Finding Flow For Hoopers: How To Find Your Hoop Flow
“Can you help me find my flow?” While hoopers across the Internet are asking for help finding their Flow, they’re often receiving vague and unsatisfying answers. It’s not because their teachers are less than brilliant either. It’s because Flow is something so complex and personal it is difficult to teach another hooper, as well as a challenge to break down into simple and actionable steps. So, how does one find Flow, anyway?
First, what are we talking about when we say a hooper “has good flow”? While we could spend several articles discussing this question, for brevity’s sake let’s say they have moves which smoothly transition from one to another, moves that uniquely express him/herself. Let’s say their movement is fluid, that they’re a good dancer, that they stay on beat and are emotionally connected to the music. Let’s even say that they appear to be in a meditative state, not thinking about their hooping, or even exerting effort. So, how is this magical flow state accomplished?
While the short answer is “Just hoop and it will come”, Shelly McBurnett (FB & @shellymcburnett) has her own longer and better answer for us. She shares her personal tips for getting into her flow state and we totally agree, there’s a really big difference between tricks and flow. We also agree that you don’t need to know anything more than waist hooping to get there. Shelly lives in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Finding Flow For Hoopers: The Definition of Flow
Webster’s defines Flow in many ways, and these are the few I found appropriate:
A smooth uninterrupted movement or progress.
The motion characteristic of fluids.
A continuous transfer of energy.
To issue or move in a stream.
To proceed smoothly and readily.
To have a smooth continuity.
To hang loose and billowing.
To derive from a source.
Play your favorite tunes. When we dance to what we love our personality shines through! Whether it’s dated or cheesey or super popular or depressing or noisy, put on the tunes you can’t resist. Put on something with lyrics that make you feel deeply alive and a beat that makes your buns bounce.
Do it just for you. In an online world it’s hard to not get caught up in views, likes, and shares, but think back to Flow that has inspired you for a minute. Did that hooper look preoccupied with how many hits they were going to get? Or did they allow themselves to be vulnerable? Did they get lost in the moment and forget about the camera? Try unplugging a little and just dance like no one is watching!
Another tip for finding flow for hoopers is practice, practice, practice. While this seems counter intuitive to earlier advice, the truth is the best hoop dancers practice a lot. Repetition will also create muscle memory. Your body will learn the hoop skill so well, it won’t need input from your head. Practice one move for an entire song, or for an entire practice session.
Finding Flow For Hoopers: Circuits, Shoshin and Trusting Your Partner
I also like to create what some hoopers call “circuits” – a series of moves where the last move reconnects to the first move, so the chain of movement can be endlessly looped or repeated. This type of drilling is very meditative for me. My body and hoop repeating the circuit over and over doesn’t require thinking about what to do next. That not-thinking state is supremely restorative and is truly a key to unlocking your Flow!
Quit thinking. “Don’t think. Just hoop.” Heard that before? Stop trying to figure it out. Stop planning. Stop critiquing yourself. Stop running scripts in your head. Be a blank slate. This is called Beginner’s Mind or Shoshin. For more info, read Philo’s great article on Shosin Hooping for a Happier New Year. The best thing about not thinking too is that there is no “thinking face.”
Follow your dance partner. Let the hoop lead sometimes. I try not to think about where the hoop is going, just fling it out there and respond to whatever it does. This exercise has led to some of my most creative, surprising hoop discoveries. I just get really curious about what the hoop is going to do next. I let it pull me around. I react to it. Don’t be afraid to lose control, to even teeter on the edge of foolishness. Flow is often hiding there. Maybe what we mean when we say a hoop dancer “has good flow” is that they’re continuously transferring energy from the source, through the hoop into the hooper, then from the hoop dancer to the audience. That’s a mouthful for something so simple, something we can all recognize when we see it. Just keep hooping and it will come.
Katherine Aurora Callahan of Hoopy is all about hula hooping for grown ups and spinning up an exercise class that is actually fun. Living in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, she invites everyone to experience the world of hooping and to come whirl like a dervish and play like a child – “Don’t worry be hoopy!”