I usually get to belly dance class early. I like to sit peacefully on my mat, listening to the Middle Eastern music, looking out the big windows that face the lake, and letting myself slow down. Sometimes I chat quietly with the other women.
Last night, a couple of the women were talking about how they stored stress in their bodies. Some said that yoga and belly dancing was helping to relieve some of that stress. One young woman said she had not had menstrual cramps since she started belly dancing. Another said her headaches were better. I had not thought about belly dancing in that way although I do have a range of physical activities in my life that help relieve stress. When I do reiki on someone, I can often tell where they are carrying stress, and I am fascinated by the connection between mind and body.
In class we did what my teacher calls core work, strengthening the abdominal muscles, doing undulations that begin at the pelvis and go up through the chest. This is one of the few drills I am any good at, mainly because it is so like the kind of exercises a woman does after childbirth. We had moved from undulations into belly rolls when I realized that one of the women in the class was crying, first quietly and then just absolutely sobbing. My palms tingled as I listened. BellyDancing Teacher walked over and began rubbing her back while the rest of us lay down on our mats doing yoga breathing, each one of us thinking about the sobbing woman and wondering. The class ended and the woman's friend went over to sit with her.
The woman was sitting on her mat, leaning against the purple wall, just below the window that is hung with gauzy cloths. Other women walked about, all in bare feet and in various stages of undress, some drinking herbal tea. The friend and the teacher just sat next to her, letting her cry. No one said anything, but I could feel the energy in the room and it seemed like a safe place for an emotional release. When I left, she was still sobbing.