What do you think of when you think of belly dance? A celebratory dance? A sensual experience? ….Childbirth? There are many who believe that the origin of bellydance is linked to childbirth rituals of centuries ago. While these theories are controversial, it is easy to argue that many of the movements of bellydance mimic movements of a labouring woman. And, more importantly, many of the movements of bellydance use the same muscles used by a labouring woman.
Bellydance to Prepare for and Recover from Birth
Pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman’s body, but exercise, especially core and pelvic-floor strengthening exercise can help to minimize damage and expedite the healing process. Due to the wild changes in a woman’s body, many conventional abdominal & core exercises can cause more harm or exacerbate conditions such as diastasis recti – a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. This can cause a woman to appear pregnant months or even years post-birth. Many pregnancy fitness programs, including the Dia Method – which was featured in the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” – modify abdominal exercises involving contracting and releasing abs from a standing, seated, or side-plank position, to prevent or reverse diastasis recti, to stay healthy and to prepare for or recover from childbirth.
Bellydance in My Pregnancy
As I researched these programs for my own pregnancy, I noticed that these are the exact movements I use in my belly dance teaching and practice. Except, of course, the belly dance version is much more fun! I have been recommending this beautiful art form and exercise to women, and sometimes men, since I took my first class nearly two decades ago.
Benefits of Bellydance
The benefits of practicing this dance are relevant to all women, and, I believe, especially important for women preparing for or recovering from child bearing. To name a few:
- Gentle strengthening of core
- Increasing ability to isolate and control muscle groups
- Helping prepare the body for birth and preventing diastasis recti
- Recovery after birth
- An emphasis on body positivity and acceptance and the feminine form in all its diverse representations
- Improving posture
- Stress relief
- Development of rhythm and some cool party moves!
I truly believe belly dance is for everyone, regardless of age, size, shape! If you are pregnant and concerned, check with a medical professional before engaging in any exercise.
I’m sure you’ve heard of many of the benefits of meditation, so I won’t get into this. But what I do hear often, is how do you meditate? We all have very different ideas of meditation, and that’s completely ok. It’s a very personal journey and can take many forms; walking, painting, music, or more traditional forms including focused meditation, mindfulness, and incorporating breath work, known as pranayama – ‘breath control’.
Everyone also uses meditation for different reasons, but this too changes throughout our lives. Many experience anxiety and use meditation to help find peace. We are better able to be objective, see situations without unnecessary emotion, and better communicate with others. Meditation can help us refine our dreams. Meditation can help us heal, by releasing emotions and helping us to focus on what is most important to us. Energy flows where thoughts go.
How to Meditate
I don’t believe there is one way to do anything, just like there isn’t one way to meditate. I don’t think it’s necessary to ’empty’ your mind. We are thinking beings. Using the power of meditation to observe objectively is a great practice, and in time you will notice you will have little moments of inspiration come to you more frequently. Overtime I have learned some valuable tools to meditate in a safe way. When we are energetically exposed, as we can be when we meditate, it’s important to ground and energetically protect ourselves. We are extra receptive after meditation, and you don’t want to be picking up on others energy – this is especially true if you are already very sensitive to others.
- Begin by getting comfortable in a space you can meditate every day undisturbed
- Closing your eyes, inhale through your nose to the count of 3 and exhale through your mouth for 3 – sigh it out!
- Begin inhaling and exhaling for equal 4 counts through your nose, allowing your stomach to relax
- As you feel your body relax, bring your awareness from head to your seat (crown chakra to root chakra)
- On your next exhale, imagine roots or a golden cord reaching from your root chakra into the earth. Feel this connection deepen. Exhaling any unnecessary energy into the earth to be dissolved
- Continue with deep steady inhales and exhales for as long as you wish
More Meditation Tips:
For more information on meditation, you can follow us on Instagram and join our Facebook event: Month of Meditation.
This is completely free, and you will get tips every day for your home mediation practice. Our Thursday Yin class is another lovely way to meditate whether you have practiced for a while or are new to meditation. Yin is accessible to beginners. For mediation with children, we host Karma Family Yoga on Saturdays (by-donation). If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.
We are very excited to be opening the studio for Playdates on Monday, Wednesday & Friday mornings! This is an opportunity for parents to bring their little ones to release some energy, get social, learn something new, and meet new parents + tots. We will have toys, books, and tea for everyone to share, and from time to time, mini-workshops with wellness practitioners sharing dance, yoga, and helpful tools for parents!
