Belly dancing has been around for thousands of years. "Raks sharqui" means "dance of the East" in Arabic, according to About.com. The article went on to say that belly dancing originated in Mesopatamia, then made its way to North African, India, Spain and Rome. In ancient times, About.com said that belly dancing was performed as a part of fertility rites.
Massage yourself while you dance as the muscle movements benefit your internal organs. Many movements were meant to imitate the contractions that occur during labor. The dance develops muscles involved with labor, which helps prepare pregnant women for their labor.
Today, belly dancing is favored as an exercise that tones muscles and aids with weight loss. Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at the Mayo Clinic, said that belly dancing is as effective a calorie burner as aerobics like biking, swimming and walking.
As you get into your dance, some moves can be quite rapid. You may be having such a good time, though, that you may not even notice that you're raising a sweat. Hip and shoulder action can make your heart pump harder, which is great from a cardiovascular perspective.
Your major muscles will know you've been working out while you've been enjoying yourself. At the same time, the dance is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise without straining your joints and muscles.
Belly dancing works and tones your abdominal and back muscles. As you roll your abs, your upper and lower stomach muscles get a good workout.
The side moves exercise your obliques. If you have pain in your lower back, you may find some relief by doing some other moves like circles, hip drops and shimmies. The fluidity of the moves helps relieve stress on your back muscles. Your posture will be enhanced, and your muscles will become more fit and toned.
Pictures of women belly dancing are often photos of women with great physiques but don't let that intimidate you wearing sexy outfits. Women of any size, in any shape, can get into belly dancing and reap its benefits. If you struggle with your weight, belly dancing can bring you more in tune with your body, and appearances can seem less important while you dance. While you can use all kinds of props and enjoy the bells, fans and scarves of the belly dancing mystique, you don't have to have any accessories to have the time of your life.
Want to learn more about belly dancing? You can take a class, or use a DVD, or check out its unique moves online.
Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
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