Saturday, 22 July 2017

Bellydance Medicine

There's a reason I named my style of bellydance 'Majickal Bellydance.' Aside from the ceremonial and ritual aspects of Majickal Bellydance, it is also designed to be therapeutic, in ways both physical and energetic.

Balance:

Basic bellydance posture aligns the feet, hip width apart, with the knees soft or slightly bent. Keeping the knees soft allows us to more easily re-balance ourselves as we move in space. Stiff or rigid knees can increase the likelihood of stumbling or even toppling over. Keeping the knees fluid allows fluidity of the lower body, promoting a lower centre of gravity. As dancers begin taking steps into various directions of space, their bodies are more balanced and connected to the ground. Majickal Bellydancers practise dance drills involving stepping first into four directions of space and then expanding into eight directions. Being conscious of the direction and shape of each step we take increases our security in physical space. 

Co-ordination:

Dance drills that combine movements such as circling the hips and walking, help to increase co-ordination as dancers learn to adjust their hip position to counterbalance their steps. Combining lower body movements with chest and arm movements are a great way to promote co-ordination as well as keep the torso upright and the lungs free. Advanced co-ordination practises involve dancing combined with the use of props such as canes, veils and swords. The small finger cymbals known as zills provide an extra co-ordination challenge, as well as strengthening and toning the hands and forearms.

Strength:

The practise of keeping the knees slightly bent while dancing places the weight on the large thigh muscles. The muscles supporting the legs and knees grow in strength and balance. Balancing our weight slightly forward into the muscles at the front of the thighs helps to keep our weight oriented away from our lower back. Staying conscious of how the feet press into the floor helps us to maintain correct posture. The slight emphasis of weight on the front of the foot helps to keep the pelvis properly aligned to prevent lower back strain. When balance in set into our legs we can feel strong and steady.

Back Majick

A good loose shimmy can help to shake out back stiffness if performed with correct posture. Lower back stiffness also responds well to reverse undulations or pelvic rolls that begin with a deep inward tuck of the pelvis and lower abdomen, followed by a rolling forward and down toward the feet. The movement stretches the lower back and mobilises the spine. These movements, combined with gentle hip circling can also assist with period pain. You may find that circling the hips in different directions provides different results, i.e. clockwise and anti-clockwise. 

Spreading Our Wings:

A hearty lift of the ribcage assists us to raise our arms to perform snake arms and spin veils.
Mobilising the upper body helps to increase lung capacity, energising our dance and our mood. Today's desk and device culture requires a little extra effort to stay free and strong in our neck, back and shoulders. Personally, I suffer shoulder pain and stiffness. Ensuring my dance practise involves plenty of arm circles, veil and cane work helps to control my symptoms. Provided no injury is present I believe many aches and pains are our bodies way of saying 'move me please.'

Handiwork:

I have suffered from hand and wrist pain since my cashier days in the early 1990's. Although it is beneficial to wrap my wrist at night to keep it stable during acute episodes, by day the best medicine is to maintain a regular practise of movement. I have found the bellydance cane (a stick around navel height, sometimes with a curved handle like a walking cane) a powerful tool because the circular movements involved in twirling the cane do great things for my joints. There are many habitual activities we all perform that engage the joints of our bodies in ways that can be repetitive, one sided and unbalanced. These changes in symmetry can affect the balanced development of our bodies. We may not be exercising the full potential of each joint. I have found that by utilising circular movements in my wrists, elbows and shoulders, I can manage and reduce my symptoms of pain and stiffness.

Heads Up:

I have observed in myself and others, a tendency to 'pull our heads in.' This means to slightly pull the skull toward the spine, resulting in the head sliding slightly forward. Many modern day activities seem to promote this habit, such as bucket style chairs that push the head forward, also mobile devices, laptops (such as mine) that are lower than eye level, even books. This habit appears to shorten the neck and creates more pressure on the cartilage between neck vertebrae. It can result in rounded shoulders and reduced lung capacity, as well as neck and shoulder tension. When we practise our Majickal Bellydance drills we learn to focus on the top of the head, stretching it toward the sky, feeling the neck and spine lengthen. After we centre our lower body properly into the ground, we are free to grow toward the sky. Our dance expanding further into vertical, spiritual dimensions of space.

Freedom:

When our feet are embraced by the ground and our knees and thighs are mobilised for movement we can open our chests and our arms to embrace the space in which we dance and are energised. Our energy can rise up our spacious spine toward the top of our head, our spirits reaching toward the sky. From there the energy cycles back toward the earth in great dance breaths of ripples, circles and waves. We are body. We are fluid. We are energy. We are free.

