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Gilded Serpent presents...
DVDs can be a Lifesaver to the Disabled!

by Lia Medina

I started Belly dancing in Marin County, California, with dancer Dhyanis, in order to improve the strength of my stomach and back muscles. That was at age 44, after I received a diagnosis of a progressive form of spine disease.  As I learned more about the life-invasive disease, I came to understand that it would be quite possible that I would be walking with a cane two years from the diagnosis!  A time will come when major spine surgery will become a reality. 

I will be turning 50 this May, and a cane does hang from my bedside floor lamp, ready for use when I wake up in the middle of the night and the effectiveness of my pain medicine has worn off. Nonetheless, I continue to Belly dance. I will not give up dance until I can no longer succeed in dancing at least four of its basic steps. 

Before engaging in Belly dance, I was a long distance runner logging in 5 to 17 miles a day for twenty-four years.  Running five miles in thirty-five minutes or seven miles in forty-two minutes was my normal standard.  I punctuated my workouts with a passion for weight training.  Having to give up running was devastating.  Little did I know that Belly dance, and the special training that comes with it, would be an enormous gift to my life!

My dance education has taken me to many teachers, experiences, and in many directions.  I always loved moving my hips, but I was awkward with my arms.  They often felt like appendages that did not reflect my heart successfully or match my dance; subsequently, I purchased an instructional DVD at the dance studio I had been attending.      

SpiritAfter the shock and grief of losing my uncle and my aunt, (and my pet—a great Pyrenees dog named Spirit) within a few months of each other, I felt paralyzed with grief going on two months.  Somehow, I had to get moving—as friends “tough-loved” me, admonishing me with the truth that none of my beloveds would want me to suffer for days in my pajamas watching television. 

One day, while still in my pajamas, with a tear stained face, and hair sticking out to wherever, I put my DVD into the player.  Immediately, the instructor on the DVD greeted me with a warm welcome of encouragement that inspired me to complete the entire workout.  I only had to modify one exercise because of my back pain issues!

What I love the most about dancing along with an instructional DVD is that I can do many of the exercises at my work desk in the office.  I have transcribed all the exercised into a small note book and every three hours at work, I do two or three exercises from each of the sessions presented on my DVD.  With the help of the exercises, I can inject Belly dance into my day.  I will not do some of the exercises at my workplace because I do not want to distract others from their work.  However, I will also say that my co-workers, upon seeing me do my exercises, are sometimes encouraged to get up and stretch at their desks along with me!

A few exercises on my DVD include using weights, but I find that doing them without weights is equally beneficial—especially to those of us with chronic pain. 

Each of my exercise sessions leaves me feeling so refreshed that I always complete the whole DVD when I am doing them at home.  Exercising encourages the dancer in me.  Beyond my early days of rock concert boogying, I do not consider myself as a natural born dancer; yet, the dancer within me can emerge while getting into shape.  (It is truly a blessed feeling; it can change the way your whole day and your whole body feels!) 

   A dance instructional DVD is a wonderful gift to oneself or to give to another person—especially if you know someone whose pain limits their ability to go out to a formal dance class in a studio.  Chose a DVD with beautiful music and a good presentation; also, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little down to earth humor to punctuate the workout.  You, or the person you have gifted, will be inspired to keep on moving by infusing the day with exercise.  At any age we can dance, exercise, and reach our optimum.  A personal zenith is achievable at any age, with any challenge at every moment.
* My favorite DVD and the one I used that day was  “Dancer's Body" by Aruna.

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