Resolving to do more exercise is the #1 choice in each new year. Perhaps you've thought about going to a gym, joining a walking group, or taking up yoga. If you're looking for something different and less exerting why not try hula dancing? It's a gentle form of exercise that works on stamina, memory, balance, and flexibility. Enjoy it as a pleasant exercise, a fun social outlet, or a spiritual devotion. Hula fits you just the way you are!
Hula is catching on as a great way to meet people and a low impact form of exercise that's right for those of us who aren't used to activity or don't like "exercise" but know we need to keep moving. Exercise and social interaction are top components in maintaining wellness in later years and Hula offers both. Dancing in a hula group is fun, social, and improves memory because the dance moves are done in unison. The gentle arm movements and slow fluid body sways of a hula are beautiful and build body strength. Hula exercise can be performed at any level of exertion and increased in difficulty as strength is gained. The Hula For Health group says putting everything together in a hula dance builds new neural pathways and is great for quickening response time and thinking ahead. Most all it's an activity that forms bonds.
Hula dance dates back to ancient times and is an art form that connected Hawaiians preserving their history and mythologies before written language was developed. It's rich history offers new things to learn. As a story telling form of art it can unlock feelings and discovery or provide a beautiful format for conveying your own life experience. At 30 minutes into the hula performance below two Hapa Mahina dance members explain that both of their mothers died when they were just twenty and each Mother's Day they dedicate a healing hula dance. See their beautiful memorial danced to "White Sandy Beach" below.
Moderate Hula exercise isn't strenuous so dress as you like in casual clothes or a colorful skirt or dress. Professional hula dancers may exert as much energy as a basketball player and enter competitions with coordinated costumes that sometimes include noise makers. The Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo Hawaii is a 55 year old week long event sponsored by the State of Hawaii to preserve Hawaiian culture. In the festival highlights below you can see traditional dances and the demands of a professional hula dancer. Notice that both men and women dance and occasionally hula is performed solo. Coordinated costuming is part of the overall beauty of the dance.
Find your Aloha this year! Hula classes can be located through your local Parks and Recreation programming, at neighborhood Senior Centers, in Athletic Clubs and with private teachers. If there's not a class in your community why not form one? To get you started here's a link to a How to Hula video and Hawai‘i Radio Connection where you can hear new and traditional Hawaiian music as well as stories from the Islands.