The Joy of Collective Movement

We have known for many years that physical movement with other people is a positive experience. When we walk with a friend, take that yoga class with our partner or even a weekend run with a group of strangers, we motivate and provide each other with a net of social support. The benefits are felt not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Through scientific research it’s been revealed that the positive benefits of group movement actually go much deeper. Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist in 1912 coined the term “collective effervescence” to describe something bigger – that euphoric self-transcendence that we feel when we move together. Through his research, Durkheim discovered that moving together helps people to feel connected to each other and to their collective goal, whether the goal is mastering that tree pose or running the New York marathon, it is, as they say, the journey that counts. As humans, we naturally crave this feeling of connection and moving together is the best way to experience it. We have definitely felt this in our classes, that elusive feeling that binds people into our community and keeps them coming back.

Durkheim discovered that moving together as one group creates in each of us a feeling of solidarity and inspires hope. This feeling of collective effervescence is deeply rooted in our basic human need to cooperate to survive. It builds bonds with those we move with and builds a level of trust that is hard to match. Movement brings us together in a combined action, reminding us that we are essentially part of a wider community. It is within this community, bound by a shared purpose, that we feel a sense of belonging and security that allows us to thrive.

First published in the 202 Magazine, 2023


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