What Happens to Your Brain When You Dance?

Meet Leoni Epiphaniou. The Boston resident has been a psychotherapist for over 20 years, helping hundreds of clients deal with stress, anxiety, traumatic events, depression, and so much more. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Leoni also has a side job – she’s been a licensed Zumba® Instructor for the last 5 years. If you think her two career paths are not connected, think again.

“My passion for therapy and for dance go hand in hand,” says Leoni. “Exercise, especially dance, allows one to let go and achieve a deeper layer of healing that is difficult to do with talk therapy alone.”

Because of this finding, Leoni recommends group exercise – specifically Zumba® classes – to about 85% of her clientele as a substitute for medication. She firmly believes that movement is correlated with good health, while stagnancy leads to disease.

“There’s a magic that happens when you’re moving around,” says Leoni. “You may not even be aware of it, but learning a new choreography and being in the moment enables your mind to interrupt negative thought patterns. And that’s where healing begins.”

Many clients reach a point where stress, anxiety, and emotions become too overwhelming. There are a number of reasons why Zumba classes create a perfect environment for getting rid of emotional stress.

  • It’s easy to do. If you let go and have fun with it, it’s an opportunity to get in touch with your inner child or with your inner sexy.  Dance is a great way to lift your body to an open, optimistic posture, which is the ideal gateway into brighter mental landscapes.
  • There’s a social connection, which is beneficial because of the camaraderie that occurs. Unlike treadmills or running, which are solo activities, Zumba classes promote interaction with others, which can lead to improved confidence.
  • Mindfulness. When you allow yourself to zoom into the present moment to feel the beat, learn a routine, and lose yourself in movement and dance, there is no anxiety about what is in the past or about what lies ahead. That focus on the here and now helps to break focus from negative thought patterns and cultivates relaxation, positivity and awareness, which leads to optimum functioning, energy and health. 

“The Zumba program is so much more than a way to get in physical shape,” says Leoni. “The joy and the actual mind shift that my clients experience after taking classes are little miracles that I get to witness every day.”

Ready to fill your prescription? Find a class now. Warning: Zumba classes may cause extreme optimism, confidence, weight loss, and permanent smiling.

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