[Hooping.org's newest columnist Kim Burden (Kamala) spins in with the scoop on a cover story.]
I’ve been subscribing to Yoga Journal for a few years – as a longtime practitioner of Yoga and other movement arts, it helps me stay connected to the larger community, just as hooping.org keeps me connected to all you beautiful hoopers. Speaking of beautiful, Yoga Journal always features soulfully beautiful cover models. I love reading the bios that accompany the photos and bring the practitioners featured to life. This week, the April edition arrived in my mailbox. The cover really inspired me. Actually it was a three-part-cover that I imagine was designed to warm readers up to this special issue on Yoga and creativity. The three artistically altered photos featured a radiant woman progressing through the stages of Eka Pada Rajakaptotasana – the full expression of the Pigeon posture (one I’ve not fully achieved by the way! How do shoulders ACTUALLY rotate that way?!?). I thought, wow, she’s beautiful, the artwork is great, she looks familiar…wait, that’s Shakti Sunfire, Hooping.org’s Female Hooper of the Year. That’s a hooper right there, a hooper on the cover of Yoga Journal!!!
Shakti was kind enough to spend some time talking with me this afternoon about it, as well as creativity and hooping and she was just as radiant and gracious as her name suggests. I asked her how she happened to come to grace the cover page. She stated, “Everyone congratulates me and says, what an honor, and it is a complete honor – really, it wasn’t one of those things I had to work hard for, it wasn’t a goal, to make it on the cover of YJ. The editor came to one of my workshops and we stayed in touch.” That initial contact resulted in a wonderful article about hooping in the August 2011 issue. Shakti explained, “I guess I’ve been on their radar… I taught at the Yoga Journal conference with my friend, colleague and mentor Sienna Sherman. They called and invited me to be on the cover of the Yoga and Creativity issue – that was the biggest honor, to be a hooper chosen to represent creativity. That made me feel super honored.”
“Let yourself be wildly creative in your expression – you never know what’s going to come out of it.” – Shakti Sunfire
Creativity is the force that propels Shakti, that seems to illuminate her path. She believes in creativity as a vital life force and birth right of all people. She quotes the mystic John O’Donohue: “We were created to be creators. At it’s deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty.” Shakti encourages us to expand our vision of creativity, within the hoop and beyond: “We’ve limited the meaning of creativity – everything we do is creative – give yourself permission and apply your creativity to every part of your life.”
As a hooper and yogini, I was eager to hear about how Shakti experiences the interface of these two practices. She emphasized that everything we do can be a Yogic practice; the translation of the word Yoga is “to yoke” – to yoke oneself to a deep practice, a practice that can inform, support and transform every aspect of our lives. She explained, “My teachers taught me yoga as a spiritual practice, and for me it is a philosophical foundation for hooping – there isn’t really a separation for me.”
I asked Shakti for some words of wisdom for hoopers wishing to deepen their practices and infuse them with greater creativity and she wove a lovely spiral of heartfelt advice “In yoga or hooping, if we can overlay everything we do with a sense of reverence, become absorbed fully in what you are doing, it’s like you are being re-introduced to your body. For hooping, it is a deep level of awareness, curiosity, discovery of what can be – you stop worrying about nailing that new trick and you’re just in the flow of the moment. It becomes a self-teaching generative process, instead of pushing something inside, you can say ‘Yes’ to it. Let it be free, let it be fun for you. You have all the tools you need. Your expression is as it should be.”
As you may already know, Shakti is the name of a Hindu Goddess representing Divine Feminine Power, and a Sanskrit word derived from the root ‘shak’, meaning potency, an assertion of creative aptitude. Sunfire, Shakti (the hooper) shared with me, was a screen name she used online years ago. The story of how these two names melded fascinated me, but that’s a story for another day. What feels important in the now is that these names, and Shakti Sunfire herself, embody the creative forces available in life, the balance between taking in and letting go, meditating inward, and dancing outward, dancing big. What is even more important for me is that we all have these energies within, we all have the right to shine, to express our truth, our essence. One of her messages is going to be a new mantra for me: “Let yourself be wildly creative in your expression – you never know what’s going to come out.” YES!!!
(Shakti has a DVD collaboration with her friend and collaborator Sienna Sherman. Find more information about it at pranamdvd.com)
Hooping.org columnist Kim Burden (Kamala) of the Hyacinth Center is a dance-movement therapist, drama therapist, practitioner of BodyMind Centering ™ and long time practitioner of authentic movement, contact improvisation and other contemplative forms of movement. She teaches dance/movement therapy in a graduate program and has a private practice in body centered psychotherapy. She lives in Gilsum, New Hampshire, USA.