Health Benefits of Spinning Poi: Part 4 – Interview with Dr. Kate Riegle van West

Interview with Dr. Kate Riegle van West

It was wonderful to interview Dr. Kate Riegle van West, the first doctor of flow arts. This young woman from Normal, Illinois is far from it, literally and figuratively. She has gone the distance and the extra mile in Auckland, New Zealand, to put poi flow arts on the map in the scientific mainstream, and has broken ground as to proving that spinning poi is good for brain and bodily function, as well as works wonders on ones emotions.

The 20 minute long interview with Dr. Kate Riegle van West is on the Sacred Flow Art YouTube channel this week, though I would like to conclude this blog series with a short recap of what was exchanged.

Interview Recap

First off, flow artists are sweethearts. This may be completely irrelevant to the interview itself, and one could easily conclude that that’s just my opinion, but in my experience and still through this interview with a doctorate holding flowmie, people who flow are just happier, kinder, and sweeter. I enjoyed speaking with Dr. Kate and I know in my heart-mind that she will do good things for the mainstream health industry. Kate could not get into American institutions to assist people with flow arts because there was no scientific research or properly documented evidence that doing flow arts would help. This fact prompted her to email the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where poi originated from, to which they replied that she had a space to do her studies with them.

At the University of Auckland, Dr. Riegle van West specifically studied “the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function for healthy older adults. Working between the center of brain research and the dance department.” During the studies she implemented a double-blind randomized control trial. A double-blind study is one in which neither the participants nor the experimenters know who is receiving a particular treatment. This procedure is utilized to prevent bias in research results. Double-blind studies are particularly useful for preventing bias due to demand characteristics or the placebo effect. Results showed improvements in grip strength, balance, and sustained attention. Dr. Riegle also did qualitative research, asking people questions, and found that the new practitioners of poi found it fun and relaxing, which is a necessary combo when people are learning something new!

Since the study has completed, Dr. Kate works a lot in training new trainers at various facilities that are implementing poi flow into their institutions. Also, people who wanted or needed such research to implement into their own studies or businesses are getting the help they need to be more credible in their projects. And now, flow artists who are already in the health industry can now potentially bring their play into their work!

YouTube player

Interview with Dr. Kate Riegle van West

As a flow arts professional (which she sees herself more as a business owner that happens to specialize in flow arts), she finds challenge in the simple fact that many people simply are not familiar with the concept and terminology yet, so we have to get more of the word out! Please share this blog post as well as the interview on YouTube to help grow the awareness of flow artists! Let’s show people that we are beyond just the festival, street performance and rave scene and entering the mainstream collective! By sharing we are helping flow artists everywhere take their practices to the next level!

More to come!

There is even more to the interview! Including her perspective on spinning fire, her other passions and flow arts projects, her start to flow arts and even her favorite flow artist. Subscribe to the Sacred Flow Art YouTube Channel and hit the Notification Bell so you’ll see when the interview goes on, as well as continue to be updated with new tutorials on six different props and growing, every single week. We also may continue to interview more flow arts professionals and soon enough live stream special events!

Thanks for your time and attention! We are grateful for your interest and enthusiasm with us and flow arts in general!

Yours in flow,

Jesse Hart of Full Circle Phenomenal
A Sacred Flow Art Community Blogger

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