still can move. The simple steps of breathing, feeling, moving and releasing, rinsing, and repeating will wash away the self-doubt and eventually guide anyone brave enough to feel at home in their bodies again.
Dancing with other people in safe containers that encourage free-form movement, listening from within, joy, and a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere may do wonders for your life. Dancing like no one is watching and in a safe space is the beginning step to a lifetime of wellness acceleration.
Remember, the only moment we can change is in the present moment. When we continue to repeat strategies from the past, nothing new happens. Where there is no risk, there is no growth, and where there is no growth, there is no change. Or as Yoda from Star Wars says, “ No try, only Do. “ I am ready to dance through 2024 as it is the only strategy that has never once failed me!
If any of this interests you, I have some great options. Feel free to visit my website.
Jacia Kornwise is a Master Embodied Soul Coach and Transformational Experience Facilitator, Author of The Love Ball Game - Embracing Yourself and Embodying Your Soul' and TEDx and Inspirational Speaker
Jacia Kornwise, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jacia Kornwise ( a.k.a. Jill) is a Master Embodied Soul Coach, Transformational Experience Facilitator, Inspirational and TEDx Speaker, and Author of “The Love Ball Game – Embracing Yourself and Embodying Your Soul.” Born Blind in her left eye, and a multiple time trauma and grief survivor, she has dedicated the past 31 years helpimg humans transform their pain into purpose, listen to their bodies intuitive wisdom, and live their authentic joy. She has touched the lives of tens of thousands working both in person, online, at corporate and private events and on stage with her Masters in Integral Counseling and Shadow Coaching, 5 Rhythms Dance, Breathwork, Mindfulness, Intuitive and Somatic tools.
Carretti, G., Mirandola, D., Sgambati, E., Manetti, M., Marini, M., & Marini, M. (2022). Survey on Psychological Well-Being and Quality of Life in Visually Impaired Individuals: Dancesport vs. Other Sound Input-Based Sports. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(8), 4438.