Raks Sharki, more popularly known as belly dance, is a dancing style that involves graceful pivots and rolls of the abdomen, pelvis and trunk, and movements of the neck and spine. Proponents of this dance point out that unlike other forms of dance, this one works with the body instead of against it. For example, it doesn't cause alteration or deformation of the skeleton like ballet. Apart from being a wonderful dance style, it's also a terrific workout for the body.
Low Impact Exercise
One of the best things about belly dancing is the fact that it gives a full body workout without inflicting too much impact or pressure on the muscles. Although the lower body is worked out thoroughly with this dance, there is little pressure on the knees and ankles. This means that even if you engage in belly dancing every day, your body won't get as worn out as when you're engaging in other rigorous physical activities. It doesn't expose you to high risks of injuries either.
Muscle Toning and Posture Improvement
Belly dancing also builds and tones muscles evenly. Since this would entail you to use your torso a lot, the movements along with those of the shoulder area exercise the muscles on the back evenly. This doesn't only prevent back injuries but also promotes proper posture. The hip flexibility is also improved and this can also work on your balance while you're walking. As with the arms and shoulders which are exercised when you do rippling motions, the muscles in these parts are toned as well. As a weight-bearing exercise, this is effective in strengthening the bones and preventing osteoporosis.
According to health experts, this form of dancing can burn as much as 300 calories per hour. The calories you burn will of course depend on several factors including intensity and duration of dancing. If you combine a regular 30-minute belly dancing workout with a healthy diet, you can expect easy weight loss in no time.
Prepares for Childbirth
It's probably the only exercise that prepares you for childbirth. In fact, belly dancing has sometimes been used as a prenatal exercise that is effective in strengthening the muscles that are used for the childbirth process. The abdominal muscle toning and hip tucks have the same effects as the "pelvic rocking" routines, which are taught in many prenatal classes. Belly dancing is perfect for expectant mothers who want to have a natural delivery. Just make sure that you consult your obstetrician first before enrolling in any belly dancing class if you're already pregnant.
Moving your belly in tune to the music is a great way to reduce daily stress. As a physical activity, this form of dancing triggers the production of happy brain chemicals like serotonin that would relieve stress and boost your mood. The subtle rhythms of belly dance music along with the traditional movements have a calming effect on the body.