For years when I was younger, I wanted to take bellydance classes. I'm not sure what exactly drew me to that specific style of dance initially, but I was curious and found a local instructor in my area. I lurked on her website for a few years, trying to summon the courage to take my first class. I was filled with all the usual doubts and insecurities, but one Sunday morning I announced to my husband I was taking the 3PM Beginner's class that day and set off nervous and excited. I'll never forget my very first class; the jingle of the coin belts, the soft feel of the chiffon veil in my hand, the way my body felt as it moved through the isolated movements - I was entranced. That first class led to a passion that has impacted all parts of my life. Finding my passion for bellydance led to finding myself, unlocking confidence and motivation as I discovered new ways to express myself through dance, first by intensive study, then performing, and later, teaching. As the baby bellydancer in this photo, it didn’t matter what people thought about my new hobby; I was doing it for myself.
The most rewarding lesson I've learned isn’t a dance technique, it’s the importance of staying open to new experiences. It was intimidating going to a class where I didn't know anyone, had no friends to join me. But without that first step, I think of all the friendships and memories I never would have experienced.
I'm a firm believer in taking a leap of faith and saying yes to unexpected opportunities. Very often I’m just as nervous as when I first stepped into that dance studio, but I never regret allowing myself to be open to something new. So often we shut ourselves down from experiencing things either from fear, uncertainty, or a lack of support from friends/family. This Valentine's Day, indulge in something you've always wanted. Open yourself up to something that would surprise others about you - it may be dance, like me, or any new skill, like learning to knit or exploring a city you've dreamed of visiting. Love yourself enough to explore what brings you joy.
And if dance IS on your bucket list, I'm starting a new online 8-week Bellydance Basics class later this Spring!
It's all in the Wrist:
If you spend a lot of time typing, your hands, wrists, and arms can experience cramping and pain. But one of my favorite bellydance moves can moonlight as an exercise to stretch and find relief!
Wrist circles are most effective when there is minimal movement in the elbows and arms. Therefore, start with your elbows high, creating a diamond shape with the arm, hand in front of your body, fingers long. As the name implies, all movement is generated in the wrist, not the fingers. In fact, the fingers are set in place with the rotation of the wrist moving the hand. Lead with the pinky finger, drawing a small circle counterclockwise and only within your range of movement of the wrist. Your wrist will rotate your fingers to the side, down to the floor, to the opposite side and up to the ceiling. While isolating the movement only to your wrists, you’ll feel a deep stretch in your forearm as well as your hand. Try each wrist on its own or complete the wrist circles with both hands.
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