Up, down, centre yourself, concentrate

Living in the city, I’ve learnt the saying: ‘you can be in a room full of people but still feel alone’ isn’t just a saying. When this feeling hits, it’s acute and easily takes a life of it’s own. At the beginning of 2012 I decided to take up some new classes and activities in order to meet new people and keep my mind active. I thought it was a nice alternative to coming home from work, sitting in my room to realise it’s time to go to bed after looking at the floor for what had turned out to be 5 hours.

I’ve always enjoyed dancing, taking various classes in the past such as hip hop and salsa, so I decided to give belly dancing a go.  I attempted some moves at my cousin’s wedding reception in Turkey last July. The belly dancer hired as entertainment dragged my aunty, one of the ushers and I up on stage. It was in 40 degree heat at the time but I definitely felt like I’d done a work out, it was more difficult than I thought and I was doing something by myself. I see three clear benefits here: health, attaining a new skill and not having to rely on a partner in order to learn.

I’m still getting used to using my body in the isolated manner required for belly dancing – remembering to keep the rest of my body still while one part swirls, flicks or shimmies is hard but it’s a lot of fun. There’s talk of future performances with the group I learn with so if you’re interested in having a laugh at me trying to be super, amazingly sexy, I’ll be updating any news on here. You never know, I might even wear a candelabra on my head like Shakira.

My other new pastime is yoga. The benefits are widely spoken about but I’ve found you have to experience it to understand. There are various styles and I practice Vinyasa yoga for beginners at The Yoga Rooms.  I like how it’s given me the chance to really concentrate on one thing at a time,  physically and mentally.

The relaxation element plays a massive part in my new found love for yoga. Taking place at the beginning and end of each session, my teacher Janine talks the group (who are laid down with their eyes closed) through focussing on your goals and your body, both as parts and as a whole. It’s extremely effective from my point of view and gives me a clearer train of thought about life and going about my normal day.

Both these accounts are based on my personal experience with two teachers who may have differing styles compared to others.  I would recommend both yoga and belly dancing on account of these experiences. They make me feel human again.

Belly Dancing: Maggie Zimon teaches at Sunshine Studios, Monday 6 – 7. For more information go to the Facebook page.

Yoga: The Yoga Rooms, Lean Fitness Studio, Gore Street, Manchester. For more information, go to www.theyogarooms.co.uk.

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