Review of Sera Solstice's Goddess Dance: Prenatal Bellydance & Meditation

As much as I tend to hate anything with "goddess" in the title, especially with combined with "pregnancy" or "bellydance," I love Prenatal Bellydance & Meditation and by the end of it, have a bit of a girl-crush on Sera Solstice. This is the first prenatal bellydance program that leads you through what feels like real dancing. Moreover, the aesthetics of it are simply delightful.

This woman's dancing is perfection
I'm going to review this from two perspectives -- as a prenatal workout and as a dance instructional. The video also has two meditation segments, but I'm not quite into that right now.

Prenatal Bellydance & Meditation as prenatal workout:

Sera is eight months pregnant during the filming of the video, and she explains that she has chosen movements based on what she has found satisfying for her pregnant body. She doesn't mention consulting any medical literature on safe movements for pregnancy, but nothing she does contradicts any indications I've seen. Her backup dancers demonstrate the moves for early pregnancy and postnatal, but there really isn't too much difference in most sequences.

The beginning warmup is dancey, smooth, but quite minimal -- I suggest complementing with your own basic movements like cat stretches, leg stretches, and neck and shoulder rolls. The dance combos themselves are great for a woman who's growing. Yes, they push a little further than the very basic movements of other prenatal workouts, but it ultimately feels very good. Although Sera often talks about the need to lower awareness to the hips and pelvis, I think the real strength of this program is in what it does for the upper body. I'm in my sixth month of pregnancy, and I end every day feeling pain in my upper back and rib area. While my yoga videos do provide good side stretches, there really is nothing like bellydance to stretch upper abdominals, upper back muscles, and obliques.

The workout as a whole is not heavy on the cardio, but you will feel it, especially if you have been doing lighter, pregnancy-type exercise. I added a necessary cool-down and stretch on my own. There is one hilarious section in which Sera explains the most complicated Kegels I've ever heard of, and then guides you to do them along with a series of bellydance movements. This was too much for me! Look, if you want me to move all those muscles separately and precisely, muscles I have never been asked to control to that extent in my life, then I had better be sitting on the ground thinking about that and only that. It's not gonna happen during an omi.

Prenatal Bellydance & Meditation as dance workout:

I loved the video as a dance workout. I don't think it would be the right thing for someone trying bellydance for the very first time. Although Sera does give quite lengthy explanations of the movements, using good visuals, you have to pick them up pretty quickly to be able to move along with the video. It takes most women a bit of time to learn a flat-footed maya or an omi or even a chest circle. However, if you have some experience of the moves, her instruction is great for improving your execution of them. The combinations are manageable, but not boring, especially if you also think about getting the hands and arms right.

Most importantly, Sera is a really beautiful dancer. I tend not to get as excited about tribal fusion, since it often seems to lack the fluidity and grace I love about more traditional bellydance forms. Sera is the person to prove me wrong. Her movements are an education in grace, and it's saying a lot that following her makes you feel like you are dancing.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this DVD from World Dance New York.

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