Lessons From Inside A Circle – How Hooping Lit Up My Life

When people first find out that I’m a hooper, I often get asked why I do it. Is it for exercise? Do I compete in dance competitions? When I tell them no to both, they often give me a confused look, and that is when I tell them I do it for fun. While that is the truth, I don’t often get the chance to talk about the deeper reasons why I hoop. Hooping has taught me many lessons, this practice, just like yoga, will never be complete and I’m happy to keep learning. Here are a few lessons that have helped me light up my life!

Lesson #1 –  What goes up must come down – unless you choose to keep it up!
Whether hand hooping above my head or hooping on my chest, gravity seems to want to pull the hoop down to the ground. It takes a lot of effort to keep the hoop up. I think of the hoop like my mood or happiness level, it rises, it falls and it takes work to keep it up. I have the choice to keep working to be happy, or the choice to let whatever wants to bring me down take over and stay stuck in that mind frame. I know it’s not always as easy as just flicking a switch to be happy, but there are things you can do to help yourself. Playing in my hoop for a few minutes is enough to shake up my energy so I can move through whatever is bugging me. I’ve written about the power of movement before and how much movement can alter your mood, it’s pretty amazing actually. I’m not 100% happy all the time, and that’s OK, but hooping reminds me to make the choice to be positive.

Lesson #2 – It’s never appropriate for a lady to thrust her hips in the air in public – unless she has a hoola hoop around her waist, then it’s OK!
As a woman, there are some hoop moves that I would be very uncomfortable doing without a hoop on my body, like sky angle hooping for instance. That trick involves a lot of hip thrusting and that movement would be totally inappropriate to do in any public situation – but add a hoop to the mix and it’s a-ok. Hooping has given me permission to be comfortable with moving in a way that could be considered sexy, even though I’m not trying to put that vibe out there. When I’m shaking and swirling my hips, I do feel connected to my power as a woman and it feels pretty great! I think it’s really important for young girls see that type of girl power so they can learn that self worth doesn’t come from the attention received from the opposite sex for dressing or acting a certain way. What’s sexy is confidence and that leads me to my next lesson –

Owning my inner awesome at Motion Notion Music Festival

Lesson #3 – Being yourself is incredibly awesome!
Think about your favourite hooper. You might like their style because they have awesome flow or they have a funky spin on a popular trick. You might try their move out for yourself but find you just don’t feel as good doing it as they look.  Philo of hooping.org pointed this out to me and I completely agree – what you’re admiring is that person owning who they are and expressing their inner awesomness, it’s not just their fancy moves or funky style. You are never going to look as awesome trying to imitate someone else as you will by simply being yourself. It takes confidence to be ourselves and that is what we’re attracted to in others. Maybe you’re not there yet, but you can fake it until you make it. If you catch yourself saying you’re not as good as someone else, just stop and re-frame that thought to be something like “that person is awesome, and I am awesome too!” Our thoughts become our reality, so if you keep thinking you’re awesome (and you are!), you’ll start believing you’re awesome (because you are!) and in no time at all you will start radiating the awesomeness that was always inside of you. How awesome is that?!?!

Chakras – A guide for people who don’t know about them!

In light of my upcoming Radiant Flow Chakra Hooping workshop,  I want to do a chakras for dummies kind of blog post.  I don’t like calling people dummies if they don’t know something, so instead I’ll call this Chakras for people who don’t know about them! While you may think you don’t know about them, I think you do and I want to show you how they influence your life everyday.

First off, everyone has chakras, even you, even if you can’t feel them or don’t know where they are, you’ve got em. They are part of our energetic makeup and are kind of like a computer program running in the background, influencing our bodies and minds.  There are 7 major chakras and each of these energy centres relates to a body part/organ, a gland, and a behaviour or aspect of your life.

The 7 main chakras and their location in your body

The 7 main chakras and their location in your body

Each chakra is responsible for distributing subtle energy to the part of the body it corresponds to and they also distribute energy to your energetic body as well. Just like cars, chakras need tune ups from time to time because they can become out of balance, over or under active and can create dis-ease or disease in the body. A tune up could mean getting a Reiki treatment, practicing a chakra meditation or attending a chakra hooping workshop (wink wink). Regular maintenance is a good idea for your car and a good idea for you. I always feel much better after I give myself a Reiki treatment or get one from someone else.

