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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
 
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  Home  > Personal Wellness  > Dance as Exercise

Dance as Exercise

This approach to exercise may not win you a place on an Olympic team, but it may help you build body-wise habits that will last a lifetime.

While some of us need no invitation to start exercising, others are less inclined. This exercise is designed to ease you into an enjoyable and energetic dance experience - something you can do without worrying about how you look. Try it and see how simple and joyful movement can be.

In the privacy of your room, put on a favorite piece of energetic music. Close your eyes and simply listen for a few minutes. Let yourself feel the music entering your body with your breath or vibrating the cells of your skin. Now direct your attention to your right hand. Begin to tap or stretch your fingers in any way that the music suggests. Allow the movement to extend itself, to encompass your wrist as well. Stay with this simple experience for a while.

Now direct attention to your left hand and do the same. Imagine that you are shaking off tension, or splashing in water, or kneading a piece of clay - whatever the movement inspires. Next, engage your right arm, and then your left, allowing yourself to move from shoulders to tips of fingers. How many different ways can you find to dance with your arms alone? How many different ways can you move your arms in unison or in opposition?

Keep your arms and hands going, doing whatever they want to, as you give attention to your head. Let the music direct it. Imagine conducting a symphony with a baton that extends from the center of your forehead, or from the crown of your head, or from your chin.

Your upper body now wants to get into the act. Concentrate on your middle section. Allow yourself to move from the waist in any ways that feel good. Pretend that your whole body exists from waist to head - forget the rest. Let the hips and pelvis come along whenever you are ready for them. Careful here - they will want to take over.

Imagine yourself as a tree in the wind. Roots are firm. Only the branches and upper trunk move. Be a fettered bird, wanting to escape, but restrained by a silver thread. Unlock your knees and allow your legs to move without lifting your feet. Challenge yourself with how many ways you can direct them - ways that you have never tried before. Pretend that you are scientifically cataloguing all the possible combinations of movement that legs can make. Keep your feet still until you can't stand it a minute longer. Go inside yourself and take note of what your body feels like all over. Imagine your blood cells dancing in your veins, oxygen dancing in your lungs, energy dancing everywhere.

Now let go completely and allow yourself to move totally - head, arms, belly, pelvis, legs, feet. Surprise!

Want another one? This time simply try a different, dramatically more- or less-active, piece of music.




<< Previous Guidelines for Exercising | Back to Moving | Next >> Yoga
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