Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Margaret Pardoe0
Dance Away That Jelly Belly
Belly dancing is very popular with women of all ages, and is an easy to sustain exercise programme because it’s so much fun! The music is great and the moves are interesting, not to mention the exotic costumes – jingly coin belts and even the stunning Isis wings. It’s a low impact workout with the emphasis on posture, core stability, and mastery of technique which tones and conditions the body. And is another form of dance that doesn’t require a partner.
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Belly dancing improves suppleness and postural alignment via slow sinewy movement. Constant, repetitive moves build muscle strength and definition, with the body often using forces of resistance to create the move. Shimmies, energetic accents and vibrating moves provide a cardio workout, boosting oxygen to the muscles and burning fat. Repetition is important, and so is a solid, steady beat to drive the movement if you want to get fit belly dancing.
It is important to do the movements correctly, making sure they generate from one’s core, (the containment of energy generated in the lower abdominal and pelvic muscles). This action must be conscious; one needs awareness in order to access core strength to support the lower back, lengthen the spine and maintain optimum postural alignment. Movements that begin from a strong core or center of the body will improve the posture, help rebalance the endocrine (hormonal) system and will make other muscles function in fully supported and balanced action. Correct posture is essential for those who suffer from any form of back problems.
For suppleness, the sinewy moves need to be repeated, sustained and done methodically using a variety of upper, mid and lower body movements – for at least 30 minutes for real toning benefits to take place.
Lifting the arms high over the head engages muscles and is a form of resistance which tones the biceps and triceps. Thigh muscles powering accents, shimmies and hip moves will creating a tension and resistance too. Because the grounded nature of Belly dance causes thigh muscles to continuously contract to sustain hip movements, it is also a natural leg strengthener. However, it is a good idea to balance this with some muscle lengthening exercises such as: kicks, leg stretches and lifts against a ballet bar, wall or even on a chair. The aim is to get the leg high and use its own weight as resistance to work the muscles.
Belly rolling moves improve the strength of the abdominal muscles, supporting the lower back.
Regular cardio workouts at least four times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes of sustained vigorous, low impact exercise i.e dance, shimmy, traveling moves and step to 120-130 BPM and the body must burn fat. The music here is important, and it should be fast and steady. The arrangement of songs should build up, peak, and slow down only at the end. A reasonable sweat is a sure sign of fat burning. The body does get used to certain exercises, so try to vary the movements used every few weeks.
130 BPM (beats per minute) is often the tempo of the faster Egyptian pop, drums, Fellahin, and Turkish Chiftetelli music and at 130 BPMs the body’s hormonal systems activate (the feeling of excitability). At this level of activation, the hormones begin to re-balance themselves, including dopamine and seratonin levels (the feel good hormones)..
With regular abdominal work in Belly dancing, the digestive system is activated and strengthened through wave-like contractions of the muscles, giving an ‘internal massage’. Shimmies also activate and stimulate the digestive process. Interestingly, psychoacoustics specialists have found that 130+ BPM tempos improve the speed at which the body digests food, by releasing digestive hormones, adrenalin, and thyroxin. With regular fast dancing, circulation improves, and therefore, so does digestion. The entire body’s cells are better nourished and the blood supply increases, resulting in an overall sense of “well-being” and increased energy levels.
Belly dance exercises that massage the pancreas are the abdominal exercises, including the hip circles, pelvic rolls and undulations. Raising the arms actually helps lymph nodes under the armpit clear excess toxic waste from one’s body. Rolling the belly and hips regulates the sex hormones produced by the gonads, which in Chinese medicine rule the entire endocrine system.