May 11, 2009, 10:18:36 PM5/11/09
Contrary to popular belief, belly dancing doesn't involve only the
belly in its movement. The entire body moves in the dance and it has
evolved from traditional forms to heart pumping work-outs. Its a form
of exercise that any adult, regardless of age, gender, weight, agility
and knowledge of dance steps, can participate in. This is something
that serves as an excellent alternative for people who don't normally
like going to the gym. One thing is sure though, belly dancing can be
highly addictive. Belly dancing is low impact (the risk of injury is
minimal when the dance movements are done correctly). The most
distinguishing feature of belly dancing is the isolated motions of the
abdomen. These circular, rolling, angular and vibrating movements are
all based on natural body movements and it is exactly that makes belly
dancing such a safe form of exercise for people of any age.
The flowing movements of hip drops, rolls, pivots that are done during
belly dancing use the muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, spine and
neck. During belly dancing, the joints and ligaments in your lower
back and hips are put through a full range of gentle repetitive
motions. Don't you know that belly dancing can prevent pregnancy
pains? The movements of the dance mimic the childbirth process and
teaching mothers how to move their pelvises. Pregnant mothers also
find that belly dancing helps relieve them of back pain and keep their
body supple. While shimmies should be avoided during pregnancy, the
figure eights and rolling circular movements are good preparation for
childbirth; they assist the normal pelvic relaxing process to prepare
for birth and at the same time, helps firm the pelvic muscles for
labor and post pregnancy recovery.
A woman's body also gets into shape faster after a natural birth if
the woman has been belly dancing both before and after giving birth,
because the emphasis on muscle control helps encourage abdominal tone.
Post birth incontinence(inability to control of urine) is also avoided
due to strong pelvic floor muscles. The gentle repetitive movements of
belly dancing helps lessen the pains of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
and cramps during the periods of women of childbearing age by
stimulating blood flow to the lower regions of the body. Hip rolling,
figure eights and undulations also help improve circulation in and
alleviate congestion in the pelvic area.
The relaxation that belly dancing gives to its practitioners help them
deal with stress, which a major contributing factor to pre-menstrual
syndrome. It is also considered to be a weight bearing exercise since
a dancer is on her feet, constantly moving all throughout. Weight
bearing exercises can help prevent osteoporosis (calcium deficiency)
and increase bone density. It can also burn up to 300 calories/hr.
depending on the intensity of your dancing. The biggest problem for
people trying to lose weight and maintain a lifestyle is boredom.
Belly dancing is fun, improvisational, personal and easy; its a good
idea for those who are on their first attempts to lose weight, and for
those who tend to backslide on their exercise programs. Closely
related to stress release is the deep breathing results in better
oxygenation of the blood, which helps us eat and sleep better, and
slows down the aging process.
Physical therapists and doctors who have known this dance recommend
belly dancing because of its suppleness and fluidity of movement that
can help relax and lubricate joints and can be helpful in cases of
arthritis, particularly in the wrists and shoulders. There are some
emotional benefits that can be derived from belly dancing. It has been
noted that it can free your mind from stress and tension. The subtle
rhythm, repetitiveness of the dance allows you to let go of other
concerns, inducing a state of mental relaxation that gives you
breathing room in your mind. It has been also noted that it can boosts
self esteem and gives you a feeling of empowerment.