Peanut butter and jelly. Pancakes and bacon. Donuts and coffee. Sweet and salty, the perfect team, a complete match. So it is with hooping and music. One visually expressive while the other mesmerizes with audio waves that vibrate straight into the soul. I saw my first hooper at a music festival, and in my informal survey I’d say 87% of people have a similar memory. Music. Hooping. Awesome.
Feeling introspective? Put something mellow on the playlist and get into some nice, deep, slow hooping. Feeling agitated and out of sorts? Groove to something fast with a deep bass. Calm and zen goes well with instrumentals that ebb and flow with differing intensity. I have about 10 hoop playlists that I use, depending on what mood I’m in when I want to hoop. In fact, as I started out hooping, if I didn’t have music I wouldn’t hoop. And sometimes if I didn’t have the right music…if I got bored with my playlist or wasn’t inspired by my musical selection anymore…then I felt bored and uninspired with my hooping as well. The two were tied together in ways that were hard to untangle.
Frances Davis hoops on the beach with only the sounds of the waves.
One day I found myself on a 14 day trip through Peru, hoop connected to my backpack, music on my iphone, and no earbuds to listen with. By the time I realized I was without music, I was at a beautiful mostly empty convent in a place called “The White City”, and the energy and feeling of the area was incredible. I had to hoop. I have one particular hoop I travel with and it’s become my habit to stop and hoop with it whenever I really feel a place. I used to buy souvenires to help me remember special places, but now I set my plastic circle in motion and collect the emotional energy and vibe there. When I pick my hoop up to hoop with it, it spins all that back out to me even after I’ve left. Call me crazy or call me a hooper, but that’s how I do! So I started my hoop turning in the quiet and still labyrinthine halls of a visually stunning convent that had been there since the 1500′s.
That one decision transformed my hooping. With music, I was following a beat. Using a sound and someone else’s voice to help me find my flow. At that time I was hooping to a lot of dubstep and super fast electro. It amped me up and energized me, pushing me to keep up and move my body so fast I could barely think about what I was doing. Without music, there was nothing else but me digging deep to find my own flow and rhythm. It slowed my hooping down and every movement became purposeful and mindful. It was less whirling dervish and more tai chi. It brought me into my center more than any yoga/meditation I’d ever done. It felt special and uniquely my own. Now I spend at least once a week in this silent hooping practice.
I encourage you to create your own centering, mindful silent hooping experience. Music has an important place while hooping, but fundamentally hooping is all about connecting to your own authentic movement, your own rhythm, your own flow. Be aware of your other senses. Silent hooping actually isn’t very silent at all, once you tune in to your own body. Pay attention to your breath, and how it changes as you hoop. Listen as your hands move over your hoop. Spend time with the hoop off body, moving your hands across the surface of the hoop instead of just grabbing or holding it in one place. Feel yourself grounded into the earth as well as stretching into the sky. As the hoop goes on your body, focus on feeling where it moves across your skin. Listen to the sound it makes as you break, paddle, and reverse it. All these things give their own natural beat and rhythm. In turn, these tune you in to your own flow. Sometimes things need to be quiet in order to hear what’s really important to you! Try it and tell me what you think.
Tiffani Michele blogs at freeplaylife!, as well as at Overexposed and Underdeveloped. She is crazy in love with the idea that life is too short not to learn, laugh, love, and play every day. She lives in Orange County, California, USA.