OGDEN -- For a few hours each Friday night, a circle of drummers descends upon Dee Sports Park in Ogden and beat their cares away.
Anyone is invited to participate, whether they want to dance, drum or just sit on a blanket and watch.
The music is therapeutic, said Kathy Wood, founder of Wellness Rhythms.
"We live in a body and a world of rhythms. Our body rhythms are our heartbeat and our breath," Wood said. "Our earth has rhythms day, night, month, year and seasons. It is innate within each of us. Getting back in touch with our own rhythm may help steer us toward wellness."
Wood isn't just talking to the wind. She said plenty of research to back up that claim continues to pile up.
"Research shows that drumming has a real physiological effect on the body, affecting the body physically, emotionally and spiritually," she said.
According to the Bittman Medical Science Monitor, people involved in group drumming experienced an increase in their immune system, increased circulation, improved mood, reduced stress and increased socialization. Drumming has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, Wood said.
Wood said she started Wellness Rhythms because of her passion for health and wellness. She's a master herbalist, licensed massage therapist, Reiki master and trained HealthRythms Drum Circle Facilitator. She hopes one day to open a wellness center in the community.
As the group of about 50 gathered in a circle on the lawn, each person sat in front of or on top of a drum. Some had shakers, tambourines or bells to use in addition. Wood began drumming a rhythm and the others followed. Pretty soon everyone was in sync with one another. Some people got up and danced outside the circle.
"Together the group moves into a place where everyone shares the same space, time and music together, "Wood said. "All barriers are broken, whether it be language, racial, cultural, gender, age or ability and it takes us into the core of who we really are."
Eileen Wood, who works at Hospice Care of Northern Utah, said Wellness Rhythms has helped many people going through the bereavement process.
"Kathy is so good at what she does. She gets everyone connected," she said. "There will be people there who won't talk and she'll ask them to beat out what loneliness sounds like. All of a sudden they are talking and really talking from the heart, just from beating on the drum. I've never seen people go so deep with the rhythm. It's so healing."
Deja Mitchell, who teaches African dance and drumming at the Eccles Community Art Center, said drumming is very meditative..
"You have to let go of your thoughts and focus," she said. "It's so healing and so connecting. You can communicate without using words. You can have a completely diverse group and find something in common through drumming."
As the group continued drumming, more and more people began to show interest. Catherine Clarke sprinkled soil of Chimayo on several drums and around the drummers bodies. She said the soil has healing powers.
"Three hundred years ago a man saw a light so he went to it and began to dig. There was a crucifix there so he built a church," Clarke said. "Today, if you go to the church in New Mexico, you'll see hundreds of crutches and braces covering the wall. They were left by the people who were healed there."
Wood said anyone of any age is welcome to attend the drumming circle each Friday night at 6 p.m. The event is free and no musical experience is required.
Wood will also facilitate a drumming group tailored to fit the specific needs of the group.
For more information, go to wellness-rhythms.com or Wellness Rhythms on Facebook. Click the Like button for updates and schedule changes.