One of the most important rules of belly dance is that you never, ever stick out your butt. There are two reasons for this. The first is the obvious, that it looks amateur, trashy and stripper-like. Don’t get me wrong, I myself love looking at cute asses, but there is a time and a place to be shaking your ass in someone’s face.
The second reason is that sticking out your butt is bad posture and it compresses your lower (lumbar) spine. Fortunately, my teachers have always emphasized the importance of good belly dance posture (knees bent, pelvis tucked, chest up, and shoulders back). Unfortunately, the class sizes were so large when I first started belly dancing that the teachers were unable to go around and check everyone’s posture.
I’m going to tell you one of my dirty secrets: I have terrible belly dance posture. For some reason, my butt keeps wanting to stick out. My poor posture is the one thing that every single teacher has commented on “Jasmine, tuck your pelvis! Pull in that butt!” Oh, the shame.
And while it all sounds rather funny, my poor posture resulted in a back injury that I’ve been dealing with for almost three years. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a hiking accident, but the chiropractor told me that if my spine hadn’t already been compressed and subluxated, I would have been fine.
The hiking accident is a peculiar one to describe. I injured my back falling down a giant tree stump. Let me explain. I was in the Sierras, with my boyfriend and some friends. The redwoods in the Sierras are massive. Four of us standing finger tip to finger tip didn’t even come close to getting our arms around one of those trees. A long time ago, many of the redwoods were logged. Tree stumps twenty feet high can be found throughout the Sierras. And I had the brilliant idea to climb one. I made it to the top and was feeling pretty cool, until I realized I wasn’t sure how to get down. Of course, my attempt to get down totally sucked and I ended up sliding down and twisting my back in the process.
The result was five compressed disks, three pinched nerves, a subluxated spine, and a tilted sacrum. Forget dancing for the next six months, I could barely walk!
Short of surgery, there isn’t any permanent treatment for my injury. Chiropractic, massage, and other therapies have to be repeated every month or so- and these treatments can be expensive. Basically, I just deal. But as a belly dancer, who has a habit of sticking out my butt, I keep putting pressure on my lumbar spine while I’m dancing.
Lately, the pain has gotten pretty bad because I have been performing and training so much. Worse, a compressed lumbar hinders my flexibility, making my dance moves not as suave as they should be. I’ve decided that enough is enough. Starting today, I am going to practice my belly dance posture as much as I can, whether I’m doing the dishes or waiting in line, I vow to keep my pelvis tucked and my butt in.