Mindful dancing, a style which requires no lycra clothing or complicated routines, is helping people free their bodies and so free their minds, according to Julie Nicholls.

Called 5Rhythms, this variety of dance dates back to the 1970s and was created by American Gabrielle Roth as a type of meditation. Now Julie, who has been a Body Mind Coash for 25 years, has brought the classes to Wiltshire.

She invited instructor Gay Murphy to run a free taster session in October, and has now organised another class on January 21 from 2pm to 5pm at Liddington village hall. A further session will run on March 18.

“5Rhythms is perfect for people who want or need to exercise but are put off by classes, perhaps because they can’t follow the instructor, or they worry what they look like, or even because they struggle getting off the floor,” Julie said.

“With 5Rhythms, people can wear that they like – loose clothing is ideal – and they dance how they wish, with guidance from the instructor. It suits people of any age and ability. The beauty of it is that you dance your own dance, within your comfort zone so there is no need to do anything that strains your body. There are no steps to learn and you can never get it wrong. This brings so much freedom to the body that it frees the mind.”

She described how 5Rhythms moves through five different types of music or rhythm – flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. The aim is to use movement as meditation, which helps people explore their feelings – she said it can be therapeutic for the mind as well as the body.

“It is a little like a dance-based version of how I help my clients, by helping heal their mind and their bodies,” she said.

Julie, 49, from Swindon, has dedicated her professional life to promoting mental and physical well bring and exploring the connection between them. She was born in Belgium, of British parents, and after leaving school, trained to be a nurse. But after gaining her nursing degree in 1989, she was disillusioned by conventional medicine and disappointed to discover the stresses and strains of her training had negatively impacted her own well being.

She moved to Britain and studied at the Brockwood Park School as a mature student, and in 1993 qualified in Remedial Massage from the Northern Institute of Massage. Julie wanted to take her understanding further, however, and to find ways to deal with chronic illness and pain, which she believed was not being fully resolves in hospitals.

She studied the Trager technique and qualified as a Trager Practitioner in 1997, which she says enabled her to do more than relieve pain and discomfort, but to help people avoid it in the first place. Her Natural Therapy Centre was a Wiltshire Business of the Year finalist in 1994.

“You have to educate your clients to stop doing stuff that is getting in the way of them being well,” she said. “It is a state of being. You have to take away all the things you are doing that are creating the pain, tension and disease of the body.

“Working extra long hours, lack of sleep and bad food all get in the way of being well.”

She said her therapy involved psycho-physical integration – becoming aware of exactly what is going on in your body, and what was creating the pain.

“That’s the whole package – helping people to connect with themselves so they can feel free of guilt and shame. That is what I help people with,” she said.

To find out more about the 5Rhythms mindful dancing, or about Julie’s work, visit her website, body-mind-coaching.co.uk or call 01793 495551.