While worship of the divine feminine is becoming more widespread, in the process people are learning to connect with their bodies and sexuality, Some origin stories place belly dancing in the context of ancient Sumerian and Egyptian goddess worship because the goddess in many cultures was connected to sexuality and the female act of birthing.
Belly dancing is also a wonderful meditation practice. Accepting the present moment is a practice common to many meditation systems. The way is the goal. Belly dance is about coming into the present moment, feeling the movements and merging the physical and the emotional. It is also about strengthening the hara, the center of the body central to tai chi and other Eastern disciplines.
Begin each dance session with this mental checklist. To develop a relaxed and fluid posture, make a conscious effort to loosen your knees whenever you can. For example, when you are standing in line at the store or waiting for the bus, bend your knees and allow yourself to stand in this more relaxed pose. Most people lock their knee joints when standing, holding their legs perfectly straight; it feels strange to allow the knees to bend and to stand in this more relaxed posture. However, to perform belly dance movements the body must remain relaxed and fluid; locked knees prevent smooth hip motions and hinder moving across the room while dancing.
* Is my head loose and light on my spine?
* Does my neck feel free and relaxed?
* Are my knees slightly bent?
* Is my pubic bone tilted slightly forward and up?
* Is my pelvis open and wide?
* Are my arms hanging loosely from my shoulder joints? Do my shoulder blades drop slightly toward the floor?
* Is my chest raised slightly forward?
* Is my breath steady and slow?
Adapted from Belly Dancing, by Pina Coluccia, Anette Paffrath, and Jean Putz (Inner Traditions, 2003).