Improve your memory using belly dance!
Learning to belly dance is a fun way of training your brain whilst learning a new skill at the same time. Studies show that certain types of dance can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by up to 76%!
My students always take the mickey out of me and mimic a saying I have that I didn’t know I said quite as much as I obviously do!….
That saying is…’it trains your brain’ they don’t get my voice quite right although it does make me laugh!
However, as funny as it is when I yell ‘train you brain’ at them in class its also very true!
I like to think of learning to belly dance as not much different to learning a new language, except its not a language of the tongue its a language of the female form and it is a most beautiful and powerful language indeed.
It is a language that any female can learn and a language that every females body falls in love with as if it was their mother tongue.
I also like to call belly dance ‘brain food’ and am also well know for shouting out in class; ‘feed your brain!’ Learning to belly dance is a fun way of training your brain whilst learning a new skill at the same time. Studies show that certain types of dance can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by up to 76%!
I am a strong believer that due to the unique way in which we train in a belly dance class that this is one form of dance that should most definitely fit into this category! And don’t be fooled, if you have a good teacher and are taught properly it is most definitely a challenging skill to acquire and a skill you’ll learn so much more from!
How can I train my brain through belly dance?
Training your brain through belly dance involves the following steps:
- learning a new move – building neurological pathways
- finding the muscles to contract – through concentration and mind body connection
- Strengthening and or building the flexibility of a contraction – repetition through using the newly established neurological pathways.
- Then being able to consistently contract that muscle at will as sharp or as soft as you like – brain training through ‘muscle memory’.
It goes much deeper than that…more food for thought below!
How The Brain Learns
The different parts of the brain talk to each other by electronic pulses that travel by neural pathways. But when we learn something new there is no set pathway for those electronic pulses to travel. So the first thing the brain has to do is work out how this new task is accomplished and create a neural pathway for that task.
Over time as we perform this task the neural pathway gets more solid, and the task becomes easier with the help of ‘muscle memory’.
Eventually through repetition a task that used to be difficult is now easier.
And continued practice makes it easier and easier still to the point where you no longer need to ‘think’ about it.
The beauty of doing this with belly dance is that not only are you training your brain, giving it food for thought but due to the need to repetitively contract, release and isolate different body parts you are also toning the muscles as well creating a deeper awareness and connectivity with your body.
How This Relates To Learning Something New in Belly Dance
Let’s assume we’re learning a muscular based belly dance technique such as a chest lift.
The brain has to first find the the specific muscles being used ( a chest lift is achieved by contracting the upper back muscles), then learn to isolate that 1 muscle group on its own repetitively, then in time with the music so you are dancing the contraction rather than just doing it.
At first you may not get the contraction/isolation right straight away and everything may move at the same time.
But eventually with practice the movement becomes cleaner, sharper, and more precise as you build a new neurological pathway for that move. It becomes easier to achieve, then instead of getting it right sometimes, you get it right 100% without having to think about it. That’s when your neurological pathway has been created.
So it’s no wonder that learning a new move can take a while to get our heads around.
And creating new neurological pathways is something that we all have to do in order to learn something new – irrespective of whether we’re a beginner, an intermediate dancer, or a more advanced dancer.
How To create better techniques through neurological pathways and belly dance:
The key to developing any belly dance technique or move is repetition.
This is to not only build the neurological pathways but to also develop the move through muscular techniques. This is achieved through repetition of the movements, strengthening the muscles being used and in turn creating cleaner, sharper smoother isolations.
Pick a handful of movements and spend a few minutes a day drilling them over and over again.
Pay close attention to trying to do the move correctly and safely as otherwise you’ll train yourself into bad habits and poor technique.
Do this for a few weeks and then try new ones, but don’t forget about the old ones or they’ll get ‘rusty’!
Notice your development over time.
Maybe video your moves on the 1st day and last day and see the difference!
The isolations and muscle contractions learnt through belly dance require a strong technique, brain and body co ordination and deep concentration, which is actually really therapeutic at the same time as being a fun feminine challenge!
If you haven’t been trained in belly dance achieving even the most simple of the moves of the belly dance language is near impossible…. until an experienced teacher shows you how!
This involves a journey of self discovery and learning all about yourself, and this starts in the very first class.
You’ll learn to isolate and contract muscles you never knew you had at will like a bad ass female super hero.
You’ll learn the power of the mind and feel the beauty of completely being in control of who you are and loving it!
You’ll learn how your body moves and once you have a few super hero ‘tricks’ up your sleeve they’ll be no stopping you!!!