I’m on tonight, you know my hips don’t lie

I’ve spent years idolizing the way Shakira can shake and shimmy her hips, so I finally decided to learn how to do it myself.

Ah, belly dancing! I was a little scared to try it, but it is so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, the moves are anything but easy. When you’re introduced to a move you can hardly believe your body is capable of moving like that.

However, it is so rewarding when you finally get the hang of “isolating your upper abs” from the rest of your body or shimmying so fast you feel like you’re going to take flight.

If you’ve read my story about Pilates, you know I am always on the lookout for new, fun workouts.  I actually stumbled across free belly dancing classes online while looking for new Pilates videos. I watch the “Guide: Belly Dancing 101” videos Howcast.com, a website that streams a variety of how-to videos, to learn individual moves. The introductory text on this video reads, “Do you want to shake it like Shakira?” My answer to that was, “Heck yes!” I was immediately hooked.

Once I master the moves, I scoot over to freebellydanceclasses.com. An instructor named Tiazza Rose leads most of the videos, and she is incredibly talented. She makes videos that incorporate hip hop, Zumba and just about anything else into the ancient art of belly dancing. I also like doing the belly dance workout titled “Flex Appeal,” which can be found on Youtube. This video is a little more basic, but it’s great for beginning learners.

Not only does belly dancing give you confidence, but it is also a great workout! The morning after, my love handles scream they hurt so bad. This comes from the hundreds of hip drops, pivots and shakes I do during a workout.

 Belly dancing can improve your health in seven ways:

  1. It can improve muscle tone– regular and consistent belly dancing requires the movement of the legs, arms and just about every muscle in between.  This leads to an improvement in overall quality of tone.
  2. It can help strengthen your core– the moves required in belly dancing automatically create a strong core. A stronger core means fewer back problems, and a greater posture.
  3. It promotes flexibility– learning how to belly dance means flexing and stretching muscles you’ve probably never used before.  Increasing flexibility decreases risks of injury and makes moving in general a little easier.
  4. It burns fat and calories– while belly dancing includes the movement of the hips, arms, legs and core, it also an aerobic activity. The combination of these elements creates the burning of calories, shedding fat and building muscle tone.
  5. It reduces stress– men and women who belly dance are often said to be bitten by the “belly dance bug.” This bug transfers into a constant outlet for stress because it’s a workout you don’t spend dreading all day.
  6. It increases self esteem– once the graceful and flowing movements are mastered, you learn to feel more in tune and at peace with your body. This promotes confidence and a sense of content with your appearance.
  7. It increases joy– when the art of belly dance is learned, your muscles naturally become more toned and strong. This also helps aid in daily confidence and self esteem.

The only have one recommendation for someone who is just starting out with belly dance- give yourself some time. I would often become discouraged when my body wouldn’t move like the instructors I was watching, but it takes a lot of time and effort to build that flexibility.

 Like I said before, your body can’t do most of the moves naturally. You have to train your brain how to move specific parts of your body that have previously been neglected. As long as you have patience, you will master this beautiful, eloquent art form.

Good luck, and happy belly dancing! :]

 ~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~

Abbey :]