Chakra’s also hold information, like behavioural patterns and emotions like guilt, pain or anger that you haven’t let go of.  A chakra tune up can bring up that old, painful stuff , but that’s a good thing because the tune up will also release the old baggage which gives you the opportunity to be healthier and happier going forward. Think of it like spring cleaning. The house always feels so much better when you’ve tossed all the things you no longer need and cleaned all the nooks and crannies right? Your body and soul is the same and will feel pretty awesome after a chakra tune up too!

Each chakra is associated with a colour, element and sound. I won’t get too much into this, but if you’ve ever seen a rainbow you already know all the colours associated with each chakra. Look, you already know more than you thought!

To help you get a better understanding of each chakra, keep reading. I’ve listed the english and sanskrit word for each as well as an example of how you may have experienced the chakra in your life before. I’ve found that chakras can be understood through intellectual knowledge, but are best understood through experience. This is a very brief overview and there is a lot that I’m leaving out, but it’s a good start. Ok, let’s go!

Root Chakra or Muladhara
Ever heard someone described as a tight ass? This term describes a person who is cheap and I think it’s a good example of an out of balance Root Chakra. Muladhara is located at the base of the spine, by the perineum and relates to physical security, safety, trust and community. A person who is a “tight ass” may have an issue with physical security. For example, they may not trust that they will have enough money and will try to keep as much of it as they can. This person literally might have a tight ass and have a constant contraction in their sphincter.  A person with a balanced Root Chakra may find it easier to trust that money will come and go and will have less fear about letting go of money.

Sacral Chakra or Svadhisthana
This chakra is located just below the navel and relates to the reproductive/sexual organs. It is our creative centre and is where juicy ideas come from. I say juicy, because the element for this chakra is water. Have you ever just tapped into your creative energy and ideas just flow out of you, perhaps like water out of a tap? That is you experiencing this chakra in balance. If Svadhisthana is out out of balance, writers may experience writer’s block, for example. To keep the juicyness flowing, try moving the hips so more creative energy can be birthed.

Solar Plexus or Manipura
This chakra is located in the upper stomach and I like to think of it as the fire in your belly. You might have guessed the element of this chakra is fire. When you’re really motivated and want to complete a project and have a lot of focus, that is your solar plexus in balance and at work. On the other hand, fire in your belly could show up as indigestion or digestive issues which could mean either your fire has been put out and you need to build it again by taking back some personal power – or it could be burning out of control and you need to put the fire out and mellow out a bit. This chakra is very powerful and when in balance, really gives you the drive to achieve your goals!

Heart Chakra or Anahata
Anahata is the most relatable chakra as everyone has experienced both love and heartbreak. The element of the heart is air, we can feel it, it can feel warm and pleasant or cold and icy, just like the wind.  When your heart is open it is easy to express love, but when it is closed it is difficult to relate to others and you might even have difficulty breathing when something really traumatic happens as the lungs are connected to Anahata. I think the movie The Fifth Element is a great way to visualize the power of the heart. At the end, when Leeloo experiences love for the first time her heart chakra bursts open, activating the other 4 elements and saving the world.  In the movie they don’t say that it’s her heart chakra, but  that imagery is pretty bang on in depicting the heart chakra beaming out love. If it’s not that, I don’t know what else it is! If you have haven’t seen the movie, here is the final scene. The Beatles were right, all we really need is love.

Throat Chakra or Vishuddha
Vishuddha is about purification, communication and expression. If you’ve ever had a frog in your throat, have had to choke back tears or have spit out your words, it may be because you had an imbalance in Vishuddha. It is often difficult to truly express ourselves because of fear of judgement, but clearing that frog from your throat can make way for self expression and in turn, confidence. On the other hand, some people may be “loud mouths” or not know when to shut up. This is another form of imbalance in the throat and still could be fear based. I find keeping this chakra in balance requires a lot of maintenance but when I’m feeling open in the throat, I feel pretty awesome, like I can take all the creative energy and power from my sacral and solar plexus chakras and use it to show up as my true self.

