Welcome to the second week of the new year. How are things going with your fitness routine? Are you looking for something to shake things up a bit more? The new year is a great reason to start something new, or connect with something you have been meaning to do. Here are some great first steps to take into belly dance as a fitness option and how they will help you work out some new muscle groups.
Before really breaking into the moves of belly dance it is important to understand that this is not just wiggling around and the movements can cause injury if done incorrectly. Posture will be the main focus of this introductory article, as well as something to return to as you progress in your dancing.
Feet and Legs
Belly dance is a dance form typically done without footwear, though if you need something on your feet a ballet flat, or dance barefoot covering will be best. Once you are comfortable with or without your foot wear, place feet with heels approximately fist width apart. Having your feet at this distance will allow for stability as well as looking nicer when doing hip and body movements. Weight should be balanced slightly to the front of the foot with heels gently grounded. Toes should be pointed forward, but we will go into the reasons why this rule is not hard and fast.
Legs should be considered as a good base but not necessarily the source of most movements. Unless we are traveling across the floor, legs are really along for the ride on most belly dance moves. Knees ar an important factor in dance as well as most lower body workouts. Knees should remain soft and never locked. Belly dance relies on the muscles not the joints, so when standing the weight should be balanced on the muscle surrounding the knee rather than the joint itself. Knees should move parallel to one another without bumping, or turning away from one another. As mentioned, this is where we may be breaking the foot rule. Varying the direction of the toes will allow for free movement of the knees. Find the position that works for you.
Tail and Torso
The tail bone and torso is typically where women have issues as we age, and belly dance, most specifically the proper posture associated with it, is a great way to alleviate many of this problems. This can also be confusing at first so it is recommended that you seek a professional instructor to help in the beginning. The tail bone, which is located at the base of the spine, should be tucked, or pointed down toward the feet. This is accomplished through engaging the lowest abdominal muscles just below the waistline. You will know you are doing it correctly because you will find it impossible to lock your knees.
If you have properly tucked your tail down you may find this has shortened your torso. This will not do for the core movements we will be doing. Lift the torso from the chest and elongate the spine as if you have a string drawing you up from the center of your head. Roll your shoulders down and back to fully open the upper torso and allow for not only easier breathing, but to look nicer as well.
Finishing Touches and Homework
The head should be level and relaxed with the neck elongated just like the rest of the spine. Home work for this week will be as easy as learning to walk again. Take this posture out on the town. The grocery store, work, school, and the clubs. You will feel better, and look amazing!