Performer and teacher Karina Abboud on Authentic Belly Dance
Health and belly dancing
The benefits of belly dance are both mental and physical. Dancing is a good cardiovascular workout and helps increase both flexibility and strength, focusing on the torso or “core muscles”, although it also builds leg strength. Many belly dance styles emphasize muscular “isolations”, which teach the ability to move various muscles independently. In addition, veil work can build arm, shoulder, and general upper-body strength, and playing zills can build strength and independence of the fingers. It is suitable for all ages and body types and can be as physical as the participant chooses to make it. Individuals would be wise to consult a doctor before starting belly dance, just as with starting any new exercise routine. It is also advisable that one talk with the instructor to see to what level his or her classes are geared. Mental health benefits, for many belly dancers, include an improved sense of well being, elevated body image and self-esteem as well as a generally positive outlook that comes with regular, enjoyable exercise.
There may also be some benefit from belly dancing for women when the time comes for childbirth, as the movements strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles and the woman becomes more familiar with the way her muscles work. The hip circling movements used in the dance may relieve some of the discomforts of labour.
Is belly dancing good exercise?
Belly dance is based on natural body movement. It is thorough and effective exercise for every part of the body. Because of this, it’s great for all ages, sizes, and body types.
What other health benefits are there?
Belly dance is truly holistic – a mind, body, and spiritual practice. It calms the mind and can transport us to a higher level of consciousness at the same time we are getting excellent physical exercise. This contributes positively to our over-all well being.