This was an essential aspect of the vision for the studio 15 years ago. Katie could see that it was a challenge for both parents to be working on the family structure and children’s emotional well-being. Most parents do an incredible job, but many are also choosing to have one parent at home, often opening their own small business. While running a small business isn’t the easiest thing in the world (!), it definitely provides incredible satisfaction (especially when you feel like you’re helping others) and to a degree, more flexibility. There are still more surprises to build on this vision! Being a community space, we are about connection and supporting each other in growth.
Oct 2nd, our first Playdate, we will have Dinah our Bellydance instructor joining us! This will be a fun session for little ones and parents – a chance to move, loosen up the back, and help mamas get some gentle core work in. For more information and to register for Playdates, please visit our main page and select one of the ‘More Details’ buttons. See you soon!
My clients pretty regularly tell me their back is all better, even though they’ve tried many avenues to heal it. I’m not really doing anything special, just giving them tools to help them help themselves … one of the greatest joys in life! ? Simple core and breath exercises help give athletes greater strength and endurance, and also make a huge difference for women, not to mention anyone with back pain! If you are looking for a class to really help you with this, I would recommend the following:
Tues Mindful Movement + Yoga or Intro Yoga or Yoga for Bikers + Athletes
Sat Ladies Vinyasa Flow
While we don’t work on the core in Yin, this class is also very beneficial for working with the breath and deep fascial (and muscle) release.
As much as I love summer, I do love the renewed feeling of fall, especially in our cozy studio! We have so many amazing instructors sharing their wellness talents for adults and kids at the studio this fall, including:
- Kids Yoga to help children explore their strengths, communication, and dreams
- Adult Yoga with guided meditation + pranayam (breath-work):
- Yin – gentle poses to help you sooth your body and soul, working with breath
- Kundalini – working with the nervous system and breath to energize or calm
- Beginner Yoga – safely guiding you with a focus on alignment, breath, and core strength
- Ladies Core Flow – for women looking to build core strength and sooth body + mind
- Powerflow for Bikers – yin to enable you to continue doing what you love, while working with breath, upper body, and core strength
- Bellydance – tone the full body while connecting to your feminine power
- Chakra Balance + Awakening – learn about your chakras and how to better care for yourself
- Meditation + Mindfulness courses – empower yourself with mindfulness
- Baby Workshops: Signing Babies, Baby & Me Foot Reflexology, Pre-Natal + Birth Classes!
I realized again the other day that many of us, including myself, learn somewhere along the line to short-cut our breath. In dance (so as to not show our stomach) and singing we are often told to take little chest breaths, just raising our chest when we breath. The problem is many of us learn this as children and it becomes our new way of breathing. When we breath in this way, we aren’t getting all the oxygen we need – leading to light-headedness, digestive issues, inability to think clearly, struggle with exercise, anxiety, poor cell renewal, increased difficulty if asthma is an issue & more. This means many of us need to retrain our breath and the muscles involved.
Focusing on a simple belly-breath (like a balloon), allowing the ribs & belly to expand, every morning for at least five minutes is a great way to re-learn how to breath effectively. I like to enforce it with other activities, such as; meditation, yoga, running, and swimming. Imagine your stomach is a balloon, and drawing the breath all the way down. Allowing your rib-cage to expand outwards with your stomach. It may be tricky at first, but keep trying and practicing and you will notice a world of difference!
This is just another reason being exposed to yoga and breath-work as a child can be incredible! Imagine learning to breath correctly from the get-go!
If you have questions, I am happy to help or join me in a class: firstname.lastname@example.org
I can’t believe we’ve been officially open for one year already (we didn’t actually start until Sept 2016)! Such an amazing year, and definitely an inspiring journey! The community is definitely what has made this space what it is – learning and growing with each other, through yoga, meditation, dance, art, and many deep discussions. I have met some of the most incredible people, and feel so blessed to work with others who have complimentary values: supporting inspired growth in the community through various modalities. This has been such a rewarding year, and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this journey, and I look forward to even more growth for us all in the years to come!
Keep breathing in that white light and letting yourself shine!
We are again offering Pre & Post-Natal classes with a twist! Katie has a love for and background in yin and kundalini, so we will draw on these elements to nurture and soothe our nervous systems. You are welcome to bring your little one for Post-Natal, where we will be focusing on re-gaining core strength, with some deeply relaxing yin. I’m looking forward to sharing with you during this special time!