Here’s how it works…you put on some music (that you enjoy), that has a strong beat, rhythm or tempo. Now here’s the cool thing, it doesn’t have to be pop, rock and roll, blues or country music – the music you usually associate with having a strong beat for dancing. I have done this to Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Sit in a straight-backed, flat-bottomed chair – like a kitchen chair. Sit so that both feet can be flat on the floor, with your back nice and lengthened. In other words, don’t slump. Sit like a child who is excitedly waiting for the next surprise.
Listen to the music for a minute or two until you hear a repetition of a pattern in the way the music flows. Close your eyes (if you can), and just allow your body to move in response to the rhythm of the music.
You can start with tapping your toe or heel, or tapping your hand on your knee; but as you begin to relax and feel the music, let your shoulders get involved and then finally your hips. Here’s a secret… when you listen to familiar music that you really like, a part of the brain, the cerebellar vermis activates movement of the head, neck, shoulders and trunk. Your body naturally wants to move to music.
Start with tapping your foot. Keep the heel on the floor, lift your toe and just tap to the beat. When you’re doing that you are not only strengthening the muscles in your front of your lower legs, but your keeping flexibility in your ankle and foot…a major concern for older adults who resort to the “senior shuffle’ because they don’t have the ability to roll through their foot from heel to toe as a normal step should be. As we get older, the tendons in the top and bottom of our feet, shorten and get tight (as do our calf muscles!), and have a big impact on our ability to walk on uneven surfaces. Have you noticed that?
Okay, back to the tapping… alternate your toes, then lift the heel and continue tapping to the beat. Now your working the back of your lower legs.
Now, add the shoulders… just a small movement back and forth, with first one shoulder and then the other. Don’t be stiff, no one is watching you, just let your shoulders move to the music. You may notice that when you start moving your shoulders, you’re sort of moving back and forth on your fanny too. You actively involve the hips by gently squeezing first one cheek (on your bottom!) and then the other. In my classes, I call this “bun bobbling”. Although you may not be aware of it, when you squeeze your fanny, the muscles in the thighs also become engaged. Pretty soon your whole body is movin’ and groovin’ to the music.