Kya Dalton fell in love with hula hooping at 16, after seeing a performer at a music festival.
Thinking she would never be able to pull it off, she didn’t try it for herself until she was 22, but then she was hooked.
“My whole life I have started hobbies and as soon as I wasn’t good at them right away I just dropped them,” Dalton said. “Hooping was the first thing where I was like ‘no I am going to get good at this’.”
The first year she stuck to her living room, “closet hooping” as she described it. During the second year she moved to Edmonton and got involved with the a flow community, which includes hooping
“I took some classes there and it really helped, it took the shame out of being a beginner because you are a beginner with other people and you can support each other and just learn so much faster,” she said.
Now Dalton is sharing her love of hooping with the community. Though it started with selling hoops at markets and bringing extra along when she was practicing in public spaces so that others could join in, sharing the magic of hooping has grown into weekly classes and now weekly drop in sessions.
“It has definitely been pushing me out of my comfort zone because hooping started getting easier but the leadership and community building part is still really hard,” Dalton said.
Though it was the magic that first drew Dalton into hooping and keeps her working at it, she discovered another layer to her new hobby-managing her mental health.
“I think it might have been more of an identity thing at first, ‘that looks cool and I want to be able to show people that’,” she said. “But it quickly became a much deeper learning tool.”
Dalton has struggled with depression and anxiety since she was 12 years old.
“I was suicidal for almost my entire teenage years and struggled with eating disorders,” she said.
At the time, being outside was her saving grace. She would bike or hike daily and that helped her get through the struggles.
Now, hooping has become a part of her self care routine.
“Having to deal with failure on such a regular basis was really humbling and it helped me realize, as I got better, that failures just this super integral part and you don’t need to be embarrassed when you fail,” Dalton said.
She has also found that she goes into a meditative state while hooping.
“I am super ADHD and I have a hard time sitting down to meditate, but something about hooping and other flow arts…you get into that meditative state while you are moving,” she said.
|Kya Dalton, who performs as The Gravity Addict, uses hula hooping to help manage her mental health. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)|
Jennifer Wright, a registered clinical counsellor at Columbia River Counselling, said that daily exercise is one her recommendations for managing mental wellness, adding that she has seen studies that claim 60-90 minutes of exercise is similar to taking an antidepressant in terms of serotonin production.
She also said that there is also a lot of research supporting meditation as a form of mindfulness to help manage mental wellness and that learning a new skill, and the trial and error required to do that, is also a useful tool in managing mental health.
“For her to pick up this new exercise and try it and keep persevering through it, that is a beautiful testimony to, struggle isn’t permanent, we move through it, it doesn’t last forever,” Wright said.
Dalton who has always loved dancing, said that having a hula hoop is “like having permission to dance where ever you are.”
And as her confidence with the art grew, she started practicing while she was waiting, on the ferry to Salts Spring Island for example.
“It was terrifying and people would sometimes come up and make shitty comments like ‘you should keep practicing’ and stuff like that, and it was really good for me to just push through that and be like ‘I don’t care what you think’,” she said.
It is still hard for Dalton to explain why hooping is such a big part of her life. As her mom once said “It’s so nice to see the full physical expression of Kya.”
To others, Dalton says “It isn’t just about plastic hoops, it is really about growth and personal development and the endless possibilities that there are.”