Leanne Margaret © 2017
Majickal Bellydance
see www.majickal.com.au for current events.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bellydancer Habits That Keep You Young

This week I met with a long time friend and bellydancer after a long absence. I think we were both amazed at how young the other was looking. Our children have grown to adulthood and neither of us has lived without difficulty. I was reminded of the power of bellydance on so many levels. It's an energy dance and once found, that energy radiates like a sunny mist. There seems to be a certain sense of agelessness among my bellydance and yoga practitioner friends. From experience I know that none of us are immune from the natural wear and tear of being alive, but the practitioner of therapies such as spiritual bellydance and yoga process these changes in a particular way. This article focuses on dance because Majickal Bellydance is my main practice.

When a Dancer Hurts

When dancers feels an ache, our first response is usually not to lay down on the couch and pop a pill. We know that living life to its fullest can sometimes create a little fatigue or stiffness. We are accustomed to stretching after classes and are often trained in relevant yoga positions to help alleviate our aches. We know that by maintaining a regular movement practise that attends to mobility of joints and strength of muscles, we can better support our bodies activities. By applying routine stretches we can support our bodies to recover well, as our skills and limits are coaxed ever-wider with our dance training.

Dancers Use Mirrors

As dancers we are accustomed to being photographed and to using mirrors to visually refine and craft our movements. Therefore any postural issues can be clearly identified. Photographs last forever, but posture doesn't have to. We can use our routine training to alter the way we move, sit and dance. Maintaining correct posture assists the body to carry us through dance and through life, while reducing the chance of injury and unbalanced wear and tear. In the mirror we gain a regular overview of our visual impression on the world. We are the creators of our appearance. I'm not talking about fakery but about celebrating who we are and expressing our best potential. I wish to sincerely convey myself as the energetic, vibrant person I still am.

Dancers Eat Good Food

Dancers need good fuel. We expect to have large amounts of energy available to us when we want or need to dance. We also expect our bones and joints to support our dance for the rest of our lives. We need to ensure a good, regular supply of the kind of food that gives us sustained energy, without bloating or sugar crashes. Many of us creative types are extremely sensitive and suffer food intolerances. These intolerances, although inconvenient, can ensure a better diet, provided other foods aren't binged on to take the place of eliminated foods. We are conscious of the process of forever building our dance body to express our dance mind. Learning about health and good nutrition is part of the physical side of our spiritual dance.

Dancers Plan on Dancing More

Dancers like to stay fit, active and vigorous so we can keep on dancing. We experience such a huge amount of joy from our craft that to imagine not being able to dance is intolerable. So we take care of our bodies and our attitudes so that our health and our motivation are enduring. We eat and sleep well to keep moving. We move to recover from movement and to keep on moving. The energy we generate in repetition carves patterns of positive routine into our lives. 

We dance so we may keep on dancing. The movement literally keeps us more alive. The circle dance of the cycle of life resonates through us, and we glow.

Leanne Margaret ©️2017

Sunday, 23 April 2017

What is Majickal Bellydance?

Majickal Bellydance is a therapeutic style emphasising mobility, control and an understanding of living energy. I am really pleased to be sharing my Majickal Bellydance style at Seville House again next term. Last term we enjoyed a short 5 week introduction using metaphors from the elements of Earth, Air, Fire & Water. We mobilised our bodies from the ground up, spiralling, circling and rippling toward harmony, health and laughter.

Earth energy helps us to anchor our feet into the ground with stability. Our knees provide the leverage for living energy to ascend and descend the spine. Water energy helps us to understand our emotional flow as we respond to the music and to our feelings and thoughts. Fire energy illuminates our confidence and fires up our shimmies. Fire motivates the will to get up and dance in the first place. Air carries our veils, symbolising the doors to spiritual realms. Air energy transmits the music to our inner world via the ears, lungs and heart. It connects us to our dance troupe and to the outer world as we breathe the air shared by all.

But there's more...

Next term I am presenting the '7 Circles Majickal Bellydance Course.' Dancers will still learn the basics from the ground up, like the 'Elements' course, but with the addition of some deeper dimensions of bellydance. Many movements will be presented and repeated using a system of metaphors to assist learning and the retaining of knowledge. Dancers will receive a whole body workout as well as a clearing and balancing of the energy body. The 7 Circles course involves a greater range of head, neck and hand movements. We will also play with spinning, so find your twirly skirts girls. It's a lot of fun.

This is spiritual bellydance. We are not working toward performance and require no special costuming. We are working toward the development of good self care. Majickal Bellydance is a system of movement therapy that can be taken home where it's full power can be realised.

As a sufferer of PTSD, I have developed Majickal Bellydance with the needs of trauma survivors in mind. This means dancers learn a style that promotes loving kindness toward the body and mind. Dance drills are designed to mobilise the entire body with lots of arm movements to heal and balance the heart chakra. Trauma survivors often detach from their bodies. Majickal Bellydance gradually brings mind and body into cohesion where innate healing can take place.

