Apologies for being so long in posting some exercises for the Girdle vessel: have been busy teaching courses on it and exercising and meditating and working on it, rather than writing about it. I suppose that is more healthy than sitting at my desk: at least I am practicing what I preach/teach!
However, Fiona Willis, one of my shiatsu students from a long time ago, sent me a link to an article which she has written for Midwife International on Belly Dance. It reminded me of how much the movements of belly dancing support the Girdle Vessel. So finding a local class is a great way to support it. However we can also do some simple circling movements inspired by belly dancing.
We can simply stand and move our hips: I find that leaning forward slightly is especially helpful in pregnancy to release some of the weight of the baby. I like to get people to do some simple clock wise and anti clockwise circles and also to try doing some figure of 8 type movements, feeling for where the centre of the figure of 8, lying on its side, is. This is the centre of the Girdle Vessel. Lilian has a nice picture of this which I am copying from her blog post she did for me.
I also like standing and pivoting on the feet and relaxing our arms. I need to get a good drawing of this: if anyone who has studied with me has a nice one, please send it over!
If we want to do something a little more challenging, and we don’t have any issues such as pelvic girdle instability, or haemorrhoids or weak knees then we can start sinking down into a standing squat. This is a great position in which to do some pelvic floor exercises
We can also exercise with a partner: this is a position I include in birth preparation work. There are some lovely pictures of this in my book Beautiful Birth. However, here is a line drawing. Belly dancing was traditionally a women’s dance and women would support birth. Now that often male partners are present, it is helpful for them to also join in with all these movements as well. Maybe someone should set up some male belly dancing classes!
When Fiona did my shiatsu practitioners’ course she was trying to decide what she wanted to do her project on and I suggested that she did it on Belly Dancing. I had been interested in belly dancing and its use in labour for a while. I even went to a few belly dancing classes in the first few months of my second pregnancy, in 1995, when I was pregnant with my son Bram. However, it didn’t especially seem a good time to develop very far in an ordinary belly dancing class and I never seem to have found the right time to take it up again. Later I was inspired by some special belly dancing classes for women which were running inVienna, where I was teaching. At the International midwives conference in Vienna, April 2002, where I presented shiatsu, we had a wonderful reception at the Vienna town hall (Rathaus) near the Shambhala shiatsu school, where I have been teaching since 1999. Some of the pregnant women from the belly dancing class did a wonderful dance for us, shimmying in their colourful clothes. It was quite dramatic to see so many bare pregnant bellies being moved around!
Fiona has written about belly dancing for the International midwife.
Happy shimmying and I will write up some more exercises and meditations soon.. when I have time away from my own practices!