We move through this world individually, yet simultaneously, as if we were one entity, one giant beehive; it is incredible that we have the opportunity to find our own energetic expression in each precious moment. Practicing Yoga and hoop dance have taught me to move this energy with presence and grace. Merging the two forms of movement has encouraged my own form of self-expression. It is my honor to be able to share with the reader the blossoming of "Sacred in the Round: Hoop Yoga", an innovative style of Yoga asana, where Paul Kayhart's wood hoops are not only an essential prop, but are also a reminder of the continuous circle of life.
The Background Story in Brief
During the summer of 2011, in the lush foothills of Mount Mansfield, northern Vermont, I found myself enveloped in a meditative, trance-like state as I whirled around inside my hoop, dancing to the buzz of insects in a secluded field. My meditation-in-motion started to take shape as I was forming Yoga positions using the hoop as an extension of those moves. It was early in the season and I was surrounded by dandelions in full bloom. The energy I experienced was not premeditated, but came naturally from present moment awareness. The hoop had not only become my dance partner that beautiful morning in the field, but also my Yoga prop.
As many hoop dancers eventually learn to do, I craft my own hoops* which I use as props for dance, and have introduced into my Hoop Yoga practice. Much like others who combine Yoga and hoop dancing, I have discovered that the hoopasana combination is remarkable. My own vision of Hoop Yoga evolved from the merging of two different cultural philosophies and practices; that of the Indian self-transformational practice of Yoga, and that of the Native American use of the ceremonial hoop in hoop dance. However, something about the plastic interior and taped exterior of my hoops did not seem appropraite for Hoop Yoga's purpose. Thus, I eagerly sought out my friend and student, who happened to be a master carpenter, to inquire about the possibility of creating a wooden hoop. Luckily, the word spread to another local woodworker, PK, and in the summer/fall of 2011 the manifestation of the sacred Hoop Yoga prop was developed.
*See, Pippa Hippa Hoops on facebook!
When I dropped off some hoops at Reclaimed Aura's* booth at one of the Jeffersonville farmer's markets, I met PK and was delighted to see his stand filled with finely crafted kayaks, paddles, and even frisbees (made of recycled cedar)! I told him how my hoops were bending during Hoop Yoga classes with the pressure against the hoop in certain postures, and why it made sense to include wooden hoops instead. PK's open mind and creativity led him to consider the idea seriously, and, soon after, we were both selling hoop products at the local up-cycled boutique! PK's hoop product was precisely what I had asked the universe for, to accompany my vision for Hoop Yoga.
*Local up-cycled artisan boutique located in downtown Jeffersonville, VT.
The Missing Link: Wooden Hoops
The seamless circle of soft cedarwood holds a sacred presence that can be most accurately described as sthira, a Sanskrit word for "firm", "hard", "solid", "compact", "strong", "unfluctuating", "durable", and "lasting". The word implies a sense of stability and steadiness, not unlike that feeling which we seek to find in the form of Yogic postural flow, or asana vinyasa. Not only are these hoops necessary for Hoop Yoga postures, but are also an elegant accessory for fluidity in transitions and post-savasana* dance. An immediate reaction, which many of my students and I have had, is the feeling of connectedness with nature, and harmony with what the sacred circle reminds us of, the interplay of opposites and interconnectedness of all things.
*In a "Sacred in the Round: Hoop Yoga workshop", the asana vinyasa, savasan included, is followed by specific dance exercises that help the student explore the body's rhythm and energetic pulse.
I use PK's wooden hoops for my Hoop Yoga workshops*, and encourage all other hoop-yogins/inis and hoop dancers alike to include one in his or her collection. Using a wood-burning tool I was able to engrave my favorite mantra into the wooden hoop to permeate my practice. Amongst a variety of styles, PK now offers engraved hoops. Come test a wooden hoop out for yourself at one of my workshops, "Sacred in the Round: Hoop Yoga", offered in studios and patches of grass across northern Vermont. Take a journey to PK's website to inquire about acquiring your own Hoop Yoga prop and please see my websitesacredintheround.org for more information about the Sacred Circle of Hoop Yoga, or visit my blog sacredintheround.wordpress.com for up-to-date information regarding my background, offerings, and intentions.
*See Hoop Yoga on facebook!
May we all find confident and graceful self-expression,
May our intentions be pure and compassionate,
May this world buzz to the beat of our rhythmic hearts sharing a hive.
Pippa Dorfman, Kripalu C.Y.T since 2005, B.Sc. in Wellness & Alternative Medicine