Poi Concept #1: Ideomotor Effect
This is a short and sweet introduction to the concept of fine motor control. More specific than this, I’m referring to the type of control one initiates mentally rather than physically. Here initiation is the key focus.
What did he just say?
In other words, you can give your poi spinning a tune-up by trying the following:
- Get a weight on the end of a string or thin chain.
- Hold it just above a table or countertop.
- Keep your hand as still as you can, but don’t force it.
- Now, in your mind, tell the weight to move in a circle.
Did anything happen?
Fine Mental-Motor Control
As of yet, I haven’t found extensive information telling me exactly what’s going on. Apparently the movement is due to something called the ideomotor effect and this same practice is used in pendulum versions of dowsing (searching for water), and it also happens when playing Ouija.
What I really care about here is that if I tell the weight to move, my mind sends just enough of an impulse to my hand to cause that movement to happen. As far as my hand goes, its movement is nearly indiscernible.
Tell the weight to stop, to swing in a straight line, or to reverse directions, and focus on that thought long and hard enough, and it will happen without trying.
How This Applies to Poi
Poi spinning involves a lot more movement than the pendulum-swinging exercise, but I’ve applied the concepts of ideomotor control to good effect.
It’s really as simple as telling the poi to alter its course. This is most useful for correcting planes.
Try, for example, spinning a single poi in the plane in front of you. Relax into the movement, allow yourself to feel what’s happening at all points of the rotation, especially the bottom. A mirror is especially helpful here. If you have one, stand so that you can see yourself sideways.
Now, while still spinning, you simply imagine the proper course of the poi and let your body make the right adjustments. The key is to be relaxed and to let it happen. With practice, you’ll notice an instant connection between your thought or mental image and the physical sensation of spinning. Eventually your planes will correct themselves.
That is all. The focus here was the concept of the ideomotor effect. As long as you don’t try too hard and end up obstructing your own movement, you can use the power of your thoughts and nervous system to improve the way you spin poi. Good luck, and happy spinning!