KaRa Hooping at the Oregon Country Fair 2005
Hooping is the art of movement with the hoop. Dance, yoga, and the spinning arts have brought a great variety of styles, techniques, tricks, and moves to hooping. While it is exciting, challenging, and fun to learn beautiful off-the-body moves, or techniques with the arms, hands, legs, and feet - I urge all hoopers to really explore their core hooping with a daily practice.
Core hooping is rotating the hoop around the primary axis of the body, the spine, abdomen, back, chest, and hips. Core hooping covers the basic moves of hooping plus provides an amazing massage of the muscles and soft tissues of the core. The hoop provides a gentle, rhythmic massage that stimulates lymphatic flow resulting in increased circulation, cellular detox, weight loss, and increased immunity.
The lymphatic system is a primary part of our tri fold circulatory system. It is responsible for waste collection, immunity, waste processing, and cell transport throughout the body. The venous flow, arterial flow, and lymphatic flow work together to circulate all the blood and lymph in our bodies. Unlike the venous and arterial circulatory flow that has it's own impulse to move, the lymphatic fluid only moves because of our bodies movement and exercise, deep breathing, and through gentle rhythmic massage.
Over 50% of our bodies lymphatic glands are in the belly, around the intestines. The next most concentrated area of lymphatic tissue is the sides of the chest, under the arms. Then there are lymphatic glands in the femoral or bikini area. Also around the neck, throat, and shoulders where the lymph drains into the bodies two main lymph ducts. It is perfect synchronicity that the lymphatic system may be wonderfully massaged by core hooping.
Core Hooping Lymph Massage Flow:
In order to stimulate the lymphatic flow and provide a wonderful lymphatic massage with the hoop, I start with hooping on my hands above my head. This provides circular range of motion movements to the shoulders and neck, stimulating the drainage of the main lymph ducts on both sides of the neck under the clavicle.
The most important thing to remember when doing this technique is to breath deeply into the belly, stimulating the back of the throat, fully expanding your diaphragm, almost breathing audibly, so as to stimulate the lymphatic drainage. Also, drink lots of water before and after hooping!
Then, I hoop around the neck, and bring my shoulders into the hoop, rotating it around my upper arms and chest. Next, lifting the arms through the hoop, allowing the hoop to rotate around my chest with my arms above. This stimulates the drainage of the lymph nodes under the sternum, the main drainage duct for the lower extremities of the body, as well as the sides under the arms, another main lymph node site.
Letting the hoop slow allows it to come down to my waist where I hoop for a long while around my core. In order to not become bored with core hooping, I will practice mudras, yoga with my hands, or just dance to my favorite music.
Slowing the hoop, allows it to drop even further and I bring the hoop to my hips, allowing the hoop to provide a lymphatic massage to the inguinal lymph nodes on both sides of the anterior pelvic region. I bring the hoop to my knees, and then spend a while playing with keeping the hoop on my thighs between my knees and hips to stimulate the thigh circulation.
Bringing the hoop back to my waist, I lift it with my hands above my head and come down to lie with my back on the floor. I hoop on each foot, alternating feet, using the circular range of motion of the feet and legs, and the force of gravity to drain the legs and stimulate circulation.
Coming back to standing, I again focus on more core hooping around the belly, then bring the hoop up under the ribs to focus on the thoracic duct, then up to my chest to focus on the important thymus, then neck, then hands above head. Breathing deeply still.
Now I dance however I well please for as long as I want!
When I am done, I like to lie on the floor on my back, with my knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands on my belly. Breathing deeply into the core and experiencing stillness and rest I focus on completely releasing any tension from my core. I send love and gratitude to my core. When done, I roll to the left side and push myself to sitting.
This is a very invigorating core hooping practice that will assist your body in waste elimination, releasing excess fluid, relieving congestion, detoxing your body, and enhancing your natural immunity!
The lymphatic system is best stimulated by a light rhythmic touch, so I prefer to use a lighter hoop for this benefit, my favorite is a 100 PSI 1/2 ". The deep breathing, full routine of stimulating the lymph flow from the outlet at the neck to the toes then back to the neck, and the rest at the end are all important vital elements of the optimal hoop flow for lymphatic drainage.
A daily core hoop practice will help with detox, immune functioning, and weight loss. If you have inflammed lymph nodes, I do not recommend hooping over them at that time because it could irritate them worse. When feeling ill please drink lots of water, care for your body, and get ample rest. However, a regular hoop practice will help keep your lymphatic system functioning at it's prime and keep sickness at bay!
