So when I am not practising routines and embellishing costumes for up & coming events I still continue to practise my shimmy drills and do a basic Belly Dance workout almost every day. I did not just get this tummy from no where. I do a gentle Yoga warm up & stretch before I do my Belly Dance workout.
This video gives you an idea of what I do, it isn’t meant to be perfect it is literally to keep muscle memory around my abdomen.
The Health Benefits of Belly Dance:
*Improved circulation *Improved suppleness *Increased joint flexibility *Deeper breathing, better oxygenation of blood *Relaxing and calming, reduces stress *Possible aerobic exercise workout – burns fat, raises metabolism and improves resting heart rate *Tones all major muscle groups – legs, thighs, calves, gluteals, abdominals, upper arms, back *Reduces cellulite *Eases PMT symptoms *Prepares major muscle groups for pregnant women to assist the birthing process
The basis of the core moves is always the centre – just below the navel – or in esoteric arts the place known as the hara, second chakra or simply ‘the centre’. Yoga and Pilates are two popular exercises that like bellydancing, focus their energies on the ‘centre’ and the breath. Which is why when I run for 30 minutes on the treadmill I never break out into a sweat and I never struggle to breathe.
The suppleness and fluidity of movement necessary for bellydancing can help relax and lubricate joints and can be helpful in cases of arthritis, particularly in the wrists and shoulders. The dance, practised gently in the beginning stages, usually produces beneficial results for muscle and joint conditioning. Participants who had suffered uncomfortable back pain or shoulder stiffness for years, have reported improvement after several weeks of bellydancing. It is becoming a popular form of rehabilitation exercise, now advised by doctors and therapists. Of course, if anyone has chronic back or knee problems, they are advised to see a doctor first before embarking on a bellydance course.
The bellydance is linked with birthing mainly due to its focus on the belly and hips. As a pre-natal exercise, bellydancing in its gentler forms is strengthening for the pelvic muscles and relaxing for the mother-to-be. Many Arab women say shimmies should be avoided during pregnancy, but the figure eights and rolling circular movements are good preparation for childbirth. This makes sense, as the rolling movements not only feel natural, but assist with the normal pelvic relaxing process to prepare for birth and at the same time, helps firm the pelvic muscles for labour and post-pregnancy recovery. Indeed, the dance can be a comfortable exercise that not only gets the mother ready for the birth process, but connects her to the unborn child through a series of movements which focus her attention on her belly.
The Belly dance also help a woman’s body for after pregnancy as it encourages muscle memory and you’ll find a lot of belly dancers have pretty toned tummies not long after the birth.
after taking up bellydancing reported much easier and relaxed births with the ‘bellydance baby’. The body also gets into shape quickly, the pelvic floor is toned, incontinence is avoided due to strong pelvic floor muscles and the general condition of health is better with regular dancing sessions. Baby often likes swaying in mother’s arms when she’s doing figure eights and dancing to soft music! Bellydancing and birthing have been inextricably linked for thousands of years – since the days of ancient female deity worship, to tribal fertility ceremony, to the harem, to birth customs in today’s Arabian villages.
Belly Dance helps improve pelvic muscles: On a personal note I had my yearly check up that women have to have. The nurse made me laugh to calm my nerves (it was my first time) and the speculum shot across the room! The nurses and my mother were shocked and in hysterics, the head nurse said “My God Girl! Don’t you have strong pelvic muscles, you’re gonna have no problems having a baby one day!” to which I laughed and proudly replied “I am a belly dancer”.
Belly Dance also encourages self esteem which I discovered when I was 15. Throughout my childhood I have been bullied by my peers for reasons unknown to me still other than I just didn’t quite fit in and I looked different and I was shy. Believe it or not I still am reserved and will only voice my opinion if it something I feel passionately about or I notice something unjust happening (when this happens, watch out, I can sting!). So I found Belly Dance on a family trip to Turkey and there I met 2 very glamorous Belly Dancers, one had huge boobs and enjoyed doing the shoulder shimmy the most and the other had incredible hips and her speciality was obviously the hip shimmy. Belly Dance brought about a confidence in me I never knew existed and being bullied at school didn’t bother me any more because I had a beautiful secret that over time helped me develop my femininity, grace, sensuality and love for myself and my body regardless of what others would say. Belly Dance is at the core of my love for the Middle East, my Romani family history, Dance rituals, the Kama Sutra, Hindu Philosophy, Tantra and the sensuality of life.
and as Rachel Brice’s tattoo says: “Practice becomes firmly grounded when continued
for a long time, without interruption and with reverent devotion.”