So it was the summer of 2010 and I’m at a midnight yoga dance party on Day Eight in a 10-day yoga boot camp. Yes yoga boot camp (will write about that soon).During the dance party it occurred to me to have some fun with the flashlights.
We were completely in the dark and were pumped after the intense classes and internal spiritual paradigm shifts, and I had these bright flashlights that fit into each palm nicely so I thought, why not! Trying to remember the glow stick spinning days of youth, I ran into the centre of the dance floor and turned them on to strobe-light and began to dance. My fellow yogi, yoginis and I had an absolute blast. The people living on this humble Buddhist conclave had never been a part of something like that before.
Coming back from the high of extreme yoga boot camp, and the bliss of practice and frivolity, it got me thinking. I was an adult now but I did, and apparently still do, love playing with light up toys, perhaps there are some more “adult” glow sticks that I can get than just the $3 novelty store types that burn out and aren’t re-usable. So the search began and this leads me to glow poi and the wonderful world of spinning. The moves and combinations were incredible and, in secret, I began my practice. Ordering a set on-line that was being shipped to me from the UK, and then another one from Australia, I felt like I was buying secret naughty porn or something that is banned in the US, Canada and North America... not that I have ever done something like that before! I would then close the curtains and turn off all the lights in my apartment, turn on some good dancing music, and go crazy! The hash marks on my apartment ceiling show the earlier signs of this practice – contrary to what you may have heard otherwise.
I soon realized that I would have to take this public. Not because I’m looking for attention or anything of that nature, but simply because I needed space. So late in the evenings I would be seen behind my building in the empty parking lot, or if feeling uber adventurous, down on the tennis courts at Riverdale Park.
Odd how subversive my spinning has been going and started thinking that perhaps it was time to go to daylight instead. By the fall of 2010 I found a fellow teacher, yogini and neophyte spinner and together we found ourselves our first teacher. She was terrific. Every 2 weeks we’d meet in the park and practice our flailing. My first practice poi were these dark blue tennis balls and looking back it was quite fitting. The one thing as a guy new to spinning poi is, you can’t be afraid to be hit by tennis balls on strings. Those dam things fly everywhere. Everywhere! In my beginnings I thought that perhaps I would need to buy a poi spinning athletic cup cause each smack from the balls to the *cough* was a great lesson in humility and drove the lessons home more clearly. As the lessons progressed, so did the seasons, and soon outdoor practice wouldn’t work for our little crew and so we retired for the winter.
But certain feelings and passions cannot stay dormant for long. I started searching and reading and found a wonderful man and world renowned spinner, Nick Woolsey. I watched his videos and studied his technique when I could and that got me through the winter/spring months. When I heard he was putting on a one-month advanced spinning class, I didn’t think I would be good enough to be a part of it, but I applied anyways.
After some e-mails back and forth with Nick I came out and tried. It was an incredible month! The other students in my class I was meeting were amazing. As I was getting to know them it occurred to me that many of my fellow students were circus performers, fire spinners, jugglers, acrobats and silk work performers. That was not the shocking part; the shocking part was that I felt at home being alongside them. Not only that but I was able to complete some of the moves and lessons at the same level as many of them. Perhaps I’m not as crappy as I think I am. Perhaps I can take this to the next level? Fire!
The idea brings fear and anxiety to my mind as I remember how when I started – one small whack in the wrong direction and I will truly be a Liar, Liar with his literal pants on fire.
I asked one of my fellow classmates to assist me and finally the day came. I went over the fire safety prior to actually getting near or picking up fire. Loralyn, my fire teacher, also had me go over everything again with her and what she does and like the good student I am, I took notes. My first burn went well and I was shocked at how at ease I was with the fire. By my second burn, a large group of students came by and watched me and the performer in me took over and I was doing some moves I would not have thought of trying with fire – not that I can’t do them successfully without, but that they were “too advanced” for me to try now. The level of poi spinning that I would perform with fire is slightly lower than I’d perform without. The reason being is that each movement needs to be completely with accuracy and safety and many moves I’m working on I’m not at that calibre just yet. Perhaps I am an exhibitionist after all!
Belwo you'll find a video of my first evening spinning.
Loralyn said I was a natural, both with the fire and in front of an audience. This unnerves me slightly. Sometimes the realization isn’t that you can do it, but what your dreams and passion really are. Who knew that in my mid-30s I would hopefully one day want to be a circus performer? Or better yet, perhaps be good enough to be a busker and do tricks on the street for change... maybe even folding money one day!
To quote my friend Andrew “Daniel in medieval times you could be one kick ass warrior....the yoga fire spinning master!!!” How awesome would that be! From the master of blue balls to the master of fire balls, this is a yogi with a flame-on! Jai!