1. Lateral lunge
Put the bag on your shoulders, holding it securely at each end. Take a big sidestep and lower until you feel a stretch through your groin. Return to the start and repeat to the other side.
Place the bag on the shoulders, securing its placement by holding the main handles. Squat to the point where the knee joint is at 90 degrees, and return to the standing position. Keep the back in a neutral position throughout the movement. On the downward movement, ensure that the knee doesn’t come too far forward over the foot. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions.
3. Front squat and press
Take the bag by the other grips and hold it across the shoulders. Perform a squat. As you stand up, press the bag above the head.
4. Step-ups with knee raise
Step up with your left foot [A], bringing your right leg forward and up and bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor [B]. Lower your right leg back to start, then the left. Repeat with the other leg. That's 1 rep; do 10.
5. Step ups with shoulder press
Hold the weights at shoulder height, and you step up onto the bench. As your body comes up so will the weights, you complete the shoulder press. Then step back down and lower the weights to shoulder level again. Repeat 12 so 6 each leg.
Many people are surprised to learn that Middle-Eastern Dance, commonly known as "belly-dance," involves much more than the belly! In fact, belly-dance can benefit many parts of the body. Here are some of the health benefits of Middle-Eastern Dance:
The health benefits of belly dance
These toned muscles improve posture and help prevent back pain that can be caused by the unnatural curving forward of the spine that occurs when muscle groups are weak (lordosis). Small muscle groups deep in the back that are normally under-exercised are used and strengthened. The muscles surrounding the hip, the largest joint in the body, are used and exercised during hip drops, and figure eights, enhancing flexibility and suppleness. Improved hip flexibility can lead to improved balance when walking as well.
Arms and Shoulders are exercised when doing lifts, circles, or the rippling motions of snake arms, toning muscle. This toning effect is often evident early on, since holding the arms aloft are an important element of the dance, even for beginners.
Because a woman is on her feet, moving during the dance, it is considered a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise can prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones, and the overall toning can lead to an improved self-image, as the dancer becomes more balanced and poised. Raks sharki is considered a low-impact exercise, meaning the risk of injury is minimal when movements are done correctly. The benefits of belly dance can be enjoyed by women of all ages; men and children are participating in the dance as well, and reaping the same benefits.
In this day and age of almost continuous stress, the subtle rhythms of raks sharki and the traditional movements are calming. The repetitive movements of the dance and the concentration needed to do them can help a mind filled with daily stress to "let go" for a while and relax. It's hard to worry about deadlines at work when you are thinking about getting that next drop just right, or while making sure that you are in time with the music. One effect of stress is that our bodies tense up, causing contractions or spasms in muscle groups, such as those in the neck, shoulders, or back. When a muscle is contracted, lactic acid builds up, causing the "soreness" or pain that occurs. Blood flow to the affected muscles decreases as well.
Raks sharki, on the other hand, gently stretches and uses these vulnerable muscle groups, and as they are utilized, blood flow increases and lactic acid is flushed away. Stressed muscles relax as they are gently exercised, relieving the "clenched" muscles often seen in our society. The body becomes supple and limber, and practitioners frequently report that pain diminishes in the back and neck areas.
Raks sharki is a fun, healthy way to exercise. It can be a creative outlet that conditions, tones, and allows a woman to tune into the natural movements of her body. It can refresh, relax, and/or exhilarate. So why wait? Find out where classes are held locally, or visit Bhuz.com to look up a class and join in this centuries old dance!
Advisory: Many doctors have suggested belly dancing classes as part of rehabilitation from injury; it is, however, important to check with your own medical provider before starting any new form of exercise, especially if you are over 40, pregnant or have medical problems. Most injuries related to "overdoing" for the beginner can be avoided by warming the muscles first and by remembering to do some basic stretching afterward. Listen to your body's signals. Raks sharki, or belly dance, is a wonderful and gentle way to begin to condition your body.
Flexibility and strength
Experts agree, when you’re expecting, it’s important to keep moving: Pregnant women who exercise have less back pain, more energy, a better body image and, post-delivery, a faster return to their pre-pregnancy shape.
Being fit doesn’t have to mean a big time commitment or fancy equipment. The following workout is simple, can be done at home, and is safe to do in each trimester.
Be sure to do the moves in the order shown and, for best results, do the workout every other day. Always check with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.