Ground The Transformative Power of Hoop Dance Looking for a practice to expand your positive social connections, enhance your sexuality, and activate unbounded joy? Hooping may be for you. By Jocelyn Gordon Photo by Kylie Fly The benefits and transformative effects of yoga are profound and accepted—a healthier and more limber body, a calmer mind, hormonal balance, and access to expanded states of consciousness. By extension, if you follow the practice and principles, your life becomes more harmonic and you direct your energy in more loving and effective ways. What if there was a complementary practice and tool that up-levels the benefits of your asana practice, expands your positive social connections, celebrates your femininity, enhances your sexuality, AND activates unbounded joy and freedom in your life? For thousands of adults around the world, contemporary hula hooping has just this affect. From assisting hoopers in shedding pounds as well as inhibitions, to moving through grief and massive life transitions, the hoop and the hoop dance community can be your portal to a healthier body and more joyful life. Allow me to share with you five surprising reasons why you need to pick up a hoop now (learn how to pick the right one for your size and height!) and find out what you’ve been missing. Community Connection You’ve seen the gorgeous Hooper Women at festivals—spinning in a trance and flow of beauty, wearing the shortest of shorts and the smallest of tops, moving sensuously, seeming to be in their own world. Perhaps you’ve stopped and watched, entering into a “contact trance” and wonder as if you were watching a Sufi whirling heaven to earth. Maybe you passed by frustrated—hoopers take up space—as you tried to get to your favorite spot on a lawn or to a workshop. Or maybe you lamented dreamily thinking “I wish I could do that.” Whatever your reaction, one thing is for certain, hoopers affect space, get noticed and get things moving (activate energy). All things in nature spin, move and oscillate. Even the smallest known particles of matter—neutrinos—move and move fast (at the speed of light). Our cells undulate to release toxins and allow nutrition to enter. Our chakras, nadis, and energy systems animate our body and act as a biofeedback tool with nature, the people and beings around us and the Universe. We are connected through the sacred hoop of relationship and through a toroidal field (donut shaped energy field extending from the heart that connects all things. The act of spinning, and with a hula hoop moving on or around the body, connects us more deeply with this energy that is. As the hoop wraps around the body, cells and systems are stimulated, respiration is deepened and because there is some skill required to hoop, the mind is allowed space to focus and quiet. This connection gives way to flow and affects the space within and around the hooper, which is one of the reasons you see hoopers spinning in a trance and why you may feel affected by their playful practice. “When I started hoop dancing, I fell in love with myself. Dancing is expressive, emotional, energetic, calming and full of love. My experience of the world became one where I was no longer separate from anything or anyone around me.” – Isamar Gonzalez, founder of Hula Nation, Artist, NYC Hooping connects you with your self, the energy within and around you and with the life force that animates all things. Getting into the hoop allows you to unplug from daily stress and return to your essential nature. It helps you literally unwind from your day and gets you “out of the box” of who you think you are, activating your creativity and allowing you to expand your possibilities. An Outlet for Creativity and Wholeness In 2008 the hoop came in to my life. At the time, I had an active Massage Therapy practice, was teaching weekly yoga classes and deep into a 600-hour yoga therapy teacher training. My hoop dance practice became my daily Sādhanā and I noticed that while hooping, if I started to think, the hoop would drop.I experimented with this and noticed that the hoop helped me realize in the moment if I was present or attached to the past or future. That said, as I continued to return to focus, my creativity expanded and I started to vision. I was able to see my holistic wellbeing, travel into deep spaces of contentment and get clear on opportunities and ways to serve. I explored and saw how the hoop massages the body, can be used as a tool for balance, as an assist in traditional yoga practices, as as tool to stretch and strengthen, and as a portal to loosen up from the straight lines of asana into curvaceous and feminine movement. This daily practice brought my holistic fitness modality, HoopYogini™ into the world. I continuously see in my students and certified instructors how the hoop helps to combat writer’s/creative block, break through bad habits, and help practitioners manifest their dreams into the world. The Hoop Builds Confidence It might be hard to imagine how the simple tool of the hoop can do so much including boost self-esteem and confidence. Hoopers around the world, however, testify that hooping helps them get out of their comfort zone, take healthy risks, and live a more bountiful life. Tamara Zij, a Hooper and HoopYogini practitioner in Holland shares that hooping gave her the confidence to change her life by releasing old patterns. “As I deepened into my hoop practice, I started traveling more by myself, taking steps in my life and career I never thought I would because I was afraid of the consequences,” she says. “Now, I live more within the moment.” Growing up, Stephanie Oldmixon of Spring, Texas had the idea that people were born innately good at something. “Either you got something or you didn’t,” she says. “I never understood the value of practice and discipline until I found hooping. It taught me that you truly can do anything, anything at all, that you set your mind to. I believe in myself now, and that’s life changing.” Try this: