Sounds exotic, yes? The image conjures the East and a woman dancing in an adorned bra top and a long layered skirt doing all manner of undulations, shimmies, and circles. It looks so complicated and intricate. Really though, basic foundation moves are being strung together in a dance.
Good for the Body
Physical motion is key in health. When we think of this, the general image is that of going to a gym, using equipment, doing a number of reps and sets, or another structured exercise. This can trigger a connection of hard physical work that does not feel creativity. While those reps, sets, and structure are important, there are ways to move your body and nurture the creative spirit.
This dance form is suitable for all ages and abilities. You can adapt to suit your physical capabilities. Pregnant women belly dance (so, there!). The dance can be demanding and high-impact or slow, flowing low-impact. It does take a bit of practice. I’ve been dancing since 2002 and I still have areas to improve and much more to learn.
There are wonderful benefits. You can get in touch with the natural rhythms of the body, which in modern life we have conditioned ourselves to ignore. Creativity feeds our spirit. It tunes you into neuropathways, solutions, and thinking differently. Oh, got to mention STRESS RELIEF. I turn on rock and heavy metal tunes and improvise dances. It also tones the body, aids flexibility, lubricates joints (activates synovial fluid), improves balance and coordination, moves lymphatic fluid, release tension, and improves posture. Emotional changes can take place when you gain natural body awareness and are “seated within yourself.” You walk with more confidence, feel the physical and non-physical bodies unite, and begin to see your body for the great gift that it is. You never realize how rigid you hold your pelvis until you dance a while and feel the freedom in your hips.
Beyond *Just* the Body
Belly dance grounds you into your body and the Earth (Root chakra), expresses your creativity (Sacral chakra), increases body confidence, self-acceptance, and posture (Solar Plexus chakra), fosters compassion, joy, and bonds with others (Heart chakra), communicates your performance art to the world- even if it is just you alone in front of your mirror and not an audience (Throat chakra), and you receive inspiration and vision through motion (Brow and Crown chakras). This may also help energy flow in the meridians that run all over the body. Dance has been a part of ceremonies and celebrations since we sprouted legs (or whatever) at the beginning of time. Special attention was given to the belly area. Some ancient cultures thought this to be a seat of spiritual enlightenment.
The Hara is the energy from which the aura, or our energy field, came from. It is the beginning; the center. Its location is around the navel (belly button area). Martial arts refer to this as the Lower Dan Tien. It is closely tied, but not the same, as the Sacral chakra. I learned dance theory that puts your attention and the origination of all your movement from this area. At the start of class, I have my students put their hands on the belly and anchor into this energy. Belly dance connects you to the start of all energy and being. This is belly dance.
As I continue my belly dance journey, I find more and more topics and styles associated with it. It is said that when you have tension crossing your brow to then shake or circle your hips, then a smile will appear.
I’m honored to be teaching others. That was totally unplanned! Life is full of surprises. I loved it after the first class I taught— With that many people, I thought there could be a scowl or disappointed person. What I saw was smiles and an air of joyfulness, though my students worked for two hours. Sharing that joy with them was the absolute best.
For more, check my Belly Dance Wellness page.