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The Medicine Of Movement

July 31, 2014

blog_photo_8325Dancing is my chosen path to healing. I have shifted and changed my physical body, my inner thoughts and feelings and my connection to spirit by dancing through all of my life’s experiences. The concept of movement as medicine became clear to me after years of showing up on the dance floor in either in a 5Rhythms® or a movement technique class. Quite honestly, I was amazed at how much personal growth and transformation I achieved just through mindfully moving my body. My healing compelled me to train as a Certified 5Rhythms® teacher, Developmental Movement Specialist and Laban Movement Analyst. It was clear to me that I wanted to find a way to bring the medicine of movement and dance to others.

Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms® moving meditation practice, sums it up so profoundly:

“Mine is a dancing path. My bible is the body because the body can’t lie. My master is rhythm. There is no dogma in the dance. When you let your body dance you immediately strip away the lies and the dogma until all you are left with is the spirit of life itself. Movement is medicine, and I trust that if you put the psyche in motion, it will heal itself.”
~Gabrielle Roth~

As a movement teacher, when people ask me what kind of dance I teach, I always think to myself, I teach movement as medicine. Whether it is a dad connecting one-on-one with his toddler, a 4 year old prancing around like a pony or a middle-aged woman discovering her hips can sway – all of these occurrences have the potential to heal the intricate workings of our body-mind.

In my parent and infant movement classes, I often witness babies and toddlers moving their bodies when a rhythmic beat is present. I don’t teach babies to move! A mother’s womb surrounds her growing baby with constant rhythms. The baby senses and feels the physical rhythmic vibration through the workings of their mother’s body such as respiration, digestion, fluids pumping and mobilization of body parts. Once a baby is born, the wiring in their primitive brain (inherent in their cellular DNA) guides them to cycle through specific developmental movement patterns in order to move independently. Their movement is vital for survival and healthy brain development, but moreover, the baby’s own body movements are pleasurable to them!

I believe it is our birthright as humans to be able to move our bodies in ways that feel good and also help us modulate our emotional states. Body movement is the direct outward expression that communicates feelings. Young children are master teachers of how we can apply the medicine of movement in order to process feelings through our body.

Have you watched a baby play with a toy and all of a sudden get completely frustrated or upset when things don’t go the way they want? They throw the toy down and often flail their limbs, flop their body down and cry so hard their entire torso quivers and heaves. Then in the next breath or two, they rollover, come back upright with a look of curiosity and begin the discovery process again with a toy!

With a full movement repertoire, healthy infants and toddlers express curiosity, frustration, distress, sadness or joy. They can modulate any intense feelings by simply moving through body-action sequences to resolve emotion. They learn how to self-sooth and administer movement medicine for themselves.

We have the potential to resolve our personal challenges through our dance. We simply need to show up and put our bodies in motion. Whatever is there, we can pay attention, welcome it into our body parts, give it breath and let it find expressive action. In this way, the medicine of movement is gifted to us.

What I treasure most about movement and dance as a healing modality is that it is contained within us. You can administer the exact dose for yourself – no need for a diagnosis or prescription from the outside world. We can take this moving medicine as often as we like, wherever we like and with whomever we like! From the youngest babies to the wisest elders, all can experience the power of movement to help heal us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

May you discover many ways to offer your body the medicine of movement.

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