The Basics: Waist Hooping

You can do a whole lot with a hoop without ever spinning it around your body. On the other hand, it’s awfully satisfying to feel the hoop roll smoothly around your waist–or other body part. You can do whatever pleases you with your hoop, of course, but I suggest everyone learn to hoop around the waist because it is the gateway to so many other fun moves. It may take some practice, but you too can get to the point where waist hooping is pretty much effortless. You can hoop and walk around or dance or take a swig of water or toss off an extra layer of clothing.

Whenever I am carrying a slew of hoops over my shoulder, a passerby will say “hula hoops!” followed by “that looks like fun” or “I used to be able to do that” or sometimes “I can’t do that.” If I’m not in too much of a hurry, I’ll stop and explain that yes, it is fun and yes, you can do it.

I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating that the kid-sized hoops of childhood are way harder to keep spinning around the body, so just because you struggled with one of those small, lightweight toys, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to spin a larger, heavier hoop. (More on hoop sizing.)

A side note so you, dear readers, can stay hip: most of us hoopers don’t call it “hula hooping” anymore. Partly that’s because it’s trademarked. But it also is a way of distinguishing the new hooping movement from the toy fad; hooping refers to a community which hoops for all kinds of reasons: fitness, spiritual practice, self-expression, performance, challenge…

But back to waist hooping and some tips.

    1. Pick a stance. There are two basic stances. You can hoop one foot forward, one foot back, knees slightly bent. In this stance the movement is pushing the pelvis forward back and is initiated in the legs. Or (stance two) you can hoop with your legs about hip width apart and push side to side, the movement initiated more with the hips, but the legs are still adding power.
    2. Tuck the hoop into your lower back. If the hoop isn’t touching you when you start spinning it, it will most likely fall directly to the ground.
    3. Give it a good, horizontal spin. If you start your hoop at an angle, it will likely go wildly around your body–and then fall down. Practice just the spin without moving the body and allow the hoop to fall down.
    4. Move your body. With more time in the hoop, the movement will become more subtle. When you are just starting out, you’ve got to push that hoop aggressively. You wanted a workout, right?
    5. Turn in the direction the hoop is spinning. This allows the hoop to slow with respect to your body, but not with respect to the earth. That means it can spin more slowly and stay up.
    6. Play your favorite music and just keep going. When it drops, pick it up and spin some more. Find some fellow hoopers and/or a class for encouragement and fun!

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