Hoop Alchemy Workshop at Hoop Camp Retreat 2009
“The human body does not wear out with use.
On the contrary, it wears down when it is not used.”
- Christopher Alexander
Hooping makes our bodies feel great. We know it instantly when we pick up our first hoola-hoop as a kid, and when we rediscover hooping with large handcrafted hoops as an adult. Spinning the hoop around our body and dancing with the hoop to music is fun, sensual, blissful, and creative. Hooping invokes laughter and smiles, and it improves health.
Hooping gently restores health and vitality through playful exploration of breath, movement, and awareness. Movement and breath coordinate to nurture the flexibility of our spine, strengthen the core musculature of the torso, and promote the integral functional of our organs. Optimal health is nurtured through hooping.
Movement is consciousness. The brain formulates a thought and sends that information via the nervous system through the body, where movement takes place. When the skin, the largest sense organ in the body, perceives touch, it transmits that information to the brain. There is no separation between mind and body, spirit and form. They are a continuum of the spiral of life.
Hooping reeducates the body in conscious movement through: spiraling movements, sacral rocking, abdominal massage, and rhythmic movement. Spiraling, rocking, massage, and rhythm are primal motions of human life, beginning in the womb. Adopting these motions through playful exercise invigorates the body and stimulates self-healing.Spiraling Movements
Vanda Scaravelli, yogini and author, writes in Awakening the Spine that “we have to avoid angular movements and adopt circular, spiral ones”. She refers to this movement as “spiral-circumpheric” and describes the gentle spiraling gestures of the body as a way to deepen yoga practice through healthful movement. She refers to a photo of a young girl hoola-hooping as “exercising her spine and skeleton playfully”.
The relationship between the head and the spine is of utmost importance for posture, movement, and ergonomics. Hooping creates spiraling movements with the head and spine which aligns the vertebrae and nurtures coordination of the body and mind. Hoola-hooping results in the embodied remembering of the natural movements of children free of neuromuscular restrictions.Sacral Rocking
When hooping, we rock the sacrum from front to back, tilting it gently anterior and posterior. Sacral rocking creates a wave-like motion in the spine and skeleton. The sacrum is the central bone of the pelvis located at the base of the spinal cord. The sacral bone is triangular in form and made of five fused vertebrae. The sacral plexus is a mass of nerves situated anterior to the sacrum; it is the origin of the nerves for the pelvic organs and legs.
Sacral rocking stimulates the sacral plexus and loosens energy blocks and fascial restrictions within the pelvis. It also releases restrictions in the fascia surrounding the cranio-sacral system, which is the closed hydraulic system containing cerebrospinal fluid, the spinal cord, and brain. “Sacrum” comes from the same root word as “sacred”. The sacrum is associated with the second chakra, the belly chakra, which governs sexuality, creativity, and emotions.Abdominal Massage
The abdomen is the core of the human being. The belly has been revered by cultures all over the world as the “seat of the soul”. The naval is where we first took in energy, from our mothers, through the umbilical cord in the rhythmic flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrition. This area continues to nourish us physically, emotionally, and energetically throughout our lives.
The belly is the center of gravity in the body. The web of fascia that binds together the organs, muscles, tissues, and skeleton of our body spirals out from the naval. Massage of the abdomen tones the muscles and fascia, increases blood and lymph circulation, realigns the organs, eases digestive problems, and nurtures our sexual health. When abdominal restrictions are released then we are free to experience deep belly laughs and feel our gut emotions.
Traditional Mayan healers believe that the energetic center of the body is the reproductive organs. They teach that a significant number of health problems are related to a prolapsed uterus or prostate which is caused by weak abdominal fascia and muscles. Toning the abdominal muscles can be achieved through exercise and massage to increase strength, flexibility, circulation, and balance.
Belly hooping gently massages the abdomen and low back with rhythmic movements and smooth pressure. The internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and gluteal muscles are all toned by belly hooping. Including leg and arm hooping tones and massages muscles throughout the whole body. The integration of massage and movement in hooping makes hooping an excellent self-healing modality.Rhythm
Rhythm is an essential element for the flow of energy. There is a rhythm to every system in our body and in nature; the heartbeat is essential to circulation as the tides are to the ocean. The rhythmic movement in hooping is created by the momentum of the hoop spiraling around our body. The rhythm is varied by the weight and size of the hoop and the speed of the body’s movements.
