• Jensuya

9 Motivation Tips for Belly Dance Practice

"Is a 5 minute workout really going to make any difference in our belly dancing?  And if we love dancing so much, why do we skip out on practice?"

Jensuya practicing belly dance cane by Sleepy Creek in Berkeley Springs, WV.
Jensuya in "Assaya" or belly dance cane practice by the creek on a summer day.

I think about the thrill of when I started belly dancing...it was just awesome!  I couldn't wait for the late afternoon when I had an hour or so to myself to dance.  The exhilaration of "getting" that new move—wow!  But eventually the inevitable learning curve plateau happened and I found myself coming up with excuses for not donning that hip scarf...you know, the toilet needed scrubbing, or I really should be walking the dog...whaaaa?  Really?  It felt awful.  I mean, I LOVE this dance.  What was going on???

Have you felt this?  Do you now?

Why, if we love belly dancing so much, do we procrastinate practicing?

It's crazy.  Right?  In my Jensuya-analytical way—actually it's my Jennifer-engineer brain at work—I've come up with some key excuses for not practicing:

  1. After working all day, I'm tired, and I don't have the energy for an hour of practice.

  2. The thrill of learning new moves has worn off.

  3. As I've gotten older, body parts just hurt as I dance.

  4. I'm tired of practicing to the same old music...boooring.

  5. I want to be outside instead of indoors.

  6. I don't want to think, and taking a walk just seems so much easier.

Does any of this sound like you?

You are not alone, Sister or Brother.  "We be in dis tagetha."

So now that I'm a geezer belly dancer with a couple of decades of dancing, I've actually gotten smarter.  Ha ha.  😊  And certainly kinder to myself.  And I've discovered that the wise words that I first heard from drummer Daveed Korup, "5 minutes a day" CAN actually change your life.

I thought it was hilarious when I first heard Daveed say that in a DVD drumming course Bob was taking with Mr. Korup.  Daveed included in his course a pep talk on just squeezing in 5 minutes of drum practice before going to work and 5 minutes in the evening after dinner.  I laughed because I thought, "How could you possibly get anywhere with only 5 minutes of practice?"

Jensuya, Daveed Korup, Bob Peak with doumbek Mid Eastern drums
Jensuya & Bob with Daveed Korup, Turkish Festival, Washington, DC, 2014

And now I get it:  Daveed was teaching the most important aspect of learning a new skill—STICKING WITH IT.  In his apparent infinite wisdom, he began by getting his students in the HABIT of at least a tiny bit of practice a day.

That's why I started the Belly Dance Breaks videos on YouTube back in 2015  and then the 5 Minute Belly Dance Workout videos.  These are for you—and me—when we are just feeling un-inspired to do a full practice.  Try one...or several.

But wait!  There's more!

Remember those 6 excuses I listed above?  Here are 6 corresponding solutions.  See what you think:

  1. Do some yoga, then if you are re-energized do 5 minutes of dancing;  watch your favorite belly dancer on YouTube after dinner to get re-inspired

  2. Practice combining moves

  3. Do dance:yoga/massage/stretching in a 1:3 ratio

  4. Find new music!  doesn't have to be "belly dance"

  5. Do a walk

  6. Do beginner drills instead of pushing yourself to practice what you "should"  (video link)

Belly dancer with hip scarf hiking with zills and dog in forest of WV.
Jensuya hiking with belly dance zills at Cacapon State Park.

Hang on!  If those aren't working for you, try something like one (or all!) of these:

  • 5 minutes of a simple move like hip slides in the morning as you brush your teeth in front of the mirror

  • after a couple of hours of sitting at your desk or computer, do 5 minutes of snake arms

  • sitting in traffic, head slides

Honestly, I've got so many hours of anayzing and working out 5 minute practice solutions for you that I've reinforced these little exercises  in myself.  So thank you, because when I feel like my personal practice is flagging, I hear in my head what I would say to you if you needed a re-boot.

As I said, "We be in dis tagetha!"

Love and hugs and RAQ it!

© Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak 2020

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