Dance for Productivity, Happiness and Health

Dance for Productivity, Happiness and Health

“Move. As far as you can, as much as you can…open your mind, get up off the couch, move

Anthony Bourdain

Regular movement is a central part of a productive, healthy and active life. Humans are meant to move!

There are many and varied ways to create a regular movement practice that will benefit your work, body and mind. 

One type of beneficial movement practice is dance. 

On the occasions when we dance we may find ourselves at clubs or special events, enjoying a drink, celebrating or “unwinding” after a busy work week. 

“It’s hard to drink when you dance. And it’s hard to dance when you drink

Charles Bukowski

But what if we danced for the simple joy of dancing and for the related health benefits that it brings on a more regular basis? You might find it a more fun way of getting movement into your life than ordinary exercise.

Let us tell you the reasons you should be dancing regularly to reap the benefits of a sober and regular dance-based movement practice for your productivity, energy, physical health, emotions, mind and spirit!

What are the benefits of dancing?

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live

Jim Rohn

A regular dance practice has a wide range of significant benefits for body and mind, such as:

  • Reversing the signs of aging in the brain [1]
  • Improving and maintaining balance [1]
  • Improving mood [2]
  • Treating depression [3] 
  • Releasing spontaneity, intuition and creativity [3] 
  • Improvements in attention and verbal memory [4]
  • Integrating brain structures [5]
  • Accessing a state of flow [8]
  • Accessing a state of ecstasis [8]
  • Treating stress [8]
  • Developing a feeling of connection to others [8]
  • Physical exercise 

Spontaneous creativity, problem solving, increased attention and memory are all key factors that can improve our output at work. 

Developing our intuition, balance and flexibility whilst improving our mood can improve our quality of life.

Dancing can literally change your life!

What are you waiting for? Rediscover the music that you couldn’t help moving to, improve yourself, your life and have fun! 

I can’t dance and I don’t know the steps!

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the dancefloor. It is to enjoy each step along the way

Wayne Dyer

Dancing does not need to be public and it requires no previous knowledge of dance steps. 

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will automatically push your creativity [11]. 

All you need to do is observe young children caught in the rhythm when music is played to see the hypnotic hold that certain music can have over us. 

Movement to music is irresistible and each movement we make is individual to us. 

There are associations between emotions and specific motor components [6]. 

“Intuition means exactly what it sounds like, in-tuition! An inner tutor or teaching and learning mechanism that takes us forward daily. It is a resource that, where recognised, has infinite potential

Sylvia Clare

A regular dance practice can also develop intuition as you ignore how you look and move your body following your inner guide. 

Research indicates that intuition is a characteristic needed for strong leadership skills like listening, reflection, self-examination, and communication [14]. 

How can dance help me at work?

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain

Vivian Greene

Dancing can increase productivity, morale and teamwork [8], all of which are essential skills in the workplace. Also, dancing integrates a range of brain functions simultaneously- rational, musical, emotional and kinesthetic- stimulating neural connectivity, whilst also increasing swift decision making to improve cognition [10].

If we feel good physically, we can perform better intellectually and emotionally. Dancing keeps your blood, mind, and ideas flowing, leading to a better quality of work. [8] 

In business, self confidence and body language can be the difference between success or failure. Dancers practice both. As you dance, you increase self-awareness by monitoring how your body is moving. This leads to a stronger presence. [8]

Top performers are more confident. More confidence can lead to a higher output and more productivity. [8]

Dance develops creativity

Creativity is just connecting things

Steve Jobs

Participating in creatively expressive tasks, such as dance, stimulates the flow of creativity, challenges the mind and provides new outlets for creative exploration.

In a global workplace moving towards automation, human creativity is immune to automation [13]. Creativity is a human skill which cannot be replicated by a machine and must be developed as a key part of a personal development programme. 

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute [12], the demand for higher cognitive skills, including creativity, will rise almost 10% by 2030. 

So How Do I Dance?

When starting a regular dance-based movement practice you could consider dancing alone to your favourite music and quietly observe the positive effects that it has on your physical and mental states of mind. 

Dance is active meditation. When we dance, we go beyond thought, beyond mind and beyond our individuality

Goa Gil 

Consider your choice of music carefully as the exploration of new movements and the choice of music can evoke novel perceptions and feelings such as happiness, sadness and fear [3]. 

Go within and rise above with mindful movement by dancing like nobody’s looking.

Step 1 – create the right environment

When starting an at-home dance practice create a safe environment that promotes relaxation and calm. Create your own dance space lovingly and thoughtfully for you. 

Maybe close the curtains, light some candles, dim the main lights and create a clear dance space so you can dance freely. For the best experience we recommend plugging into a speaker, sound system or wireless headphones so you can become fully immersed in the music. 

Have water nearby and possibly a space to lie down with a blanket for the end of the practice. 

Setting an intention for your dance or acknowledging what you are bringing to your practice at the start can be a good way to settle into the moment. Don’t fight these, just name them. It may be that your intention is “to be relaxed, focussed and present.”  

