The psychophysical benefits of oriental dance

The psychophysical benefits of oriental dance

di Maria Serena Patriarca

Much more than a simple “belly dance”. Beyond the stereotypes and clichés that combine this kind of dance with festive or tourist evenings in the name of sensuality, oriental dance is an ancient practice that has its roots in the search for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of women (but not only , given that in some countries – such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt – there are various dances of this type that also involve men).

Now a must in gyms and online tutorials in the Western world, oriental dance actually derives from ancient sacred ceremonies linked to the cult of Mother Earth and fertility, in order to enhance the female element. In the Middle East these were the dances that were performed in a circle around the fire, on the occasion of weddings but also of births. From the Napoleonic era onwards, when dances from Egypt were “imported” into the courts of Europe, movement techniques have had “contaminations” over the centuries, which have led to the birth of different styles, depending on the geographical area of origin.

In this dance, which is a valid tool for keeping fit from every point of view, the ability to control the various parts of the body and the rotational movements of the pelvis put the belly, the “magical” area of the body of the women, seat of the strongest energies but also a “sacred place” where life is born.

Among the courses most followed by ladies of all ages are those of Arabic dance, which also help to strengthen the personality and fight shyness. The rhythms are those characteristic of the tribes of the Arabian or North African desert, also these mixed with Western sounds of course, and the elegant and sinuous movements give the dancer harmony, without forgetting the shots of the hips and bust, which instead constitute the most ” martial “and warrior.

Depending on the centuries and the geographical areas, in which certain practices have developed combined with different types of sounds, we distinguish various styles: the Baladi, with classic movements typical of popular Arab dance, but also the Dance with the Sword, where it is held balancing a sword on the head, and this trains concentration and awareness. But there are also the Dance with the Stick, typical of Upper Egypt, or the one with the Cymbals, small metal saucers to put on the thumb and middle finger of the hands, to play them rhythmically while dancing. Another classic style is the Dance with the Veil, where the arms and pectorals are trained a lot, as well as evoking sensuality and femininity.

The benefits of oriental dance are numerous, both physically and emotionally and psychically: thanks to the movements and rotations of the pelvis, the abdominal muscles are strengthened from the inside, and the pelvic floor is also trained, which is very good for women. in menopause, for example, to avoid incontinence problems. Furthermore, since the back muscles are also involved in the movements, posture is improved and lumbar problems are counteracted. The choreographies act positively on the muscles of the legs, calves, arms and shoulders, which will be more toned over time. Furthermore, this dance is able to relieve menstrual pains, dissolving tensions. Last, but not least , the joints benefit from this and gradually become more elastic.

With a belly dance session lasting one hour, about 300 calories are burned, but of course there are varying degrees of intensity depending on the level of the practitioner.

Oriental dance is also excellent for counteracting fear, anxiety, stress, and strengthening self-esteem and confidence with one’s body. On the emotional level, however, through the sinuous and circular movements psychological mechanisms of joy, serenity and peace are activated, also because we usually dance in a group, and the closeness with other women creates a beautiful atmosphere of trust and socialization.