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Why Should I Hula Hoop? What are the Benefits?

hula hoop benefits, hula hoop history
An article written by Tomi Jennings about the significance and benefits of hula hooping

Hello hula hoopers of the world! in this article I’m going to be discussing the benefits of hula hooping, some of which are quite special. I’m going to touch on many different dynamics and in the future, we’ll be doing a 3 (or more) part series that goes into deeper detail of these benefits.  I have five (5) topics I’d like to focus on initially and hopefully you will be inspired to try hula hooping too.

 

1.    The Hula Hoop in Ancient cultures:

The circle is a prominent shape. It’s the most naturally occurring shape in nature, and thanks to the earth’s rotation, everything spins.  It’s a nice little gift to be able to take this natural occurrence and put it into physical form.  The hula hoop is life changing, I believe, because of its many many meanings.  Cultures all around the world had different ideas about the circle. The circle represents infinity and is also the symbol for goddesses. It has also been known to represent the spirit of feminine energy and is respected as a sacred space.  Being closed off, a complete circle, bares boundaries.  It’s a physical tool used for developing skills inside your personal space. Finding yourself while being close to self.  Native Americans use the hoop to help with story telling as far back as the 1400’s (to known knowledge).  They used many hoops at one time during a dance or ceremony to represent meaningful flying animals.  Ancient Greeks were known to tie grapevines together end to end to form a circle and would use these circles for exercise. Egyptians during 500 BC and Englanders during the 1800s AD were both recorded playing with the hoop and a stick. The hoop would be rolling along while being pushed with the stick by the children. Over a thousand of years apart, and on different hemispheres of the planet, and this circle toy evolved with the times. It’s quite mysterious why something so simple, yet so divine, has spanned cultures and survived thousands of years of play. This is why I am in love with my hoop(s). We’ll dig deeper into the ancient relevance of our sacred friend in the upcoming series to follow.

 

2.    Physical Benefits of Hula Hooping

First and foremost, waist hooping involves 35 abdominal muscles to maintain its torque and its continuous circular motion around your body.  Not only are you engaging the muscles of your abdomen but also your legs and your back muscles are being worked out.  It’s always best to warm up before any exercise, but when it comes to hooping i just like to do a couple of stretches.  I do a set of 5 lunges per leg, 15-20 squats, and also approximately 20 jumping jacks.  I think it’s smart to also stretch your neck and shoulder/arm areas; especially if you do a lot of off body hooping.  I like to refer to off body hooping as “trick hooping”.

 

3.    Spiritual Benefits of Hula Hooping

When you have gotten to a level of hooping where you can “throw” the hoop around your waist and barely move you are at a point in your journey where you can lose yourself in the moment. Allow this circle, preferably with your eyes closed and your favorite jams playing, to take you to a place where there are no thoughts running through your mind. Concentrate on your body dipping to stay in control of your circle. Lose the thoughts of what you might look like or who might be watching, these things should be the least of your worries when you are beginning to lose yourself in your flow. You will slowly realize that you and this circle are developing a companionship. You will gradually begin to hoop more and more often once you find this state of meditation in your circle. The best advice that I could give in order to reach such a state would be to simply trust your body inside the hoop. Love yourself just as you love to manipulate the sacred circle with your body and your limbs. For a little umph, try listening to binaural beats with a blindfold on while spinning and see where it takes you…intense. I think in one of the upcoming parts, Heather Doxtater will elaborate on the meditative and spiritual responses our body’s experience.

 

4.    Emotional benefits of Hula Hooping

Just like any exercise, when engaged, your brain releases chemicals that allow you to feel good and happy and energized.  Hooping is no different, and to me and many other hoopers, it is an even more incredible feeling than just some good ol’ fashioned jumping jacks or jogging for some miles.  When I found the hoop, my life was upside down.  My mental and emotional health were non existent.  After falling into zones or finding my “flow” I was able to shift on a focus mechanism in my brain.  I became capable of flipping the (pardon my language here) “fuck it” switch to the off position after years of being lost.  Over four years later, I am here, contributing to ShelledHoops.com’s blog feed!  I have also recently started a book I have always wanted to write, and the hoop has given me the courage to do so.  I couldn’t be more excited about the direction of my life right now, and I credit the hoop for this awesome shift!

 

5.    Current Cultural Significance of the Hula Hoop

In today’s trends, the hoop has made its appearance all over the board.  From exercise dens to significant and pricey performance props.  They are laying all over parks and playgrounds whilst being the star of various television commercials. If the hoop has ever made a comeback, the 2010’s has been its most prosperous and dominant time yet!!  People have started incorporating hula hoops in their yoga regimes and also with their hip hop dance routines.  When I hear someone mention that they hula hoop, my first impression of them is that they possess spiritual capabilities and aren’t too proud to fall back and play!  And what I mean by play is to play again as a child while being a full grown adult.  I admire fellow hoopers just for being that beacon of light for others who can’t bring themselves to let loose completely.  There’s a huge benefit in being a grown up and being capable of staying in touch with that fun child that is inside of each one of us.  Some might say that the hoop has become commercial and that there are a lot of performer types that take the community in vain.  The hoop has become more than hobby for some, it’s actually a lifestyle.  It’s not just about music and self art but more about movements, legislation, and freedom of expression.  I’ll be elaborating on this topic more in  another part of the upcoming series.  There’s a lot to learn when it comes to this hooping stuff, not just the actual act and tricks of hooping.

