Thursday, May 7, 2020

Water dancing

[originally published in la Vie Sirene magazine in June 2013]

Go with Your Flow
Water Dance by Greg Desiatov
Belly dancers and aqua aerobics enthusiasts tend to gush about the natural, soothing and non-jarring health benefits of their chosen mode of minimal-impact movement.

A far cry from entertainment created for male seduction and pleasure, middle eastern dance has its root in preparation of the female form for childbirth.  Similarly, Tahitian and Maori dance practitioners have long advocated flowing circular movements of the hips as an aid in pregnancy, encouraging women to learn to move with their contractions instead of against them. The muscle strengthening that takes place helps in carrying the baby, protecting the back with increased abdominal strength. Posture and core stability are improved.

Water-based exercise too offers a non-jarring, nil-impact workout with fluid movements that strengthen and balance.  It puts very little stress on weight-bearing joints and muscles, in great part, because of the fact that water buoyancy reduces a person's weight by up to 90 percent.  The water serves as a natural form of resistance, keeping the possibility of injury to a minimum.  Even better, exercising in water affords 12 times the resistance of working out 'against' air. This increases metabolism, which is invaluable in weight management.

None of this comes as any sort of surprise to merwomen.  Living in the water and undulating as a means of propulsion, mers know the feel and value of using their core muscles and arms in a liquid environment.  Not only is it an efficient and effective form of exercise, but provides a tranquil sense of wellbeing unlike any other activity.  Muscles work in harmony without the stress of gravity, and distracting sights and sounds are swallowed up in languid serenity.

In an era of Thighmasters and Shake Weights it's reassuring to know that there is a fitness alternative that is guaranteed to get results.  And it's been around as long as women have been having babies and people have been skinnydipping.

Water Dance. Photo by Mlka Milkina