How to get your students to connect to their bodies

Oreet wears a black shirt with pink text that reads SharQui Workout. She sits in a chair smiling at the camera. Text reads "Straight Up with Oreet"

Using Words Wisely: Shifting Away From Corrosive Diet-Culture Vocabulary  

In my past 2 blogs, I talked about creating an environment where your students can grow. You will love how rewarding it is to see your students succeed not just with dance skills, but also in confidence. We’ve already covered why it’s beneficial to remove food from your scope of practice and your vocabulary when you’re teaching fitness classes. You can read about it here. We also discussed avoiding words that make students self-conscious by categorizing students’ abilities. You can read about it here. Today I would love to go even further away from your standard workout class and get you thinking about the possibility of teaching dance fitness with a focus on sensations ONLY. 

Being better attuned to our sensations can make us more resilient, more confident in any movement practice, and calmer in stressful times. Teachers don’t need to tell our students what they should be feeling when they dance. We’re there to guide them to integrate the different aspects of themselves and be present in their dance. With that goal, it doesn’t make sense to always cue for stronger, faster, harder, like in traditional fitness.

I think I hear you saying, “sure, that’s nice in a yoga class or Nia, but a bellydance workout is just too fast and sweaty for that type of discussion.” Well, not so fast. I’m not saying you need to teach a slow class! You can describe moves in a more luxurious way without wasting time. Make your vocabulary more sensually descriptive. 

How Do They Want To Feel? 

What about giving students the permission to explore how they want to feel in the movement? Give them the opportunity to release, dig deeper, or perhaps go breathless – and then celebrate your students for their unique approach! Not to get too philosophical on you, but the classes you teach can actually be nourishing to the student’s soul by enhancing their mind/body/spirit connection. When you are dancing with that level of awareness, it is so much more than “just a workout”.  

There are multiple ways to intensify a movement. Your description of variations in intensity doesn’t have to be purely mechanical like being up on the toes, going faster, or making a move more layered. You can intensify a dance workout by using words that evoke sensation.  One can root more deeply, work to cultivate inner awareness more, and simply engage the muscles more. You can use analogy and metaphor. 

A statement I would say when we do a movement where the body is fully stretched is,  “Feel as if your hands and feet want to reach the opposite ends of the room”. 

When timing is not a factor, I like to say “Take your time, breathe into it and stretch through it”. 

When it’s time to showcase what they’ve learned I say, “Focus on what it feels like and show me your flavor. How wild can you make it?”

Meet Them Where They Are

Your dedication to your students can open amazing doors for them. Their success is your success. Help them feel the benefit of bellydance immediately. Bellydance IS different from standard diet culture, and SharQui – the Bellydance Workout, brings that unique perspective into the fitness world.  The sooner you start taking food out of the equation, avoiding words that categorize students, and help students connect with their sensations, the faster you will feel like you are making a meaningful contribution to your students’ wellbeing. And that pays off for you and them in so many wonderful ways.

Pinky promise.

All my love,


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