Tag Archives: Dance

RaqiSa Fitness: Why I Train RaqiSa Dancers for Spinal Flexibility and Trunk Stability with A Fitness Ball.

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RaqiSa students love to work with the veil.  But what they may or may not realize is that there is a RaqiSa training method behind learning how to express this beautiful dance which includes trunk stabilization and spinal mobility training. Learn how belly ball training tones and sculpts as well as prepares the body to dance all RaqiSa styles, (but especially this popular veil dance), with the proper RaqiSa Posture and Grace!

I have been teaching belly dance for fitness for a long time.  What you may be surprised to know is just how rewarding my job is on several levels.  Sure, I help women get fit, and that’s just fantastic.  As the obesity epidemic in America tops the charts, I know that my job is helping tip that scale toward optimal good health and well-being in active participants.  Ask any fitness professional…I am inclined to believe that across the board each will say,  “I love my job.”

But RaqiSa Belly Dance for fitness is special.  Based on my humble observation, and the many years of teaching, women who initially participate in a belly dance for fitness class, will walk in with hesitation.  The exception may be if the participant is Middle Eastern, and they are aware of the cultural aspects of belly dance and her many traditions and roots.  Otherwise, for most, there is a certain mystic and uncertainty that ensues.  I suppose there is this projected film image, that is emblazoned in the mind, of tantalizing women in movies who wiggle and move their hips seductively during a scene filled with men, who are foaming at the mouth.  This is unfortunately a grave misconception of this timeless, elegant art form with deep cultural roots.  And, please, let me be clear: RaqiSa Dance is in actuality a beautiful, (and dare I say) respectable dance enjoyed with and for women to celebrate her beauty, to celebrate family, and even love.

In due time, women who grow in the signature RaqiSa formats, such as Belly Barre, Belly Dance, and Belly Ball often share with me three amazing things:  1) they are acutely aware of their posture throughout the day, 2) they are complimented by others as they walk with a renewed confidence, 3) they are becoming more fit and flexible, with the added benefit of noticeably more defined abdominals! Do you realize how that makes me feel as a fitness professional?  It’s pretty awesome, I can assure you.

To help speed the muscle development as well as the necessary mobility and stability required to be an effective RaqiSa dancer, I train with a fitness ball.  Seriously, who doesn’t love playing with a ball?  It’s probably the first word most children say, and it’s the one sportive equipment enjoyed at any age.  It also happens to be the perfect solution toward effective RaqiSa fitness training.  But before I offer my summation, let’s talk essential ball and fitness logistics:

Safety & Guidelines

♦  There are two standard fitness ball sizes: 55 cm & 65 cm.

♦  Standard rule: When seated on the ball the knees should be in line with the hips or slightly above the hips, this determines which ball to use for you. (Test this on a 55 cm or 65 cm ball to see which is best for you).

♦  Maintain good postural alignment by contracting abdominals and keep the chest lifted.  Note: shoulders dropped in opposition (and relaxed) if ball is over head.

♦  When learning choreography, master the foot pattern first, then add the ball.

♦  When learning seated ball exercises, beginners should hold on the ball until they are securely engaged through the core for stability. Tip: Find neutral spine and keep shoulders and hips “squared.”

Benefits 

Working with a fitness ball trains all three planes of motion which enhances overall athletic performance and serves as a method to prevent injury.  In addition, other benefits include:

♦  Improved coordination, balance, and body awareness

♦ Optimal upper body conditioning as both arms are in constant action, unlike unilateral movements performed with a    dumbbell.  (This is very much like working with a veil)

♦  An increase in muscular strength and endurance in the upper body.

♦  An improvement in deep abdominal stabilization and an increase in hip range of motion when training seated on the ball.

In SRaQuisa SM_Logo_2c-JPEG 2.11.2014 copyummation, training with a fitness ball will help prepare the body to effectively DANCE.  Of particular interest to RaqiSa enthusiasts, the upper body movement is likened to that of a veil and the seated movement enhances hip awareness as it increases hip range of motion.  Consider if you will the three dimensional upper body and hip movements one must master with balance and precision. And how about the many stretching options when working with the ball?  The possibilities are endless.  So if you see Belly Ball as a RaqiSa option, careful to not dismiss this amazing workout, (and effective dance teaching technique).  Try belly ball.  You can expect to enjoy rapid results with a bonus “fun factor” as you add “play” to your day.  Seriously.  I. LOVE. MY. JOB!

Be sure to follow me on twitter @theraqisamethod or LIKE RaqiSa Fitness on FB.  

The Belly Ball workout is currently in production, so stay tuned for this amazing RaqiSa Fitness solution!

RaqiSa Fitness: The Trained Belly Dancer V.S. The Fitness Professional. Who is More Qualified?

