[This week Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn wants you to go deeper into the Hooposophy of who you really are.]
Nine years ago, I stumbled upon a big, ugly, black hoop laying in the grass. I hooped for nearly two years in Atlanta, GA before I saw another hooper. And I am so grateful it went down that way for me. If I happened upon the hooping world for the first time today, well, I just can’t be sure my own process would have evolved as organically as it did. Hell, I’m not absolutely certain that I would have the wherewithal to pursue it. Why? Well, sometimes I try to imagine what it’s like for a beginning hooper today. I conjure up the image of sitting down at the computer after seeing some rad hooper, typing in “hooping,” and being completely … utterly, and wholly overwhelmed. “Flow,” lifts, minis, fire, LED, core, style, clothes, tutorials, tubing & tape (how many kinds ARE there?), hoop-stars, off-body, bruises, certifications, the endless technical vocabulary …. oh my! While some are fortunate to be led through the wilderness by their hooping buddies or local classes, I wonder how others get a handle on it all. And yet … there’s still something so incredibly welcoming and warm about hooping and the community it’s creating. And I’m not one who subscribes to the belief that hoopers are nicer than other folk. Oh no, not at all. It’s that no matter how big and intense hooping becomes, there’s still somehow always room for what you are going to bring to it and what happens when you do.
I’m not sure that comes across the first time someone sits down to google “really big hula hoop.” If I were coming to the hoop today, I reckon I’d look around online, pick a handful of hoopers whose styles I really dug, and begin by trying to learn their every move. And I have no idea how much of my own budding, nascent style I might miss by doing that. The use of a blindfold in some classes is a lovely, charged, and contemporary metaphor for me in this way. Back in the day … yes, when we had to walk barefoot through the snow and over mountains, both ways, in search of hoopmaking materials … we were all blindfolded in a way. Every move was a new and thrilling discovery. It IS still that way, even if the new hooper has to look harder (or maybe not look so hard?) to see it.
The first time I saw a video of Brecken Rivara, it felt like the first time I heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in high school. I was yanked out of my complacent hooping rhythm. There was no denying it. “Well that’s new,” I said to myself. And what blew me away about Brecken is that I also knew her sublimely sick, freak-nasty, jaw-dropping groove hadn’t come from watching YouTube. Nope. Brecken was old-school inventing in a hoopworld where folks were still shaking off their fur legwarmers and trying to decide on a name for the “beam-me-up.”
I’m clearly using Brecken as a well-known example (among many) of the kind of self-reliant and self-expressive hooping I admire. The kind I want to offer as an alternative to new hoopers who might feel like they’d have to embark upon PhD level study in order to ever hoop like some of the accomplished hoopers they see. That kind of genius comes from inside. And it doesn’t have to look like anything you’ve ever seen. I’d bet money that the word “cool” never, ever entered Brecken’s mind.
So, where’s a beginning hooper to start? How do you go about locating, exploring, and founding your hoopdance on what is uniquely you? What, you thought I was just going to leave with a pithy “Believe in yourself!?” I hope you know ol’ Lara better than that by now. Not everyone finds it so easy to just go-with-the-flow. For many, on any given day of the week, it’s hard enough to lay aside our own expectations long enough to hoop for half an hour. As help, I offer a simple exercise totally borrowed from an article in an Oprah magazine that my mother-in-law left at my house last week.
When thinking about the kind of hooper you want to be, try thinking in adjectives, not nouns and verbs. So, instead of saying to yourself, ‘I want to be a ‘badass,’ or ‘I want to hoop like so-and-so,’ or ‘I just want to master breaks,’ or ‘keep it up’ you would opt for focusing on words that describe how you want, or would like to, feel in the hoop. Trade in the visions of what you want to accomplish, or how you want to look while hooping, for words that will help you understand and orient yourself toward what you want to exude, express, and free inside your hoop. Choose three phenomenal adjectives, perfect for you.
The first step is loads of fun. Martha Beck suggests you go about choosing these adjectives by fully indulging in your wildest, most fabulous fantasy. Envision yourself hooping exactly as you’ve always wanted to. Go ahead. Dress yourself, insert an adoring and enthusiastic audience or a quiet beach, set the soundtrack. Rip or ride your hoop. Populate your ideal hooping vision/experience to your heart’s content. When you’re satisfied, think about what and how you’re feeling in that fantasy. And write those three honest adjectives down.
The idea, of course, is that how you want to feel in the hoop will be much more revealing to you about your unique style than how you envision yourself looking and moving in your vision. In your fantasy, you might be covered in gold glitter and circus lingerie on a huge stage, but the adjectives that describe how you feel are “comfortable, reserved, smooth.” You may be dressed in khakis, a t-shirt, and ponytails, but feel “flirty, contagious, innovative.” Clearly, I don’t mean these descriptions to be opposites. I simply mean that how you want to feel in your hoop, and what of yourself you want to express there, may not exactly correspond to what you imagine you have to master or look like.
Finding the three magic adjectives for the kind of hooping you want to create leaves room for how it will, in the end, be expressed by your body. You can allow yourself to let go of what you think it should look like because you’re focused on how you want it to feel. It’s just one place to start, but I think it’s a mighty helpful one. My words? OK … Curious, Playful, Childlike.
I close with the words that have been on the front page of my website through all of its many incarnations, the one belief that for me has remained a constant: “You’re already a natural … hooping is the fun and sensual dance you were born to do.” So, what are your adjectives?
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Gorum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots: The Hooping Family Tree Project.