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(Earthy) Dance Therapy

copyright 2008 by Milica Barjaktarovic  

After performing a massage, I talk to my clients about self-care. Without self-care, bodywork will not hold for too long. It provides benefits for the next 2-3 days. The recipient feels good. Then, the old habits kick in and the muscles tighten again. Most likely, I will see you  next week or even later, so what do you do in the meantime? 

In the meantime, we stretch. How? There are many ways. The key is to RELAX and STRENGTHEN at the same time. It sounds like a paradox, doesn't it? But it is possible.... 

So, I do not send my clients to a gym.  Maybe there is a way to use the gym in a way that stretches, but I have not seen too many people use it properly. What I have seen is people who tighten their tight muscles even more and further hurt their lower back. 

I send my clients to a good yoga class, tai chi, qi-gong, hula, belly dance, or just swimming. (There is African dance too, for more athletic ones.) All those are relaxing and strengthening exercises that provide a great and GENTLE yet highly effective workout. All of them make the spine flexible, make the rib cage flexible, and provide excellent posture. All are Earthy and connect us to the Great Mystery and our own bodies and inner wisdom. They are fun. All but swimming are "wiggley" exercises that work extremely well to loosen the ribs, and the pelvis and position the pelvis properly, which is ABSOLUTELY critical for good posture and having a healthy body. 

Why is good circulation in the pelvic area so important? For many reasons. Please read the article on  the importance of pelvis

So, what do we do? We do exercises that stretch the pelvis. We wiggle and shake and shimmy and make circles and number eights with the pelvis. That also stretches the ribs and makes them flexible, and also adjusts the endocrine system. Have you ever seen a belly dancer with bad skin? No. They all have velvet-like complexion.  We could be tempted to attribute it to creams and makeup, but no, it is not. It is because of movements that make the entire spine, rib cage, and pelvis very flexible and fluent. If you look at good tai-chi or martial arts teachers, their skin glows, their hair shines, and their eyes sparkle. In their case, it is obviously not make-up. It is definitely their practice. 

Hula works in a same way, as well as tai-chi. Tai chi warm-up includes circling the hips and all that, bending, rotating the torso, etc. 

There are other modalities, like African dance, but that is more athletic and is not for everyone. 

A crucial thing about dance therapy is the increased feeling of self confidence, as we get to be more comfortable moving in our bodies. That is very important. We get to feel our pelvis, our hands, our arms, legs, torso. We get to communicate and sense our bodies in a way that is healthy and leads to good health. Tight, painful and diseased areas are those that somehow got forgotten and are not in our awareness anymore. To heal is to bring awareness. Dance does that. 

Last but not least, it is critical to HAVE FUN. Why? There are many reasons, as outlined in importance of having fun. In short, it boils down to: if it is fun, we do it. If it is not, we don't. So, why bother even trying something which is not genuinely interesting and engaging for us? 

Hula has more spiritual and communal connotations. Belly dance is suitable for those who love the drama and show off. African is great for athletes. Tai chi is about meditation and martial arts. Swimming is about getting wet and communing through the medium of the Water. 

Dance therapy is fun for many people. It is music, it is movement, and music has this uncanny ability to make us feel like flying. It is elegance, fluidity, grace, and it is a good workout. It doesn't require much - throw a CD and dance around your living room. If you want more, join a class. 

Enjoy! Have fun! 

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All images and text Copyright 2007, 2008 by Milica Barjaktarovic.   

For a fabulous massage, call Milica today. Gift certificates are available. North Shore, greater Haleiwa and Waialua area, Oahu, Hawaii. Email contact@humanremodeling.com or call 808.351.0848.