Why has Belly dance steadily gained popularity as the new fitness solution for busy women? The most important factor in sustaining an exercise program is the ‘fun factor’; Belly dancing comes with great music, exciting moves, noisy coin belts and its own special dress code.
Belly dancing a low impact workout that tones and conditions the body, in keeping with a very modern approach to fitness!
The Three Sporting Ss:
The 3 Sporting Ss of the 21st century are Strength, Stamina and Suppleness. Personal trainers encourage women to take several classes a week: a yoga or Pilates, aerobics or cardio and then some light weight training for muscle tone. Belly dancing offers the three Ss in one glittering package. Slow sinewy movements improve suppleness and postural alignment. Constant, repetitive moves build muscle strength and definition, with the body often using forces of resistance to create the move. To obtain a great cardio workout, shimmies, energetic accents and vibrating moves boost oxygen to the muscles, and more importantly, burn fat, and continue burning it.
Many would ask then, Why Do Some Women Who Belly dance Become Fit While Others Don’t?
The secret of harnessing the magic of Belly dancing is to learn how to sustain certain elements to create a powerful workout effect. It is important to understand that two categories exist: ‘Dance for expression/art’ and ‘Dance for fitness’. To construct a workout, repetition is important, and so is a solid, steady beat to drive the movement for ‘Dance for fitness’.
It is paramount to do the movements correctly, making sure they generate from one’s core, (the containment of energy generated in the lower abdominal and pelvic muscles). This action must be conscious; one needs awareness in order to access core strength to support the lower back, lengthen the spine and maintain optimum postural alignment. Many dancers unable to execute correct technique because their entire postural alignment is out of balance. It is a teacher’s role to correct her student’s posture from the beginning and teach how to dance from the core. Movements that begin from a strong core or center of the body will improve the posture, help rebalance the endocrine (hormonal) system and will make other muscles function in fully supported and balanced action.
Correct posture is essential for those who suffer from any form of back problems. The truth is that many women around the world are dancing in a free-form way that can stress the lower back because they are not using muscles correctly. Posture is paramount! Luckily, an instructor can teach it, and a student can learn and incorporate it within weeks.
How Can Belly Dancing Tone Muscles and Give Definition?
For suppleness, the sinewy moves that are randomly used in Taqsim movements and dance articulation, must be repeated, sustained and done methodically as a focused taqsim workout – using a variety of upper, mid and lower body taqsim (emotive) movements – for at least 30 minutes for real toning benefits to take place. The music should be slow and meditative, at approximately 80 beats per minute. The moves that create muscular definition are: snake arms, undulations, belly rolls, shoulder rolls, hip circles, figure eights and slow traveling steps. Floor work can be included, and since Belly dancing doesn’t stretch the legs muscles enough, it would be wise to include some leg toning exercises. Yoga is good to incorporate into the dancer’s weekly training and one can combine Yoga poses with Belly dance isolations.
How Can Belly Dancing Make Dancers Stronger?
Lifting arms high over the head engages muscles and is a form of resistance that will tone your biceps and triceps. For increasing strength, one must do it regularly, so there should be a drill or repetitive factor. The dancer should push arms up higher than normal to create a successful workout. Thigh muscles powering accents, shimmies and hip moves will creating a tension and resistance too. Because the grounded nature of Belly dance causes thigh muscles to continuously contract to sustain hip movements, it is also a natural leg strengthener.
However, it is a good idea to balance this with some muscle lengthening exercises such as: kicks, leg stretches and lifts against a ballet bar, wall or even on a chair. The aim is to get the leg high and use its own weight as resistance to work the muscles. The belly rolling moves will improve the strength of the abdominal muscles, and thus, support the lower back.