While spinning the other day, I had a bit of an epiphany. Maintaining a good flow is a lot about simply getting out of the way of the poi and letting the circles do what they want to do. This is, of course, easier said than done, and I’ve only had that thought recently because my skill level has reached the point where this idea works.
It’s a little hard to explain because it was mostly just recognizing a certain way the poi felt to spin.
I had headed outside for the first time in probably a couple weeks (most of my spinning is indoors with a ceiling) and there was some great music playing. I got in the groove and became fully absorbed into my spinning, spontaneously pulling off stuff I hadn’t before.
The contrast between indoor and outdoor (or space limited and open) spinning is huge, and I felt so uninhibited both spatially and mentally. And with all the extra space I started really noticing the relationship between the poi and my body.
What I noticed is this: the poi want to go in nice, perfect circles all around your body. If you look at how much people’s arms are doing compared to the poi, it’s next to nothing sometimes (excluding stuff like cat eyes and isolations).
Complicated body tracing and flowers can often times be looked at as though you’re just guiding the poi along the paths that it already is following.
I realize this idea is a little out there, after all I sound a bit like I’m trivializing the difficulty of the art. Obviously it takes a lot of practice and hard work before the poi seem to be following their own path. But the reason I brought this epiphany up is because I feel it is one of these fundamental laws of success.
To help you relate, I’ll give another example.
I mountain bike, and have for quite a while. I take it for granted that I can rip down a trail because I never really put much effort into learning; I just rode over a lot of years and now it’s something I can do.
Trails can be pretty daunting and difficult for newcomers, but after a certain amount of riding their bodies start to figure out how to absorb the bumps and roots.
I never thought about why I’m decent at biking until I heard someone describe it in a way I hadn’t considered before. He said, “Oh it’s not that hard, you just gotta stay on the bike, and the bike will do the rest. It wants to stay up.”
Although he was massively oversimplifying how much practice has gone into it, the concept is accurate. Once your body knows how to react quickly to changing terrain, it feels as if you just point the bike downhill and it takes care of the rest.
So to bring it back to poi, when your body knows how to spin, the circles are going to happen. Whether the poi hit your body or tangle with each other is more a matter of getting yourself or the other poi head out of the way.
This also helps to contribute to overall smooth looking spinning. The less hand and arm movement there is, the more effortless the performance looks which the audience will notice and appreciate.
You can even take this idea further and more metaphorically. Anyone who has ever thought, “I could never spin poi/staff/buugeng, I’m not coordinated enough” is suffering from getting in their own way mentally.
Poi practice has been my main source of realization that anyone can learn anything (obviously barring people with legitimate physical or mental obstacles). Having grown up as a kid who would say upon trying something for the first time, “I guess I just can’t do this” I can say that no matter what it is, anyone can improve as much as they are willing to put time into it.
An area I have to continually remind myself of this concept is with growing my business. When I started out, I would think to myself that I have no idea how to start being a performer. It paralyzed me for a long time, until a former fire performer gave me the advice of, “Just start.” While he didn’t offer any steps to take or direction to go, I realized how correct he was and started figuring it out for myself.
It was just a matter of creating a list of different tasks to tackle and chipping away at them, but without that list my mind would tend to seek out reasons that I shouldn’t pursue this line of work.
I still have to remind myself to take the steps I laid out because they’re the scarier part of building a performing business. This means that my head is far more prone to look for ways to procrastinate, rationalize, and generally avoid important tasks.
When this happens, it’s way easier for my brain to think, “Why am I not getting more gigs? This must be too hard/there’s no market/etc,” instead of confronting the fact that I could spend far more time working on the more difficult tasks that I’m avoiding.
These defeatist thoughts and fears are getting in my way, and if I was without them and free to charge ahead with full confidence, I have no doubt my business would see far more gains.
As with most of my articles, I’ve written it as much for readers as for myself. Everyone steps on their own toes, and it’s always a good idea to remind oneself of this tendency. Whether it’s practicing a skill or building a company, ask yourself if you could be learning quicker by getting out of your own way.