Please take the time to read the article created by Jacqueline Murphy at her blog Jackiespeakingofstyle.com. We love to hear this kind of feedback about hooping and our hoops. I think she says it all!
Hula Hoop Posted on November 18, 2014 by Jacqueline Murphy
“Can I try?” I asked my friend’s seven-year-old daughter. She and her girlfriend were hula hooping in the living room. I was frustrated, jealous. I was in my mid-forties and had never been able to hoop.
Their bright, glittery hoops spinning around and around their slim bodies made me think of whirling dervishes. The hoops circled and circled parallel to the floor with astonishing speed and certainty. I was mesmerized. I like to alternate between my two hoops and hoop for a few minutes most days—especially when I’m feeling off-balance or anxious.
The Hula-Hoop, the name trademarked by toy manufacturer Wham-O in 1958, was still popular when I was a kid in the early 1970s. I had watched other kids my age, my aunts and uncles and their friends, joyfully hoop in my grandparents’ yard. Watch was all I could do, even after lessons and encouragement from my family. I’d grit my teeth, gird my loins, toss the hoop to get it started, and watch it plop at my feet. It seemed to be mocking my efforts.
Cursing silently, I’d admit my defeat after two or three attempts and stomp off. I tried again in my twenties—still no joy. Successful hula hooping became a small, silent obsession. I could see that it was good, clean, active fun—something I crave—an easy, safe endorphin rush. Instead, I’d pursued other physical activities—running, weight training, yoga. A grown woman with a hula hoop seemed more than a little ridiculous and self-indulgent. But now I couldn’t resist.
“Sure, you can try,” my friend’s daughter said, stopping to hand me her hoop. I accepted the hoop with my right hand, stepped inside its arc, and planted my feet hip width apart. I grasped the plastic circle with both hands, lifted it to waist height, and gave it a single counterclockwise toss. I felt my awareness shift inward as my rotating body engaged with the hoop. My body became the center, the axis of the centripetal force required to keep the hoop spinning. Suddenly, inexplicably, astonishingly I was hooping on my first try and I didn’t want to stop or return the hoop.
The weight of the hoop surprised me as I caught the first revolution around my waist. It felt comfortably substantial. The other hoops I’d tried had all been much larger, flimsy, and lightweight. I hadn’t even realized that hula hoops are available in different sizes and weights. This one was my size and perfectly weighted. And it stayed at my waist as I rotated my hips around and around. I felt as though I had been hooping forever—and that I could continue indefinitely. Hooping was as fun and as easy as it had always appeared to be.
The larger the hoop diameter, the more slowly it rotates around your body, which is supposed to be easier. Advice for beginners is to select a hoop equal to the distance between the floor and the navel. But we are all different. The exact opposite is true for me. A small diameter hoop works best—my two hoops barely graze my hip bones.
Armed with proper sizing knowledge, I went shopping the day after my hooping breakthrough. I bought myself a turquoise and silver hoop, the bands of color twirling around the tubular form like ribbon on a gift. Later, I acquired another, slightly heavier hoop trimmed in silver, neon pink, and black.
I knew that I was hooked but I didn’t fully consider why. At the time I simply reckoned that hooping would spice up my exercise routine. I knew that hooping strengthens the body’s core, but it turns out that arms and legs get a workout, too. Your arms must lift up and away from the body, hips need to sway, and your quadriceps, abdominals, and lumbar muscles must work together to keep the hoop in motion.
I expected that it would be fun—kids wouldn’t do it otherwise—but I was surprised to find that hooping is also meditative. The repetitive physical motion, around and around, reminds me of my yoga practice—a repetition of asanas that are always the same yet different every time I step onto the mat. There is a letting go and a focusing of concentration, the very definition of meditation, common, I have discovered, to both yoga and hooping.
Spinning, or being at the center of something that spins, suggests to me a visceral tie to the earth, the earth’s orbit around the sun, the revolutions of other planets. It is powerful, though not quite the divine ecstasy that Rumi purportedly felt when he heard the call for prayer. The thirteenth-century Islamic poet and philosopher was so enthralled by the azan that he started moving around, spinning in the street.
Rumi’s followers, Sufis, whirl to express love for the divine. Sufism is a philosophy, a set of beliefs based on direct, personal experience, but it’s not a religion. Its central idea is peace with all—universal love, mystical union with God, and openness to different spiritual paths. The dance of the whirling dervishes is a prayer in motion, a meditation. Any activity—washing dishes, pulling weeds—can be meditative if you do it with mindful intention.
I like to alternate between my two hoops and hoop for a few minutes most days— especially when I’m feeling off-balance or anxious. Repetitive physical movements can inspire us to deepen the connection between mind and body, to listen to internal messages, to consider the possibility of the divine spark within.