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The featured image is my friend Oreet.  Oreet is an award-winning professional belly dancer.  She is also, the accomplished creator and President of SharQui, The Belly Dance Workout: A heart pumping belly dance cardio workout seen in clubs across America, (www.sharqui.com).  I met Oreet at a fitness conference in California years ago.  We hit it off instantly as we both love belly dance as an art form, AND we also 100% believe that there is room for belly dance as a fitness solution in the competitive market of Health and Wellness.  In contrast to Oreet’s amazing cardio workout; I created Belly-Barre.  In fact, I created it not just for you, but also for ME.  I wanted to tone and sculpt; I wanted to enhance my posture; I wanted to perfect my dance technique; I wanted to encourage other women to be healthy and fit as well as see themselves as beautiful.  Belly-Barre as well as the whole “Belly” series combines my passion for Belly Dance as a legit dance and my passion and talents as a fitness professional.  Both are results based workouts, both celebrate and respect the cultural aspects of belly dance.

As you can probably tell, I have great respect for Oreet and I consider it a great honor to have presented workshops for Certified SharQui Instructors.  Many of my offered workshops were in support of the belly dance fitness movement.  Together, we desire to bring a fresh approach to belly dance fitness.  But there hangs from the heavens  a question that  Oreet and I have grappled with:  Just Who is More Qualifed to Teach in a Group Exercise Setting?  The Trained Belly Dancer or the Certified Fitness Professional?  I wrote this article originally simply to flesh out my thinking.  I went on to share this with Oreet to extend to her audience as I believe together we have different audiences who may gain from this.   So read on and feel free to weigh in on this discussion:

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The Belly Dancer V.S. The Fitness Professional

There is an interesting consideration to address in regard to who is better suited to teach a belly dance class in a group exercise setting. Certainly, trained belly dance professionals who have committed years perfecting technique may feel that they are the more qualified candidate. And interestedly, while the Group Exercise professional who has a keen understanding of the anatomy and is trained to cue and present in a group exercise setting, may feel in actuality, incapable (or unworthy) to teach this ancient art as it is indeed seeped in solid technique with many intricacies. The dance professionals many years of dedication and determination with respect to the dance itself is to be respected and is indeed impressive. Equally, the art of a perfectly formatted group exercise experience with the talent to cue for form and technique whilst keeping the group exercise experience alive is also impressive. There is room for both professionals to learn from the other.

For those who have spent years as students of belly dance, it is almost offensive to hear of someone who is “self-taught” declare themselves as a belly dance instructor. A trained eye sees the error of poor posture and improper technique. To be sure, those who have years of training in Belly Dance have a certain ease and finesse with the dance itself; they have a deep-rooted understanding of the music and the rhythms and they will likely see it as impossible to learn the dance in a one-day training. They are right.

On the other hand, Group Exercise instructors spend years perfecting the “art of transition” as it relates to a perfectly formatted group class using music in a very different way. Their expertise, is quite different — keeping the flow and the fitness aspect alive throughout the duration of an hour-long workout is also a perfected talent which qualifies the group instructor as a “professional.” Group exercise professionals are required to keep up with the latest research and science as it relates to injury prevention, regression and progression options for all body types, and over all health and fitness information. Years of study and hours of learning contribute to their expertise. To be sure, their contribution regarding safe and effective technique is relevant and should be noted.

RaqiSa Fitness (& SharQui) brings together the belly dance professional and the group exercise professional and bridges the gap. We believe that the group exercise professional should feel fully capable and worthy to learn this ancient art; but this doesn’t happen in one day. Likewise, the Belly Dance Professional will need to learn safe and effective cueing and science, which also, does not happen overnight. Both professionals will need additional practice and support from each other.

Whatever your background, preparing to teach any format will take time, practice, and commitment. In addition, it takes a lot of heart and courage to teach. But what I think all can agree upon is that the love of the dance expressed professionally and through proper technique promotes the beautiful RaqiSa (& SharQui) message that women are beautiful, capable, strong, yet elegant.

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In Summation:  “RaqiSa” means “female dancer” and to me; it’s about preparing the body to “do life” easier.  It’s about capturing, through dance and fitness “a confident woman.” “SharQui” is the authentic name for the Dance of the East.  And to be sure, you will burn incredible calories as you “Shake Your Beauty!” with SharQui!  So, whether you are a legit dancer, a fitness instructor, or a participant who is seeking a fitness solution, know that if you are interested enough you CAN become amazing in all areas, as long as you humbly accept that you may need to learn from another expert.  I suppose the lesson learned should be more about being gracious.  Graciously give and graciously receive.  Indeed, I know both Oreet and I subscribe to this whole-heartedly.