Belly dancing – exercise and fitness for women of all ages and shapes and a route to your inner goddess
Belly dancing is a superb way in which any woman can increase her fitness, while at the same time learning to feel good about herself and her body. It is one of the safest forms of exercise as well as being empowering and whole lot of fun.
I've chosen several videos showing different styles of belly dancing to various types of music. The dance is evolving all the time, as well as being fused with other traditions.
Benefits of belly dancing
Belly dancing is a form of aerobic exercise. Depending on how vigorously it is performed, it uses approximately 200-300 calories per hour, the equivalent of walking 2-3 miles. Thus it helps to keep your heart healthy and can also contribute to weight loss.
You can tailor the intensity of the dance to your own needs. Belly dancing can be done at any age and any level of fitness.
One of the best instruction videos for complete beginners to belly dancing
The basic equipment is a scarf
Amazon sellers offer many belly dance scarves at very low prices. Why not buy a selection to match your mood or for each day of the week?
During the dance, the weight is shifted through the hips from one leg to the other. This provides gentle strengthening for the bones and joints, which can help to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, if done with caution, the movements of the hips and abdomen can relieve backache and strengthen the back to make it more resistant in future.
Done gently, belly dancing is an excellent form of exercise to use in pregnancy.
Every part of the body is stretched during the dance so your whole body becomes toned.
The positions used in belly dancing encourage good posture.
Dancing barefoot exercises and strengthens the muscles and tendons of the feet.
Belly dance techniques combined with yoga exercises for strength and flexibility. This course has received rave reviews.
When performed by experts, belly dancing is a complex and subtle art form. However, it is possible to dance using just a few very basic movements. If, like me, you have tried other dance forms and felt clumsy and uncoordinated, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve with belly dance.
Belly dancing is voluptuous and sensual. It brings out the beauty of every woman and makes her feel like a goddess. It does miracles for self-esteem and empowerment as well as relieving stress.
Highly recommended not just as a compedium of moves, but also for the spiritual approach
Making a start
You can start with no equipment or other costs whatsoever, except for the price of a regular class or a teaching video to use at home. There are a number of videos available on Youtube
Many women prefer to wear a long swirly skirt and top, with some choosing to expose and others to conceal their midriff. Some, choose to wear trousers or long gym pants. There are no rules! Many teachers recommend tying a scarf around the hips; some will bring an assortment of jingly scarves or coin belts for pupils to borrow during class. Most women dance in bare feet, although non-slip dancing slippers can be worn if desired.
A vary varied selection of tunes to dance to by some of the top musicians in the field
There are several different styles of belly dance, with new ones evolving all the time: for example, classical Egyptian and Turkish, glitzy cabaret/restaurant style, folkloric style with the dancer wearing a floor-length caftan, dances with accessories such as finger cymbals, veils, canes or Isis wings, American tribal style, which often incorporates elements from other dance forms such as flamenco.
One of my teachers used to mix belly dance moves with salsa steps. This would be the ideal musical accompaniment for such a fusion
In any beginner level class, the same basic movements will be taught. However, the style in which the teacher specialises may influence her choice of music. Teachers may use classical Arab music, world music, “new age” music, pop music or any mixture of these.
Teachers also vary with respect to ambition for their classes. Some are happy to keep accepting new beginners and to keep going over and over the same basic moves. Others like to get together a tight-knit committed group and groom them for group and solo performances.
If you are intending to join a class, have a chat with the teacher first and, if possible, take part in one or two classes to see if the style and pace are right for you.
If you cannot get to a regular class, the occasional weekend course could be an option to broaden your horizons. Definitely also keep a lookout for haflas in your region. These are belly dancing parties, organised by teachers but frequently open to anyone. Dancers of all levels converge on a room to eat, drink and watch each other dance. There is usually a mixture of solo spots, class displays and a general free for all. Many haflas also include a bazaar, where you can admire and buy wonderful costumes and accessories. These are marvellous opportunities to experience different styles and explore new possibilities.
If you are looking for a way to be fit and healthy, and at the same time to bring out your internal Goddess, nothing fits the bill better than belly dancing.