One of the great gifts of living in America is my discovery of other people's cultures, traditions, and wisdom.
The health classes that are offered in my local gym draw on wisdom, inspiration and beauty from all over the world.
Attending yoga and dance classes involves not merely getting to know the cultures but actually living and practicing them. It promotes a realization that each culture has its own special genius.
Being exposed to this kind of diversity doesn't mean in any way that I abandon my tradition and my identity, but that I build on it and expand it.
Yoga classes often incorporate a diverse array of eastern wisdom: Hindu, Buddhist, Tibetan, Sikh, Taoist, and Zen.
There are also specialized yoga classes. Kundalini yoga, which is taught in my gym by Sikh instructors, introduced me to Sikh wisdom and thought.
Tai Chi introduced me to Chinese philosophy including both Taoism and Confucianism.
I get a sense of unity of wisdom when I attend classes that mix different types of practices together, such as Yochiga (a blend of yoga and tai chi and Qi-Gong), Yogalates, which combines the practice of yoga with Pilates, and BodyFlow, which is a combo of yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi.
I go to Zumba classes, which mix different Latin dance forms, many of which themselves were influenced by African and European culture in addition to the indigenous cultures of Latin America.
Before I started Zumba classes, the Hispanic culture was completely alien to me. After taking on Zumba, I began to understand and appreciate that culture very much.
Hip-hop classes are primarily African American.
Sport Dance Endurance classes exposed me to European dance types such as ballet, ballroom and Waltz.
Bollywood classes introduced me to Indian dance styles.
I have even gained a better understanding of my own culture through a systematic understanding of belly dance.
That is why I believe that belly dancing could be a great way to introduce Americans to Middle Eastern culture.
Luckily, it is the Westerners and other non-Arabs that are gravitated towards this beautiful form of art, and the culture that is behind it.