I have been shifting my dance focus as of late to a more internal place and coming back into the folds of women’s ritual traditions. Namely I have felt compelled back into pelvic and navel oriented dances such as raqs sharqi or “belly dance,” Tahitian and others.
As I have written before, the tradition of belly dance is older than the pyramids and comes from the era of Goddess worship. It is believed that it was created as a women’s initiation dance, in preparation for birth and for fertility ceremonies and festivals. The origin dance was primarily done for women, by women and for women’s purposes. It was actually quite rare that this celebration of the female power center would be done in the presence of men. It is and has always been for women. Men perform and can enjoy this dance too, but it started as a dance for women. In various cultures across the globe, there are numerous variations of this pelvic oriented dance from Persia to Polynesia.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the dance has evolved over time, transversed many lands and has been labelled, restructured, extended, and fused with other dance styles. In it’s origin cultures, woman’s dance has been passed from mothers to daughters to preserve its sacredness and honor its connections to birth and fertility.
“A Bedouin girl learns a pelvic dance during puberty..and will belly dance, when she is in labor The belly dance represents the power of women to produce life.” – Sheila Kitzinger
The smooth undulating movements of belly dance aid a woman’s ability to deal with labor in an open, empowered rather than restrictive fashion. The soothing rocking motions of the circular and figure eight movements set the scene for a birthing woman to flow with the natural rhythms of her body and become connected to Nature and the Universe.
Emotionally the birth dance opens up a well of feelings that cannot be easily locked away in pregnancy. A woman’s birthing heart center resides within the pelvis and hip area. This region is often fraught with locked up painful, sexual memory. Many women find that they are very tight and rigid here and when they begin to belly dance they may find it difficult to loosen up the area or even to make connection with this part of their body. It is as though the dance beckons a woman to stand in the light of her truth and feel her conscious presence within her birthing body. It is a wonderfully relevant birth preparation because of this dual acceptance of emotion and physicality.
“Arab women, Tahitians, Hawaiians and Maoris knew instinctively that they would help themselves if they kept moving through childbirth..they swayed their bodies and swung their hips and pelvis in large circular rotations” – Wendy Buonaventura
In our twenty- first century world, many women have become estranged from their primal birthing brain and the knowledge that lies within it. An empowered birthing journey asks us as women to get back to a sense of life basics where intuition and instinct are normal. Women too often hand their power over to the medical world long before they enter labor and have the idea that someone else will do it for them. I strongly encourage women to take birth into their own hands by becoming informed of their choices and by finding out as much as they can about what will be happening to their body and mind during the pregnancy and childbirth journey.
It is not too late for any woman to take up belly dance if only for a few months at the end of her pregnancy. Any understanding and experience of the dance is advantageous. Being aware of the moves enables them to effectively flow into the sensations and thus rhythm of labor with a strong sense of purpose rather than fear.
Source: Belly Dance for Birth
Practices such as belly dance, meditation and yoga are all helpful to ease the process of birth and postnatal care for mothers-to-be. They are also wonderful practices for all women, young and old, to get in touch with the power source of the vehicle of their earthly bodies.
Some great resources are:
- Belly Dance for Birth
- Birth Dance
- Belly Dancing for Pregnancy
- Belly dancing as Birth Dance
- Sacred Pregnancy