Suck In Your Belly for Balance, Elongation and Power in Hoopdance

June 8, 2015 Caroleeena DancehoopdanceHooping

PostureIn a previous blog, I have talked about a ritual for building powerful posture for hoopdance. One of the instructions in that ritual is “Tighten your abs”. The reason we do this is to pull our organs in and up, to center at our midpoint both horizontally and vertically — the belly button.

Our Power-Building Posture Ritual:

– Place each heel on the ground (hip distance apart), then the ball of each foot, then the toes.
– Feel your weight in your heels. Then in the heels but also in the balls of the feet.
– Spread the toes. Grab the ground with your toes.
– Soften the knees. Grip the Earth!
– From this soft knee bend, feel the weight in your feet, especially your heels.
– Tighten the gluts. (Your butt muscles!)
– Tighten your lower abdomen. From the bottom up. From the sides in. (This completes the lower half!)
– Breathe in.
– Lift from the diaphragm.
– Roll the shoulders forward, then up, then back, then down so the shoulder blades lie low on the back.
– Lift from your Heart!
– Lift the chin.
– Look up with the eyes!
– Lift through the top of the head, taking all head weight off the neck, like you’re hanging from a string through the crown of your head.
– Bring the chin in toward the chest.
– Breathe out.
– Settle.
– Feel Balance.
– Feel Strength.
– Breathe.

“Tighten to lighten and Root down to Rise up!”

Ballet and flamenco teachers often talk of the importance of strong “deep abdominal muscles”. They mean the transverse abdominis, which runs directly underneath the “six-pack” muscles. These must be strong to pull us into upright postures and to power lifts into pirouette or arabesque or jumps where the dancer’s whole body leaves the floor or, conversely, to hold the flamenco dancer upright seemingly suspending them from the diaphragm so their feet hover above the ground allowing them to strike down with their heels or the ball of the foot or the toes. These inner abdominals are what made Michael Jordon appear to hang in the air before dunking a ball. He was giving himself a lift from the inside using his diaphragm and transverse abdominal muscles.


These transverse abdominal muscles lift and support the upper body but they also lift and support our organs. These exercises are good for us. They also help us with hoop moves. They help us isolate muscles with our pushes while waist hooping. When we go into shoulder stand while hooping on our foot, it is our deep abdominal muscles that pull us upright. These are also the muscles that support being able to lift a leg high or hold it there or keep it level to hoop on  a foot. These muscles are at the core of hooping because they are at the core of our body.

Exercises to Tighten the Transverse Abdominal Muscles

Plank and pike are great yoga poses for tightening these muscles–they both make us pull in from those core muscles. Pilates is also great for strengthening this area. I am not going to lie though. I do not do those things. I am lazy. I prefer exercise that is easy. But I share them with you because they do work and some people are not lazy and actually enjoy exercise:

plankv upv ups 2

So, what is the point of this article Caroleeena!?! To show you a way to train your internal abs from the inside out using a bodybuilding technique called a “stomach vacuum” and to give you a ritual to make it easy to use every single time you hoop.

Stomach Vacuum

A Stomach Vacuum consists of blowing out all the air from your lungs and sucking in your stomach as much as you can and then holding it for 10 seconds. The action is similar to taking a big breath of air…only you’re not letting any air in. Imagine expanding your lungs but taking in no air. When you do this, you will suddenly feel what feels like a vacuum form in your belly that pulls your belly button in, past your stomach, and seemingly all the way back to your spine. It feels good! Like an inside out massage. (I think it’s got to be good for digestion too.) Release and breathe a few breaths. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

stomach vacuum

I recommend doing this Stomach Vacuum during your Posture Building Ritual, a ritual you hopefully do every single time before hooping. It will give you so much more core strength! Body builders train by doing Stomach Vacuum while on their hands and knees on the floor or while leaning forward with their hands on a table so their back is slightly rounded. If you don’t want to do that, you can still benefit by simply doing it every time you set your posture before hooping!

Train your abs to stay tight and you will have better posture, better core strength, better breathing, better balance, better sex, better support for your organs, and better lines in your dance. You will also have a flatter stomach, which is a fun by-product. You will start to look better in your hoop pictures also.

This is a healthy habit that is easy to adopt, requires no equipment, takes only a minute, and can be done literally anywhere! It’s especially easy to integrate into building your posture before hooping. This allows for repetition. Consistency and replication of effort are much more important than intensity when it comes to building strength–even from the inside out. Moderate effort repeated consistently through routine equals permanent changes.

Here is a quick tutorial with more information about Stomach Suction and an example so you can actually see it and try it along with a coach:


absposturestomach vacuumsuck in your bellysuckng in your belly

3 Responses to “Suck In Your Belly for Balance, Elongation and Power in Hoopdance”

  • Adrian says:

    Hi Caroleena!
    Synchronicity! To think as I was just retiring for the night after a long day coding and I logged into Tribe. I ended up visiting unconditional love! Yes! Know one there of course, perhaps that is a metaphor for human unconditional love? (sadly) I ended up just googling you and found your hoops. I knew it must be you. Then as I began to read I saw this. I have been wanting to do something to counter my countless hours of sitting coding and designing and here it is! I am so greatful that you have put this info together. Now it is my duty to act upon it! Adrian (from tribe and England)

  • Brandon Caldwell says:

    abs super important, mainly from my perception to push and hold the curve in the lower spin to make it as strait as possible. This also requires a slight pelvic tilt and lifting from the muscles that grip the spine along with the “erectors”. If the spine is in place and the intricate muscles used, the rest is like butter. Then the suction technique is more for movement and stability. I bet mr Pilates came up with that one

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