Tania Ahsan – our De-Stress Case Study and author of The Brilliant Book of Calm – shares her jiggling delights with us
How did you first become involved in this?
I’ve always been interested in belly dance or Raqs Sharqi. The belly dance that we bring to mind in the West is a more cabaret form that was showcased as ‘Oriental Dance’ in the 19th century world fairs but the roots of the dance lie back in Middle Eastern antiquity. Some have suggested that the gyrating movements were a form of sympathetic magic performed by dancers at the labour of women to ease their birth pains. If this is true then our sexualised idea of the dance is quite far from its roots but I don’t worry too much about its origins, I just like the fun of moving and jiggling your bits.
Why would you recommend this activity to people on the De-Stress Diet?
It is bound to make you laugh. You can be any size (and generally having some booty to shake is a good thing) and you get a complete body workout. You learn to isolate and get a sense for muscles you never knew you had and the music is really infectious. And can you name any other exercise that makes you feel like a seductress while toning up?
What equipment do you need to do this?
You don’t really need anything apart from to be wearing clothes that allow for freedom of movement. I dance barefoot but I do wear a coin belt, again for reasons of fun and theatricality more than actually needing to wear one. Dancers who perform at an international level will wear elaborate costumes and some dancers also dance with swords and snakes, making the whole thing a bit more involved. I will never forget the time I interviewed a belly dancer who dances with snakes for Dance Today magazine (for whom I am the belly dance correspondent!) and she told me about the need to ensure no small handbag dogs are at an event she’s doing because her snake will smell them and start salivating!
How much does it cost?
It actually cost me nothing as I received a few DVDs to review (usually about £20 each) and I also check for routines online at YouTube. Classes vary from £5-8 per class, depending on the teacher. I prefer to dance at home alone because my nearest class is a bit of a schlep.
Look for a belly dancing class near you and get gyrating!
Here are two of Tania’s favourite YouTube freebies: