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My pick of hot Zumba numbers

April 29, 2015

a middle-age woman’s sudden foray into the world of fitness…

 Happy International Dance Day! Free workshop in the city for all dances today 9-5 including Salsa, Rumba, Zumba, Tango etc but giving it a miss. Our own Zumba is more than enough for me and then we follow it up with abs, lower back exercises. If I overdo, I am unable to come home and carry on with my regular chores.

Don’t know how long I shall be doing Zumba. In Chennai its affordable really. I don’t have logistics problem. And having discovered a great gang to go with, Zumba is now my addiction. Not that I am a good dancer – in fact totally clumsy. Went for a demo and fell in love with this kind of fitness exercise. A bit strenuous than the regular Aerobics and far rigorous compared to a calmer Yoga, Zumba makes you sweat real. I do, we all do even if 3 split a/cs keep running to full blast. First one month, i found my energy sapped totally but in the following months I have rediscovered a new strength and presently find that I can physically exert myself more than ever. My bodily tolerance has improved. I observe that I can endure longer hours than before. All this for merely following upto 10% of what my trainer does! I think if you are religious about zumba and have a natural inclination to dancing, you can benefit a lot more.

Aqua Zumba supposedly is good for your knees and other joints as you are working out against the resistance of water. What can be more fun than being in the pool in summers. I am unable to join everytime but try maximum to make it.

My whole system I feel is rejuvenated with zumba and the latin dance makes me feel younger for my years! My energy levels soar and if I tire, its a healthy, delicious tiredness that lulls me into a fitful dreamless sleep. Something thats been missing in me for years. Everynight I stay awake upto 12 pm to talk online with my husband and wake up early to cook for my college-going son. Night sleep hours have got reduced since long and there are black circles under my eyes. Day snooze is neither sufficient nor satisfying.

So with zumba I find I am getting more hungry, eating better and sleeping soundly.

I simply luv the picture ‘Shall we dance’ starring Richard Gere and JLo. When I saw it for the first time I didn’t realize what made Gere want to dance in his middle-age. Get it now lolz!

Never got to learn our traditional ‘BharatNatyam’ but recently when I was watching a stage performance, I wish I had had! More than the grace and cultural angle, India’s native/classical dance forms are an excellent pattern of exercises charted for women. Every little girl should learn to dance BharatNatyam or Khathak or Odissi or Manipuri or Mohiniattam. I missed the bus, anyway there is zumba now! I even dream of resuming my Veena practice someday! I left it with school for financial reasons & for lack of time in my college days. I don’t think my fingers are as nimble and Veena has receded from my memory. I feel a lump in my chest whenever I think about it now – of the years of training that went waste. The saddest moment was when I had to sell my instrument. Which reminds me of this: how I got used to sitting cross-legged on the floor for hours right from an young age.

Before adding my list of Zumba hot picks, I wanna say this: its not enough if your trainer can merely dance, your ‘Zin’ has to be a physical fitness expert first. Otherwise you may end up rupturing or tearing your muscles or tendons and/or spraining your ankles. Wrong moves could  strain/twist your joints. Only a qualified Zin who knows to mix dance and stretch exercises in the right proportion/combo can give you balanced all-round practice sessions.

My trainer is a good choreographer. He is refusing movie chances because he is committed to this cause and is not after money. He simply loves his profession. He pushes us girls to our limits but seems to know when to stop and not over do. I have been trying to figure out the songs in You Tube and look up the dances. I can see our own dances are sweet compared to the original dance moves. In aqua, I had a chance to dance upto a female trainer and found that she was delightfully feminine with her steps. Her moves were dreamily romantic and almost like aerobics. So now I know why we say ‘Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars.’ The soft touch I find in female zin is missing in the male zin lolz!

I used to do Yoga in my primary school days. I returned to Yoga decades later even though I was practising Pranayama at home on and off and doing the Padmanasana and some basic ones. My Yoga master called me the typical ‘dining table’ case who could not bend legs beyond a certain angle or stretch my arms over a certain point. Today after 6 months, I am doing a lot better. I can do ‘Ustrasana’ (camel pose) to Surya Namaskar to Rock n roll Yoga pose with much ease. My lower back is still stiff – I am trying to loosen it up with stretches like Trikonasana and Veerabadhrasana.

Recall this from my younger years. Inspite of doing all my domestic chores like cooking from teenage and even being a working woman, I was told that I had a stiff body and that normal delivery could be difficult for me. My gynaec did not say that but a couple of my friends did. They said I lacked the physical flexibility so I could go under the knife in the caesarean section. But mentally I was tough. I wanted to disprove them, went through an 18 hour labour and delivered my son normally. It was not easy like most predicted, but my body did yield finally. I found the tolerance limits to my patience and pain-enduring capacity. It was important to me then.

I was surprised when many years later very recently my Yoga Guruji took one look at me and said I was made stiff and unbending by birth. Extremely rare to find one among women, he exclaimed! He inquired about my delivery and when I said I had a normal one, he looked unconvinced. But the way I have responded physically in the last 6 months has amazed him. He says there is still an element of inflexibility about me – more like psychological. For instance if I do not want to bend from my hip, I don’t allow it. Not that my body is not letting me to. The rigidness is more with my mind. It took him half an year to figure it out.

I could get what he was trying to tell me. I think the tough posture is due to the hardships I have faced in life from a very young age. The mental block is there about anything new or when it comes to giving in too soon. Resistance is a part of my nature. Once I start to relax, I can lower my guard gradually but it cannot happen in a day or two. An unsuspecting veil is down the moment someone tries to get close and blocks me somewhat from reaching out. So that’s what is finally happening with Yoga in my case. There is no point in explaining things to people – I am trying to stretch myself further more and better by the day. Only I know the problem is not with my body, but with my mind.

Suffered a mild bout of rheumatoid arthritis in my college days in my right knee. Climbed the Tirupathi hills on foot for some 4 hours in my teenage and it proved to be too much for me I guess. A month later my knees were swollen and I had to stay off college for 4 weeks. Ever since in very cold winters (in Doha) and whenever I have too many icecreams etc or climb stairs too very often, I get a slight swelling in my right knee.

One of the reasons I left driving was for this purpose. The pressing on the accelerator/brake was proving to be painful. I wish I could have found a solution earlier or taken to zumba 15 years back when I was still driving car/scooter around.

I tried to shore up my knees/ankles with Women’s Horlicks (!) and other food supplements like Zinc/Vitamin D/Calcium intake but it soon backfired in the form of extra bone-growth. So gave up everything and resigned myself to the fact, fitness was the only way I was going to deal with my health woes (not much touchwood).

Now I find that with Zumba and Yoga, my painful knee is fine and not taxed too much. It is being given the right pressure nothing more, exerted to the point, that’s all. Besides I have internal stairs at home that I climb up & down minimum a dozen times a day. Aqua zumba is good for my knees I know. My knee is my greatest worry. Some of the sitting & floor exercises I can do only with cushion support otherwise my knee hurts.

One more friend who has knee trouble like me with arthritis says aqua zumba was like a balm to her inflamed knee.

Before I started my fitness regimen, I was doing only walking – not even brisk walking. Even if I pulled on a wrong pair of shoes, my knee would bother me. I had to moderate my walking so my right knee did not hurt, but that meant I applied more pressure on my left. My regular footwear has always been more for comfort over style. Not systematic with walking. Only on and off. Because at home we hardly have the discipline to follow up any exercise religiously. I enrolled in classes so I could have regular exercise. Besides I wanted to control my breathing pattern. Yoga helps me a lot with that. Its the opposite of zumba. It calms me and soothes me. Meditation is penance and even if only for a few minutes it gives me such a sense of ‘Shanthi’ (peace). It improves my concentration. There is more clarity of thought and an unwillingness these days to get into arguments. I find that I am not talking back to my MIL (!) which is a good sign. Peace for both of us 🙂 and my husband 🙂

With Zumba, I don’t have any inhibitions like I do with Yoga. It appeals to me surprisingly and I dance with an abandonment that takes me by surprise. I think of nothing but enjoy the moment.

Later we do abs – something like the Pilates but not 100%. More than what we middle-age ladies can hope for.

I have to say ever since I started Yoga and Zumba each twice a week, I find that I am getting fluid more and more, can bend and twist like I wish without the fear of a sprain. Finally my supposedly inflexible tough exterior is melting.

I am used to sitting in lotus position in my Pooja for hours together without any numbness. And in temples awaiting darshan. Sitting on the floor cross-legged is good not only for your knees but also means you can lower your body to ground position. So that practice helps me a lot. And then sit-ups. We do ‘thoppu karanam’ for Lord Ganesha at home and in temples. I have the habit and therefore situps are never a problem. Looks like even our desi/Tamil exercise ‘Thoppu Karanam’ is now marketed by the west as their discovery ‘Super Brain Yoga.’ In my preteens I could do 108 in temples and in my Pooja without a pause and even now I do 11 at home. India’s intellectual loss is immense.

One thing that never goes down yet is the tummy sigh!

Last week I ran a blood test and this is my lipid profile:

Blood sugar pp – 99

LDL cholesterol – 107

HDL – 34

VLDL – 14

Triglycerides – 70

Total cholesterol – 153

Happy with the stats given my age 🙂 But still wanna reduce my LDL and total cholesterol levels. Have to cut down on cheese in Doha and increase intake of walnut/almond to push up the HDL. Some people warn if my cholesterol drops too much, my skin could go dry and would start sagging so I am scared 😦

Definitely Yoga and Zumba are responsible for my health benefits. I would like to keep up with my fitness even if I have to move my bases to Doha (where I only go for a walk mostly) in future, lets see.

My stiff lower back still would not let me try Power Yoga or some other stretchy and tough Asanas but I think with the right Guru I can slowly improve my condition. Practice is the key. My guruji no more calls me ‘dining table case.’ After seeing me he says he holds the hope for the worst students! He says mine is the typical case study because, we all live in small homes where we need not have to take long strides but only short steps, where we have good comfort levels so we don’t not have to stretch our arms to fetch anything beyond a couple of feet up above us, and we eat at the tables and do not squat in the floor any more. So my limbs have progressively become stiffer over years even though I do a lot of domestic chores – I cook, clean, shop, do everything and compared to many women I am on my all the fours always! Still I learn, what I am doing is not enough.

I see Yoga more like a correction of posture. Correction of my slightly stooping spine, correction of my unstretchable hands… For instance, the Bhujangasana  (snake pose) is the kind of correction I needed for my spine. This also forms part of the Surya Namaskar.  Ever since I sense my posture has improved and I sit a little more erect. When for ‘Thadasana’ I raise my hands (even though they don’t touch my ears as yet) I realize I never have to stretch my arms up, upper and above otherwise. I am not exploiting the full swing capacity of my arms and legs to put it in a nutshell. My bodily potential remains under-utilized mostly. Yoga is like oiling & lubricating the unused parts/organs/joints and making them usable/functional. We rotate our arms/limbs 360 degrees so to say, back & forth. Our spine can be bent both ways. Our hips can rotate either ways. Ustrasana (camel pose/back bending) also corrects the slight curvature in my spine to the right degree. In case I feel I am taking it a bit far, I do the Parvathasana immediately (the mountain pose) to balance it. Remember every Yogasana thus comes with a converse or complimentary pose that can cancel out or correct the initial posture.

Bhujapadhapidasana – googled but could find only bhujapidasana. Bhujapadhapidasana helps in perfect realignment of my spine. My occasional lowerback pain is totally vanished and its important because I spend hours in front of my system. Guess its 9 months since I restarted Yoga last August. I suspect there is rigidity even about my calf muscle which is why I got my lipid profile checked. Relieved to find cholesterol is not the reason. I am advised to walk barefoot in the beach for an hour a day which I guess is impossible in the present.

Is Yoga religious. I would say it is kind of spiritual. I don’t miss crossing my heart or bowing my head when I have to pass a church or mosque on my way. I don’t know why Yoga must be viewed communal. You don’t have to do the sun salutation praying to the Sun god if you don’t wish to, still you may think if not for the sun, there wouldn’t be life on Planet Earth (very few Yogasanas are patented by Indians including the Surya Namaskar. atrociously, its the westerners who are patenting Yoga and making quick bucks). Similarly the ‘Om’ mantra – is the pranava mantra. First ever sound made by the mankind. It leaves such a positive vibration in our life/mind. Why should anyone be denied the power of ‘Omkara’ on any ground. If you are practising Yoga and have to skip chanting the ‘Om’ and doing the ‘Surya Namaskar’ then the entire exercise is a waste in my opinion. Yoga is a soul healer. When someone wants to market it as ‘christian yoga’ etc, then the very essence of Yoga is lost. May be it does not go down well with some because Lord Shiva was the world’s first ever Yogi (Adi Yogi) and later came Pathanjali.

