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January 2, 2008

Belly Dancing

By Vanita Gautum

Most gyms across North America offer aerobics classes called belly dancing or baladi, and if you haven’t heard of or tried them yet, you will fall completely in love once you do.

Belly dancing focuses mainly on the mid-section of a woman’s body, but includes elements of arm and upper body movements that will make you feel like you had a good run once you’re finished.

You will sweat, you will laugh, but above all, you will have a good time enjoying a belly dancing classes filled with women from all walks of life and different shapes and sizes.

Origin of belly dancing

Belly dancing, called Raqs Sharqi in Arabic and Oryantal Dansi in Persian, is believed to have originated in the Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa, and dates back as far as the 4th century B.C.

What you need for belly dancing

Although typical belly dancing requires a full frock including scarves to tie around your hips, a veil and an outfit, you do not need to have any of these things for an effective workout.

Some classes offer a box of scarves with sequins, but most don’t. You can invest in it yourself or opt to learn the moves without seeing the full effect of what you look like doing it.

A typical belly dancing class

Belly dancing classes start out with a warm up to heat up the muscles. The warm up consists of performing each move for the class individually.

Don’t worry about not being flexible or having the ability to isolate certain muscles in your body. Slowly but surely, you will learn and adapt the moves to your body, and perhaps even tighten your core while doing it.

Common belly dancing moves

Belly dancing is not easy by any means, but it is a lot of fun and will help you get to know your body much better, as well teach you how to isolate and control certain muscles and joints.

Some common belly dancing moves include:

Belly dancing moves #1
Hand & arm movements

You will feel the burn in your shoulders and increase flexibility in your wrists as you sway your arms up and down by your side and in front of you.

Belly dancing moves #2

Just about every woman enjoys this maneuver, which consists of keeping your entire body still except your shoulders. As you alternate them back and forth at a rapid pace, your breasts will shake as a result. Wear a good bra, the last thing you want is for your breasts to be swinging around painfully.

Belly dancing moves #3
Hip articulations

You will learn how to isolate your hips and move them one at a time. You will be shown how to move them up and down, and from side to side. This is incredibly difficult to learn, but you probably won’t be discouraged because most of the class will have the same issue.

Belly dancing moves #4
Traveling steps

Once you learn how to isolate certain body parts, the next step is learning how to continue these body specific moves while walking backwards and forwards. It’s quite trying to learn but you will laugh and have a good time in the process.

Belly dancing moves #5
Rib cage movement

There are 3 rib moves, or undulations, that you will learn: the rib cage slide, in which your rib cage protrudes from the top and is brought in by making a wave with your back; the rib cage circle, in which you stick out your ribs out as far as they can go toward each of the four corners of the room, eventually working it into a circular motion; and the rib cage figure eight, in which you attempt to draw the number “8” with your ribcage.

Belly dancing moves #6
Abdominal moves

Ah the belly, the heart of the dance. Learning how to control your stomach muscles and make your stomach protrude in a wave is quite difficult, but the beauty of this move is that it’s preferable to have a bit of a tummy than not. And we like that.

Belly dancing moves #7
Neck slide

Easy for some, more difficult for others, the neck slide will have you moving your neck from one shoulder to the other all the while hold your hands above your head, palms facing out. Think “Walk Like An Egyptian.”

Start belly dancing

Belly dancing is a fun and unique way to learn how to take better control of your body, increase flexibility and have a great time doing it all.

As the weeks go by and you continue to get better and better at it, before you know it, you’ll be showing a certain someone all the fantastic moves you’ve learned - dressed to the nines.

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