Certified HoopYogini™ Instructor Shani Blueford spins up mindful movement in Kalamazoo, and beyond, through her business Emerge and Circulate: Wellness, Healing & Hoop Arts.
How did you discover hooping?
I discovered hooping while I was at an event called the Ukulele World Congress. A fellow “uker” played, sang, and hula hooped for her open mic set. At some other point during that weekend I looked out into the field saw her peacefully shoulder hooping in the sun. She looked so content and happy, but I didn’t see it as something I wanted to do.
Because of someone I was dating at the time, I became fascinated with making hula hoops but, I still didn’t see myself as a hooper. I could hoop around the waist easily but anything outside of that seemed too complex. Toward the end of that relationship and after the breakup I began to get inside of my hoop more often. In the dead of Michigan winter I discovered it was a good way to relieve stress, smile, and keep the fire going inside me as I prepared to graduate with my bachelors.
What do you love about hooping and what has it meant for you?
I love the release, joy and creativity that hooping paves the way for. The hoop represents boundary and possibility. There are so many ways to play within and around the circle. It’s an activity that helps me build strength, explore the space around me and create new patterns daily.
I love that I can use the hoop to both move my focus inward to my emotional world or to move my focus outward to create community and an environment of joyful learning.
Hooping has also lead me to feel secure in my love of movement, art, and music. It’s encouraged me to pursue doing these things as a way to support myself. I received my bachelors in Art, Photography and Business and am able to use all of these creative skills to run my business Emerge and Circulate: Wellness, Healing and Hoop Arts. Hooping helped me complete that circle!
What do you love about HoopYogini™?
I love that HoopYogini™ is such a great blend of structured & free flowing movement that comes with awareness, fun, and intention. I love the strength and stability that HoopYogini builds with regular practice. I also love how easily people can connect with the practice whether or not they have any experience in yoga or hooping. There’s something in it for everyone!
When I began the practice, I loved how complete it felt and how much it helped me with my repetitive stress injury from my cashier job. Even though I was already an experienced hooper, practicing the HoopYogini™ Spinal Awakening Series unlocked so much more movement in both my hoop flow and my everyday living. And, it still does!
What do you love most about teaching?
I love when I hear the student say they had a good time, or that something they do outside of class became easier, better and more fun because of what they learned in class! I love to see their joy and it means a lot to me to help people discover how to open up and feel freer in their bodies. I also enjoy being able to relate to someone’s experience when they say they now have more confidence and feel stronger because of the hoop.
Before I attended the HoopYogini™ Teacher Training at Yogaville, I was an untrained hoop instructor who was looking for a way to enrich my offerings. Now, I love all the new tools I have for keeping people safer and centered in their movement journey.
Give us a sense of your background or approach with teaching.
My movement and dance background in general has included everything from dancing in Musicals, Marching Band, West African Dance, Yoga, and a little bit of Tai Chi.
As a hooper it took me a long time to go out and attend a hoop workshop. That all changed in 2014 when I attended Sacred Circularities Hoop Retreat in Sedona and learned from so many amazing hoopers and other folks in the healing arts. I’ve also attended and loved my experience with the Hoop Path.
My approach to teaching is all about letting the student have a space where they can discover how to be patient with themselves, their minds, and their bodies. The hoop is a great tool for this because it lets people learn to integrate those parts of themselves while having fun! Fun paired with Self acceptance is where its at! I always liked this one part of Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga where he talks about starting from where you are. If you are making changes it’s so important to understand where you are at, accepting where you are at, and starting there. I want to create an experience where folks can go slow and enjoy the discovery process.
Share three to six songs for a HoopYogini™ playlist
“I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one
But I give myself to it.”
–Ranier Maria Rilke
Learn More about Shani:
About Me: Shani Blueford