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In Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) there is a very lovely bellydance and yoga teacher called Lauryn Peterson. She works at Zanzibar, a great studio that I’ve mentioned before, here here and here.  In fact in the first of those links I mentioned a Yin Yoga and Shimmy workshop which was the very first time I had encountered Yin Yoga.

Tribal Fusion bellydance, via Zanzibar, first got me interested in yoga several years ago and I’ve now tried many styles – Flow, Power, Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga and Swasthya are the main types that spring to mind.  Yin Yoga holds the poses for longer than the other forms I’ve tried (2-5 minutes is normal in Yin) and works on the connective tissue more so than muscles.  It prefers to work with cool rather than hot muscles.  I really enjoyed it when I tried it last year and was keen to do it again on this trip to the States.

Due to scheduling conflicts I wasn’t able to attend the Yin/Shimmy workshop Lauryn was teaching at Zanzibar so we made arrangements for a private Yin Yoga lesson.  She tailored the session to my specific requests and gently guided me through a practice I feel comfortable taking home and working through by myself.

The necessity or otherwise of yoga with bellydance is something I want to come back to later, but I do believe the body awareness and mindfulness that yoga encourages, in addition to the health benefits, improves my dance practice greatly.  And having now taken a full term of Ashtanga yoga I have found that the body awareness and mindfulness that bellydance can encourage has helped me there too.  The feedback between dance and yoga is interesting to me, and I do have a post more specifically about this currently percolating through my head.

But the bottom line is that I really enjoyed my private lesson and am definitely looking forward to continuing my Yin practice at home.  If you’re interested in this (or bellydancing) and in the Chattanooga area I thoroughly recommend Lauryn for both types of lessons, both public and private.  Her teaching style is respectful, knowledgeable and often fun.

You can get more information both on the Zanzibar and the Asala Center websites (and the other Zanzibar teachers are also wonderful, just so you know).


The Hafla for Haiti was a lot of fun and best of all has raised, so far, £845 for Children in Need’s work in Haiti! Well done to Irene Hogg for organising it, Revolution Bar for hosting it and all the performers and audience members for coming along!

There was bellydance of all different types – Raqs Sharqi, Modern Egyptian, Classic Egyptian, Tribal and Tribal Fusion. There was also burlesque (two strip-tease artists), a poledancer, a flamenco dancer, a salsa couple and a couple of comedy bellydance/burlesque acts. It was really great to have such variety.

Here’s a clip from the night of Elspeth’s stick dance (very sassy!)

Also, it seems we’re not the only place to have this idea. Chattanooga – my home away from home – had a benefit night called ‘To Haiti With Love’ on Saturday. Like the Edinburgh event this had a broad variety of performers including musicians, poets and bellydancers with the lovely Mirabai troupe performing. Go bellydancers!

In other news… We’re having a hafla for Lorna of Cairo! Put the date in your diary – Thursday 18th March, 7-10pm, Teviot Underground at Bristo Square. Tickets are £8 in advance or £10 on the door. You can buy tickets in advance from myself, Elspeth or Caroline (of Bellydancingdivas).

In addition to the more local talent, Lorna will be dancing for us. Lorna is a local girl who moved to Cairo several years ago and now makes her living as a bellydancer over there. Here’s a short clip of one of her recent performances:

I’m looking forward to seeing loads of you at this, and if you’re interested in performing give me (or Elspeth or Caroline) a shout.

I had the great pleasure of being a student again at Zanzibar Studio, Chattanooga.  Lacy Dickerson took the Level 3 class which began with a little bit of pilates and some yoga mainly focused on our core and low belly, before we put the mats away and got our boogie on.  It was so different from the classes I’ve taken in the UK, both because of the yoga/pilates emphasis and also due to the movements that are considered ‘fundamental’ – the four points of the Umi/Omi/Oomi were our starting place, which we smoothed out into the full, tilted hip circle.  To this we added beautiful “floating arms”.  It was something else to see the studio jam-packed with ladies all circling their hips and gracefully moving their arms in unison. Read the rest of this entry »

Happily I arrived in the States without too much delay yesterday.  I’ve got the prospect of a yoga and shimmy workshop at the lovely Zanzibar studio tomorrow, and I’m hoping my jetlag doesn’t kill that the way it’s been zapping my bounce today.

For your viewing pleasure here’s a short video of some of the lovely folks from that studio:

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