There are many benefits to having a yoga practice. For example, increasing flexibility, strength, balance, peace of mind, core strength and growing in spiritual fulfillment. If you’re a professional belly dancer then it’s a good idea to implement a wellness practice like yoga, massage, chiropractic care, barre or pilates to stay in shape and be the best performer you can be.

I found yoga 18 years ago while training as a dancer and immediately knew I found something special that was going to stick with me. The poses connect with the movements of dance and they both share a long history with ancient wisdom. The actual origins of Yoga is unclear, it does date back to pre-vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BC. Belly dance roots trace back to cultures of Neolithic Europe, Africa, and the East estimated over 6,000 years ago. Since belly dance has a major focus on the hips, here is a hip opening series that I created just for belly dancers. 

For a yoga practice you will need space, a yoga mat, comfortable clothes, water and a towel. Get into a comfortable place to lay your mat down and go through each photo and copy the poses. You will be holding each pose for 1-2 minutes or around 20 breathes. A YouTube video is also available to view at:


Butterfly Pose:
Sit up straight, bring feet together, lean forward and bring chin to chest.


Child’s Pose:
Go onto all fours, bring feet together, spread knees apart,
lay torso between your knees and bring forehead to the mat.


Rockstar Bend Pose: 
From child’s pose, lean back, bring your left hand to
the floor and right hand above your head, hips push forward and hold for
count of 10. Switch sides.


Cow Pose:
Go onto all fours, knees under hips, hands under shoulders,
and curve back with chin up, tail bone to the sky.


Cat Pose:  
Move your spine into a curved position and chin to your chest.
Repeat cat and cow sequence flowing from one to the next 10 times. 


Down Dog:
Tuck your toes, hips to the sky, roll shoulders back, open heart. 
Bend one knee at a time to stretch the hips out. Do this 10 times.


Side Lunge:
Bring your right foot to the front right corner of the mat, bend
your left knee and relax your foot. Place forearms or hands on the inside
of the right foot. Bring chin to your heart and relax.


Pigeon Pose:
Crawl the right leg over to the to the other side, square hips off,
keep the right hip off the ground and lean forward chest to the ground.

Repeat Sequence on the other side: Down Dog, Side Lunge (left side) and Pigeon (left leg).

Step both feet to the front into a forward bend. Bend knees and sit on your bottom on the mat.



Seated Reverse Pigeon:
Sit on your bottom, right foot to the left thigh, bent knee,
crawl your hands towards your back to make it more challenging. Repeat other side.


One Leg Forward Bend:  
Bring  your right foot to the inside of your left inner thigh, straighten
your left leg, sit up straight and slowly lean forward into a forward bend. Repeat other side.


About the Author: Erin McGurk (Shanti Vina)
Shanti is a professional bellydancer and yoga teacher in Los Angeles, Ca.  She has been performing dance since the age of 5 years old.  Shanti found yoga 18 years ago has been a professional instructor for 14 years.  She has performed in bellydance companies for over 6 years and currently has a career as a soloist.  Shanti dances in 150 shows and teaches on average 300 classes a year including workshops.  She travels, performs and instructs worldwide.  Check out her website: or follow her on facebook and twitter @shantisuperstar.