Belly Dancing Skeletons and Spinal Health

October 27, 2021


Belly Dancing Skeletons & Spinal Health

Belly Dance – with its undulations, vibrations, syncopations, isolations, improvisations, and choreographic creations – is a form uniquely suited to stimulate the inner organs and stir the caldron of inner heat. One way to stoke the fires of digestion is to work the muscles of the belly intricately. Our abdominals lend support to the gut in its effort to break down food and transform it into the energy that feeds the hungry cells of your body. A strong and supple abdomen is good for digestion! 
 
But it’s not just our digestion that benefits from the beatific movements of belly dance. The shimmies and rolls that stimulate the spine allow for stretching, lengthening, winding, and twisting. See for yourself!
 

 
Chiropractor Robert Adamich approves of this video and agrees movement is key to a healthy spine. He shared with me that many people are losing their spine’s natural 

curvature due to sedentary living and “tech neck,” especially during Covid.

The flattening of the spine has far-reaching health implications, as the spinal curves allow space for more neural connectivity. The spinal cord is so sensitive that even compression of the weight of a nickel can significantly impact messages sent through the nervous system. It is important to remember, too, that our head weighs 10 to 14 pounds. For every inch our head is bent down, the stress on our neck and upper back doubles.
 
The cervical and lumbar curves of the spine develop during infancy. When a baby is in the womb, the spine curls forward in the fetal position. As an infant, it straightens out and forms the upper cervical curve in the neck when the young child pushes against the ground, lifting its head to look around and take in the world. The lumbar curve in the lower back develops when the baby is learning to crawl. Healthy neurological development can be impeded if either of these crucial developmental phases doesn’t occur.
 
So what are some solutions to tech neck and poor posture? Chiropractor Robert Adamich suggests the following:
  1. Check the screen time feature on your phone to increase your awareness of how much time you spend looking down at it. Consider that is how long you are training your spine to adopt a less-than-optimal position.
  2. When you check your phone, hook your arms, so you are cradling one elbow in the bend of the other and holding your shoulder. This position will allow you to maintain an upright posture.
  3. Place your desktop or laptop at eye level.
  4. Move your body frequently. Take dance classes (like belly dance with Hannah), yoga, Nia, martial arts, Zumba, swim, or spend time running or hiking.
  5. When working at your computer, set a timer on your phone reminding you to stand up and move around every 15 minutes. (I use this meditation time app.)
  6. Use pillows appropriately in bed -not too many or too few- to maintain a lengthened and supported neck and spine when sleeping.
  7. Be aware of your posture when eating and how much time you spend reclining on the couch. 
The key is to move. The frequent repetition of poor postural positions can be problematic over time, so do your best to change it up. I’m a big fan of shaking. Every day take a moment to allow gentle shaking motions to travel up and down your spine to awaken your body, move out stuck energy, and relax you. Of course, it helps to have musical inspiration, so put on something with lively rhythms and instrumentation. Afterward, you will feel tingly and alive!
 
Did you know that October is Dance of the Pumpkin Priestess month? (Yep, I made that up.) During October, my students know it’s time to pull out the mini pumpkins readily available at most supermarkets and practice our moves while balancing them on our heads. The benefits of belly dance increase with a mini pumpkin poised on one’s head, for it encourages stretching, isolating, and making space within. Given we focus on posture in my classes during October, imagine my delight, then, to learn it is also Chiropractic Awareness Month! 
 
Take the time this month to be mindful of your precious spine. Then, take up my suggestion and try balancing a small pumpkin on your head!