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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The One About Being A Twisty Bobcat Pretzel

Last month I learned that the creators of The Devil’s Carnival would be taking the film on another tour along with their first film Repo! The Genetic Opera. As a longtime fan and perpetual advocate for both movies that meant a break from blogging while I tried to get the word on street any way possible. 
Quite literally taking it to the streets in some cases
The Devil's Carnival has been a huge contributor to my interest in circus so while this was a detour to my current pursuits it was an enjoyable one. With all the twists life throws at us remaining flexible in both body and mind can save us from snapping or breaking. The path to the solution may not always be the most direct but if we allow ourselves the opportunity to follow the twists and turns we can achieve our goals.
One of my favorites stretches right now is fun to navigate and leaves you feeling amazing

1. From a deep lunge set your knee on the floor. Tuck your hips under your spine and face squarely forward. Your posture should be impecible at this point. 

2. Bring both hand to the inside of your elevated knee and bend forward at the waist. Keeping your back as flat as possible bring your hands and elbows to the floor

3. Bring your arm closest to your leg under your knee and fingers pointing forward. Your second arm will turn to point at your toes and support your torso.

4. Now for the final twist. Turn your hips and torso to face your elevated leg. Bring your hips as close to the floor as is comfortable
5. Take a deep breath and enjoy your twisty bobcat pretzel stretch

Taking some time to explore your physical flexibility can leave your mind free to wander and come to solutions for other barriers we may be experiencing in our lives.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The One About Learning To Hoop

Hooping to discover
Since picking up the hoop a year ago I have been on a process of self-guided study. I have learned a lot about personal discipline and responsibility in this process. In life there are no formal class rooms so drifting from path to path is easy. You will meet many teachers but you are responsible to accept teaching from them. Just like the Kung-fu students of cinematic legend you must seek the masters of your discipline and understand their lessons.
Solitary practice can yield many results if you are diligent
Fortunately with modern technology you will not have to make an arduous trek up fog covered mountains to find your master…unless of course, you want to. Most hooping can begin through solitary learning with a quick search on the internet or youtube for tutorials. Watch lots of tutorials on waist hooping, core hooping, basic lifts. Try watching multiple tutorials for the same trick since it may take a couple different instructors to find the one who explains in a way that is just right for you. I am a big advocate for free youtube instruction because it is readily accessible and the content that exists for basic moves is fairly complete and will get you ready to engage in more complex discovery when meeting with other hoopers.  There is also a number or really great paid online tutorial series that offer more detailed content than the free tutorials. Paid tutorials often cover things that are talked about less directly in free tutorials like flowing and considering the performance aspect of your dance.
 Here are some of my favorite youtube instructors
Playtime with Hannah Havok and Mia Moore
When you begin to advance you may want to actively participate with other hoopers in informal settings. Group learning often help solidfy your skills when you share them with others. There is a lot to be gained from other peers who may be sharing some of the same frustrations as you. It is encouraging and helps you stay on your path when you meet other on the same journey as they may have wisdom to share about what is beyond the next turn in the road. Personally, I started a small private group with friends where we talk almost daily about our favorite tutorials, current frustrations and break throughs.
Here are some great communities you can explore as you start down your path
Learning about blindfold hooping at Ann Humphreys workshop
 As you travel you may reach what appears to be plateau or an insurmountable crevasse. Some of these may be momentary before you see the next logical route but sometimes you may not yet have the tools to continue on. In cases like these is may be necessary to try something completely new. This month was my one year hoop-iversary and I was happy to be marking it at my first instructor led hoop workshop with Ann Humphreys. I had reached a point with my hoop where I was working on improving my tricks each session but not making measurable progress. This was the first time I had focused instruction on technique and I will say that it fundamentally changed my approach to the hoop. Having a master level instructor helped me refine my actions and made many things I had previously failed at not only achievable but also repeatable. I left the workshop with some new tools that will hopefully allow me to continue growing as a hooper in ways I had not previously known about or even had the language to express. If you feel like you are ready to take the next step I suggest searching for a hooping retreat or workshop being led in your city.
Here are some popular hooping organizations that frequently schedule instructor led workshops
I feel like I have only just begun to brush the surface of how to enter the vibrant world that is the hooping community but I hope this will help some of you as you take your first spin.

Ann Humphreys' workshop