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Stretching for Belly Dancers
Just because you are dancing, does not mean you can ignore warming up your muscles. The music may sound just perfect, and you may think that you can start doing shimmies and hip drops. That is not the case. Give your muscles the attention they deserve before and after your practice.
Before you start an exercise, you need to keep your body hydrated and you need to warm-up. Dancing is just as demanding of an exercise like bike riding or running.
Belly dancers put their entire body in the dance, so keep that in mind. Now if you are a beginner, you may want to warm-up with your instructor. Pay close attention to how she or he does a warm-up, and in time, you will be able to do it on your own.
Dance posture is important before your warm-up. Make sure your feet are shoulder width, shoulders relaxed, tuck in the pelvis, and lift your chest. Your knees should be slightly bent at this point. Take a minute to notice yourself in that position.
Do some breathing exercises. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Some belly dance instructors practice the yoga method of breathing by inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Do what feels right for you.
While you warm-up, listen to a song that is at moderate tempo. Your muscles need time, so a moderate tempo piece will go well with the slow, stretching movements that will prepare you for your workout or practice session.
Close your eyes, and roll your head clockwise, slowly. If you feel the need to count, then do a head roll in eight counts. Repeat twice then roll your head the opposite way. You can also look side to side by looking over your right shoulder then switching to the left shoulder. Bring your neck back, looking up at the sky, then bring your neck down, looking at your feet.
Shoulder rolls, slow and sensual. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides and just roll your shoulders by pushing up, back,down, and to the front. Switch directions by pushing the shoulder up, front, down, to the back. You can warm-up one shoulder at a time, or both.
You need to get ready to warm-up your arms and upper back by raising both shoulders, the elbows, push both wrists up towards the sky, and relax by bringing your arms at rest. This should have the flying effect, so to speak.
Chest warm-ups may not be easy for some because the chest muscles are not usually considered when doing warm-ups. However, since chest movements are essential to belly dance, it is important to warm-up the chest. Focus on the chest area and think of nothing else. No other part of your body should assist in warming up the chest. Check your posture. Is it correct? Push your chest out and bring it back. You can put your hands slightly on your hips to give you support. Next, lift the chest up and down.
Tuck your stomach in and push it out. Hold the tucks for several seconds. To warm-up your obliques, do chest slides by moving your chest side to side, without moving other parts of your body.
Move your hips side to side, slowly. You can also push your hip all the way to one side then hold. Switch to the other. Check your posture. Do a slow hip circle by pushing to the right, front, left and back. Smooth it out in a nice circular motion. You should feel the lower back warming up.
Do small kicks to the front by pointing your toes and lifting your leg slightly off the ground. Bring it back to resting position then repeat. Switch to your other leg. If at this point you want to warm-up your legs by bending at your waist and touching the floor, the go for it. Just remember not to bounce. It just drives me crazy when I see people bounce when they bend down to grab their ankles. It is not natural and it is terrible on the back.
You can add or change anything you would like in your warm-up, but remember to keep that dance posture in check.
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