4 Reasons Why You Struggle With Hip Shimmys
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We have all been there at belly dance class over the moon because we have picked up a hard move or made amazing improvement on our dancing technique. Many of us have also been there when after years and years of attending classes studying and practicing only to feel like we are not getting anywhere with certain moves or techniques and our teachers may not have resources answers or information to point us in the right direction so we can find out why we are struggling and what we can do about it. I had this problem I had danced for over five years and could not shimmy properly, eventually after attending many lessons with lots of other teachers as well as breaking down the movements myself and unpacking it I got it, now I have mastered the move, I teach it fully and know what the problems are with people who struggle with this move and I know how to recognize it in my students and what resources my help students reach their shimmy goals.
The problem why I couldn't shimmy was that I have a short muscular body type with long toned limbs and glutes and the back of my legs are short in proportion to the front so it causes problems for me not just in the Shimmy department but also because I have in the past injured my knees through over bending causing tendonitis, which was caused by poor teaching flimsy technique and lack of care with correction at class, but that's another story or blog.
So now you have read my story here are five reasons why you may be struggling to pick up the hip shimmy.
1- Flat Feet / Hypermobility
Hypermobile people have over flexibility of the body that can cause injury through not engaging important mucsles. Hypermobile people can often suffer with this condition and children who have the condition are often in prams well past the age of five because they just can't walk far. Hypermobililty affects the feet because everything can become unbalanced unstable and out of line causing the ankles to buckle inwards and there isn't much strength in the ankles which can affect the knees. Flat footed people are often hypermobile and using the weight of the feet along with the alternate bent knees can be a struggle when trying to learn how to hip shimmy because we use all of these body to create a shimmy. We need strength in these areas that hypermobile people may not have or may not have been taught or seen by a medical professional who could advise and help to treat people with the condition.
2 - Teaching Technique / Learning Style
Often some classes are mainly follow the bum type class that are fun and easy going. Students learn by following however often alot of people learn in more than just one way. There are many ways in which a learner can learn and many ways in which a teacher can teach. Some people learn by watching and some people may not learn at all just by watching so they struggle with a move or step. People also learn by listening to a description talking about the move , drawing the move, feeling the move, being directed by someone's hands. A follow the bum type of class is a great introduction but you need more to be able to teach groups of people as a teacher and as a student learner you need to attend classes with teachers who incorporate several teaching techniques so you have more ways in which you can learn affectively.
3 - Tight Muscles in the Glutes Hamstrings Calves
Tight mucsles in the hamstrings (back of the legs) the glutes (bum) or the calves (bottom half of the leg underneath the knee) can affect the way you plant your heel down onto the floor as you learn how to hip shimmy. There are resources we can use to help combat this problem that I will post about in my next blog post.
4- Short Legs
Believe it or not some people have shorter legs at the back of the leg this again can be cause by the previous points (tight muscles ect) or can just be the make up of your body. I quickly notice in my classes that students who struggle with keeping the heels on the floor when shimmying they have longer front parts of the leg than at the back and often have more bend to the knees which I have to point out to ensure they don't over bend into the knee.
5 - Weight Distribution
Last but not least in my list is weight distribution. At class I teach people to plant their feet directly under their hip so they are inline with their feet. Many people think their hips are massive and have a wide space in-between the feet. I then instruct them to feel their hip bones and to make sure that their is a straight line going down from the hip bone down their legs to their feet. If people struggle I ask them to jump once and land naturally and this is their natural stance where they feel balance and secure. I learned this technique from a yoga teacher. Another thing to think about is the pelvis area and the belly button and chest. Good posture is a must in belly dance. Pelvis should be in neutral position, belly button in ten percent and chest lifted to create space.
In my next post I will share ideas exercise and resources that many help you with your hip shimmies.