Majickal Bellydance is great for people with minor mobility issues too. The gradual circling of the joints of the body promote circulation and proper alignment for good healing.

Majickal Bellydance is also great for people with the kind of social anxiety that makes it hard to learn and retain choreography in class. We use dance drills in repeating patterns that need only be performed in your own lounge room.

All shapes and sizes are welcome to bellydance. You don't need to have a 'belly' to be a bellydancer. I don't fit the stereotype of a bellydancer, so don't worry if you think you don't either. All shapes have their signature movements.

So if you can get to Seville, Yarra Valley, Victoria in May 2017, check out my classes.
Bellydance Classes

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Elements Bellydance Course Term 1 2017

The Circle of Life
Earth
Majickal Bellydancers at Seville Community House have danced through the elements of earth, water, fire and air. Sadly, we have only one class remaining this term. But a majickal class it will be, as we integrate four elements, four directions, four dimensions, entwined as they are, by spirit.

Earth

By earth, we found our balance on the ground, testing our limits, leaning into four directions of space. Upon reaching our limits in form, we gathered the energy into circles, defining our dance space.
Taken at Phillip Island, Victoria.
Water

Water

By water, we rippled within the parameters of our found physical space, nourished by the waters of our being and our feeling. Our feet began to flow across space, moving with currents of emotion and music. The centre of our being, the navel, rose and fell with the currents of the spirit of life, our animating breath.
Fire

Fire

By fire, we shone. We danced our confidence, using the light of our awareness to dispel fears, dissolving the barriers dividing us from dance. Courage lengthened our spines and we grew toward the sun, our shimmies spreading and enhancing the energy.
Taken at Koha Cafe, Yarra Valley, Victoria.
Air

Air

By air, we sat in a circle, speaking to one another, unified by the air we breathed and the space we occupied. Gently discussing, dissolving, the veil between worlds and between people. Deeply invoking, the loving power of the Divine Feminine. We activated our heart energy, compassionately connecting with troupe and cosmos, where we are one.
Taken at the Blue Lotus Gardens, Yarra Valley, Victoria.
Spirit

Spirit

Thursday 23rd March will be the last class for term one 2017. By spirit, we will weave together the elements of our nature, the dimensions of our dance. By the power of our shimmies, these elements can energise into shaking medicine. Perhaps we will dance a spell to manifest another term of Majickal Bellydance at Seville House?

I'm thinking of presenting a seven week course again. The Majickal Bellydance 7 Circles course takes dancers into deeper dimensions of the spiralling dance of life. The four elemental energies are presented, grounding us to free our arms and begin opening to higher dimensions of movement: turning, spinning and perhaps even whirling.

It's great to be back. 💜
The Majickal Bellydance healing goes both ways. 💞 All ways. ☀️
Move often.
Be well. 🌈
Leanne Margaret

For Seville Class information subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box at the top or bottom of this blog, or phone Seville Community House on: 5964 3987.
Thankyou for your interest in Majickal Bellydance. You won't find classes quite like these anywhere else. Please visit and like my Facebook page here.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Cosmic Dance

It's great to be teaching some classes again, watching new faces, nervous at first, beam with good vibes at the end.

I can feel the mobility increasing in my body already. My energy has been a little higher, especially at around midnight after my evening class. It takes a few hours to wind down.

Week one at a new venue is all about space, orientation and introduction. I like to get a feel for the energy flow of the room so I can identify the best place to stand. Sometimes, for whatever reason, facing a certain direction feels 'wrong.' So week one can involve sudden changes of direction as I figure it all out.

Week one explores the lines and limits of the physical body.  As we lean toward our own limits we can test our strength, increasing our sense of physical trust and safety.

Standing strong and supple prepares us to move the essence of the universal life force into circles.

The circles we dance emit a current of energy, growing as the course progresses, building to peaks of joy and spiritual dance.

We are cosmic mirrors. We whirl like solar systems, spinning into planetary bodies where we shake, circle and roll into being and form.

The cosmic dance,
Majickal Bellydance. 😇

If you enjoy reading about spiritual dance check out my poem 'Whirling Dervish.'

Friday, 9 December 2016

Classes - Dancing Through the Elements 2017

By EARTH we explore the physical forms of bellydance movements.

By WATER we feel the energies of movement and music flowing through those forms.

By FIRE we are empowered, energetic and confident to dance our style.

By AIR we listen to the music and movements of the world, adding to and refining our own.

As SPIRIT we listen to the calls of our bodies, honouring our role as protectors of these miraculous vessels. 

Majickal Bellydance is Channelled from Ancient Egypt to promote health, harmony, balance, tone and mobility.

You will learn a style you can easily take home with you to bring the Majick into your daily life.

Please read the flyers carefully as the booking systems are different for each event.

I am very excited to be teaching 'elements' again. See you soon dancers.
 - Leanne Margaret X