Spin Away Your Self-Quarantine Blues With Flow Arts

liam & luis hooping
the video that got me into poi, thanks jon
Kate did her PhD research on the positive effects of poi spinning on physical, cognitive, and emotional health.

What’s so great about flow arts?

Your goals aren’t measured in reps or numbers

I love this session, where Willow and Justin take a relatively intro poi move called a 1.5 beat, and then proceed to figure out how to do it in every possible way.

It’s a gentle introduction to body awareness

For more on how body awareness facilitates one's emotional self-awareness and self-regulation, read The Body Keeps The Score (Bessel van der Kolk), a foundational overview on PTSD neuroanatomy, research, and mind-body integrative treatment approaches.Or Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy (Cathy A. Malchiodi) for more on different expressive arts therapies.

It’s accessible

Agency & customization

my video scrapbook of Firedrums 2019, a.k.a. a real good time

Ok let’s do this

Props?

actually not photoshopped! photo: cindy sparks

What prop should I try?

  • Insert inspiration to continue. Plenty of people don’t blast off until they see someone who moves in a really interesting way, and think “OMG I WANT TO MOVE LIKE THAT”. Look at videos until you find a movement style that inspires you. Here’s an inspiration video playlist made by me and some friends. You may also find Instagram practice logs you like via these tags: #flowarts, #flowmiesofearth, #stopdropandspin.
  • Do you have mobility issues? Rope dart is the most full-body prop and involves a lot of lunges. Poi can be shoulder intensive, but is relatively forgiving to the lower body. Staffs are very heavy and can be arm intensive. Hoops are very lightweight. All flow arts are great for strengthening your body in general. However, if you have serious injuries, you should probably avoid certain props at first.
  • You might find that you achieve flow state much better with a particular prop, and this can be a huge motivator. If you like asymmetric shapes, you may prefer rope dart or fans, while if you like symmetric shapes, you may prefer staff or hoop. If you like timing based puzzles, you may enjoy rope-based props like poi and dart. If you enjoy feeling a lot of inertia or you come from a partner dance background, you will probably enjoy dragonstaff. If your motivation level depends on immediate gratification, you may get further starting with a single-wield prop, like staff, instead of a dual-wield prop, like poi.

Where do I get props?

  • Flowtoys — specializes in LED props; known for making the most robust LED capsules on the market, w/ lifetime warranty
  • FlowOnFire — wide range of props, lots of customization options for color and size, amount of options can be a little overwhelming but they’re friendly & will help you out
  • Renegade Juggling — juggling and circus props

Beginner learning resources

  • Beginner poi series by PlayPoi. (more body-oriented approach)
  • Beginner poi series by Drex. (more pattern-oriented approach)
  • Poi Chi by Nicky Evers.
    (The first few videos are prop-free body alignment/awareness exercises that will help you with any flow movement. Later videos assume you are already comfortable with some poi weaves and same-time transitions.)
  • SpinPoi fundamentals series by Kate Riegle van West.

Practice space & setting

Community

Frequently asked questions

I am inherently incapable of doing flow arts because I have no sense of hand-eye coordination / I’m not in shape / I’m not a super sexy badass who owns a fire katana and leather pants. Should I give up before even trying?

What if I look silly? Should I crawl into a corner and hide forever?

be like this elephant and just have fun

When will I stop accidentally slapping myself in the face with props?

Do you ever accidentally hit yourself in the face with fire?

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autotelic polymath with an overwhelming compulsion to reverse engineer things I’ve never tried before

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autotelic polymath with an overwhelming compulsion to reverse engineer things I’ve never tried before

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