Rumi, Poet Laureate of Hoopers

hoopingwhirl[ columnist Lara Eastburn  shares her love for Rumi.]

by Lara Eastburn

As hoopers, feelers, movers and thinkers, odds are you’ve heard of the 13th century Persian poet known to the Western world as Rumi. If you haven’t, then prepare yourself for a dose of twirling, whirling enlightenment. And even if you are familiar with his vocabulary of love, separation, and circles, perhaps you have not yet thought about how pertinent his poetry and philosophy could be to your hoopdance. Did you know that Rumi most often recited his poetry while spinning around a column? Take that in for a moment. The greatest philosopher, poet, and spiritual leader of his time didn’t consider his most sacred or profane thoughts complete, or even truly meaningful, until his body was physically expressing them through dance, and… literally in circles.

Rumi believed that the planets – and everything else the 13th century hadn’t even dreamed of yet — was turning in chorus, in spirals around itself. And so he believed that human participation in a naturally revolving universe meant that we should spin, too.  He wrote and spoke about every mundane facet of our seemingly basic lives. But when he spoke about it while whirling, he revealed those emotional and human loops as Art. Rumi endeavored to show us that if we move honestly, and especially in circles, we give tribute to what we are. Rumi IS the poet laureate of hoopdancers and that’s exactly the argument I aim to make in this week’s Hooposophy article.

Before we dig in, let’s start here with a quote from Rumi’s Discourses:

If you don’t plow the earth, it’s going to get so hard nothing grows in it. You just plow the earth of yourself. You just get moving. And even don’t ask exactly what’s going to happen. You allow yourself to move around, and you will see the benefit.  -Rumi

This quote will resonate with many, but I’m willing to wager that if the hoop has become a path for you, this particular idea is already permanently stamped somewhere in your soul. Whether you dance barefoot (which I wholeheartedly recommend) or in your finest stilettos or combat boots, you know what it means because you didn’t just think it. You’ve plowed the earth with your feet and with abandon, with your grief, hopes, joy and dreams. You’ve lived it. You’ve moved within it. You’ve danced circles around it.

Rumi’s spinning-while-discoursing practices inspired the Mevlevi order of the Sufis – the “Whirling Dervishes”. This mystical offspring of Islam includes the belief that spinning in circles — with intention — will bring us closer to “God”. Contrary to other Eastern practices that have found their places in our Western culture, Rumi suggests that if there is individual progress to be made, there are other ways to get there than cross-legged on a mat. “God” will come to and through those who move. To those who dance. And to those whose thoughts and feet and bodies turn faithfully aware in circles, in tune with the movements of the rest of everything around us.

This line of thinking quite suits me. There’s no goal, no enlightenment, no evolving. There’s just movement. Yeah, we just all turn around ourselves in circles, literally and metaphorically. And that’s alright. It’s better than alright. It’s human and a human reflection of the divine. Long live the seeking, the longing, the turning!

In his writings and in his life, Rumi paved a sacred path for seeking. He believed that he, and all humans, were separated from Love (he called it ‘the primal root’), and that searching, longing for this primary love and sense of connectedness was THE source, motivation, and reason for all human life and movement. In short, He believed it was what makes the world go ‘round, and prompts us to go ‘round with it.

In Rumi’s works, finding and reconnecting with Love is not the goal, but looking for it is. Not out there, but right where you are, turning within, taking in, observing and knowing the circle that is yourself. If you’ve danced your circle, Rumi seems to suggest, you’ve involved yourself in your own life.

There are those that can sit cross-legged and wait. And there are those that must MOVE. Rumi believed that divinity is not found, but ENACTED in movement, in dancing, in turning, in spinning around in our human, limited and profound environments. The path Rumi suggested, and the one that I find wholly pertinent to my own life, is that spinning out of control in a creative, alive, physical, and AWAKE way is entirely in tune with my working understanding of the unknown. I don’t have to know. I just have to move. And love doing it.

Wherever you are,
Whatever you do,
Be in love.  -Rumi

Inspired by Rumi’s holy trinity – spinning, music, and beautiful words – I challenge you to add prose to your hoop practice this week. Sit each day – just 5-15 minutes – with one verse of whatever words are sacred to you. And then hoop for 15 minutes or more after that. You can put your life to music. You can put your dance to words. But you can’t sit cross-legged and wait. Not if you’re a hooper. So if you like to move in circles, if that’s a way of life for you, allow me to suggest Rumi as your very own Poet Laureate of Hoopdance.

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars, the stars form a circle … and in the center, we dance. – Rumi

New to Rumi or need a refresher? I strongly recommend downloading and listening to “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi,” a Being, with Krista Tippett podcast. I found several of the tracks it includes entirely hoop-inspiring! You can listen to them in their entirety, as well as a fabulous introduction to Rumi’s poetry and life, free from NPR.


Lara Eastburn Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Lara is also the driving force behind Circumference: Online and Live business & marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.

6 thoughts on “Rumi, Poet Laureate of Hoopers

  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Lara! I love Rumi and the correlation between his inspired words and hoop dance has struck a resonant chord with me for years. Thank you for bringing it all together in your wonderful article. I am accepting your challenge to add prose to my practice. I have really gotten away from my love of writing and reading great prose in the past year or two. Looking forward to coming full circle back to that sacred ground, again.

Leave a Reply