Third Eye Chakra or Ajna
Ajna is the little voice that pops up inside of your head from time to time that gives you a nudge to do something you wouldn’t normally do, like fill up your tank of gas before you’re completely out for example. If you listened, you might end up finding out that if you would have waited to get gas the price would have risen by 10 cents a liter. If you didn’t listen, you will end up wishing you would have!The struggle with this chakra can be shutting off the constant chatter in your brain so your inner voice can be heard. Meditation can really help to quiet the mind and allow your intuition to shine through.

Crown Chakra or Sahaswara
Maybe not as many people have experience with it, but most people have heard about spiritual enlightenment and that is what Sahaswara is all about. The top of the head is our connection to god, to the universe, to source, to a higher power or whatever you believe in. I often think that pictures of Jesus or other biblical figures with halos on their heads are people with open crown chakras. You don’t have to be Jesus to have an open Crown Chakra though. I like to think that serendipity is a result of an open Crown. Some divine force is leading you to be in the perfect place at the perfect time so you get the perfect opportunity to meet someone who changes your life or leads you to your perfect job or, or, or, the possibilities are endless. Even if you aren’t religious or spiritual, you can still benefit from a chakra tune up. You don’t need to believe in god to have a Reiki treatment, so don’t let that hold you back from trying it out.

That is my very brief overview of chakras,  I feel like I could write a whole book about them! If what I have talked about piques your interest and you want to learn more I encourage you to try a chakra yoga class or a Kundalini Dance class (or a chakra hooping class  :P) and feel what comes up for you when you explore them further. Experiencing my own chakras through Kundalini Dance, meditation and chakra hooping has allowed me to understand myself better than I ever could have imagined and has really set my life on a completely different path. The exploration has brought up a lot of stuff that has been hard to deal with, but it’s also helped me to feel amazing and ecstatic at the same time which is totally worth it.

❤ Nicole

Coco Cashew Crunch Cookies

This is a crazy busy time of year for most people, myself included, but I really wanted to share this tasty raw, vegan, gluten free Coco Cashew Crunch Cookie recipe I came up with before the holidays are in full swing. It’s a difficult time of year to eat well as we are often surrounded by sweets and treats so I thought I’d do my part to help your waistline by sharing an alternative to the sugar laden desserts we are accustomed to.

The cookies are pretty simple to make as long as you’ve got a food processor, they are fairly healthy and are really, really delicious. I’ve made them three times now and have come up with a general recipe to follow but I encourage you to adjust the recipe to your own personal taste by playing around with the honey and coconut oil quantities.

Coco Cashew Crunch Cookie Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup raw, unsalted organic cashews

½ cup raw organic cacao nibs

½ cup raw organic unsweetened coconut, shredded

3 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil

2 tbsp raw organic honey

3 pinches himalayan salt

Yields approximately 30 one tbsp cookies

I’ve gone with all organic ingredients, but you don’t have to. The only thing I recommend for sure is to use raw cashews as they taste so much better than anything roasted or processed. While I love the cashews, the ingredient I’m most excited about is the raw cacao nibs. I love dark chocolate, but don’t like all the added sugar and when raw cacao is mixed with other sweet ingredients like honey, the bitterness disappears and you are left with a decadent dark chocolate flavour. The best part about raw cacao is that it contains no sugar, has 9 grams of fiber per ¼ cup serving(!) and contains antioxidants as well as potassium, calcium and iron. It really is good for you. Not only do I love adding cacao to sweets, it works great in smoothies as well!

To prep the cookies:

  • Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until cashews are chopped and the mixture can easily be formed into a ball. (I like my cookies to be on the chunky side so I do less pulsing than I would for smoother cookies.)
  • Scoop mixture into 1 tbsp balls. (I used a measuring spoon to form the cookies but you could really do this part however you want. An ice cream scoop would work or you could even roll them into balls with your hands.)
  • Place cookies on non-stick pan or plate and refrigerate for at least two hours to harden.

Serve and enjoy!

Coco Cashew Crunch Cookies

The finished product. Nom nom nom.