On Woudestein campus in the sunset, five girls joined the dance session, given by Arisa Andreani Inagaki. First gathering in front of Erasmus food plaza, they walk around the campus together and finally decide to dance in the quiet corner behind Tinbergen building. As the up-beat music begins, participants freely move their bodies following the guide of the instructors, who also move themselves: from exchanging positions with each other to be ‘in the present’ to mimicking their favourite animals’ movement.

Mind-body connection

One of the two organisers Chloé Möller (Psychology), who is also a member of Extraordinary Life, a student association focused on self-development, sees the activity as an opportunity for herself as well as for the participants: “Over the last year, I’ve seen that a lot of students are struggling. We want to offer the opportunity for students to take care of their mental health and well-being. So many research has shown that there’s a clear mind-body connection. Taking care of your body also means taking care of your mind.”

Participant Femke de Ruijter (BMG) already had some experience in dancing and other sports. She expects to learn more about mindful exercise from the event. “I really like to move my body in the exercises instead of just hearing some words.”

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Coping with stress

Another participant, Amalia Seck (IBACS), has been meditating and being conscious about her daily food and media consumption, which are helpful for coping with the stress in the past unusual year. She looks forward to what the event will bring her: “I think there’s a lot of room for surprises, so I just want to have fun, and chill, and get together with people that I don’t know.”

Participants have their own ways to release stress and connect with themselves during the lock-down life. Elza Roze (IBACS) loves to restore energy from getting close to nature: “I move around, go outside to take a walk, rather than just staying in my room because that’s so easy to do.”

Lisa Waterman (IBACS) enjoyed the workshop very much: “It’s really grounding. I got the chance to really drop my body, and they did such an amazing job in leading this class, even though there’s not that many people.”