Smooth strong and juicy isolations not only look amazing but feel amazing! It’s one of the main movement ‘categories’ that bellydance is known for. So how do you take your isolations to the next level? And even after having kids?
To master movement (and develop neural pathways), it requires you to maintain regular practice to keep the precision and flow happening. I can always see the difference when i haven’t drilled for a while! The basic technique is still there but the quality of movement suffers.
After having each of my boys, it took a while for my core muscles to strengthen up again and i find that these core muscles are a common area that women find they lack strength in. It is never too late to strengthen our core as well as the other key muscle we use for isolations.
Here are 6 ways to help your isolations become more precise, juicy, strong and super smooth (i could use a few more descriptive words here but i held back!)
1) Awareness of body imbalances
When there is an imbalance in the body it often creates restriction in certain movement, or a general weakness in muscle groups. If you feel pain or experience a feeling of limited movement (which you intuitively know isn’t your ‘normal’) then I would suggest seeing a physio. Corrective exercises help your muscular skeletal system work at it’s best and this translates into more precise muscular work. If you have had a baby, sometimes our hips and muscles in the pelvic area can be out of alignment, so seeing a professional is often a good start.
2) A balance of strength, flexibility and stamina
The strength of the muscles determines the power and precision behind the muscular isolations in belly dance.
The size of the isolation is determined by the flexibility of the muscles involved. However if you are flexible without the support of strong muscles, injury can occur.
The stamina to maintain clear powerful locks over a period of time, requires not only strength and flexibility but also overall fitness.
Work out which areas you need to work on and create a plan to reach your goal.
So for example if your isolations lack a precise strong look to them, observe if it is mainly upper body isolations, abdominal or hip work. You will need to strengthen up the main muscle groups (commonly abdominal muscles: upper, middle, lower and obliques) that ‘drive’ the movements you lack strength in.
3) Clarity of movement
When creating isolation combinations, one common thing i see is that there tends to be a lack of clarity during the transitions between each isolation.
It can be helpful to practice the combo first with locks (hard contractions), then progress to serpentine movement (soft contractions). You can play “dot to dot” where you map out the exact shapes and lock patterns for clarity, and then work on smoothing them. Know exactly what you are doing!
Start with a slower paced track and get clear on your combination before speeding it up.
4) Consistent practice
You have to basically really enjoy the repetitive nature of drilling muscular isolations to get any good. If you find it boring or it feels like a chore, you just won’t maintain your practice. Consistent practice means something different to everyone, find what works for you and is achievable for your lifestyle.
Be mindful of your beliefs around your practice. If it’s a belief that creates resistance (“Im never consistent”, “i lack discipline”, etc) then it’s not going to give you the results you want. Beliefs are thoughts you have had over a long period of time. Deliberately choose to have thoughts (or write them down) that will encourage you to practice more. Create a goal for yourself which can inspire you to keep up with practice.
6) Intention and imagination
Setting a clear intention of how you want your isolations to look just before you start your practice can start the new neural pathways (which is basically muscle memory) forming. Imagine yourself practicing your isolations with all the qualities you desire. Did you know that imaging doing something has the same effect as actually doing it!?
I hope you found these steps helpful! If you want a little more guidance, i do offer Muscle Isolation Focus Lessons in the Online Temple Space membership as well as in the Bellydance Blueprint course.
Feel free to share with your students or dance friends 😘