Sunday, March 11, 2012

Exercise Machines no More... Let's Shimmy!

It is time to lay down the exercise equipment. Let's free ourselves from exercise machines and use our own bodies' rhythm to burn away the unwanted pounds. We can achieve this through an ancient dance form known in the West as Belly dance, also known as Middle Eastern dance. This dance form is linked to Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon. Over the past century, Belly dance has become more popular all over the world.

After my second child, I learned about the power of belly dance With my second child, I nursed for about a year. While nursing, I did mostly yoga and Pilate's. I felt balanced and strong, however, the weight was still there. I needed something fun with lots of movement to inspire me to lose the weight. I discovered belly dance. In two months, I had dropped 30 pounds and in three months, I was back to my size prior to pregnancy. Plus, everything about me was well defined, without weights. Everyone is not the same, however, with an organic lifestyle and consistency, improvement will be seen.

No need to run and get belly dance costumes. You can make it your own and wear what pleases you. Belly dance music? It is fine to get Arabic Sounds, however, it is unnecessary. Simply dance to what you enjoy.

Belly dance is sensual in expression and works the body through undulations and isolations causing every muscle in the body to move. Movement of the hips and chest are the major components in belly dance causing the torso to be in constant motion, hence the name belly dance. We can focus on target areas such as abs, back, arms, legs, and all over stretching of the body utilizing different dance moves. These moves are fun and easy for beginners to learn.

The stance in belly dance is abs pulled in, back straight, legs about shoulder length apart, and knees bent. Keeping this in mind will assist in properly performing the dance moves and providing optimum results.

  Head rolls are a wonderful way to warm up the neck. For anyone that experiences stiffness in the neck, this is a wonderful exercise to assist in releasing tension. Beginners should take it slow with this move until flexibility increases. Before you know it, you will be whipping your hair all around the place.

Moving the hands to different levels of the body will give different levels of resistance. When you sway your hips back and forth with arms straight and hands right over the head, this gives very little resistance to the arms, however, stretches the torso, elongating the spine. When hands are placed at ear level with straight arms, this strengthens the shoulders and the back. Placing the hands at shoulder level with straight arms gives the most resistance, strengthening the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and torso. The hands lowered to hip level is grounding, allowing you to feel the hips sway and feel the strength of your stance. Snake like movements in addition to the hands being at shoulder level will increase resistance.

Chest moves strengthen the entire torso. When you see those muscles become more defined and sleek, you will have these moves to thank.  Seasoned or professional belly dancers that can bend all the way backwards down to the floor have achieved this through strength and flexibility. Practicing these exercises daily will cause you to become stronger and more flexible in your back and abs.

Moving the hips to different levels also determines the resistance that the body feels. The lower the level of the hips, the less resistance that you feel in the torso. The higher the elevation of the hips, the more resistance. Moving our hips in a complete circle covers every muscle in the hip and pelvic regions. Starting with points from the front, side, back, and alternate side, then back to front, targets this area. When we move the hips in a smooth circle, we are not only working the muscles, however, also stretching them. The shimmy is also a popular dance move that moves the hip in a rapidly causing the whole body to shake. When done properly, it shows control over the body.  These exercises also strengthens the colon.

Fat burning moves would involve mostly leg and foot work (cardio). Foot work  in belly dance may seem easy to do, however, it does take some practice. Foot work in belly dance requires balance. This is excellent because it causes every muscle in your legs and feet to work. Many of these moves require that you be on your toes, which strengthens the arches, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and more. Another bonus is that this cardio blast is no impact, so it applies no extra weight on the joints and bones. The foot work also stimulates the colon.

These are all beginner's moves, yet, in time you will advance. As you progress, you will become stronger and have more flexibility. In addition, belly dance will make you feel beautiful and sensual. This is an introduction or base, there is so much more to belly dance. Check out YouTube, purchase DVDs, or even go to the library to learn more. These moves can also can be performed in more intimate So feel the femininity, sensuality, and power that this dance form gives us.


  1. Great post, I need to shimmy off a pound or two or a hundred LOL. One of my teen daughters likes to belly dance, maybe I will try some with her.

  2. Well now isn't that something! I never realized the benefits of belly dancing until your post. Very interesting and I tell you what... I have enough belly to keep me belly dancing for 6 months LOL.. Enjoyed reading your post! ~Madea EarthAngel

    Be sure to visit my new Site at, "Madea's Family Network"... we'll be happy to see you there!