ACTIVITY: Belly Dancing
VENUE: Mapplewell & Staincross, Barnsley in the Main Hall
TIME: Every Friday 10:00am – 11:00am
PRICE: £5:00 per session (starts 2nd March)
TEACHER: Catherine Clarke call 01226 381006 to book
Although the art of belly dancing is fun, it has other favourable health benefits as well. Cost is just £5:00 per session and is being commissioned by Mapplewell & Staincross Village Hall and run by Catherine Clarke of ‘Asoundfooting’.
The Health Benefits of Belly Dancing
Belly Dancing, also called Raks Sharki or Arabic Dancing is a form of dance that many are familiar with but often see it as a ‘novelty event’. But very few people understand the positive effects it has on our wellbeing. The hip drops, rolls, and pivots of this dance style utilise muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck, working with the body instead of against it, is based on movements that come naturally to the female form (but can still be of benefit to men). Here are the top ten health benefits awaiting those who practice this form of dance.
1. Improved Posture and Muscle Toning
The dance includes movements such as hip drops, circles, figure eights, and shimmies that put the joints and ligaments in the lower back and hip through a full range of gentle, repetitive motion. This movement helps increase the flow of synovial fluid (nature’s lubricant) in these joints. When movements are done properly, the pelvis is tipped forward, or tucked somewhat; a neutral position that can help prevent lower back problems. It can also help to relieve stress to the back, counteracting the almost constant compression of the disks that occurs from sitting and a sedentary lifestyle.
2. Arms and Shoulder Toning.
Arms and shoulders are exercised when doing lifts, circles, or the rippling motions of snake arms, toning muscle. This toning effect is often evident early on, since holding the arms aloft is an important element of the dance, even for beginners.
3. Osteoporosis and Bone Strengthening.
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, and the overall toning can lead to an improved self-image, as the dancer becomes more balanced and poised.
4. Low Impact Exercise.
Belly Dancing is considered a low-impact exercise, meaning the risk of injury is minimal when movements are done correctly. The benefits of belly dance can be enjoyed by women of all ages; men and children are participating in the dance as well, and reaping the same benefits.
5. Weight Loss.
It is reported that Belly Dancing can burn up to 300 calories per hour (Ref: Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat, M.D). This estimate will vary, of course, depending on the intensity of your dancing. Combined with a healthy diet it will be part of a sound weight loss program.
6. Aiding Digestion.
It’s true! Exercising the abdominal area, not just by rolling the belly, but also by swaying the torso, helps food move along the digestive system. Any form of exercise will have this effect to some degree, but belly-dance is especially good for this purpose.
7. Preparation for Child Birth.
It is reported that the movement of Belly Dancing makes an excellent prenatal exercise regimen that strengthens the muscles used during the childbirth process. The toned abdominal muscles and natural hip tucks, which are similar to the “pelvic rocking” taught during prenatal classes, teach the expectant mother how to move her pelvis. For women who desire natural childbirth, this form of exercise through dance, with its emphasis on muscle control not only facilitates natural childbirth, but also makes an excellent post-natal exercise that helps encourage abdominal tone.
8. Stress Reduction.
In this day and age of almost continuous stress, the subtle rhythms of Belly Dancing and the traditional movements are calming. The repetitive movements of the dance and the concentration needed to do them can help a mind filled with daily stress to ‘escape’ for a while and relax. It’s hard to worry about deadlines at work when you are thinking about getting that next drop just right, or while making sure that you are in time with the music.
Belly Dancing is a fun form of exercising that is not just a physical release but is emotionally stimulating, mixing with people with a likeminded approach to exercise, moving to the rhythmic sway of sensual music.
10. Laughter the Best Medicine.
Whilst there is a serious element to the class, most of the time there is a sense of openness and fun and we want everyone who attends to have a good time.
Many doctors have suggested belly dancing classes as part of rehabilitation from injury; it is, however, important to check with your own medical provider before starting any new form of exercise, especially if you are over 40, pregnant or have medical problems.