You can wear anything you wish- but it will need to be comfy and sapcious enough to move freely! We also suggest layers as it may get hot. We suggest dancing barefoot (ideally in nature!) but you may want to wear indoor trainers if you prefer.

Step 2 – Warm up

As with any regular movement practice, warming up beforehand is critical to be able to get into the “zone.” 

This can be warming up physically, but also preparing the mind to slow down and focus on the music fully as you dance to enter a state of flow without becoming distracted by other thoughts. 

Do you need extra time to slow down beforehand? Leaving the day thus far behind is a critical part of the practice. 

Step 3 – Dance!

Forget how you ‘should’ dance or how you may appear from the outside. Listen fully to the music, how it makes you feel and be guided by your intuition as you move your body. 

Choosing a ‘journey’ of music that begins slow, increases in intensity and then gradually brings you back to a calmer state is a good option. 

Be playful and willing to experiment, listening to your body and focussing on movements that feel good. 

It is also ok to simply sit or lie down as you listen to the music and fully focus. Acknowledge what your body and mind want.  

Step 4 – Cool down

Perhaps slow down, lie or sit down towards the end of your practice. 

Make sure you take time at the end of the practice to reflect on the experience, noticing the changes in your body and mind. 

If you have a journal to hand, reflect on the experience. How did you feel at the start, how did you feel during the dance and what insights have you gained, if any? Don’t judge, just record. 

“While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance.”

Hans Bos

There are a range of guided dance playlists available on online platforms and events that will take you through a warm up all the way to a post-dance relaxation [see links below]. 

Dance together to multiply the benefits

“My feet danced and my arms moved, not in a dance that I had learned from others, but in a dance that moved and lived in me. My whole body moved in joyous ecstasy

Mika Waltari

Once you feel more confident you can magnify the benefits of a regular dance practice by joining others at organised dance events, such as dance meditation events, ecstatic dance, Movement Medicine or 5 Rhythms to name a few. 

Often, you will not be given instructions on how to dance or who to dance with. A facilitator will create a live musical journey and hold space for you to express yourself freely as you dance unrestricted from judgement. 

Commonly such events emphasise a system where attendees can dance alone or, with permission, join others to dance together.  

It is common to observe a group flow in such events that can quickly allow you to access altered states of consciousness such as states of ecstasis.

A state of ecstasis, or flow, is an elusive state of mind where you can become so focussed on a task that all external distractions are eliminated [15]. 

Creativity and actions begin to be guided by intuition rather than the conscious mind [15]. 

Ecstasis is utilised by high-performing artists, athletes, and academics draw upon when they’re in the zone [15]. 

Conclusion

“If you don’t do your dance, who will?

Gabrielle Roth

Dancing is not just for professional dancers. We each have our own unique dance that we can unleash to benefit our work, body, mind and intuition. 

We all have the ability to move our bodies to music and unleash a wide range of health benefits. 

There are many at-home practices and events that can guide you through a dance meditation and unlock all of the benefits of a regular dance practice. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article, but even better would be your success stories and commitments to take action. Feel free to leave your comments below, but also to get in touch if you want an accountability partner.

The author has hosted many live and online dance meditation events and has created guided playlists that you can dance to at home. Further details of playlists and upcoming events can be found here:

Dance Meditation Guernsey (including online sessions!)

Soundcloud Guided Playlists

 


[1]https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-reverse-aging-brain.html?fbclid=IwAR04D6qcLHEmIC9J3D2K3PuNMj76zbQWQhq913chKuyRf6RjGCQRfXN5Gxk 

[2]https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350?fbclid=IwAR0hOyZ6oIYbFrI69YzxkK1BBWDRWSVlgRhXrDwBYtiFQMavkO30rwDhyT8 

[3]https://qz.com/1764294/how-dance-fights-depression-parkinsons-and-other-brain-disease/ 

[4]https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00056/full 

[5]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014976341830664X?via%3Dihub 

[6] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00990296 

[7] https://tinybuddha.com/blog/5-lessons-dance-meditation/

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecstatic_dance

[9]https://dancewithmeusa.com/8-reasons-simple-idea-boost-employee-productivity-wellness-2/

[10] http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/smarter.htm 

[11] https://social.hays.com/2019/03/05/creativity-important-for-all-jobs/ 

[12]https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Future%20of%20Organizations/Skill%20shift%20Automation%20and%20the%20future%20of%20the%20workforce/MGI-Skill-Shift-Automation-and-future-of-the-workforce-May-2018.ashx 

[13]https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/11552787/Could-a-robot-do-your-job-Not-if-youre-creative-enough.html 

[14] https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-benefits-of-an-intuitive-workplace/ 

[15]https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrismyers/2018/05/25/why-finding-your-natural-fit-is-the-key-to-achieving-ecstasis/#71db2b8a1837 

2 Responses
  1. Shelley Tansell

    Fabulous article very constructed, a very enjoyable read and informative introduction for beginners wishing to explore dance meditation and begin their dance meditation journey like myself, looking forward to extending my spiritual journey in a different medium with like minded people.