Posted on 10 June 2010.
Guest post by Karen Gilmour
They come out for picnics, birthday parties, and backyard summer fun. The hula hoop - one of America’s oldest fads predating the 1950s – are now sneaking their way into yoga studios!
Hoop Yoga recently made it’s way to an Alluem Kids
class at Alluem Yoga
in Cranford, NJ. The kids grabbed their hoops and started hooping it up! Hula Hooping alone is a great tool for connecting with your body, which is what we strive to do in yoga. Grounding your feet into the earth for stability, being mindful of your surroundings, utilizing core strength, and feeling the hoop rotate the circumference of your body – all aids in achieving body awareness. And what better way to teach a child about body awareness then through play!
Hula Hooping is also a great opportunity to teach children about heart rate
. As hooping is a cardiovascular activity, have the kids take their pulse before and after hooping so they can see the way a constant rhythmic movement gets the blood flowing. Incorporate pranayama
to slow down the breath even while moving. Take a deep breath
to 5 rotations of the hoop and exhale to 5 rotations of the hoop. See how slow you can get the breath to go.
What if the child can’t hula hoop? The first lesson there is practice and patience! It takes time to learn a skill and we don’t all get it on the first try. Using focus and concentration to increase coordination is the key. But not to worry, Hoop Yoga isn’t just hooping! There are so many ways to incorporate a hoop into your asanas
. Starting with stretching, holding the hoop with extended arms over the body will intensify the experience. In Mountain Pose
or Butterfly Pose stretching left, right, front, back opens up the shoulders and the heart. Move through a Sun Salutation
using the hoop to help aid alignment. Hips high in Downward Facing Dog
balancing the hoop. Forward bend over the hoop reaching for the floor. Incorporate the hoop into a variety of poses. Allow the hoop to help lift your back leg in Dancer Pose
. Tall spine and hoop over head for Tree Pose
. Balance on your seat with the hoop surrounding you in Boat Pose
. Balance the hoop on your feet in Candlestick. Allow the kids to be creative and make up poses of their own with the hoops!
Add some non-competitive group games to the mix:
“Pass The Hoop” is a game to work on body awareness and working together. Holding hands and forming a circle with the hoop linked around the players’ arms, the object of the game is to simply pass the hoop from one person to the next stepping through it without letting go of each other’s hands. Be prepared for smiles, giggles, and cheering!
“Over Under” is a game to increase flexibility down the back body. Standing in a line, the first person passes the hoop over head, arching back to the next person. The next person bends forward stepping over the hoop passing it to the next person. Leave ample room between each player.
“Walk, Hop, Hoop” is a game to work on listening skills. With hoops spaced out around the room, instruct the children to carefully walk around the hoop, hop in or out of the hoop, or to pick up the hoop and hula hoop. To increase the difficulty, tell the kids that when you say “Walk”, you want them to “Hop”, and when you say “Hop” you want them to “Hoop”, and when you say “Hoop” you want them to ”Walk”. That will really get them paying attention!
The list of activities for Hoop Yoga is endless! Open up the imagination gate and let the creativity flow! Have fun with it and connect mind, body, and spirit!
Karen Gilmour: Upon discovering yoga in 2004, Karen watched her true self shine through every time she practiced. After experiencing the many benefits of yoga first hand, she knew bringing these benefits to children could help shape their awareness, self-esteem, and confidence now and in their future. Karen trained with Little Flower Yoga in NYC and currently teaches classes at Alluem Yoga in Cranford, NJ. When Karen is not practicing yoga, she is most likely working on illustrating her next children’s book. She has currently illustrated 4 children self help books focusing on health, emotions, imagination, and self-esteem.