Circus as a Healing Art: Polyvagal Theory & Why Circus Works

Circus News

Circus as a Healing Art: What Polyvagal Theory Teaches Us About Why Circus Works

If you’re involved in the circus world, you’ve likely heard people talk about the healing power of circus, whether they’re casually joking about circus being “their therapy,” or reflecting on the transformative impact they’ve seen circus have on their students in a social circus setting.
This article is the first installment in a series that explores simplified interpersonal neurobiology that gives us a concrete way of understanding why circus works. Autonomic Nervous System Basics The autonomic nervous system. Image from The Human Central Nervous System: A Synopsis & Atlas Hardcover – 2007, Rudolf Nieuwenhuys Our bodies carry out many functions (heart rate, breathing, digestion) without us having to mindfully cue them to occur.  These functions are regulated by the aut...
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Lacy Alana

Lacy Alana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, circus artist, circus teacher, and improviser who specializes in trauma and neurodivergence. Lacy has a varied professional history, including working in the corporate world (with a business/advertising degree), running specialized circus and improv theatre programs for neurodiverse and at-risk youth, training educators/coaches//helping professionals/medical professionals, working as a therapist, and teaching mainstream circus. Lacy provides one-of-a-kind trainings that fuse Interpersonal Neurobiology, therapeutic frameworks, business communication, and pedagogy from improvisational theatre and the circus arts. Lacy's passion remains in working within adaptive/social circus and training others to do the same.