[Hooping.org Assistant EditorBonnie MacDougall explores directional flow.]
In our daily lives it’s pretty easy to simply follow the routine we usually maintain, keeping the natural order of things. We go to the same Italian restaurant we already know is pretty good and often order the same thing. We drive home via the same route we usually do, but what if we decided to change directions? Have you ever wondered what the point is of learning to hoop in both directions, or as some say – both currents? Your flow with the hoop in a particular direction came naturally to you when you first picked up a hoop. Learning new tricks in that direction comes quicker, transitions are easier. But what if becoming proficient in your second or non-dominant current could make you a better hooper? Or even a better person for that matter? What happens if we change the current?
Many of us often gripe about or just don’t feel like hooping in both directions when we spin. Some think it is too hard, unimportant, or doesn’t fit in with their flow. But like learning any new skill, hooping in the opposite direction, especially if you haven’t trained that way from your hoop infancy, can be a challenge. We often have to hoop faster to keep it spinning, pick it up a lot due to drops, and feel the frustration we did when we initially started our hoop journey all over again. So why would we want to do that again? Because, if our mindset is right, we can go into the learning process with the same joy, anticipation, and wonderment we experienced initially and we can fall in love with hooping all over again.
Hooping in both currents can in fact provide benefits to your body. In order to maintain a healthy balance physically, it is important to work both sides of your body. Take yoga, for example, a practice which, like hooping, incorporates mind, body and spirit. Yoga poses are practiced on both sides of the body to maintain balance and equilibrium within the person as a whole. As Yoga Journal explains, “Usually a student is stiffer on one side than another, and staying for an equal length of time on both sides does not balance the student. Instruct the student to stay a couple of extra breaths on the side on which they are stiffer and their body will slowly move back into balance. Though we may be comfortable in imbalance (which we often perceive as balance), we cannot grow in such a state.” Likewise threads from Hooping.org have addressed both personal and professional experiences with the benefits of current changes while hooping. As one Structural Integration Practitioner put it, “I would highly encourage you to spin both directions if you care at all about your body alignment. I have seen hoopers that only spin one way with back and hip problems originating from a twist in their spine.”
So maybe your convinced, perhaps begrudgingly, that it is time to work that second current. But how can it help your life? Well, let me tell you a story. It’s several years ago on a Monday evening and a group of us are circled up in our hoops signifying that our class is about to begin. The circle is open for anyone to share something pertinent that may have happened throughout the week. A regular student, particularly known for his wit and humor, begins to speak and I prepare myself for a funny anecdote. This is what I heard, “This has been a difficult week, and this morning I woke up and was in a horrible mood. After thinking about it for awhile I said to myself, ‘Ya know what, I am going to change the current!’ And I did and things have really shifted for me today.” Up until that point, changing the current was something I only thought about inside the hoop, never in such a broader and profound way. Never really thinking about changing our “current”, our present.
Changing the current in our daily lives amounts to looking at things from a new perspective. I liken it to placing a stone in a fast moving river. It diverges the water into two different paths, each moving towards the same place. One path may be full of muck or rockier than the other, while the other perhaps flows clearly with very few hinderances. One stick floats down the clear side, making it to the end point quickly, but didn’t see or experience as much. Another stick in balance floats down this river, crossing over from one side to another numerous times before reaching the end point. Another stick finds itself stuck on the rocks or mud, having difficulty moving down the current.
We are not unlike a floating stick when choosing what current we will be in our daily lives, or our hooping life for that matter. When we are in the rougher water we may need to stay there awhile to learn the lessons needed, but at some point we can get stuck if we do not intentionally change the current and move to the other side. Likewise, if we always take the smooth ride down the river, do we really learn the lessons life has to offer? Moving between the currents offers a chance for both lessons and ease in our journeys. In life, as in hooping, changing the current provides us with the balance that is essential for a healthier life.
Current changes, both in life and in hooping, are not easy and do not come without loads of practice, but the benefits are immeasurable. I challenge you to pick up your hoop and spin in your non-dominant current for a song, or a hoop practice, or even just a few minutes each day. Build up a practice in your second current until you no can no long delineate between the two. In your daily life, break out of your comfort zone and spend some time listening rather than talking (or vice versa). Smile at the homeless person you pass by everyday and acknowledge they are there. Cross that proverbial river on a day that you are feeling stuck on the rough side and declare, “I am going to change the current!” Moving down the river of life, with time spent in each directional flow whether in your hoop or in your life, will help maintain a sense of balance, aiding you in reaching that place where the two currents converge.