To the untrained eye, flow arts could easily be mistaken for “prop spinning”, because clearly that is what we are doing! Some flow artist make it look so easy; effortless even. People get inspired by this, pick up a pair of sock poi and start spinning it. Ninety-nine percent of the time those people start to apply excess force, lose their mental focus, and whack themselves into a humble if not humiliated state. I have been there. Then comes a choice, pick your poi back up and try again, or decide that it is not for you. Contemplate the following words before you make this decision:
Poi as an Extension of your Arm
Consider for a moment that this is not a prop, any more than your hand or arm is a prop. When you rotate your arm around in a circle, do you swing it around like it won’t rotate in a full circle unless you apply force? No! Why? Because it’s unnecessary and you’ll likely hurt yourself in the process. So what do you do? … You simply rotate your arm in a circle.
Ok, but now we have this unfamiliar new weight at the end of it, truly one must apply more force to get it to rotate with the arm right? That’s like science, or something. Ah, the human left brain foiling itself yet again.
Poi Spinning and Conserving Energy
The first thing I have any of my students do, and continue to come back into awareness of is getting them to gently. “Use as little energy as possible get the poi to pendulum back and forth and side to side, to get familiar with the basic motions of this new extension of yourself.”
For that is the key to an expert flow artist. Will the student apply excess force and hit themselves? Almost certainly. Though to keep picking the prop back up, visualize oneself doing whatever motion with the prop correctly and repeating the process, it is often at the point where one truly lets go of their own mind and expectations does the prop actually do what they want. You have no expectations and little to no mind when you rotate your own arm in a circle correct? Why do you think rotating a set of poi is any different? Because you are a living being and your poi is a non-living object?
My dear flowmie, at last we enter the doorway to what makes flow arts SACRED.
To be continued…