This story was told by Lucy Noonan from Inner Circle Hooping on April 9th, 2016.
I can’t begin this story by claiming to be a superstar hula hooper or child phenomenon who started hooping at 2 years old. In fact, I can’t remember doing hula hooping as a kid. I was always (and still am) into fast-paced team sports like basketball and hockey. It was only in adulthood that I discovered hula hooping at a music, arts and lifestyle festival.
What I was most attracted to at that time was its ability to ground me to the present moment and into my body. I was working in a relatively high-paced full-time consultancy job and getting out of my head and into my body was really beneficial for my wellbeing.
As I learned more about hooping I became more and more interested in the notion of play and creative movement - particularly because as adults I think this is sometime undervalued. We understand and acknowledge the importance of play in child development for self-discovery, to explore our creativity, to understand people and the world around us and our place within it. We encourage children to test out social protocols and boundaries with imaginative play, games, rules and trickery. But it seems to me that play as adults is sometime perceived or accepted differently - often confined to competition in sports or associated with our sexuality.
There appears to be less emphasis for adults on creative play as a vehicle for self-discovery, development and transformation. We are often too caught up in our own self-judgment and worry about what others might think to give ourselves permission to play. When we let go and allow ourselves that creative expression we are free to experience the flow, ease and joy that follow.
Hula hooping can be a really accessible way to tap into play and creative expression. It is cheap and easy to pick up a hoop and dance in the kitchen, public spaces and other unexpected places!
In addition to hula hooping being a lot of fun, it has been quite a transformative and healing practice for me. Around the time I picked up this wonderful practice I was entering into my year of ‘Saturn returns’ – a stage of life commonly associated with a re-evaluation of priorities and major change. On my 28th birthday someone very dear to me in my family was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I was confronted with mortality. My practice of hula hooping really kept me grounded throughout some difficult years.
It became a form of movement mediation and flow for me. Flow typically occurs when your level of skill and focus are matched and you don’t have to think about what you are doing anymore - your movement becomes fluent. Also the motion of spinning can feel fluid, energetic and spirited. I’ve found the search for mastery has kept me engaged and motivated to continue hooping. There are enough little wins and progress to be had to keep you interested, entertained and to build self-confidence.
I always really looked forward to ‘growing up’ and in particular turning 30 years old. Maybe because I’m the youngest in my family and have always wanted to catch up to my siblings. I remember I used to think: “Oh yeah, when I turn 30, I’ll be a real grown up, an adult, and I’ll have all my shit figured out, I’ll know who I am and life will be grand!”. In the year I turned 30 my dear family member passed and I realized: “Oh right, this is what it’s about – you never actually have your shit figured out. Okay then, just go with the flow.”