The next time you feel down, get into the hoop, give it a spin and close your eyes. Feel the hoop moving around your body and imagine that you’re receiving a loving hug from the universe. Open your arms wide and as you inhale, expand your breath and energy from your heart through your fingertips, beyond your belly, and beyond the boundary of your hoop. Feel your “wings” expand and your heart open. As you exhale, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a hug. Allow yourself to receive all the good that is available to you. Allow yourself to feel nourished and supported. Repeat this flow and with every exhale and hug, change which elbow is on top. This HoopYogini flow activates coordination, helps both hemispheres of your brain communicate and opens you open to receive and release, nourish and shine. Sacred Space and Sensuality Hoops and hoopers come in all sizes and weights, making the practice inclusive as well as body and health affirming. In addition, hooping engages all of the muscles in the body, emphasizes core strength and provides a challenging yet accessible workout allowing you to burn 400–600 calories an hour in a way that is super fun and also sexy. That said, even though the physical benefits of hooping are many, one of the most profound gifts of the hoop is that it creates safe and sacred space—the hoop becomes a physical container and boundary for you to define your space, locate yourself, and feel into your body. No one can enter your hoop. It is yours and yours alone and this sovereignty encourages an exploration that includes appreciating how the hoop sensuously wraps around your body, how your hands, hips, waist and chest interact with the hoop to create movement, and how you can take up space as you dance with your hoop—a responsive and non-judgmental dance partner. “Hooping changed my life” affirms Lori Jacobsen, a South Carolina based Occupational Therapist, Fire Dancer and HoopYogini Master Trainer. “Before hooping, I felt lost, like there was no place for me to be ME. I felt uncomfortable in my body, I often felt disconnected from it and didn’t like myself much as a result. As I got into hooping, I started to see changes in my body and also in my mind. I started to enjoy myself and love on myself more. I stopped listening to the inner critic as much and when things got rough, mentally, or emotionally. I found that ‘hooping it out’ really, really worked. I started sharing this new love and slowly began changing my life from top to bottom. I have a daily [hoop] practice, that brings me more personal joy than anything else has in my adult life. Transformation happens inside these plastic circles.” Try This: Get a hoop (or simply imagine a hoop), stand inside the hoop and hold it in your hands. Feel your feet on the earth and stand tall. Look at the hoop and see how it creates space around you. Close your eyes and feel the space around you. Listen to the sounds around you and hear the flow of your breath within you. As if you are locating yourself on a cell phone and dropping a pin on your exact location, call yourself home. Feel, see and imagine yourself as full whole and complete. Breathe and send this breath to all parts of yourself. Send loving thoughts to your body or simply stand tall feeling centered and grounded. Find Your Community As soon as you step into a hoop, you have become a member of a global tribe—a community of friendly, fun loving, movement enthusiasts happy to share tricks and moves, eager to invite you to flow events and super keen to help you meet your goals plus celebrate your hoop and life accomplishments. “Hooping helped (and is still helping) me to go out and meet new people every time I’ve moved. It helps me to leave my comfort zone when I’m too introverted and it helps me to shine brighter when I’m socially confident,” says Brazilian-based Pitila Hossmann, Yoga Teacher and Hoop Instructor. Hoopers come from all walks of life and span hoop interests from fitness and weight loss to circus and burlesque to those addicted to the meditative and mindful benefits of hoop dance. Find your tribe—jams, classes and tutorials—with a Google search or simply get a hoop, invite people to give it a spin and start creating your own tribe. My Personal Journey and an Invitation Hooping changed my life, took me around the world, connecting me with brilliant people, brought me to Bali, Indonesia where I met my husband and had our baby girl. It helped me prepare my body for conception and helps me find center as a busy mom. It allowed me to channel and create my own holistic fitness modality—HoopYogini—which touches hearts and activates joy plus encourages empowerment through my courses and teacher trainings. How are you stretching into the next evolution of yourself? What, if anything is holding you back? What limiting thoughts need to be spun out and replaced with loving affirmations of your potential? How can you love your body more? How can you have more fun? If any of these questions resonate with you, I invite you to get in the hoop, give yourself time to learn technique (get a free practice video here!), and tap into the energy of flow. Allow hoop dance to complement your hatha yoga sadhana, or to become a core part of your physical and spiritual practice. “May your practice bring you peace and may you share this peace with the world.” –HoopYogini™ Closing Declaration — Jocelyn Gordon is a Women’s Health Coach specializing in Pre-Conception Preparation, Fertility Optimization, Joyful Pregnancy and Peaceful Birth. She’s also the Creatress of two ecstatic embodiment practices that merge yoga with dance, prayer and mindfulness meditation – HoopYogini™ and Bhakti Boogie® Yoga. Jocelyn helps women and couples up-level their health and consciousness before conception and during pregnancy, and she also mentors yoga teachers and holistic entrepreneurs in birthing their dream life, teacher training or book. Connect with Jocelyn on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.