I am not an expert in anything to write so much on fitness. I merely wanted to share the health benefits we derive from keeping fit with regular exercises. Zumba and Yoga are best stress-busters. There is a hitherto unknown lightness in my body that I can attribute to both Yoga and Zumba.

I wish i had had been practising Yoga all along. I can see even now its not too late. As a woman I am learning those Asanas that are good for my uterus in these important years. Many women openly ask for it. I am also for those intended for Kidneys and Lungs.

All these years I had one or other commitment, i was shuttling between 2 countries, and whether for school or college admission for the kid or for building/managing our home or whatever, I had to do everything alone by myself that has taken a severe toll in my psyche. Lowering my guard is not easy I found, not even physically. I am used to taking a tough position/view in anything like as a defence. It takes a strong mental training/submission and trusting most of all to let go of things. I am trying to become ‘normal’ like other ladies – and finally with my son graduating, I am finding time to relax and indulge myself. I have been carrying a huge responsibility in my shoulders since my teenage and that does seem to have a cumulative effect on me. Sometimes tensions would lead to palpitations. Yoga has made me regain my breath control. I am taking longer breaths these days – inhaling deeper and slower and exhaling less, retaining as much oxygen in my system & lungs as I can. And that in turn helps me with zumba. Breathing exercises like ‘Kapalbhati’ and ‘Pranayama’ have a direct impact on our temper. To my surprise I find similar company in Zumba. Many women face issues like me. Especially those with NRI husbands who have to live life alone by themselves and take decisions. We all have things to sort out. Not issues quite. We are all in our ’40s, with grown-up kids, staring up at ’50s & the inevitable menopause and overnight we rediscovered ourselves, that’s it. We girls are finally letting our hair down and its been a while. It helps to have company.

A few years back Shri Shri Ravishankar went on record saying that he was willing to teach Yoga to terrorists! We were all laughing at his outrageous suggestion but honestly from experience I can say, Yoga does calm down an agitated mind and brings you an inner peace. Shanthi.

Anyway, been a long post once again I guess! Signing off with my hotlist (compiled as much as I could recall from memory): Happy dancing!

Bailando Portugese Version

Buttons by Pussycat Dolls: my & all girls’ fave feminine dance:

Let me see your body go Macaca caca – another fave:

I wanna party with the sexy lady.

Marioneta: I am good at this one lolz: yeah we make the same moves 🙂

Zumba he Zumba ha

Moviendo Caderas

P square:



Maneando La Cintura

Oye – Santana

Dessert – Dawin

A beautiful cool down: A 1000 years:

One more : All of me & all of you:

and now some hot desi grooves:

Pani Pani

Party all night

Chittiyan Kalaiyaan

One bottle down

and ofcourse not without Senorita, my hot fave and a dream to dance:

and finally the desi cool down here there everywhere:

A couple of more beautiful cool-downs:

You may ask: why not the Gym, why not Aerobics, Pilates. Not for me. I don’t know why I have a natural aversion for this kind of fitness routine. Aerobics is somewhat structured like Yoga. Is there a better & fun cardio than Zumba? I don’t swim either or play any sport. Only baby pool for me 🙂 but love getting into water in the holiday resorts/beach! Aqua zumba is sheer fun!!!

Zumba and Yoga are a holistic approach to healing and fitness I guess. After my Pooja, this is where I open up my heart. I am able to relax finally.

Closing the post with ‘Dance with me’ that never fails to sway and sweep me off the floor:

and a Tamil equivalent lolz: luv this cute sensitive song:


Updated: April 30. 2015

Last night went to sleep with a smile on my lips 🙂 In the dawn, tried playing Veena – a basic ‘Geetham’ : Lambodhara lakumikara – in my mind. Almost succeeded! I could even recall the notes. But nothing more. No such luck with any Varnam or Keerthan. Ever since I am wondering whether I can take up Veena again… May be I should get a Carnatic music book and go through the notes first. That must help brush up my memory.

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