National Wellness Conference '07

beautiful image ~ hoopdancer by sass on safari (This was the cover page of my handouts at the conference.)

I just returned from the wellness conference and am feeling such excitement and gratitude for such a marvelous week of learning, teaching and integration.

The Conference was held at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point so I re-visited dorm and campus cafeteria life. While the food was way below my daily standard of nutritional value and sensual pleasure, I totally enjoyed being on the fourth floor of a dorm with lots of incredibly interesting women as suite mates. It was like being in college - with no homework. I walked to the fine arts center to listen to lectures on a variety of topics (some more interesting than others) and see performances in the evenings. After morning sessions where I learned more about Qi Gong, body-mind connections, bio feedback, meditation and relaxation techniques, sacred circles and mandalas, I indulged in NIA practice. Ahhhh! I am so intrigued and hooked on this movement practice developed by Carlos and Debbie Rosas. It is truly a great complement to hooping with so many connections and beautiful imagery to integrate. Debbie also taught a course called 'anatomy art: The core of the body' which lead us through - well obviously the core anatomy -but also a 7 minute series to engage the entire body that ended with a minute of laughing meditation leaving the body feeling effervescent. Everyday I left there feeling taller, invigorated and more aware of my entire body. The NIA classes were one of the three highlights of the entire week. Can't wait to continue with local teachers.

I also connected with an amazing woman, Dr. Deborah Kern who teaches a variety of subjects related to womens' health and wellbeing. She lead a workshop entitled "The Exotic Way: Healing Through Awakening the Divine Feminine" which rocked everyone in the room. Luckily, she was also a dorm mate and we got to experience some late night girl time. I feel my walk and attitude shifting in every conscious moment. We are trying to co-manifest some visions together as we were both mutually inspired by the energy and talents of the other. It turns out she was the one who pushed to get my application to teach approved as she's on the committee to decide what classes are offered. Ah such gratitude and excitement for her presence and work with women on many levels.

Hooping in this context was absolutely wonderful for me. Sometimes I wonder if folks will get weirded out by too much mystical or energy talk, but they were mostly receptive and enticed (or at least did a good job humoring me.) Twice as many people attended my workshop as I had hoops (it was a bitch to get 30 there! Next time I'll mail ahead or go early to stay with a new friend a craft there.) But I went with the flow and lead partner activities for the first time ever. The adults were like children in their excitement to start hooping. I told them a little hoop story and introduced them to this evolved hoop movement. ~Hoop Dance~ Rhythmic movement & play as therapeutic practice and healing art. I included prose, poetry, lengthy list of benefits and told them a few touching healing stories. I have been so amazed reading and re-reading some very personal stories and insight offered to me a few months back when I posted "hooping as healing art" as a topic in various threads on tribe. I am more moved and in awe of the healing powers of hoop dance every time I hear a new one. Truly magical. Thank you to everyone who has added to a deepening understanding of what is happening in this powerful dance. Hopefully will accept an essay from me on the topic (not including names.)

While there I also participated in their children's program. I had a class of 17 teens (ages 10 and up.) As usual the ones who I think will get into it the least were enthralled. Two boys from this group got hooked. One told me he had ADD and LOVED the blindfold as it shifted his attention inwards rather than towards all the outside stimuli. After a picnic one night, these two, their younger siblings and I practiced for quite a while. All of them and another adorable 4 year old entered the talent show with me. They revealed some of their new found skilz, then I went out and danced to "breathe" in my favorite elegant purple velvet dress. I received my first standing ovation and I was deeply touched by some very meaningful complements after the performance. I felt like I was truly in the right place at the right time with the right intentions while there.

I wasn't sure if this trip would be worth it since I was leading workshops in trade for entry to conference. In fact, I spent money getting there and for accomodations. While some parts of the conference I would change a bit (food should be more nutritious, maybe a little lower'cheese' factor - not the food-, and more movement workshops,) I enjoyed myself, met some great individuals, turned lots of folks on to hooping which will inevitably ripple out in a variety of ways and left inspired and purposeful. On my way home I wrote a couple of pages of notes on exercises/movements to incorporate into my classes at the UNC wellness center where I am teaching regularly. I even had a dream of a movement routine that didn't include a hoop. I feel open, inspired and see a slightly more focused walk ahead of me.

Some folks reported that hooping was their favorite part of the conference, so I feel pretty optimistic they'll accept the proposals I'm conceiving to explore this movement even deeper.