**This is a repost from a blog I started while living in China**
The instructor had a short, bob-like haircut with subtle red highlights. Her gold earrings accented her yellow low-cut top that revealed more cleavage than I’m used to seeing Chinese women expose and when she turned around, I could tell that she was wearing a bra that was like a halter top, so that it would not interfere with the even lower-cut back of the shirt. Her black pants hung low around her hips, and she had her own personalized scarfs with extra loud decorations. In a word, this woman was hot. She could make even the gayest man reconsider. I stood in the back, behind a somewhat plump woman in her 30’s to avoid seeing myself in the mirror and took a quick look around to see if the same slender girls that joined my yoga class were the same students in this one. A quick survey showed me that I was most likely the youngest and that many of the other women had already had children. My inhibitions were already starting to fly out the window, and I kept laughing to myself, shaking my head at the things I get into. She began to move, going to the front with a beckoning motion of the right hand, then crossing over to the left and began to undulate her stomach. I had no idea a woman’s body could do that! The other women followed, somewhat easily, so I guessed that they were regulars. That and the fact that I was the only one dressed for nap time (I later found out I had stumbled upon the advanced class). The same loud beat kept repeating, and an Indian woman sang Hindi as we all moved to the beat. After a few “one, two, three’s” I was starting to get the pattern of the dance, but for the life of me, could not get my stomach to move like hers. I’m an athletic girl. I bike everywhere, run, hike, “practice” yoga, but the connection this woman had with her body absolutely blew me away. All of a sudden I realized how disconnected I had been from my hips, my abdomen, my arms. I was moving muscles I didn’t even know I had as I was thrusting back in a reverse motion like the other women to make sure the charms jingled as we moved. Age didn’t matter. Race wasn’t a factor. The only requirement to enter that door was to be a woman. In 10 minutes this woman showed us the power of femininity, the beauty of allowing, of giving way to your body and letting it take you places you didn’t think you could go. She encouraged us to “pop” our hips, exaggerating our curves. All my initial judgment of myself and others disappeared as I moved out from behind the woman in front of me to watch my body in the mirror as well. I walked out of that class a convert. She showed us all how to reconnect with something so innate that we often forget about it. At the end of the class, I awkwardly tried to remove the scarves, and the instructor mysteriously appeared behind me and removed them. I asked her how long she had been dancing, but I wanted to ask her to teach me how to exude so much beauty and sensuality. Having taken off one layer of inhibition, I told her she was an amazing dancer and a “la mei” (spicy/hot woman). She laughed. I still don’t know how to say the characters for belly dancing, but I have scouted out all the characters that look like the noon time slot. When I go back on Saturday, I’m going to wear more color and let my curls loose!