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Hula Hoop Yoga and You

Our writer discovers the magic of going in circles, blissfully.

By Rula al-Nasrawi

LIKE all twentysomethings, I tend to find myself lost on a Saturday afternoon. I usually roll out of bed sometime after lunch, groggy-eyed and mildly hung over, but this Saturday was different. I was on a mission to do something useful with my day, not spend it on the couch watching reality TV and eating Kraft mac 'n' cheese. So I packed some money and my phone in my silver fanny pack and set out with a friend in search of adventure.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and in San Lorenzo Park the bums were napping peacefully under the trees. We crossed the little bridge and walked down a stretch of grass when up ahead we saw a group of people with not one, not two, but multiple hula hoops among them.

In the middle of the action was a young woman with an orange scarf tied in her brown hair and a twinkle in her eye. Her name is Beth Christopher, and she is proud to call herself an official Hula Hoop Yoga Instructor. Learning this, I was a little confused. What exactly is hula hoop yoga? Is it possible to reach nirvana with a hula-hoop swinging around you? Is this some kind of joke?

I immediately learned that this eccentric activity mostly focuses on using the hoop for balance and to intensify stretching by holding it at certain angles around the body. The session began with a few basic stretches with the hoop as support. "Now take a deep breath from your nose and exhale with a loud sigh," Christopher whispered soothingly. "Ahhhhhhhhhhh," we all sighed.

Surprisingly enough, each stretch provided a decent workout, with the final position being a tree pose with hula hoop swinging around the hips. Christopher's little cousin, about the age of 6, took three hoops and twirled them simultaneously, giggling all the while. Although hoops are required for the class, Christopher welcomes beginners as well as yoga fanatics. (She also plans on moving her classes--which are free and open to anyone--from the park to a new location beachside, and she urges people to check local ads for her new spot.)

That day I went home with a feeling of inner peace, and although I know that most of my Saturdays will still consist of bad reality television and junk food, it is comforting to know that the circle of enlightenment is spinning just around the corner.

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