Belly dance is a sensual dance that shows off a woman’s curves as she shimmies to the beat of catchy music. But did you know that belly dancing, first popularized in the Middle East, is also great exercise?
Yuki Chua, 35, one of Singapore’s best-known bellydancers, first learned the exotic artform in Sydney, Australia, 13 years ago while pursuing her tertiary education. “I started teaching in Singapore eight years ago,” says the seasoned performer who runs her own dance studio, Bellydance Discovery & Dance Art Singapore.
“Belly dance is a wonderful, low-impact workout you can do throughout your life,” she says. “Easy on joints, it works and stretches your core muscles in the torso, hips, thighs, glutes and belly.”
The gentle undulations, known as camels, tummy roll or wave, provide a “healthy squeeze and release of your internal organs,” she says, adding that “this stimulates the glands to produce a fresh batch of hormones which get secreted into the blood stream and promotes hormone rebalancing – especially good for women!”
Three minutes or more of shimmies per day will stimulate the body’s lymphatic system to release waste products, tone up the glutes and reduce cellulite significantly, according to Yuki.
The rub movements, undulations and shoulder movements exercise the back muscles evenly and prevent back injuries while promoting good posture. Pelvis floor and lower abdominal movements are said to be helpful in pregnancy, child delivery and post-natal recovery. “Many women have lost weight and shaped up with belly dance and most importantly, become active and healthy,” says Yuki.
Suitable for women of all ages, Yuki’s students include retirees, among them “Auntie Lily”, a 68-year old.
Yuki also credits belly dancing for boosting her own confidence. “I’m a big girl with lots of curves and used to feel inferior about my ‘fatness’. Now, I appreciate and love my body more than ever. It is a true wellness programme that emphasizes inner fitness as much as the outer, physical form,” she says.