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It’s time to get out your baubles, bangles, veils, and beads, my friends, and show off your belly because tomorrow is World Belly Dancing Day. Each year, it is celebrated around the globe on the second Saturday of May.
I like to dance, and, I have a belly, so I thought it might be fun to explore this ancient form of dance as an exercise alternative. Come on. I know you have at least a smidgeon of curiosity about how to flip a quarter with your belly muscles. I sure do.
The earliest forms of belly dancing can be traced to the Egyptian ghawazi dance. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the remarkable ability that groups of Egyptian women had to spontaneously dance, sing, and clap their hands while in boats along the Nile during religious festivals. Their dance spread throughout the Middle East and eventually became a folk dance performed at celebrations.
Perhaps the most famous belly dancer in modern times was Badia Masani, who has been called the godmother of belly dancing. She popularized the form and took it to a performance level. Tavihac Carioca, who is known as Egypt’s Marilyn Monroe, added Brazilian rhythmic moves and performed in movies. Naima Aken used her talents as a circus acrobat and added flips and spins to her belly dancing routines.
During the 60s in the United States belly dancing became a form of self-expression and today the movement has grown into an exercise movement.
Needless to say, whenever you move your belly on purpose, it’s going to benefit you physically. But belly dancing for exercise promotes balance, strength, coordination, and confidence as well as being downright fun. Many belly dancing instructors boast that participating in a class will burn 400 calories per hour! Pregnant women are also encouraged to learn belly dancing moves to prepare for childbirth.
What’s not to love about this unique way to stay in shape? If your local community college or YMCA doesn’t offer classes, then there are plenty of online ways to learn this ancient art. Here’s one we all can do.
I always thought of belly dancers as being voluptuous and exotic with their veils and coins sewn onto their costumes. But while researching for this article I found that many women who were seeking husbands would dance to increase their dowries. They would sew the coins that were thrown at them during performances into their costumes to make them more desirable to potential marriage prospects. Good for them.
But what about the famous quarter-flipping maneuvers done by the belly dance divas? Check this out:
Unbelievable! That’s one talented belly!
Give it a try. I did and I’m proud to say that even though I can’t flip a coin, I can sure make one bounce up and down. There is always a way to keep your exercise program from becoming boring, right?
Belly dancers of the world, we salute you and your talented abs!
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