By contributing writer Dylan Broggio, LCSW-R
Research tells us that dancing improves mood in the following ways:
- Gives you an endorphin boost from exercise
- Increases self confidence
- Improves social skills
- Expands your social network
- Lifts your spirits
- Reduces depression
- Laugh at yourself (you will make mistakes)
- Keeps you in the moment.
In tango, the man always leads, the woman simply listens and responds. Initially I wasn’t feeling the machismo thing. I thought our teacher would kick us out of class it I didn’t stop trying to lead!!! After countless reprimands, I gave in. I allowed myself to just follow, to just be.
Tango is a very subtle, very precise dance. A slight movement of my partners shoulder would order my leg to go flying behind me in a (supposedly graceful) “boleo”. I had to be present. Any anticipation of what was coming next, I would literally trip us up.
Once I started to get the hang of it, Tom asked for a dance. Tom was an experienced tanguero, complete with a silver ponytail, big belly, and the serious tango face. I closed my eyes, leaned my body into his and LET GO. He pushed me around the dance floor (his big belly helped actually) and we glided around in an effortless, completely present, beautifully flowing tango. It was so freeing!
In a study done at the University of New England, participants who spent six weeks learning and dancing tango, reported significantly lower levels of depression than a control group, as well as a group who took meditation classes. Author of the study, Rosa Pinniger, credits the extreme focus, or “mindfulness” of the dance, which interrupts negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety and depression.
So, tango taught me a great lesson – sometimes it's good to turn your brain off, loosen up, and just be! So go out there and tango, salsa, swing dance, meringue, hip hop, country line dance, anything to get you moving, free, and present!
To get started why not check out the local Fred Astaire Dance Studio in your neighborhood?