Belly dance is the world’s oldest dance form, which originated as a pre-natal dance. It was a dance created and performed by and for women only. It was never meant to be an entertainment tool nor to be seen by men. Being is the only certified belly dance teacher [as in March 2009] in India, I’m excited to teach this art to more women. I’ve has been dancing since the age of 5 and have tried all sorts of dances—hip hop, salsa, jazz, even break dance. Here I’ve answered some common questions I get asked about belly dancing
How does belly dancing help keep us stay fit?
The stomach movement in belly dancing tones the abdominal muscles, improves blood circulation, and strengthens the lower back keeping a woman’s body fit. There is renewed energy, improved digestion and metabolism. Besides being fun, it helps release stress and relaxes the mind. To lose weight, you need to do a low to moderate intensity belly dance for atleast 20 minutes.
What are the physical and mental benefits of belly dancing?
Belly dance cures and prevents some of the most prominent ailments related to modern lifestyle. It helps to reduce the extra fat around lower back, belly and hips and keeps the legs toned. It strengthens the hip and knee which are the load bearing joints of the body, keeping them supple and strong.
Kyphosis, the forward curving of the shoulders can be prevented and cured through belly dance. This is common among desk workers as well as those who drive for long hours. Dance improves the misalignment of the shoulders and improves body posture. As we dance bare feet, we regain control of the arch of our feet. The basic position of belly dance places the body in complete alignment. The body weight is held right in the middle of the arch of our feet and our back is open, which cures and prevents compressed lower back disks [which often happen due to wearing heels].
It can be a good prenatal exercise as it tones and strengthens the pelvic, back and abdominal muscles and opens the hips minimising pain, complications and injuries during pregnancy.
Belly dancing makes you fall in love with your belly too. The lower belly is governed by the swadhisthana chakra and mooladhara chakra, the centre related to reproduction, digestion and sense of wellbeing. These relate to the emotional body, the willingness to feel emotions, and what it finds pleasurable. Therefore, once you connect with these, you feel complete harmony and a sense of contentment.
How is it a complete workout for women?
Belly dance is a complete workout as it provides cardio, stretch and strength to the entire body. It tones the body where they tend to gain more fat, and improves the oxygen level of the body. It embraces the woman’s body and its curves, gently, elegantly and gracefully. It can be practiced throughout life and without any strain to the body.
Why should every woman try belly dance at least once?
It brings the woman in touch with her feminity and can be performed by women of all ages, shapes and sizes. The workout is easy, fun and energetic. You look and feel good. Belly dance helps a woman to look within, feel and understand her inner self.
Would you call belly dancing a mind-body workout?
Yes. Our belly is the spiritual as well as physical centre of our body, from where we receive our life force, and this makes it a mind-body exercise. The breathing pattern in belly dancing is cyclical and continuous and thus helps the mind to remain focused and agile. So, move with grace, elegance, ease, flow and confidence.