Definition of Holistic: Taking into account a person’s physical, mental and social condition. Relating to or concerned with the whole or the complete system. Emphasizing the whole person.
Definition of Holistic Health: the concept that all aspects of people’s needs, psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole.
Is Belly Dance Holistically Healthy? hmmm…let’s see
I know that any belly dancer reading this is answering with a nodding of their head in a definite YES! And absolutely, I am prejudiced in my view as a belly dancer and a holistic health practitioner. But what about those that haven’t experienced this ancient art form.
Probably, for those individuals, the first impression of Belly Dance is as it has commonly been portrayed in the media…a lithe, slim, young woman shimmying in serpentine-like motion across the screen or shaking and shimmying everything she’s got with dazzling effect. Often the media portrays belly dance as “sexy” and that limited view can be pretty intimidating for most women.
So let’s take a look at why and how Belly Dance fit’s the definition of holistically healthy.
Often we associate health with fitness and yes, belly dance will bring you that. You will move muscles you didn’t know you had in ways that you thought impossible…and you will move your entire body through the moves. Toning muscle, increasing stamina and flexibility along with strengthening and stretching will all be found in most belly dance classes. You will be forced to breathe and in that way bring nourishing oxygen to all parts of your body. The thing about it is, you don’t tend to notice this fitness aspect during class, it’s almost like a side benefit.
An advantage of learning from a health practitioner is the sharing of training and knowledge of the body and how it works, that is brought to the experience….if you have a bad knee there are other muscles you can use to lift your hip and shift your weight, and there are many ways to work with most injuries.
Why don’t you notice the fitness benefits? Likely because, along with the other women in your class, you are laughing and enjoying yourself too much to focus on the muscles that are toning. Really!
There is a special kind of atmosphere that runs through a belly dance class. There is a celebration of femininity in all of its shapes, sizes, ages and beauty…an exuberance in sharing the moves and dances with others that brings a joy that comes from some place deep within. Any judgement or comparison of what the media portrays as a woman’s must haves to “be sexy” or “beautiful” or “the right size” or “too old” are dropped at the door.
Odd and strange as it sounds, this is an environment where you are accepted as the person that you are and where you have the opportunity to develop a positive and healthy relationship with that person. Something our ancestors and the ancient cultures in which this art form originated knew deep within, they didn’t need to be taught this. Hmmm…it would appear here that we are hitting upon the mental AND the social aspects of holistically healthy!
So let’s see…you’re participating in something that has the physical fitness component to holistic health AND it’s filled with joy and laughter so we’ve covered the mental component AND you are spending time out in a social setting with other adult woman which takes care of the social component…what’s left?
Probably the deep psychological and spiritual benefits, but I think we covered that too. When you are engaged in an activity or more aptly, an ancient art form, that encourages you to leave the stress at the door and be “in the moment” and that moment involves physical movement, laughter and joy along with an ever increasing sense of self acceptance there is no option but to let it affect you, and deeply.
It seems the whole person has benefited!
Do you experience the holistic effects of activities you participate in? Share with us….
Teresa is a member of Raks Almeh Tribal Fusion Dance Troupe and along with her troupe sister Lori, offers Belly Dance Classes for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Levels in Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack & Fort Langley.
For more information about Raks Almeh visit www.raksalmeh.com
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