I hope you come back to read the follow up portions so that one can really have an entire understanding of all the dynamic benefits that the hoop life has to offer!!

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Hula Hooping Defeated My Alcohol Abuse

alcohol abuse
Author Tomi Jennings tells her story of how hula hooping helped her overcome alcoholism

 

I want to begin by saying that not all hoop journeys begin blissfully, and that’s ok. The most obvious hula hoop benefits hold no comparison to the invisible, emotional, and spiritual gains that take place. Believe me when I say the changes are inevitable. If given the opportunity, this sacred circle will give the confidence to let go of all detrimental forces in your life and environment. The toxic behaviors, so to speak, will turn from habits to non existent; and I’m speaking from experience.

I remember when I found the circle I was drinking alcohol on a dangerous level daily. I was in a state of chronic dehydration and constantly forgetting to eat, yet I found myself infatuated with these hula hoops. I would get into an intense groove finding a good flow. While I would be drenched in sweat I would start feeling nauseous that would soon take over every fiber of my being. I feel like I can’t describe the moment when I would feel my body rejecting the exercise. Trying so hard to ignore what was happening, the vomit would always win. The seduction of having control over something so sweet and passionate gave me sense of empowerment again. The movements that are induced when getting lost in the sacred circle are sexy and are felt from on lookers. I believe that’s why an audience ALWAYS accrues when a Hooper is street performing. It’s a beautiful art that requires a certain type of inner dedication; and people feel that when their eyes are gazing upon a hula hoop dancer.

The effects of alcohol and its damage became unbearable. Should I surrender the deadly cycle I was inflicting on myself and give in to what I am being spiritually drawn to? Or should I remain in this bitter, resentful, harmful, and atomically toxic state? Surrendering would entail more than any “healthy” alcoholic could imagine. Not only would the detox from the poison be undoubtedly rough, to say the least, but I would also have to focus on repairing the damage done to my already vulnerable brain and try to repair ALL things broken. It was too intimidating to even finish the thought process the first time that quitting drinking and changing my life crossed my mind. I was terrified, but then, the more I loved the hoop, the more I loathed intoxication. The more I despised the dependency the more I found myself wanting to write, picking up my books and reading more, wanting NOT to go to the bar for happy hour but to the park for random, wholesome conversations. Unfortunately I had put myself in a position where I physically couldn’t go more then twenty hours without an alcoholic beverage. Every organ would feel as though it were spasmodic. The vomiting would hit and feel.as if it were hurling from my toes. Knowing that my skin would be crawling and stinging while I tried to consume water that was so very vital, would be almost immediately be spit back up. No water until the alcohol had gone down first.

The more my hula hoop intellectually and creatively stimulated my lost self, the more my conscious was aware of the damage taking place. If it weren’t for my reintroduction to one of my favorite child hood toys during this toxic, dark, hazardous, and hopeless time in my life, I don’t believe I would’ve grasped a hold of my depleted self; EVER.

I think, after recently reading Heather Doxtater’s articles concerning Chakra alignments, (which can be found in ShelLED Hoops’s blog feed…give them a read, they will open your mind!) that the hoop paired with dancing and amazing music helped me open up and re center the true essence of TOMI that had been blocked out and even grieved. I had allowed the years of neurologically implementing a toxicity that reached a cellular level put me in a place where I was consumed by a terminal illness. Forgetting who I was, what I stood for and where I came from was the worst of it all. I thank God and the universe for putting these hula hoops in my path. Call it fate, or destiny, or a miracle, but for what its worth, this hula hoop dance gig saved my life. The core being of myself was given LIFE and LIGHT again; through the simplicity of a plastic circle.

 

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The All-Seeing Third Eye Chakra and Hoop Dance

balance chakras
                             Heather Doxtater – author of the Chakra series

 

The Third Eye Chakra is the energy center located in the center of the forehead. It governs the ultimate understanding of one’s awareness of self and external environment. A hoop dancer will benefit from a balanced Ajna, the Sanskrit name of this energy center, because he/she will know AND understand the why of our inner guidance.

A balanced Third Eye is notable in people with a deep compassion for others and their selves through intuition. The Chakra allows a person to see past their own emotional response to observe a situation without personal judgement. A hula hoop is the perfect tool for aligning this energy center as it helps a person focus on the present moment.

