Like No One’s Looking: End with a Cool Down

As we’ve explored the liberating and expressive art of dancing, we’ve understood the importance of creating a safe space, selecting favorite tunes, warming up, closing your eyes, forgetting about choreography, using props, practicing mindfulness, expressing emotions, inviting a trusted friend, and scheduling regular dance time. These elements blend to form an empowering dance experience that celebrates individuality, encourages self-expression, and nurtures the mind-body connection. But, just as every good thing begins, it should also end well. And for our dance sessions, this means concluding with a cool-down phase.

Imagine reading a riveting novel with a plot that suddenly ends without any conclusion. Sounds unsettling. This is precisely why our dance sessions also need a fitting conclusion, commonly called ‘cooling down.’

Like the warm-up, the cool-down phase is essential for our body and mind. After the exhilaration of dancing freely, it’s time to bring your body back to its resting state. Just as you prepared your body to dance with a warm-up, you should help it adjust post-dance with a cool-down.

A cool-down typically involves gentle stretching and deep breathing. Stretching after dance helps release muscle tension during your dance session, improving flexibility. According to the American Council on Exercise, stretching during the cool down helps “increase circulation, which aids in the removal of waste products and the release of tension.” 

Conversely, deep breathing helps slow your heart rate and stabilize your body’s rhythms. Yoga instructor and author Rachel Scott explains that “deep, conscious breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, helping us to relax and recover after exertion.”

But the cool-down phase is not just about physiological benefits. It’s also an opportunity to reflect and express gratitude. Take a moment to thank your body for its strength and flexibility, the music for its rhythm and energy, and the moment for allowing you to experience the joy of dance. This conscious appreciation nurtures a positive relationship with your body and dance, enhancing the liberating experience of dancing as if nobody’s watching.

So, remember to wrap up your session with a cool-down period next time you dance. Stretch, breathe, reflect, and express gratitude. You’ll find it’s the perfect full stop to your dancing story.

How do you usually end your dance sessions? Have you experienced the benefits of cooling down post-dance? Or are you inspired to incorporate this practice into your future dance sessions? Share your experiences, insights, and thoughts in the comments. Your words might be the motivation someone needs to start their dance journey!