For the past two years I have had the pleasure to teach belly dance to a wide variety of women from different ages groups, backgrounds, cultures who are all shapes and sizes, with varying personalities. Some are so painfully shy when they begin they cannot look at themselves in the mirror whilst others come claiming to have two left feet, some have problems at home or health issues but during that one hour of class none of the above is important.
Why they choose belly dancing will be a personal answer to each and every one of them but some of the positives that come from dancing are often the same for most of them.
Of course we all know the benefits of exercise and while some of us consider going to the gym or running miles to be torture (me included), dancing offers a more creative form of exercise. Belly Dancing is particularly good because it is low impact. The movements come naturally to the female form and can be enjoyed by women of all ages and because a woman is on her feet, moving during the dance, it is considered a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise can prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones. Dance also keeps the brain and body working, helps you understand more about good posture and improves strength and flexibility along with providing a creative outlet for many who may sit at a desk or do a job that doesn’t allow creativity but I think we all know this. What I wasn’t to know before I started to belly dance is what this dance form would offer in terms of inner peace and I am not some spiritualist!
Belly Dance movements are artistic and feminine, creating a feeling of sensual expression and freedom. Dancers feel a heightened elegance and poise and their new found confidence doesn’t leave when they leave class. The body awareness that comes from belly dancing often triggers and emotional response, women with low self image begin to like their bodies, become comfortable with their hips, bellies, curves or lack of curves. Whilst in class the stress of the day or outside pressure is forgotten and they are surrounded by women who come together in a supportive environment. It is social too making new friends with people who share your interests, performing together, learning about a different culture and finding confidence within yourself which can be transferred to other aspects of your life.
I know all of this because without being too sentimental belly dance really changed my life and I wasn’t a shy and retiring wall flower before but it has improved my confidence and body image no end.
Today one of my students wrote saying that my classes are not just belly dance classes but so much more, saying ‘you appear to be helping us out in a special way you may not have realised’ to which I can only respond that teaching them dancing weekly has changed my life in just the same and special way.