Shake a leg to stay fit
By Sharmila Chand
16th September 2012 12:00 AM
The treadmill gets monotonous and there is no time to go outdoors for a walk,” says Sanjana, Bangalore-based business development executive. What she finds interesting is her dance class which she religiously attends thrice a week. “I have enrolled myself at a dance studio and believe me. I look forward the whole day to start dancing with the group. Dance seamlessly blended with exercise keeps me fit.”
While dancing is a beautiful expression of art, it has a much deeper meaning for all those who indulge in it for the sake of releasing their stress. They say dancing is a form of meditation as it affects their overall well-being. Dancing involves all the senses—intelligence, spirituality, discovery and spontaneity. When the mind and body tune in to spontaneous movements, it creates an exhilarating experience. Also, dancing involves a perfect blend of body and mind.
Noted Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran says, “Dancing is therapeutic for both body and soul. Dancing is probably the purest path to comprehensive wellness. In dance, the body is completely primed for high levels of physical exercise. Dancers breathe differently and manage their energies better. For example, in the midst of any movement, one exhales fully when one’s body is not facing the audience. Dance also brings to the fore the powers of the mind. Not just memory but in terms of creativity, linking to the spiritual realm, dance offers it all.”
Renowned choreographer Sandip Soparrkar on dance as medicine says: “A lot can happen over a dance. This is why dance is getting researched as a palliative medicine. That’s because dance is not about how you look, but how you feel.”
Besides various physical health benefits that come with the realm of dance therapy, one must also note its significant healing benefits.
Firstly, the entire exercise of being with others, matching steps in unison expels the status of loneliness and isolation. Sharing the same platform where everybody is a learner, leads to natural feeling of unity and comraderie.
Rhythm has the ability to bring forth the hidden aspects of the personality and mingle with the surrounding environment. Once the muscles and nerves are let loose, it reduces the levels of anxiety thereby placing the individual in a world of his own. Hence, it becomes a wonderful tool to let you be released of all inhibitions and just go with the flow.
“Dance therapy helps you to stay fit, slim, in-shape as well mentally strong. There are varied forms of dance which are available to all ages and body types, male or female,” says Madhav, CEO, KIPA Dance Academy.
Whether it is Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Manipuri martial art, Chau martial art, folk dance of Karnataka and Suggi Kunitha (harvest dance), or ballet, salsa, tango, tap, jazz, belly-dancing, each one is blended to bring about the unique dance therapy.
While dancing, different muscles in our body are used which helps to strengthen and tone the muscles without hurting the joints. Salsa is uplifting, even after an exhausting day of pouring concrete. Ballroom dancing keeps heart healthy; jazz and funk help you to control blood pressure and cholesterol. All forms of dance, however, are known to lower your risk of heart disease, help with weight loss, and strengthen the bones and muscles in your legs and hips. Any kind of dancing increases the number of chemicals being produced in the brain to help with the growth of nerve cells. More importantly, dances that require you to learn certain steps can actually increase your brain power and help to improve your memory skills. Dance also is the easiest way to build your confidence. It freshens up your mental state, fills new energy in life, and enhances your sense of creativity. Research shows that a 150-pound adult can actually burn approximately 150 calories doing 30 minutes of social dancing. The best part is you’re not even thinking about losing the weight while doing it.
Shall we dance
Dance therapy benefits
● Strengthens bones and muscles without hurting your joints
● Tones your entire body
● Improves your posture and
● Increases your stamina and flexibility
● Reduces stress and tension
● Builds confidence and friend circle
● Wards off illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression
Zumba gaining popularity
Zumba as a fitness regime involves a lot of hip movements and footwork. Regular sessions will help you lose in inches around your hips and thighs. It also strengthens your lower limbs. The combination of good rhythmic music and some mean moves will never fail to inspire you.
Ramraj Yogi, owner of WellnTrim Fitness Studio in Mumbai, says, “Zumba has simple and easy dance steps and various movement modifications so there are no wrong moves. It energises your body and mind and makes you going back for more.”
Those who fight their weight issues everyday have benefited from Zumba too. Since Zumba increases metabolism rate, one stands to lose more weight and inches. During an average session of Zumba of an hour, one can easily shed 500 calories.
Tango's new-found respect
Argentinian tango is a dance form that originated in the brothels (some say streets) of Argentina. It is also called “vertical sex”, and is basking in new found respect, thanks to a host of scientific research. Researchers at McGill University found that the tango works much better than conventional walking to reduce the risk of falls in older people. This dance form improves the emotional state by decreasing the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and increasing those of testosterone.
Srishti, a Centre of Performing Arts, Bangalore
The centre has blended various forms of Indian dance and formulated a dance therapy that can control various physical ailments. Srishti Director A V Sathyanarayan says: “I don’t treat people as patients in my institute, but as dancers who are keen on mastering the art.’’ The dance is accompanied by music blended with the Carnatic, Hindustani, Jazz and the folk form. Srishti has also designed a dance therapy for pregnant women that would help in painless delivery. The dance therapy could be used to treat patients with cholesterol and obesity.
Sandip Soparrkar’s Ballroom Studio
Dancer and teacher Sandip Soparrkar personally teaches his students the techniques in five Latin American ballroom dances—Rumba, Samba, Cha Cha Cha, Jive and Paso Doble; five Standard ballroom dances—Social Foxtrot, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep and Tango, and two famous club dances—Cuban Salsa and Merengue.
Sandip has seen people transform on the dance floor. He says, “It’s not just individuals, but also couples. They may come having differences, but end up rediscovering each other.”
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