Monthly Archives: January 2015

Banish awkward arms – for good

We’re almost at the end of January, thank goodness. As much as I like getting cosy by the fire, I’m already looking forward to throwing off the chunky jumpers and woolly socks. Call me optimistic but seeing a few daffodil bulbs emerging has put me in a springtime mood.

Despite the urge to hibernate all winter, I’ve been beavering away on more tutorials and articles and I’m happy to say that I now have a blog – woo hoo! (I know – I’m only about 8 years behind … ) Over time I’ll be posting new and also updated versions of past articles. It  would be awesome to see you join in the discussion and leave a comment 🙂

Today I want to let you in on 2 of my top tips for instantly improving the feel and appearance of your arms and hands when you dance. This is my “secret sauce” for saying bye bye to awkward and hesitant arms. And you know what the best bit is? you don’t need to do endless arm drills and 500 press-ups.

The tips that I share in this week’s blog were real game changers for me. They gave me a way in to understanding how to connect with the emotion and feeing of the dance with my hands and arms and then in turn through the rest of my body.

If you want a bite-sized class (we’re talking 5 mins) on how to improve your hands and arms, this tutorial is for you.

NB. This one is also a goodie if you’re looking to get serious intention, feeling and emotion into your dance.

Click in  the video and dive right into the class,  then afterwards, I’d love to know what you think! Be sure to leave a comment below, especially if you have some tips to share too (it might be just what somebody out there needs). And of course I’d love it if you were to share it with all your friends 🙂

With love and shimmies,

Helen xx

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When you’ve no time, space or privacy to practice bellydance

Love it or hate it, practise is essential if you want to reach your maximum sparkle capacity.

We all love the feeling when a move or a routine finally comes together and feels “right”. We get a lovely satisfied glow and it makes us happy, whoop! Not familiar with this feeling? If you only dance once a week in class, or perhaps you haven’t made it to a class yet and have just watched (rather than physically engaged with) bellydancing on YouTube and DVDs then it’s time to make the commitment and dedicate a little time to YOU and see yourself sparkle.

Once you’ve made this commitment to yourself you might be wondering how to practise and what to practise. It’s my aim in this blog to make practice approachable, do-able and of course get you brilliant results (i.e. feeling fantastic when you dance).

What and how to practise  will depend on the level you’re at which you can gauge from what you are learning in class. To get you started, think of it in 2 main groups:

1) technique which trains your muscle memory and requires you to repeat the same movement over and over again concentrating on timing, refinement and posture

2) a routine or short combinations of moves which requires you to learn and remember a sequence by repeating it concentrating on transitioning from one move to the next

Try to pick just one element to work so you don’t dilute your efforts. NB. Beware! If you are anything like me then you will have a whole arsenal of “reasons” why you haven’t managed to practise this week. The top 2 are:

1) I don’t have enough time

2) I don’t have enough space

There are also others like: my husband/partner is fed up with hearing Arabic pop music, I feel too tired when I get home etc. But let me ask you, what do you do when you are waiting for the kettle to boil? What do you do when you are waiting for the oven to heat up? Is Eastenders really that good?!

It’s about consistency and quality – not quantity. If you think you need to set aside hours of time, don’t panic, it’s not necessary.

Now you have my top 2 excuses I’ve used in the past with myself to avoid fitting in regular practice, I’ll give you practical 8 solutions to get you on track:

Limited on space or privacy?

o  Practise routines and moves in your head, clearly visualise the routine or movement you want to achieve (yes, I’m serious, this really does work and is extremely powerful). Imagine and internalise the feeling in your mind even if you don’t move a muscle

o Practise “internal” muscle drills and isolations sitting down (at work, on the train, watching telly). Nobody will even know you’re doing pelvic tucks under the desk

o Listen to your routine music as much as you can, in the car, on headphones, while you’re cooking. Anywhere! When you come to dance it will be easier to remember the  moves if you know the music inside out

o Always walk and sit in dance posture wherever you are, it will soon become second nature to you and all of your moves will be enhanced (you’ll be shocked at how effective this is)

Limited on time? Days slip by before you notice you’ve  done no practise?

o My personal favourite, make time every week (or even every day) for a “Power Practise”: a 10 minute session of repeating 3 movements on a loop. Set the clock for it and it will be done in a flash. (Hint: use your fave music for this to quickly get you in the zone)

o Team up with a class buddy to go through the class choreography. There’s nothing like being accountable to somebody else to keep time in your diary for a weekly practise

o Have a target that you want to hit and don’t give up until you hit it. Want to be able to do the Egyptian Walk with a forward and back step on a rise? Keep going until you can (you’ll get there, just have faith in yourself)

o Not sure what to practice? Try starting with the thing you always avoid. Come on now, you know what it is. Turns? Arms? Props? You’ll be so glad you did next time you go to turn and it feels more balanced and controlled than before

o Not attending classes? Attend a drop-in class or course EVERY WEEK (even if you leg it to class straight after work). Being amongst a group of women all at the same point in their dance journey is sometimes all you need to transform an ambivalent attitude into a fiery passion for rocking your curves

You can get started right now with my video tutorial below. It will give you one of the most fundamental moves of bellydance and is essential for getting you on track to see yourself sparkle

One last thought: if you’d practised 30 minutes a week for the last 6 months you would have done around 12 hours more dancing. That’s a term’s worth of dancing! How would your dancing look now? In 6 months time you can ask yourself the same thing.

In the video in this post I’m giving you something very specific to practise, click below to find out what it is!

Before I go, I’d love to know, how do you manage to fit dance into your busy life? Do you have any tips for helping us prioritise our practice when there are so many demands on our time? Leave a comment below and share your tips 🙂

Until next time, hugs and hipdrops,

Helen xx