So, what is a flow state?
You might be more familiar with the term being in the zone. “Flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it…for the sheer sake of doing it” is how Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it. And he would know. He is a psychologist who created the concept of flow, particularly known for flow psychology and positive psychology.
Unlike losing a few hours bingeing Netflix, active engagement is required to enter a flow state.
Here are some hot tips and some of our favourite hula hoopers sharing about how they learnt to connect inwards, let loose, and have fun in their hula hoop flow.
For me, flow is a feeling state. Flow is something that is felt internally, not something that is expressed externally. In this case one can be in flow simply hooping on the waist, just as much as someone can be in flow while doing a sequence of complicated moves. Flow is that feeling of pleasure that comes over you as you sync up with your hoop, the music, and the moment. It’s that feeling of merging with something greater, like being outside of time entirely.
The first time I felt flow was the very first time I hooped. It was many years before social media came to be, so I was blessed with an absence of any idea as to what it should look like, feel like or whether or not I “measured up”. Something simply clicked and I was taken by the sensation of the hoop pushing and pulling at my waist. The feeling of suddenly merging with this new object, and it supplying me with a new source of felt rhythm, took me out of my head and sent me spiralling into my body. It was like my head exploded and all that was left was this infinite space where all that existed was the music, my dance and this feeling of being danced by the steady rhythm of the hoop. I was (obviously) hooked. The very next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about the hoop and couldn’t wait to get back into the vortex. Back then I called it the “hoop zone”. Truly, the feeling of flow is what fuelled my 20 year journey with the hoop!
HOT HOOPING FLOW TIPS
I think it’s important to remember that NO ONE can hoop like anyone else. We are the only ones that can hoop like we can, even if we learn the same tricks or moves, it still can’t not be transformed into something that is uniquely “you” as it’s translated through our systems. In this sense it is pointless to compare ourselves to others. Since it’s literally impossible for us to be anything but ourselves. If we can let go of this energy draining propensity to compare and find ourselves lacking, we can use that energy to get more invested in fully experiencing ourselves, which is oh so much more fruitful!
On a practical level, I would suggest putting on your favourite music and simply rocking out. Forget about trying to learn anything new and just feel your body, get your heart rate up, get in the moment and simply BE. Flow cannot be forced, but it can be invited. Letting go of comparison, taking the pressure off and having FUN, is just the sort of invitation flow can’t help but say yes to 😉
I can’t remember how long exactly it took me to find flow!! I started hooping 14 years ago, but I’m pretty sure flowing came from waist hooping to the beat and spinning in circles. Once I figured out how to get the hoop on and off the body, then I was flowing even more.
Music is the key to my flow. I find that my style, rhythm and quality of tricks are really influenced by what song is on. My favourite thing to do is to flow to a song I’ve never heard before and see what happens. I love matching tricks to the beat, and this sharp stop/start or breaks sort of tricks is what got me doing a style that I like to call Hoop-Hop (an urban dance inspired funky type of hoop dance). Hitting the accents of the music is what makes this style stand out.
HOT HOOPING FLOW TIPS
Dance like nobody is watching. Make an achievable challenge or goal for yourself such as: flow for 3 songs a day and see what happens, or learn 1 new trick and then next time you flow see how you can add that into your flow. Maybe it will mean to stop flowing, and start thinking about ways you can enter and exit a trick. See if you can find 3 ways to enter or exit the trick and flow onto the next trick. Think about what tricks flow on from that new trick… and then… forget about it and just get lost in the music!
Or if you’re feeling extroverted then dance for the people watching cos you are a gift for them to experience and see you dance in the moment and in joy.
I believe flow found me. When I first began hooping it was for fun and fitness. I hadn’t even heard of the wonderful world of modern day hoop dance. Once I began connecting with the community and finding like-minded souls, the more I was introduced to conscious dance, began exploring meditation and dove deeper into my own spirituality. That’s when flow found me – when my mind was able to rest and I allowed my body to lead the way. I am forever grateful for my teachers who have inspired me and supported me in this journey and of course for that beautiful circle, my favourite teacher of all.
HOT HOOPING FLOW TIPS
Close your eyes and feel the hoop on your body or in your hands, tuning into the sensation of touch. Breathe. Drop into your feet and sense the ground below. Let go of what it’s ‘supposed to’ look like and loosen your grip on the hoop. Get comfortable with the space in between and the uncomfortable (go in your second current as soon as you get it in your favourite current!). Turn the body with the flow of the hoop. Get curious. There’s no right or wrong. Just you, your hoop and your unique expression.
Hannah B Mae
It took me a minute to find my flow. As in a couple of years. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that I was a closet hooper. Except for some stellar superstar inspirations on YouTube I didn’t know any other hoopers. I did my best to learn tricks from their tutorials in my backyard while my kids ran around me and played… or cried, or needed me.
I think also my idea of flow state has evolved. It wasn’t really a discussion initially, since there wasn’t anyone to discuss it with. So it wasn’t really in the forefront of my focus. Obviously I tried to master tricks and find ways to link them together to have fluidity in movement. But flow as I now understand it and experience it has evolved. That is a letting go, a stepping out of the critical mind and stepping into that juicy space of intuitive an authentic movement. The absence of thought or self judgement. My critical mind happens to be pretty loud so it’s always been a bit of a push and pull and finding balance with this.
HOT HOOPING FLOW TIPS
TAKE a cerebral break, put on the music that makes you move and just dance. Getting in the subconscious and out of the critical mind IS flow State. This is where creation happens.
LEARN some other sequences or choreography to start to inspire new transitions. Having this structure was so immensely helpful for me. There was some thing about learning someone else’s flow that opened up pathways and inspirations for myself and gave me permission to create my own. My go to was Deanne Love.
FIND your community and your cheerleaders. Connect with other flow artists or creatives. Find the ones who lift you up, and then do the same for someone else.
DO the stuff that makes you happy. If you don’t actually enjoy a trick or If you hate drills then don’t do them. I like to honestly ask myself, do I really want to learn this? If I don’t then that’s great, I honour it. It’s ok. Do I wish I could split 17 hoops on my body because that would be really fucking great? Yes…. But there’s just not time for everything.
DON’T compare. Take breaks from social media if you have to. I like to take breaks from filming myself to reconnect with myself without added pressure. You are uniquely you. Build on that.