Beginning to hoop can sometimes make you feel like Sisyphus - getting that hoop up, over and over again, just to watch it fall back down. And when persistence finally gets us past that hurdle, here come the bruises! Hoop- bruising comes up a lot online and seems a near-universal rite of passage for new hoopers. So, what's happening? And how do you get it to stop?
Why You're Bruising. When we begin our hoop-journeys, it's natural to think that this giant ring of plastic requires a lot of effort on our part to keep going. So we push. Hard. That hoop swings around and we think, "You're not falling this time, sucka!" And thwack! We forcefully send up our hip to meet, greet, and propel that tricky devil around once more.
What You're Learning. In my experience, bruising is your body's not-so-subtle way of teaching you how little force you actually need to keep your hoop revolving. I like to think of hoop-bruises as phenomenal teachers of this foundational lesson. They teach you to ease up, slow down, and trust your hoop to maintain its orbit with very little help from you.
Try this: Overhead with three fingers, then just two, and finally ... discover that the power from one solitary finger provides all the momentum your hoop requires to revolve.
When you are bruised, but continue to hoop*, you gradually learn to move just before your hoop reaches your sore spot(s). If you watch closely, you may notice that your hoop is beginning to follow effortlessly in the wake of your movements, rather than a wobbly, unsure, and unpredictable reaction to brute force. As you intuitively adjust your movements to avoid the pain of the hoop smacking your bruises, you introduce your body to its first glorious experiences of "flow" in your hoop.
Ride Your Hoop! Want to get the most out of the beginner's learning curve? When you feel your hoop begin to falter, ride it all the way to the ground. Keep hooping, even if your hoop keeps falling.Try not to panic, just ride it. Your body is learning what to do differently every single time.
Round Two... And Three ... And More? If you're like me, the hip-bruises won't be your last. I personally repeated the black, blue, and green learning process twice more. With waist-hooping firmly "under my belt," I took on the challenge of learning to torso-hoop. And that's when I received the gift I came to call the "Black Boob," followed a couple months later by the incredibly instructive "Green Knee." I was a hard case, I guess. These early lessons were hard-won but well-learned. I remain grateful to those bruises for providing me with the kind of tough-love tutelage I needed to soften my groove.
Statues Can't Hoop and You Can't Hurt Jell-o. Which brings me to my last point. When we come upon brick walls in our hooping, that brick wall is usually us. In our culture as a whole, we tend to be stiff folk. Stiff necks, stiff shoulders, stiff hips. It can take a lot for some of us to loosen up ... and let go. My hoop and my early bruises had volumes to teach me about both. "Statues can't hoop and you can't hurt Jell-o" was a mantra I found myself repeating to stiff muscles and my once stubborn belief that I had to always get everything "right" the first time. Soothe those bruises, make your body and mind supple, and settle in for a long, delightful, joyous, hoop-ride!
*Many consider "Arnica" the herbal patron saint of bruised hoopers. I am among them. I used the take-by-mouth, pellet kind, but others swear by the topical gel. Some medical conditions and medications complicate bruising, and some bruises just shouldn't be trifled with. Use common sense and consult your doctor if you are concerned about your bruising.
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