Belly Dance for Birth: The Al Musa Method
For many women in today's modern age, the clinical nature of the common hospital delivery eclipses the inherently spiritual experience of giving birth. Labors are scheduled and induced, c-sections performed, body-numbing drugs administered. Many of these medical "conveniences" only serve to disconnect an expectant mother from what could otherwise be a natural, joyful birthing event. Maha Al Musa, Founder and Facilitator of Belly Dance for Birth, seeks to change this.
A belly dancer since childhood, Al Musa began teaching bellydancebirth® in 1997 as a method to help expectant women prepare for the birthing process through dance. She often brought her first son, Kailash, then six months of age, to classes, dancing with him upon her hip. The carefree, unstructured classes were well received by participants.
"I would bring beautiful pieces of music and we would dance spontaneously and be free to explore our own body rhythms," said Al Musa.
However, Al Musa is more than a belly dancer and teacher. She is also a mother, human rights activist, writer and doula (a birth assistant). Her first book, "Dance of The Womb – The Essential Guide To Belly Dance For Pregnancy And Birth," received an Independent Publisher Book Award. The National Association of Childbirth Educators has also endorsed it.
The book was inspired by a female traveler she met on vacation in early 2001. "She looked me straight in the eye and said, 'You have to write about this. All women need this information!' It was a very strong moment," explained Al Musa. Upon further consideration, she realized the traveler was right – she was meant to share her story with others.
"The bulk of the book was written in about eight months. It just poured out of me," Al Musa said. "I could not just give the dance instruction without an intimate look at my life journey and my journey towards becoming a mother and beyond. I wanted to encourage all women to see that the tread of life is long and winding, and connects us to our story."
Writing, and teaching, is second nature to Al Musa. "I have always loved writing and it comes with ease," she said. Her teaching style has been described as 'earthy,' 'non-judgmental' and 'non-pretentious'. She wanted the book to have a similar feel.
"I wanted to make sure my writing was intimate and that it had the feel of me sitting in a room with the reader, drawing them into my world in an affectionate and heartfelt way," Al Musa stated.
Readers of Al Musa's book, and students in her bellydancebirth® classes, are encouraged to embrace their pregnancy and the birth of their children with strength and courage. Al Musa believes that all women posses a primal feminine power and innate birthing knowledge. Rather than give themselves –and their experience– over to the medical profession, students of the Al Musa Method are empowered to connect with their feelings of motherhood, their intuition and natural instincts. As a result, they can take charge of their delivery.
Explains Al Musa, "I always tell mums to trust in the wisdom of your bodies' birthing knowledge. Let go of the external distractions, breathe and stay present with your personal birthing rhythms and instincts– it's BIG, it's transformative, it's a place where you meet the rawness of self. It is a highly spiritual experience."