Based on my personal experience, diaphragm training has become an important part of my dance training. In 2010 and 2011 I had to undergo surgery following diaphragm hernias. This prompted me to choose the diaphragm as subject of an academic paper I wrote as part of my diploma in Dance Therapy as Applied Dance Psychology at the University Munster-Westphalia, Germany. I examined the significance of the diaphragm and developed a model to describe its sphere of influence. (Thesis "A Critical examination of the significance of the diaphragm and the development of a model to describe its sphere of influence", 2011.)
This study has shown, among other things, that, in addition to performing vital functions on a physiological level the diaphragm has a far-reaching effect on body, mind and spirit: It can be regarded as an interface between body and psyche and as a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious. A correctly functioning diaphragm is experienced not so much as a partition between the upper and lower parts of the body but as a connecting element between above and below, front and rear, left half and right half, inner and outer, and of the person themselves and the essence of their being. In this function of connecting element the diaphragm releases its potential and assumes a central role in personal development.
Dance psychology broadly comprises two areas: First it deals with the interpretation of meaning and content of the movement material of dance vis-à-vis the observer with regard to an intended effect (psyche of dance). That is, it is concerned with the analysis of the components and the effect of a dance piece and of dance in general.
Second, dance psychology is the specific functionalization of dance with regards to individual requirements (the effect of dance on the psyche). In other words it examines the effects that dance has on the psyche and uses these findings to derive therapeutic aims. (cf. Hörmann, Tanzpsychologie und Bewegungsgestaltung, Paroli, 1999.)
The field of Dance Therapy as Applied Dance Psychology was founded by dance and music educator Prof. Dr. Dr. Karl Hörmann. For detailed information about this type of therapy visit www.tanztherapie.net/tanztherapie.htm.