How to Do a Belly Roll | Belly Dancing
How to Belly Roll
The belly roll, or undulation, is an essential movement in belly dancing, a mesmerizing dance form that originated in the Middle East. Rolling your belly is done by flexing and unflexing your abdominal muscles so that the stomach undulates while the hips and spine remain still. With practice, you can train your muscles to roll at varying speeds.
Learning to Control Your Abdominal Muscles
Position yourself in front of a mirror.Stand facing the mirror with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your back erect. Keep your arms at your sides. Relax your abdominal muscles and let your pelvis naturally stick out a bit. You should feel loose and comfortable.
- Since you're doing a belly roll, you'll need to be able to see your belly. Wear a midriff-bearing shirt or just a bra, and comfortable yoga pants, a skirt or shorts that sit below your belly button.
Find your two sets of abdominal muscles.Your abdomen is divided into two different sets of muscles: upper abdominal muscles and lower abdominal muscles. Place one hand across your upper abdominal muscles, just below your ribs. Place your other hand over your lower abdominal muscles, just below your belly button. Learning to isolate the two sets is the key to performing a bellow roll.
Keep your hips and spine still.A belly roll engages just your abdominal muscles, and the rest of your body should stay still. Don't be tempted to move your hips forward or from side to side; stand completely still and focus on moving those muscles and nothing else.
- If you have trouble isolating your abdominal muscles without moving your hips and spine, practice your belly exercise while seated on the floor, lying flat on your back or perched on the edge of the chair. Lean back in the chair and rest on your hands, both legs extended straight in front of you. Hold your torso in a straight line as you practice.
Suck in your upper abdominal muscles.Let your lower belly pooch out while your upper belly pulls in toward your spine. Hold the position for a moment to get used to the feeling of sucking in your upper abdominal muscles while your lower abdominal muscles push out. This is an essential movement in a belly roll.
- Practice flexing and unflexing your upper abdominal muscles. Pull them in, then push them out. Keep doing so until you can easily locate and engage them.
- It might help to keep your hand on your abdomen above your belly button so you can feel your muscles tighten and loosen. After trying this for a while, practice without using your hand.
Suck in your lower abdominal muscles.Pull your lower belly in toward your spine while pushing out your upper abdominal muscles. This movement is trickier than its reverse, so it's going to take some practice. Imagine pulling your belly button in while the muscles just above stick out.
- Practice flexing and unflexing your lower abdominal muscles. Pull them in, then push them out. Keep doing so until you can easily locate and engage them.
- Keep your hand on your abdomen above your belly button so you can feel them tighten and loosen. After a while, do it without using your hand.
Flex your upper and lower abdominal muscles in rotation.First suck in your upper abdominal muscles, then suck in your lower abdominal muscles. Go back and forth between them, making sure the muscle that isn't being sucked in is pushed out. By rotating between the upper and lower muscles, you'll give the appearance that your stomach is undulating. Once you get the hang of it, you're ready to perform a belly roll.
- If you have trouble flexing your upper and lower abdominal muscles in isolation, doing ab exercises can help. Try crunches, sit ups, and other belly workouts to gain greater control over your abdominal muscles.
Rolling Your Belly
Do a top-to-bottom belly roll.This is the basic belly roll that every dancer knows. It goes like this: push your upper abs out, your lower abs out, your upper abs in, and your lower abs in. Practice these motions until you can do them smoothly.
- Look in the mirror to see whether your belly looks like it's starting to roll. If you can't tell, try to make your flexes more pronounced and stick out the muscles that aren't being engaged. When you suck in your upper abdominal muscles, really push out your lower belly, and vice versa.
Do a bottom-to-top belly roll.To do a bottom-to-top belly roll suck your entire abdomen in, then push out with your lower abdominal muscles first. Push out with your upper abs. Suck in your lower abs, and finally suck in your upper abs, too. Repeat.
- Practice both this and the top-to-bottom roll; you might find that moving in one direction or the other comes more naturally to you.
Start rolling faster.Try to speed up your flexing and unflexing so that as soon as you finish flexing your upper abdominal muscles, you move to the lower. Go back and forth quickly with no interruption. Keep gaining speed until you're rolling as fast as you can. Slow down, then speed back up. This will help you gain greater control over your muscles.
Find your rhythm.Like any dance movement, the belly roll requires a good sense of rhythm. Move back and forth between your upper and lower abdominal muscles with a particular pattern, rather than jerking back and forth. Watch your belly in the mirror and try to create a smooth, elegant roll with your muscles.
- It helps to move to music. Turn on some music with a good, steady beat and practice rolling your belly with it, just as you'd tap your foot or clap your hands.
Learn to belly dance.The belly roll is just one movement in belly dancing.A belly dance includes elegant arm and leg movements as well. Throughout the dance, the spine is held erect and the hips still while the belly undulates. If you enjoy belly rolling, consider taking the next step to learn how to do a complete dance.
QuestionHow do I get my abdominal muscles to move one by one?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis takes lots of practice. It takes strength in your obliques and lower back as well. Try hip-ribcage isolations (look up isolation jazz warmup exercises), which helps a lot. Then practice some more! Use the mirror to assist.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I do this without immediately feeling pain?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it hurts, only do it for short amounts of time, then progress to longer trials.Thanks!
QuestionCan this hurt any of my organs? I feel pain below my stomach.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBelly rolls will never hurt your stomach or any other organ. The pain could just be muscle pain (which is fine) or an unrelated pain.Thanks!
QuestionCan I belly roll and belly dance even if I'm thick?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAnyone can belly dance! I am on the thicker side as well and I teach belly dancing classes. I find thicker people can dance as well, if not better than thin people.Thanks!
QuestionCan I do a belly roll if I just finished eating?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should probably not do belly rolls for a few hours or so, so that you can digest the food. If you do belly rolls, especially if you are lying down and facing the ground, you may feel ill or injure yourself.Thanks!
If I'm a man, should I lift up my shirt or just simply remove it to expose my stomach when doing a belly roll?
How do you control your Stomach Muscles
Why does belly dancing feel less weird than belly rolling?
Can I do this even if I am thin?
About how long will it take to learn the belly roll?
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Video: How to do a belly roll / belly wave
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