All Shook Up

I once read that many animals will shake or shiver after a stressful experience. This is their body’s way of releasing the stress so that it doesn’t accumulate in their body and cause harm. Of course, I immediately thought of the many shaking, vibrating, and quivering movements (shimmies) that we do in belly dancing.

Any belly dancer will tell you that it feels great to shimmy. I know of no other dance form that has as complex and refined a vocabulary of so many different types of shaking movements (horizontal hip shimmy, up & down hip shimmy, knee/body vibration, stomach flutter, shoulder shimmy and bounce shimmy, to name a few). There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a wonderful way to release stress and tension, especially when you dance to music that inspires you to move energetically.

Modern life is so fast paced and complicated. Working, taking care of family members, following the news, and dealing with the duties and obligations of everyday life takes its’ toll.

Because modern life is so relentlessly hectic, and our attention is focused on the tasks we have to do, most of us don’t even notice the stress building up until it reaches some critical point and our minds and bodies break down in some way. Belly dancing helps us become more aware of our body, so that we’re more apt to pay attention to our stress before it gets too high.

Ideally, we should just shake and shimmy every time we get stressed out. However, that just isn’t possible in today’s society (you’re co-workers will think you’re out of your mind if you immediately try to ‘shake it off’ every time your boss yells at you!). So we belly dancers make up for it when we have the opportunity to dance – a socially acceptable way to shake and shimmy to our heart’s content.

There are many physical, mental, and emotional benefits to shaking your body. An excellent article to read is “Shake Away Your Stress & Tension” on Lea Houston’s web site, Belly dance techniques are a proven and safe way to get the benefits of shaking, but Lea’s information will show you that most any shaking will do.

After a hard day’s work, or even just when I can grab a private moment or two, I’ll do a few shimmies. Try it. You can get all shook up and feel great!

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