Increasing Flexibility for Hoopers

 

Hey Hoopers and gonna' be Bendy Babes (boys and girls!).

Do the words "I'm not flexible" or "I'll never be flexible" ring a bell?

They do for me.

Despite what you've been told, or may have been telling yourself, being flexible is accessible to any one of us that wants to be flexible. The  misconception here is if you haven't been training since you were four, you will never make any progress now. How wrong that is!

Here's my story. I was nineteen years old when I started training hula hoops and contortion. I had no experiencing in flexibility training or any knowledge of how my body "flowed". I started from ground zero. What worked for me was having this realization that my body was merely made of knots. Knots that I had been ignoring for nineteen years, and each knot represented a part of my past. The more I worked on untying these knots the happier I was and the more flexible I became (in both mind and body, yoga jazz).

 

Upon the realization that I was flexible, my body became flexible.

As long as I worked towards untying those knots my body would loosen and bend into it's new mold, that be touching my toes, going for full splits, or deep back bending. It took twelve uncomfortable months and many breakthrough moments but eventually I did touch my toes and as more time passed I saw my body accomplishing what I once thought impossible for myself.

And that will happen for you!

Hooping has changed the way I look at my health and potential. It has improved my cardio and coordination, strength and flexibility and inspired me to be in the best shape of my life.

Every milestone we pass, is another knot untied.

In this article I'll be sharing tips and tricks on increasing flexibility to pull off some of those tricky hoop combos and yoga poses you want to perform. I wish you all the best in your bendy journey, keep practicing and keep playing - progress will happen! Let me know if you have any tips I may have missed, feel free to share them with the community in the comments section below.

1. Brainstorm and Visualize

 Seeing is believing! Think of some of the kick ass flex poses that you want to work towards and visualize yourself doing them. It will create confidence in the poses. I've gone as far as to dreaming my way through the trouble shooting of balance and poise. You can doodle, draw or paint the poses you hope to one day accomplish. Having a picture to look at every day will keep you inspired.

 

Create a list for yourself of what you hope to accomplish in the new year.

The first yoga poses/asanas I chose were;

- Forearm Stand (foot hooping)

- Anything with a Back-bend!

- Dancers Pose

- Shoulder Stand to Tiger Pose (footing hooping and roll over)

My shoulder stand to tiger pose (foot hooping roll over) was something I had thought of doing for years but doubted I could. One night, after visualizing myself performing the roll over I was able to troubleshoot the dynamics and perform the trick.

Share your brainstorming with us in the comments section,

 2. Join a Yoga Class

Yoga is pretty much accessible wherever you go. Search for studios in your area and check out the local teachers. Practitioners of an advanced yoga background are usually more than happy to give you pointers on your journey.

When I first moved to Australia I couldn't afford to take yoga classes as much as I wanted to, so I signed up for a "work trade" program. The work trade programs ask for you to clean the studio and work reception tasks in trade for yoga classes. This program is available all over the world but is not often advertised. You may have to ask around and check in with multiple studios before you find the right fit. This is an alternative way you can seek mentor-ship on a budget.

Having a regular practice and studio will motivate you to make use of the tools available for yourself.

3. Accept Growing Phase

When you first start working towards a deeper practice understand that almost everything will feel weird and new to your body. It's not about looking pretty or getting there the fastest, take your time and enjoy the plausible falls and shakes.

When working towards an advanced goal, set mini goals.

For example,

"The next time I practice I will hold for X seconds"

"Today I will try X yoga pose/ asana"

Remind yourself of how far you have come. Taking progress pictures is a great way to keep up with your training.

 

 Take time and enjoy the knots you untie.

4. Bendy Friends and hoop

 

Having someone to stretch with will bring new energy into your practice and motivate you both to make progress in your training. Set play dates with your friends, gym dates, park dates, etc. It's a great way to avoid repetitive practice.

You can challenge your friend and set goals together, or skill share your different experiences and specialties.

Acro Yoga is a great practice for improving your balance and coordination, join a class with your new best bendy friend and have fun!

 

Bring your hoop to stretch with you.

Flowing through the poses with and without a hoop will improve your balance and coordination. Try footing hooping through a series of yoga asanas or standing balance poses while knee hula hooping.

Not sure where to find like minded bendy babes? If you have a circus studio join one of the drop in classes and ask around. Look into yoga classes and workshop series featuring acro yoga, hula hooping, etc. Join local jams and put yourself out there! Don't be afraid to ask for support when you need it.

5. Youtube

When in doubt, turn to the internet for never ending inspiration and videos (but don't spend to much time "training" behind your screen). There is a never ending source of flexibility training videos on Youtube targeting the muscles groups you want. The internet is also a great place to find hula hooping tutorials to help break down some of the advances bendy poses you are going for.

Below I've link some of my favorite flexibility and training videos.

Contortion Warm Up

Front Splits with Andrew McQueen (my first trainer in Australia)
Visha Lu Calgary Contortionist

Otgo Waller

Hoop Yogini, Hoop Yoga

and this girl, just for fun..

6. Stretch everywhere

Short and sweet, where ever and when ever you can, stretch! Try stretching during your every day tasks, like brushing your teeth or when you're in the shower (don't fall, that'd be horrible). You can stretch while you're waiting for the bus or cooking a meal. It's great to keep your body warmed up and those five minutes will make a difference in your practice.

That's all for now, keep at it! Bendy Babes!

Love, Kate