Despite being slim all my life, I have always been someone with no muscle cuts, as toning my body was never on my list of things to do. I did do a bit of cardio and aerobics off and on over the years but nothing seemed to last for more than four months. And then came the belly dance instructor who chose to live in my apartment complex to make my life a little more interesting than usual.
After years of feeling the need to learn the Arabian dance, I grabbed the opportunity when it came knocking at my door. By then, I was just done with a self-designed five months course of healthy eating and I was back to my pre-pregnancy size. I was content with the fact that my jeans fit well and my tops fell comfortably over my upper body. And now, I was all set to learn yet another new dance form all by myself.
For starters, Belly Dance has a number of benefits. It was originally a Middle-Eastern folk dance made to entertain travellers. It is an expressive dance which has different chest and pelvic thrusts that are sometimes used seductively. Some say it was created to allow pregnant women to have a normal delivery because of its pelvic moves. Moreover, it allows the strengthening of your overall physique in a gentle way.
After I began belly dancing, I found a number of things I loved about the dance.
Something new. Until I was introduced to this dance form, I was most excited about reading a novel before I got home. I still do, but now I would any day choose dance over reading a book. Though the timings affected my three year old’s lunch and nap time, we adjusted and compromised two days every week.
Flexible body. Belly dancing is a lovely dance and an amazing way to exercise. When you do it correctly, you will know exactly what I mean. It has helped my back after the epidural shock it had.
Toned biceps. After my first delivery and subsequent feeding, my upper arms grew like I was in competition with my husband who is generally broad built. I hated every photograph that exposed my enormous biceps. But in due course, my biceps were toned perfectly.
Strong thighs. Overall body compositions always mentioned that my legs had weak muscles. The warm up exercises and the toe taping moves helped strengthen my generally weak thighs. And yes, hours and weeks of belly dancing helped my calves too.
Sexy abs. I slimmed down with the healthy eating regime but the almost-hour-glass figure showed only during the end of level one. I could wear my pre-pregnancy outfits and look sexy again. The compliments I received were exhilarating.
Independent dancer. In the past, I’ve always had to depend on boys to dance. Be it bachata, salsa or jive, I always needed a partner to practice with. It was, to an extent, annoying because you don’t find many dancers around you today. Here, I was a belly dancer all by myself without having to depend on anyone else to practice with. I could practice even while cooking or washing the dishes. It’s funny when you imagine it, but it also makes boring chores fun.
Reduced 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 as well as on our hips.
Self-confidence. 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 belly dance has brought us even closer.
Mobile instructor. Now, as I’ve become a certified belly dancer, I randomly conduct 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.
Helpful prior to pregnancy and after delivery. When I got to know that belly dance was good for pregnant women, I continued to dance even after I realized I was pregnant. I belly danced right from my first month (first trimester) up until my fifth month (second trimester) and took a break only because my tummy had gotten too heavy to move. Thanks to the dance, after a caesarean, I was able to deliver my second child normally without any issues. Also after delivery, belly dance proved to be a blessing because it helped calm the pelvic and abdomen muscles. Three weeks after my delivery, I joined level three and two weeks after that we performed on stage.
Having given you my personal experiences, I suggest you take a decision to dance while you’re pregnant or after that, only once you have consulted your gynaecologist and dance instructor because they would know your body and you well. After that, just listen to your heart.