1. It Raises Your Self-Esteem
As world-renowned belly dancer and founder of London’s Fleur Estelle Dance Belly Dance School, Audrey Fleur Estelle Cheruvier, explains, belly dancing can give you a sense of empowerment – revealing that even the shyest of her students end up “transformed” over the course of a few classes.
“Belly dancing can teach you how to feel at home in your body, and to celebrate everything that you are,” she says. “The chance to challenge yourself and push out of your comfort zone – and to successfully dance beyond it – can be such a wonderful boost to self-esteem and confidence.”
2. It Can Make Exercise Fun
Yet to find a workout you actually enjoy? Belly dancing could finally change that. As Cheruvier says, when you’re belly dancing, you’re not necessarily aware of quite how much you’re exercising because it's genuinely so enjoyable.
As the movements used in belly dancing work naturally with the body and not against it, it doesn’t feel like a chore like some other fitness classes. And, as it’s a creative art form, you’re less likely to zone out mid-class.
3. It Helps You Move, Sit & Stand Better
“The techniques teach you how to strengthen, lengthen and isolate your muscles – and not just your core muscles, but all your muscles,” Cheruvier explains. Benefits of belly dancing include a lengthened lower lumbar spine, increased joint lubrication, an opened chest and increased rib-cage mobility, and increased hip mobility and activity.
“It’s not just your belly you use – from your neck to your toes, and your fingers to your knees, belly dancing uses and moves every part of your body,” she says. “Lengthened, strengthened and toned muscles can help with posture and flexibility, and keep you supple, grounded and balanced.”
4. It Promotes Mindfulness
Cheruvier says she takes a holistic approach to belly dancing within her school, as she believes the dance form is ideal for strengthening our mind-body connection and helping to shift the focus of our minds to the present moment.
“When you learn the techniques, you develop (or increase) your awareness of what your body’s doing – and what it’s capable of doing,” she says. “You learn to feel at home in your body, and become mindful of how you move.”
She also says that, as the movements require concentration, it can shift the focus of your mind to the moment. “This means you can leave other worries and cares outside for a little while, until you’re re-energised and ready to tackle them again.”
5. It Lowers Stress Levels
Along with boosting your mood (thanks to the rush of happy endorphins that comes from moving to music), Cheruvier says the nature of belly dancing is calming and grounded – ideal for reducing anxiety, tension or emotional strain.
“The rhythmic movements, set against the backdrop of uplifting music, can really help to release stress,” she says. “It does require concentration, too – this means you can leave other worries and cares outside for a little while, until you’re re-energised and ready to tackle them again.”
6. It Works Wonders For Your Abs
Along with burning up to 300 calories per hour (depending on the intensity of your dancing), combined with a healthy diet, belly dancing can be a great way to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Then, there are the ab-boosting benefits unique to the dance form – the graceful hip drops, rolls and pivots utilise muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk and spine helping to stretch and tone your waist, along with improving digestion.
It’s also been suggested belly dancing can help women prepare for childbirth, as the hip tuck movements are similar to the ‘pelvic rocking’ technique taught in many prenatal classes. It can make a great post-natal workout too – if done gradually – helping restore abdominal tone gently and effectively.
7. It’s For Everyone
“Round belly or flat belly? It doesn’t matter,” says Cheruvier. “Any belly is perfect for belly dancing, and you don’t even need to show your belly if you don’t want to. You’ll see people of all shapes, sizes, ages and genders in my classes, too”
A Low impact form of exercise, belly dancing can also be tailored to all fitness abilities. “And you don’t need fancy costumes to learn to belly dance,” Cheruvier adds. “All you need is clothes you feel comfortable in, and that let you move and stretch.”
To find out more, or to book a class at the Fleur Estelle Dance School, visit FleurEstelle.com