Monday, July 31, 2006
Woman & Child May 2004Gold Coast Life Magazine May 2005
This century, the constantly evolving art of belly dance, from traditional to cabaret, has undergone a greater number of shifts and changes than ever before. The dance has journeyed to every continent on the planet and has been kept alive through both original cultural migrants and keen non-ethnic enthusiasts. Indeed, the concept of belly dancing has often been misunderstood, westernized and de-authenticated; yet we could look at this expansive dance as a starting point for many other varieties of human expression and actually as an improvised art, a theatrical inspiration, a healing and therapeutic practice or cultural study.
Belly dancing is a perfect exercise for women. It encourages suppleness and strength, fitness and co-ordination. And best of all, it is low impact and safe for knees and lower back. The isometric and toning aspect of the dance is a welcome benefit. Tummy undulations tone abdominal muscles, snake arms firm up the upper arms and back, and hip moves strengthen legs and back. The increased circulation brought about by the aerobic aspect of the dance, especially with the shimmies, stimulates blood flow to the large muscle groups of the thighs, hips and bottom. This has a firming effect on the muscles and smoothes out the skin, eliminating cellulite. Because belly dancing is enjoyable, it is an easily sustainable exercise.
The fun elements in the dance, coupled with expressive and emotive factors, make belly dancing a great all-round exercise. Belly dancing has, for thousands of years, been known as the 'dance of fertility' or 'the birth dance' because of its connection with female sexuality and sensuality, birth and the menstrual cycle. It was traditionally a dance that prepared the woman for the birthing process, aiding them during pregnancy, labor and beyond. The round, undulating movements of belly dance focus on the hips, belly and the pelvic area that is so frequently overlooked in other exercise regimes.
The supple moves can help ease menstrual pains, regulate the cycle and maintain the health of the reproductive organs. It is a safe exercise to do during pregnancy and is best when the focus is on the gentle, round and soft movements. It is also a great post-natal workout. The dance isolations help get a new mother back into shape and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles at the same time.
For more information regarding local class offerings, please go to the Birth Rhythm website www.birthrhythms.ca
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