Amongst our many stops during the GAP summer tour, we spent some in Canada visiting Anna’s friends and paddling the Ottawa river in Beachburg, Ontario. We enjoyed kayaking on the Ottawa, the beauty of the Canadian countryside, the kind and hospitable folks Canada is known for and french fries drenched in gravy. In the south we put gravy on everything except french fries, you’ve gotta go to Canada for that! And the most unexpected experience I had was a belly dancing class with Anna and a group of lovely women. I learned a little bit about belly dancing and had a blast.
Our teacher that night explained the history of belly dancing and how in the past it was a form of exercise that women gathered together to perform for the goddess of fertility. Adorned in the shiny and colorful costumes, they would use the isolated movements to strengthen their bodies for bearing children. She also explained that because women back then were usually covered up in large robes, they maintained their natural feminine shape and movement that we have lost over the many years of trying to blend in and not call attention to our curvy shapes and bodies. So when the women did gather together they could honor their feminine shapes without being ashamed or self conscious of their curves.
We had a blast that night jingling and shimmying around the candle lit room to exotic music. Its amazing how well it seemed to relate to yoga and kayaking. Isolating different sections of the body is challenging, you must be very aware of each part and how you can use it. My focus lately in kayaking is my core; trying to rotate it and be aware of it especially in slower moving or flat sections of the river so that I create muscle memory in that area. Hips are also very important in kayaking, snapping them under you as you roll or maneuver through obstacles down the river.
So celebrate your hips and belly! Try a belly dancing class sometime with your friends. Besides getting a great little work out, you’ll laugh, brighten your spirt and friendships and have fun stories to talk about. And who knows, it may help your paddling!