Belly dance, originally a solo Middle-Eastern folk dance, allows the strengthening of your muscles in a gentle way. It is an expressive dance which has different chest and pelvic movements that are sometimes used to dance seductively. You do not need to be in a bikini to do the belly dance unless you’re working in a dance bar. Showing your waist during practice is a way to reduce the expanding provinces around it.
Like I mentioned before, after a few years of feeling the need to learn the Arabian dance, I grabbed the opportunity when it came to my door. Thanks to the instructor who came to live in my block, it all started in October 2015. By then, I was done with my five months of healthy eating as it was visible that I had achieved my target of reaching my ideal weight. I was content with the fact that my jeans fit well and my tops fell comfortably over my upper body.
Inspite of being slim all my life, I have always been someone with no muscle cuts as I’ve never concentrated on toning my body. I did do a bit of running and aerobics here and there over the years but nothing lasted for more than four months; and one-day-workshops don’t count. My thighs and biceps looked normal only because of the delicate flab underneath the skin.
I tried belly dancing through the tutorial videos on YouTube prior to this and it did not seem very easy. Added to that, I always needed company to push me, which wasn’t always available, to dance or exercise. So, finally in the belly dance demo class, I realized that I was relatively stiff but not at all bad. I found a few familiar faces there that weren’t sure of continuing with the course due to various reasons but I made up my mind, right then, to join the class come what may.
It was a good decision because I found a number of things I loved about the dance:
1. Something new.
I remember I always loved reading all my new English textbook stories once we got the books home. Similarly, as I loved dancing, my new class was something I wouldn’t miss for anything or anyone. The timings affected my little one’s lunch and nap time but we adjusted and compromised with a few things on those two days every week. Also, belly dance belts are suddenly very striking and so I own quite a few different types already.
2. Flexible body.
Belly dancing is a lovely dance and an amazing way to exercise. Do it correctly under a certified instructor and you will know what I mean.
3. Toned biceps.
After my first delivery and subsequent feeding, my upper arms grew like I was in competition with my husband who is broad built. I hated every photograph that exposed them. I had to change my wardrobe if I needed to hide them but after belly dancing, I didn’t have to anymore. I was proud of myself. The biceps were toned.
4. Strong thighs.
The warm up exercises and the toe taping moves helped strengthen my generally weak thighs. And yes, hours and weeks of belly dancing helped too. As the famous phrase goes: No pain, no gain.
5. Sexy abs.
I slimmed down with the healthy eating but the almost-hour-glass figure showed only during the end of level one. I could wear my pre-pregnancy outfits and look twenty again. The compliments I received were exhilarating.
6. Independent dancer.
In the past, I’ve always had to wait for boys to accompany me to a class of bachata, salsa or jive. Even if I attended without a partner, I needed boys to practise with as I couldn’t do the cha-cha-cha or foxtrot alone. It was, to an extent, annoying. Here, I was a belly dancer all by myself without having to depend on anyone else to practise with. I could practise the chest and hip movements even while cooking or washing the dishes. It’s funny when you imagine it, but it also makes boring chores fun.
7. Reduced by few more inches.
Each and every one of us in class noticed that our clothes were loosening up quite a bit. Do I need to say more? Happiness beamed on our faces and our hips.
People who dance often are happier and hotter. People who belly dance often are courageous and confident. My mates and I now love life even more than we did before. Some of my comrades are from the conservative clans, but they have opened up their minds and freed their souls and joined a dance course not everyone here in India is comfortable with. Although, we are all different from each other, our love for the dance has brought us closer.
9. Mobile instructor.
Now, as I’ve become a certified belly dancer, I can randomly conduct mini (as I still don’t have too many years of experience) workshops for women, in whichever part of the world I visit, without having to worry about partners. I have just begun, so, wish me luck.
10. Helpful prior to pregnancy and after delivery.
My sudden baby bump forced me to read several articles on the dance during pregnancy because I did not want to stop dancing. To my good fortune, it confirmed that belly dancing helped women to have a normal delivery (due to the continuous pelvic movements) and for calming the pelvic and abdomen muscles thereafter. I have experienced this and vouch for it from the bottom of my heart because after a caesarean, I was able to deliver my second child normally without any issues.
I belly danced from my first month (first trimester) up until my sixth month (second trimester). I took a break only because my hips had gotten too big to move. Three weeks after my delivery, I joined level three and two weeks after that we performed on stage. In any case, before you take a decision to dance while you’re pregnant or after that, talk to your gynaecologist and your dance instructor but above all, listen to your body.
My first solo (despite the confident moves, I was as nervous as a chicken): https://youtu.be/fVkNITFXxMc
The dance teacher (now friend) who made a difference in my life:
Our first video: