Bellydancing — A Woman’s Workout

To watch her belly wave in and out and side to side as though she’d been doing it since the gypsies of 1000 AD, you’d never know that Teresa was all set to be a pharmacist before belly dancing shook her awake.

In the 12 years since she took a class with a pregnant friend, she has gone on to open a dance studio in Lexington, Ky., and perform on stages across the United States. When she steps into class, she helps women reconnect with what makes their bodies worthy of admiration and reverence that’s as long-standing as the human form itself.

“I’ve always been pretty physical, but belly dancing started bringing me into myself as a feminine creature,” Teresa said. “Belly dance, for me, is so good because it gives me that physical high, but it also connects you with music and your own sense of self and your feminine sensuality. You’re like, ‘Oh, okay. I like jewelry. I like being a goddess.'”

Teresa’s belly dancing practice has not only improved her mental state and made her more appreciative of her body, it’s also had physical benefits. In belly dancing, the torso is engaged at all times, so any movements you make work your obliques, your lower abs and your hips.

According to Teresa, “A belly dancer prides herself on being able to isolate all her body parts, to independently move her chest or move her hips or move her belly or move her head or whatever. There are all these amazing isolations happening, and they involve huge amounts of physicality.”

Learning to move the way Mother Nature intended doesn’t come instinctively. Even Teresa admits to feeling lost when she first got started, and she likens the experience to learning a foreign language.

“If you initially come in and get totally caught up in the technical aspects of which muscle is moving, your brain won’t let you have it because it’s not the way you move in your daily life,” she said. “Just like learning a foreign language, you might first learn how to pronounce the words. Then you’re able to form sentences. And then you can speak in paragraphs. And then you don’t sound like Tarzan when you speak.”

The kinship with other dancers is also an attractive part of belly dancing, and Teresa has performed with some of the best contemporary dancers on the planet, including Rachel Brice. Brice is probably the best belly dancer in the world, and to see why, watch this.

Where in the world can you take a belly dance class, you ask? Try http://www.bellydanceclasses.net/, a comprehensive, global list of instructors and studios all over the world.

To dress the part, check out Velvet Peacock Designs, a woman-owned and operated business in Maui.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Notes from the Belly
At Teresa’s dance studio and gallery, you can get in touch with your inner dance goddess.

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