BODY AWARENESS | Holistic Movement
I took a contemporary dance class at Equinox a while back and after doing the routine a few times, I had to hold back tears. I can’t really put too many words to this experience, except to say that I felt something release as I danced with joy and freedom. It wasn’t some supernatural phenomenon however. This is what can happen when you are really connected to your body…also known as body awarenss.
Body awareness is essentially movement that connects the mind to the muscles. As you relearn bodily movements, you also have the ability to relearn thinking patterns and habits. Any awareness through movement exercise integrates mental stimulation and musculoskeletal movement, making it a true mind body connecter. It's like a workout for the nervous system. Another way to think about it, with the mind gut connection, everything we eat sends information to our brain via phyto chemicals which effect our focus, memory, and energy levels. Likewise, movement sends information to our brain via of the spinal cord through sensory movements.
In terms of nueroplasticity, it's important that we build the unconscious ability to self correct. This is what body awareness exercises accomplishes overtime. It has been toted that these exercises can reduce both physical pain and anxiety. Ironically, the sensation of feeling anxious takes place in the same area of the brain where we feel pain. In terms of body image and self care, BA is great because there’s less focus on athleticism and for me, I find that I can get obsessed with weight and diet doing intense physical exercise. Adopting a movement practice that I genuinely enjoy has helped me maintain a healthy routine without being perfectionistic about it (no fun in that)! Here are are some great examples of body awareness exercises:
Below, is an excellent talk by David Zemach-Bersin of the Feldenkrais Institute in New York about how movement integrates the body with emotions.