Written by Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
Note: We are not medical consultants and if in doubt about anything regards your own health and belly dance, please consult your a doctor or medical professional.
Having read extensively around the subject of belly dance both as an academic and as a dance teacher, I have listed the benefits below that are widely believed to result from this form of dance.
Back and Joints Pains are Relieved
During the dance, the movements of hip drops, circles, figure eights, and shimmies 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.
Bone Density Increases
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.
Low Impact Form of Exercise
The graceful hip drops, rolls, and pivots of this dance form utilize muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck, working with the body instead of against it.
Unlike ballet, which can potentially alter and deform the skeleton, or other dance forms that work against rather than with the body’s physical inclinations, Belly Dance (Raks Sharqi) the Egyptian term for belly dance is based on movements that come naturally to the female form.
The benefits of belly dance can be enjoyed by women of all ages.
Helps in Loosing Weight
Raks Sharqi can burn up to 300 calories per hour. This estimate will vary, of course, depending on the intensity of your dancing.
Combined with a healthy diet that involves sensible eating, Raks Sharqi can without a doubt be part of a sound weight loss program.
Helps in Preparing for Childbirth
The movements of raks sharki make 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 a 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.
During those first weeks after giving birth, when caution is needed while healing from the birth process, these movements work the muscles gently and effectively, if done very gradually.
Reducing Stress Levels and Dance
Repetitious swaying, circular and flowing movements are likened to a state of dance-meditation.
The dancer often finds that a session of slow, graceful dancing will clear the mind and induce a state of mental relaxation.
The faster forms of belly dance are stimulating and fun, and either slow or fast belly dancing can be useful in cases of anxiety or mild depression
Boosting your Self-Esteem
The movements are artistic and feminine, creating a positive feeling of sensual expression and freedom.
With sensuality being a desirable quality of belly dancing, the dancer feels safe to explore the soft, beautiful ways the body can move.
In the act of dancing with sensuality, the dancer frees herself in physical and emotional ways.
The body, which becomes increasingly supple and graceful through practicing the dance, literally learns to move more beautifully.
Dancers feel a heightened sense of elegance and poise when they dance, and this delightful confidence remains long after the class or performance is finished.
The body awareness that comes from belly dancing often triggers an emotional response. Women with low self-image begin to honour their bodies.
Previously weight-conscious participants relax and become comfortable with their bellies and hips. Voluptuous women appreciate their ample curves.
Helping to Relieve PMS
Soothing belly dance movements such as rolling the hips, figure of eights and undulations can help to alleviate congestion in the pelvic area.
Circulation to the pelvic area improves and at the same time, the feeling of relaxation alleviates stress.
Some other interesting resources on PMS and dance
Dance to help PMS
Dance spirit and PMS