“Belly dancing is really a full body workout,” says Sanjana Muthreja, a belly dancing and Tahitian dance instructor who has been working with Shanaya Kapoor, Suhana Khan, Janhvi Kapoor and Ananya Panday on their skills. “It involves a lot of core work and engages your hips. It not only helps as a cardiovascular workout (you can lose upto a 1000 calories in one Tahitian class due to the constant explosive movements), but it also strengthens the core muscles, which helps to stabilise the spine,” she says. Since in-person classes are off the table for the moment, Muthreja has been checking in with her students through virtual video sessions. “You have to make the most of the time at hand with all the given restrictions,” she shared.
The benefits of belly dancing
“It is a very graceful form of dance. It requires you to be absolutely graceful with your movements so in the process of learning belly dance also brings that motion in your body language,” shares Muthreja. Rolling and contracting the muscles in the specific manner required—particularly the ab, oblique and glute muscles—can isolate and tone them better than regular ab exercises too. “It improves posture and I have seen my students feel more confident about themselves. Also I have noticed it acts as a stress buster,” confirms Muthreja. Plus, anyone can do it. Since the dance form is low-impact, it works for those with any level of flexibility and mobility. “My youngest student is five, and the senior-most is 68,” she shares.
Conducting online classes during the lockdown
Since belly dancing requires a lot of practice to get the moves down right, frequent sessions to work on it are key. “I have been taking classes online for my students who are studying abroad or are living there for a few years now,” says Muthreja, who is not a stranger to an on-camera class. “Now with the lockdown not leaving us with a lot of options but to teach online, it’s the next best substitute.”
The classes are structured much like a regular workout. “We start with warm-ups, then practice the dance, and then end with cool-downs because that is key,” she says. “Also I place a lot of emphasis on technique initially and once the base is set I transition them to choreography. While the music is usually oriental given the style of the dance, I mix it up with some Bollywood songs too.”
Working with Ananya Panday, Suhana Khan and Shanaya Kapoor
Ananya Panday is the newest addition to Muthreja’s student base. “I have started with Ananya during this lockdown hence we have only done online sessions so far. It’s actually a lot of fun. The playlist that we pick to dance on is full of energy, just like her. She has picked up things very fast. When we started she had a few apprehensions but once she got the hang of it she has started to enjoy it a lot more,” she shares.
Suhana Khan and Shanaya Kapoor have been students for longer. “With Suhana, we’ve been working together for a long time now. Inherently she is very graceful hence she has progressed really well. Shanaya, Ananya and Suhana are incredibly intelligent, which makes it that much easier for me to teach them.”
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