Paul Pearsall, PhD writes in The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy that “health happens when we are in rhythm within ourselves, synchronized with other living systems and moving to our preset beat rather than trying to respond to the driving beat of the stressful outside world”. Hooping assists us in centering ourselves, as when we are hooping we are always at the center of the hoop. When in this space, we discover our own rhythm and this becomes the pulse that facilitates the flow of energy in our lives. This is a reason why hooping to music is so powerful, it allows us to discover more about the hoop and ourselves.Conscious Movement
The next time you step inside of the hoop, recall these elements of conscious movement: spiraling, rocking, massage, and rhythm, and see how you relate to each form. Play with each element individually and explore.
- Allow the hoop to spiral slow and fast. Feel your body making little spirals and bigger spirals in response to the hoop.
- Rock your sacrum gently with the hoop and feel the motion ripple through your whole body along your spine.
- Feel the hoop massage your belly and back, bring it up and down your abdomen and allow your muscles to gently respond to the motion with deepening breath.
- Find your inner rhythm and dance to it, with the hoop as your partner.
- Be present within the hoop and discover your own healing power.
Sunset Hoop Flow in Sedona, AZ
Hooping is a modern movement art that combines the arts of dance, yoga, meditation, fitness, play, bodywork, and sacred geometry. Hooping is a popular movement art across the globe with classes, workshops, retreats, hoop gatherings, hoop jams, and in countries all across the planet.
The spiraling movement of the hoop massages your body as the pressure point of contact with the hoop cycles around the core. The dynamic movement of rocking the core creates fluid undulation the spine. The rhythmic and spiraling movements generated by the spine to keep the hoop going facilitate the natural movements of the healthy spine.
Spin + E(energy) = Spine
Our spines are happy and healthy when we are spinning the hoop and moving the energy in our bodies!
The rocking motion of the sacrum (the tailbone - the name sacrum is derived from sacred) stimulates the sacral plexus, a large mass of nerves stemming from the spinal cord to enervate the pelvis. This rocking stimulates a full-body relaxation, release of endorphins, calming of the nervous system, increases circulation to the pelvis, pumps the craniosacral fluid, and clears the energy centers of the body.
Moving and stretching with the hoop is a holistic workout for the integration of the body, mind, heart, and spirit. Hoop yoga fusion flows are wonderful ways to energize your yoga practice.
The hoop is an ancient tool for movement play. Art from over 4,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt depicts a man with a hoop. People have crafted hoops from bamboo, rattan, stiff grass, and reeds for thousands of years. Native Americans have used rolling hoops for target practice and hunting games. Today Native American Hoop Dance is a beautiful and elaborate expression of the story of creation through intricate combining and dancing with multiple small hoops.
Hoops are also key tools in the Olympic sport of rhythmic gymnastics. Hoops are also a symbol of the Olympics as the logo in made from five hoops. Vancouver sold out of hula-hoops during the last Winter Olympics as people rushed to make hoop logos in the snow in front of their houses and businesses.
Hooping was a popular sport in England in the 1800's. People spun hoops around their bodies as well as rolling hoops with sticks. In the 1950's, the inventors of the modern plastic hula-hoop traveled to Australia and saw school children using wooden hoops in gymnastics class. Thus the idea for the toy hula-hoop was launched by Wham-O.
The release of the hula-hoop toy in 1957 spread the hoop craze across the planet, becoming the first global fad and spawning the word fad itself. There is something universally compelling about the hoop.
Sales of the hula-hoop astonished the world. Japan even banned the hula-hoop for a while, because of the concern over suggestive pelvic gyrations in public. However now Japan has a thriving modern hooping culture, classes, and an annual hoop conference.
Today's modern hoopers prefer custom handmade hoops with heavier and stronger tubing spiraling with colorful and sparkling tapes for grip, friction, and beauty. Hooping is about enjoying the flow of being in the spiral. Hoopers may use one, two, three, or even four hoops, but it's not about how many hoops can you spin or how long can you keep it going.
Hooping is about flow and being present in the whirl. It is an enjoyable energizing and balancing activity that is great for personal health, fitness, and fun, as well as getting together with groups of friends and community to hoop, dance, and play.
Dance and play with the hoop mimics the spiraling motions of all the dynamics of life, from the cells within our body, our DNA spirals, and the motions of the planets, galaxies, and universe. Spiraling and flowing is also the motion of water, and we energize the water that is 70% of our bodies by vortexing it while dancing in the hoop.
Hooping activates our bodies, massaging our muscles and stimulating our meridians, energy centers, and acupressure points. The spiraling energy clears and charges our chakras. Through conscious hoop dance we can step into the flow of the universal dance, strengthen our core, and find peace in the whirling world.