These days hula hooping is the rave in fitness. Hoopers can be seen at the park, on the beach, and of course, on the grass hooping at festivals.
But yoga is still popular too. It has the benefit of relaxing the spirit, focusing the mind, and toning the body.
Now hooping and yoga has been merged in a fitness class called Hoop Yoga.
Shelton Community Center is currently hosting a hoop yoga class, provided by BringtheHoopla LLC. located in Shelton.
Instructor Alexandra Capaldo is an employee of BringtheHoopla; she is also a certified yoga instructor. She is teaching hoop yoga at the community center on Thursdays from 7:10 pm to 8:10 pm.
According to Capaldo, hoop yoga has many benefits. It opens the shoulders, and builds core strength.
Capaldo said that the hoop is used during the warm-up and through-out the yoga session. She said the class uses the hoop as a yoga tool the same way a block or strap would be used during yoga classes.
“Every pose incorporates the hula hoop in some way,” Capaldo said.
Capaldo has been practicing yoga for the past ten years, prior to becoming a certified yoga instructor in 2012. She said that her certification is 500 hours, and she trained at the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts and at Your Community Yoga Center in Hamden. She has been working at BringtheHoopla since 2014 and also teaches yoga in Waterbury, in the OM Center in Watertown, and in Apple Rehab Centers, teaching chair yoga to seniors.
Although Capaldo is a yoga teacher, she said hoop yoga combines two of her passions. She started hooping in 2007, and also teaches hooping at BringtheHoopla, along with other instructors. The fitness center is not only known for teaching hooping but for providing their own handmade hoops.
The hoops are made at BringtheHoopla in Shelton. They get the tubing, cut it down and melt it together to make the hoops. The fitness center also has the hoops decorated. There are five size hoops ranging from 25 inches in diameter to 42 inches in diameter.
Sarah Murphy, program director, is taking the hoop yoga class with Capaldo because she said Capaldo introduced her to yoga. Murphy said the hoops work well because they have additional weight than traditional hoops, weighing between one and two pounds.
“The hoops work with you; it has it’s own momentum,” Murphy said.
Capaldo said the large hoops are used to balance during yoga. She opened the class by playing calming music. She leads the group into a meditation to guide them into becoming aware of their bodies, to relax them, and to prepare their minds for a yoga session, incorporating the hoop.
She then warms them up with hula hooping to the sound of a preferred musician called Dr. Drez, fusing a rhythmic contemporary beat with traditional sounds of India.
As she guided them into the yoga class, she not only shows them the moves, incorporating the hoop; she calmly helps them to learn to control their breathing. The women were guided through poses swaying their hips and inhaling as they also did traditional poses such as the child pose or downward dog.
“Find a strategy; moving in whatever way feels good to your body,” Capaldo repeated often throughout the class.
She also uses the hoop to calm the group down, keep the attendees focused on their breathing.
“Spread fingers wide, so you can balance hoop on tips of fingers,”Capaldo told the attendees as she balanced the large hoop on her own fingers.
She creates an atmosphere in the room that is both calm and soothing, playing and youthful. She maintains a rhythmic but relaxed style as she encourages everyone to pick up a playful pace with their hoop, or to bring down their energy to reach out and stretch with the hoop.
Participants commented after class about the experience of hoop yoga at the community center.
“This is my second time taking the class,” Nancy Walton said. “I enjoyed it; I came back. It’s a little challenging being with girls half my age, but I can do it, and Alex makes it enjoyable.”
“I loved it.” Hannah Kisick-Monroe said. “It’s so relaxing and so creative. To combine the fun of hooping and the concentration of yoga is really cool. Also, when you focus on breathing it allows you to do more with hula hooping.”
For additional information on hoop yoga or hula hooping contact bringtheHoopla at 203-615 -1116 or email bringtheHoopla@gmail.com.