Has your hooping gotten a little stale? I know that there have been countless times that I have reached a hooping plateau and felt like I’ve gotten stuck there. While I gaze longingly at the next glorious path up the proverbial hooping mountain, my feet feel like they are in quicksand, sinking deeper into a rut. My movements in the hoop feel repetitive, in a continuous pattern, and nothing I can do seems to be able to break the feeling of monotony. It’s as if my dance partner and I have become almost too familiar. Yes, there is flow, but it is not spontaneous and born out of love and passion, but rather dull and lifeless, streaming in from a far different place. If we’re not careful our hooping can level off into a dreary and uninspiring chasm of yuck. And whether you call it a plateau, a rut, or simply a stall in your progress, it can feel like you’re not having any fun at all. So what’s a hooper to do? Let me share these ten easy tips that have helped me move through those inevitable impasses and gain greater perspective and freedom in my movement.
1. Hoop! Don’t give up. One of the first things many of us are inclined to do when we’ve hit a plateau is to put the hoop down and walk away. Don’t do it! Pick your hoop up, embrace it, and have confidence that this is just temporary and you will move through it. Then follow some (or all) of these other tips.
2. Remember you are not alone. In my 13 years of hooping I never met a hooper who did not at some point find themselves stuck in a hooping rut. You are not alone! You will get through this! Don’t be afraid to talk about it, and hear the experiences others have had. You may learn something, as well as wind up feeling supported.
3. Change your music. Often something as simple as changing your music to a slightly different, or perhaps dramatically different, genre can effect the way you dance with your hoop in a way you wouldn’t have imagined possible. A change of tune can often produce that opening in your hooping portal you’ve been searching for.
4. Drill, drill and then drill some more. Work on things you already do well and refine the movement. Spend part of your hoop practice drilling a specific technique over and over and over again, bringing your attention to each part of the process. What are my feet doing, my breath, my hands, shoulders, my head. Be very aware. There is no such thing as perfection, so you can always improve and develop new skills, and drilling is often the time when breakthroughs arrive.
5. Hoop in your non-dominant direction (second current). It is important to stay balanced on both sides of your body, but often hoopers forget to hoop in their second current. Spend a song, or entire hoop session working in your second current. Hoop on your waist, shoulders, legs, or anywhere on your core in second current and see what opens up. Likewise, with off body hooping, switch hands so that you are hooping with your non-dominant hand. This type of focus not only shifts perspective, it balances your body, turns your brain on, and can open a whole new range of skills.
6. Hoop blindfolded. When you are blindfolded there are no distractions from the outside world, allowing the hooper to go deeper into his/her own practice and work on the intricacies of their movements with the hoop. It can also take us into having a more meditative hoop practice. When one sense of the body is removed, other senses become heightened too, allowing us to connect with our hoop in new and exciting ways.
7. Hoop with other people. Maybe you’ve been hooping alone too long. The energy that is created when people get together to hoop is bound to put a smile on your face again. Hooping with others creates an opportunity to also learn new skills and build community.
8. Teach someone else! Whether you are teaching someone else how to waist hoop or a more advanced skill, teaching others is a valuable way to realize how far you have come. Giving back to the community can help you break moves down in simple steps that may improve your own hooping too. Teaching others will often open up your own hooping to new movements and improve your current repertoire and skill set, all the while reminding you that even if you’ve hit a plateau, you’ve certainly come a long way, baby!
9. Take a class. If you live in an area with local classes, sign up for one! This is great way to learn new ways of moving within the hoop that can help you climb up that mountain. Not only will you learn new material, but you will have an instructor there to give you one-on-one help and feedback with your hooping. If classes aren’t possible, delve into our 667 free online tutorials here on Hooping.org. We’ve started breaking them down into beginner, intermediate and advanced as well so teach yourself and add something new to your library of moves.
10. Do something creative outside the hoop. Write, bake, paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, dance without your hoop, and the list goes on! Opening your creative channels in other areas can foster a positive influence on your hooping when you step back into the circle. So whether you hoop then take a break to do another creative exercise, then hoop again, or set the hoop down for a day and create in a whole new way, just remember to keep creating, holding a space for your unique potential. Creativity breeds creativity!
Remember that reaching a plateau in your hoop journey is more or less a rite of passage. There are reasons that we find ourselves in one. How else will we be able to look back and assess how far we’ve come? Maybe the problem isn’t in the present, but somewhere in the past. It is a time to take a closer look at what you have learned on this fantastic road trip in the spin and then rejoice at the possibilities of what is to come. After all, it is all in the perspective of how we chose to look at it. Stay positive, keep spinning, and know that you will have stronger hooping skills once this milestone is crossed. And when you look back at that plateau with your new found perspective, who knows – it might even end up looking more like a gift than a rut.
Bonnie MacDougall of HavenHoopDance has been in the spin since 2002. She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina, USA, with her two boys. When she’s not dancing madly with her kids, she sells custom made hoops and teaches local and regional hoop dance classes and workshops.