On the other hand, if this energy center is unbalanced, a person will miss subtle warning signals and seem to be constantly down on their luck. This is due to expectation of outcomes and the disappointment that follows them. A weak Ajna will show up as distraction from worry of past and future situations instead of focusing on what is happening right in front of them.

It takes many years of mindful practice to understand and feel comfortable with this energy center but here are a few suggestions on how to get started in the arena of hula hoop dancing:

– Join the Infinite Circles FaceBook group to connect with other hoopers to fine tune your energetic flow.
– Take a peek at the ShelLED Hoop shop to find out which hula hoop is calling out to you.
– Meditate at least once a day to focus on personal feelings and learn to look past them
– Start a crystal healing collection by going to a local Mineral and Rocks store to help stabilize all chakras

When this energy center is in balance, a person is able to see past their own emotional response and to listen to their own inner guidance. As a hoop dancer, one should learn to balance all the lower chakras before attempting to open the Ajna. Self awareness is a must for artists of all trades.

To read more on the lower Chakras click here!

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Lupus: A Systemic Transition Through Hula Hoop Dancing

Written By: Tomi Lyn Jennings, Sep 4 2015 02:08AM

My name is Tomi, and I have a story to tell…

Lupus Erythematosus hula hoop dance
Tomi Lyn Jennings

During the spring of 2012 I found myself feeling lost, sick, vulnerable, and hopeless. I felt as if I was a ghost, moving around unnoticed and irrelevant. My life had become a battle against a debilitating disease: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE. SLE is a disease that causes conditions that can induce intense pain, swelling, and severe bruising such as rheumatoid arthritis, severe anemia, epilepsy, photo sensitivity, skin lesions, and fibromyalgia. I had been fighting SLE since 2007 with no positive results, and the disease had caused me to enter a place of emotional forfeiture . After going through cytoxin chemotherapy and having the therapy fail to bring my immune system under control, my body missed the mark for remission. I gave up. I quit taking medication, I refused further doctor appointments; I lost faith in life.

Out of nowhere, a neighbor stopped over. Being completely inebriated at the time, the only content I remember of our chat was an invitation to an overnight music festival. Usually my being depressed, convinced that I was dying, and my constant over consumption of alcohol, would have me decline. But fate stepped in; my mouth formed the words as my vocals spat out “Yes, why the hell not?”.

Days later I found myself in an open field surrounded by trees, a homemade (and what seemed to be an almost portable) stage with a band setting up. I felt immediate comfort knowing loud, live rock music would soon be stimulating my ears. In the following moments I began to really soak up my surroundings. I noticed there were a few ladies and even a couple of gents hula hooping! Hoops were laying about all over; there were tiny hoops, skinny hoops, fat hoops, enormous seven foot hoops, even square hoops! I was fascinated, almost as if a “love at first sight” or “out of body experience” had happened. Memories and emotions from my childhood flooded my mind, reminding me of the time before I was sick. Before I was broken. Before I was an alcoholic.

As fast as I fell in love, I just as quickly talked myself right out of my first, true instinct: to grab a hula hoop and hoop ’til I couldn’t hoop no more! Instead, I was telling myself “it’s going to hurt you, dummy”, “Hula hooping is going to cause my joints to hurt” and “Don’t do it, Tomi. You’re going to feel it for days”. My negativity, self doubt, and fear kept me from picking up a hula hoop until early Sunday morning, the last day of the festival. On that glorious Sunday morning the band was rockin’, and I picked up a 7 foot, 3/4 id PE Hoop. My life was changed. Literally my perspective changed, my mentality made an evolutionary shift! My hope and faith returned to me, and for the first time in a long time I felt empowered.

The music was magical, the rhythm followed my body’s melody and the drums brought out the lyrics of my spirit. My toes motivated my ankles to make my legs to start rolling my hips, my body forcing the movement of this simple, large, elegant circle. Going round and round slightly massaged every one of my organs, the hula hoop rolled over my kidneys and around my spleen, folding my belly almost intuitively, making me feel the control my rib cage had to offer. Hooping gripped my soul. I found myself again while losing myself within; it was a systematically perfect moment in a moment that took place because of a Hula Hoop and good tunes.

I’ve always been into dancing, but adding the hula hoop stirred a whole new passion in me and sparked a different kind of flame. My entire being became involved with the incredible, yet so simple circle. Instantly restoring meaning to my life; something I hadn’t even been trying to find. Picking up a hula hoop that morning broke down mental and emotional barriers; the same ones that allowed me to whither away in a bottle in my tiny, dark, empty apartment. My God and I made peace that morning. I had an epiphany while Hula Hooping to that Sublime cover band, and my life literally began a complete turn around.

Just as Lupus tries to systematically take over my body, ever since the first day I twirled with the Love of my Life, hula hooping has been systemically morphing my mind, my body, and my health. However, most importantly of all, I have gained back my sense of self worth. This is my systemic transition by way of hula hoop dancing, and this is just the beginning!!