Open Hips, Open Heart
As a culture in the most general of terms, Americans tend to be pretty STIFF. We spend a lot of time sitting - in front of the computer, in front of the TV, in front of video games. And while regular activities require hip strength, they don't require hip flexibility like hula hooping does. Even those of us who are known to add a little Salsa, Belly-dance, or (ahem!) Twerking to our lives may encounter some resistance when getting our hoop groove on.
And since we are known to hold stress and tension in the hip and pelvic regions, opening the hips physically is thought to promote an emotional opening as well. In fact, 12 happy years of initiating new hoopers has led me to believe that almost every obstacle we encounter in hoop dance can
be linked to stiffness and inflexibility. "The looser the body, the kinder the hoop," I say. And many of us have the bruises to prove it. Here's my 2-Step prescription for how getting loose can help you in the hoop today.
The Loosey-Goosey Stretch
Now that I'm no longer in my twenties, especially, there's no doubt that stretching has had to become a
requisite part of my hoop practice. But since you already know that stretching is good for you anyway,
here is my FAVORITE stretch for loosening up the HIPS - the foundation of everything we do in the
Borrowed from Yoga, the Pigeon Pose is about as hard core as you can get when it comes to opening
the hip and pelvic region. It's INTENSE, so as you try it, take your time. You won't believe how stiff you
With one leg at a 90 degree angle (or less, according to your comfort) and the other extended straight
behind you, breathe into the muscles as you lengthen them slowly. As you feel the tightness give way,
you can slowly lower your body (see images at left) to intensify the stretch. But it could take a while ...
so don't push it. I can spend 5 minutes or more on each side.
Hip, joint, knee pain, or body shape may require that you start with a modification of the Pigeon Pose.
No worries there, because the big world wide web offers an abundance of ways to reap the enormous
benefits of this stretch without causing you undue discomfort.
Body Positive Yoga offers a great video tutorial for pigeon pose modifications.
You can support the body while getting in the best
stretch ever by adding yoga blocks, doing it against
a wall, and even by propping the front part of your
body on a bed or couch.
So many silly and creative videos were made with the beginning of this song called, "The Harlem Shake" by Baauer. It starts out with one person, who is in costume, dancing around other participants while they go about there business as if nothing is happening. The bass drops 15 seconds into the song, and then it's pandemonium! Everyone dances outrageously! The Harlem Shake is the equivalent of a couple shots of expresso to the soul ... without the caffeine!
I can prove it to you. Stand up and shake your right hand and forearm vigorously for 60 seconds. Now feel the difference between your right and left hands. Your right one should be tingling with get-up-and-go.
And you know what? It's as loose as it can get. Now you get to shake your whole body. Every single inch of that sweet beautiful body! Shake your legs, your arms, your head, your boobs, your butt, your hips, your lips, even your ears. Myself, I like to make silly sounds while I'm at it. It helps me embrace the wacky fun of it. I got at it for about 2 minutes.
My Recipe for One Happy Flexible Hooper
I challenge you to try this effective combo before you hop into your hoop today.
If you can make a habit of releasing the tension in your hips and pelvic region, and literally shaking off the stress of the day, your hoop will thank you!