Gilded Serpent presents...
Dance Secrets for
Fitness and Rejuvenation
Dance for Fitness Is on the Rise!
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.
When one considers safety, the emphasis on posture, core stability,
and mastery of technique makes Belly dancing a low impact workout
that tones and conditions the body, in keeping with a very modern
approach to fitness!
Three Sporting Ss:
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. However, 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.
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'. Keeping the two separate
will make it easier to construct a workout. Repetition is important,
and so is a solid, steady beat to drive the movement for 'Dance
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. I have seen 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.
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
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.
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.
Belly Dancing Burn Fat?
The good news is that regular cardio workouts
at least four times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes of sustained
vigorous, low impact exercise will alter the body's BMI (basic
metabolic index). In other words, dance, shimmy, do traveling
moves and step to 120-130 BPM and the body must burn fat. The
music here is important, and it should be fast and steady. The
arrangement of songs should build up, peak, and slow down only
at the end. Remember: posture, core strength and repetition. A
reasonable sweat is a sure sign of fat burning. The body does
get used to certain exercises, so try to vary the movements used
every few weeks.
BPMs Affect the Hormonal System:
At 130 BPMs (beats per minute) the body's
hormonal systems activate (the feeling of excitability) and at
this level of activation, the hormones begin to re-balance themselves,
including dopamine and seratonin levels (the feel good hormones).
130BPM is often the tempo of the faster Egyptian pop, drums, Fellahin,
and Turkish Chiftetelli music.
Dance Improves Digestion and Assists Weight Loss
With regular abdominal work in your Belly
dance, the digestive system is activated and strengthened through
wave-like contractions of the muscles, which offer a kind of 'internal
massage'. Shimmies also activate and stimulate the digestive process.
Interestingly, psychoacoustics specialists have found that 130+
BPM tempos improve the speed at which the body digests food, by
releasing digestive hormones, adrenalin, and thyroxin. With regular
fast dancing, circulation improves, and therefore, so does digestion.
The entire body's cells are better nourished and the blood supply
increases, resulting in an overall sense of “well-being” and increased
have the Belly for it! Why does Weight stay around my Belly?”
WEIGHT GAIN through the middle of the body is the
first sign of metabolic imbalance of insulin in the body. Unfortunately,
it often accompanies the ageing process, and usually starts at
around age 30! Chinese medicine and Taoist exercises use the BEAR
exercise to improve pancreatic function, by walking with the belly
protruding to create a rubbing or massaging effect on the pancreas.
It is very similar to the abdominal movements used in Belly dance.
Belly dance exercises that massage the pancreas are the abdominal
exercises, including the hip circles, pelvic rolls and undulations.
Raising the arms actually helps lymph nodes under the armpit clear
excess toxic waste from one’s body. Did you know that orchestra
conductors usually outlive the band? It's true! Lifting your arms
is healthy and detoxifies. Rolling the belly and hips regulates
the sex hormones produced by the gonads, which in Chinese medicine
rule the entire endocrine system.
to LOSE WEIGHT and Re-balance Insulin Levels
sugar and flour products which raise insulin levels dramatically
large meals and have 6 small meals throughout the day
- Have a
fresh vegetable juice daily in the morning
- Do the
3-4 Belly dance workouts a week
- Do other
creative artistic or sporting activities you enjoy 3 times a
week. Chinese herbalists say pancreatic dysfunction occurs when
life is too “serious!”
Skin with Belly Dance:
Belly dance workouts can improve circulation, and
hence, improve skin tone and radiance. You can buy a loofah and
use it after workouts when showering in order to remove dead skin
cells and improve circulation to fight cellulite. Shimmies reduce
cellulite around the bottom by breaking up the adipose tissue
and freeing the brown fat that creates the cellulite “pockets.”
So, shimmy regularly!
Re-balancing Through Dance
Dance is an expressive, dynamic form of kinesthetic
art that requires a special kind of mastery that relies on awareness,
movement, balance and spatial geometry. Although dance presents
itself as a physical art, it brings out emotive response through
the body's articulation of the music. On an emotional level it
is liberating, uplifting and helps the dancer experience instinctive
rhythmic patterns and feelings. Since its days as an ancient fertility
rite, Belly dancing directly supports sexual and sensual function
of a woman's body. It improves all aspects of her life: fitness
and hormonal re-balancing, confidence and communication, sensual
expression, and dynamic living.
dancing to you all!
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
3-12-05 Keti Sharif’s
A to Z Advanced Stage Instructional DVD and booklet review
by Monica Berini
is rare that an instructional video marketed to advanced dancers
follows through to actually challenge experienced students or
performers. This one does.
Rhythm and Reason Series, Article
6 Unexpected Mishaps by Mary Ellen Donald
invite you to chuckle with me as I retell several gems of last
year. I wouldn’t dare to boast of any lesson you must learn
from all of this, and discovery of a meaning is up to you!
My Adventure Begins! by Asmahan
last, another North Beach Memory! "I was creating my life
as an adventure, I was making my own destiny; this was Kismet!"
The Divine & Fusion Categories
of The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition, report by
February 19-20, 2005 in Long Beach, California, photos by GS staff
with Mahmoud Reda Part 3: Film & Future by Morocco
you know about photography, then it will help performing for the
movies or for television because usually the choreographer stands
beside the director of the movie.
Shareen el Safy's Exploring the Drum
Solo “DVD” by Mara al-Nil
am pleased to report that what she said was true—everything
she covered in the workshop is on the DVD. Finding it, however,
is another matter.