Hooping makes our bodies feel great. We know it instantly when we pick up our first hoola-hoop as a kid, and when we rediscover hooping with large handcrafted hoops as an adult. Spinning the hoop around our body and dancing with the hoop to music is fun, sensual, blissful, and creative. Hooping invokes laughter and smiles, and it improves health.
Hooping gently restores health and vitality through playful exploration of breath, movement, and awareness. Movement and breath coordinate to nurture the flexibility of our spine, strengthen the core musculature of the torso, and promote the integral functional of our organs. Optimal health is nurtured through hooping.
Movement is consciousness. The brain formulates a thought and sends that information via the nervous system through the body, where movement takes place. When the skin, the largest sense organ in the body, perceives touch, it transmits that information to the brain. There is no separation between mind and body, spirit and form. They are a continuum of the spiral of life.
Hooping reeducates the body in conscious movement through: spiraling movements, sacral rocking, abdominal massage, and rhythmic movement. Spiraling, rocking, massage, and rhythm are primal motions of human life, beginning in the womb. Adopting these motions through playful exercise invigorates the body and stimulates self-healing.
Vanda Scaravelli, yogini and author, writes in Awakening the Spine that “we have to avoid angular movements and adopt circular, spiral ones”. She refers to this movement as “spiral-circumpheric” and describes the gentle spiraling gestures of the body as a way to deepen yoga practice through healthful movement. She refers to a photo of a young girl hoola-hooping as “exercising her spine and skeleton playfully”.
The relationship between the head and the spine is of utmost importance for posture, movement, and ergonomics. Hooping creates spiraling movements with the head and spine which aligns the vertebrae and nurtures coordination of the body and mind. Hoola-hooping results in the embodied remembering of the natural movements of children free of neuromuscular restrictions.
When hooping, we rock the sacrum from front to back, tilting it gently anterior and posterior. Sacral rocking creates a wave-like motion in the spine and skeleton. The sacrum is the central bone of the pelvis located at the base of the spinal cord. The sacral bone is triangular in form and made of five fused vertebrae. The sacral plexus is a mass of nerves situated anterior to the sacrum; it is the origin of the nerves for the pelvic organs and legs.
Sacral rocking stimulates the sacral plexus and loosens energy blocks and fascial restrictions within the pelvis. It also releases restrictions in the fascia surrounding the cranio-sacral system, which is the closed hydraulic system containing cerebrospinal fluid, the spinal cord, and brain. “Sacrum” comes from the same root word as “sacred”. The sacrum is associated with the second chakra, the belly chakra, which governs sexuality, creativity, and emotions.
The abdomen is the core of the human being. The belly has been revered by cultures all over the world as the “seat of the soul”. The naval is where we first took in energy, from our mothers, through the umbilical cord in the rhythmic flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrition. This area continues to nourish us physically, emotionally, and energetically throughout our lives.
The belly is the center of gravity in the body. The web of fascia that binds together the organs, muscles, tissues, and skeleton of our body spirals out from the naval. Massage of the abdomen tones the muscles and fascia, increases blood and lymph circulation, realigns the organs, eases digestive problems, and nurtures our sexual health. When abdominal restrictions are released then we are free to experience deep belly laughs and feel our gut emotions.
Traditional Mayan healers believe that the energetic center of the body is the reproductive organs. They teach that a significant number of health problems are related to a prolapsed uterus or prostate which is caused by weak abdominal fascia and muscles. Toning the abdominal muscles can be achieved through exercise and massage to increase strength, flexibility, circulation, and balance.
Belly hooping gently massages the abdomen and low back with rhythmic movements and smooth pressure. The internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and gluteal muscles are all toned by belly hooping. Including leg and arm hooping tones and massages muscles throughout the whole body. The integration of massage and movement in hooping makes hooping an excellent self-healing modality.
Rhythm is an essential element for the flow of energy. There is a rhythm to every system in our body and in nature; the heartbeat is essential to circulation as the tides are to the ocean. The rhythmic movement in hooping is created by the momentum of the hoop spiraling around our body. The rhythm is varied by the weight and size of the hoop and the speed of the body’s movements.
Paul Pearsall, PhD writes in The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy that “health happens when we are in rhythm within ourselves, synchronized with other living systems and moving to our preset beat rather than trying to respond to the driving beat of the stressful outside world”. Hooping assists us in centering ourselves, as when we are hooping we are always at the center of the hoop. When in this space, we discover our own rhythm and this becomes the pulse that facilitates the flow of energy in our lives. This is a reason why hooping to music is so powerful, it allows us to discover more about the hoop and ourselves.
The next time you step inside of the hoop, recall these elements of conscious movement: spiraling, rocking, massage, and rhythm, and see how you relate to each form. Play with each element individually and explore.
• Allow the hoop to spiral slow and fast. Feel your body making little spirals and bigger spirals in response to the hoop.
• Rock your sacrum gently with the hoop and feel the motion ripple through your whole body along your spine.
• Feel the hoop massage your belly and back, bring it up and down your abdomen and allow your muscles to gently respond to the motion with deepening breath.
• Find your inner rhythm and dance to it, with the hoop as your partner.
• Be present within the hoop and discover your own healing power.