The Ancient Poi Ball: A Source of Joy and Healing
By Titanya Monique Dahlin
I’ve always been “a child at heart and of wonder”! I was also always a late bloomer, being the youngest kid in my class…almost a year younger than all the other kids. From the very first day of school (Kindergarten), life felt difficult. Perhaps it was the way the school system grouped us together stifling our individuality like we were little soldiers…teaching us as if we were all the same. I have always resonated with nature, lost in my dreamy imagination and the unseen realms and so the rigidity of the classroom with their rules and regulations made me confused and joy-less in school.
As school went on, I lost my childlike freedoms and found myself every day after school, throwing up behind the fence of the playground. One day, my mom found me. Of course she was very worried and went to the teachers to ask what could be wrong. They told her that “Tanya is such a good little girl,”… that I never caused any problems, and that I never talked. Bingo! My Mother realized that I had gone silent in a world that didn’t meet my individuality or learning style needs.
I never had a school which focused on the child’s unique qualities, such as Waldorf or Montessori schools when I was growing up. I found them much later in life, and now I am a certified Waldorf teacher. Through elementary and junior high, I was shy and silent and escaped to my world of art and imagination. I developed a speech impediment, and had to take special classes. I had dyslexia and dyscalculia (difficulty with numbers and spatial problems) and was in the “slow kids” classes. I hated P.E. and one of the reasons was that I wasn’t a competitor. Some of you can commiserate, I was always the last person chosen for sports teams in school. Recalling these moments of my youth, can still make my triple warmer freak out! How I loved coming home to the safety of my room! I would put on my loud music and dance away the stress. I pretended that I was popular and I would sing and dance for my dolls, as if I were on Broadway.
In the early 1970’s there was not a lot of help for children with learning difficulties and most students were put into the category termed “The Slow Kids” and had special classes for us. It was embarrassing to be one of the few kids escorted out of class, while the other kids were listening to the daily class lecture. I wish I had Energy Medicine tools then! I feel that I could have conquered more in a shorter amount of time and possibly been empowered to “step up” and face my fears earlier. Today I still have dyslexia and dyscalculia but I work with both through Energy Medicine techniques. They have gotten better immensely, but when I have deep stress, I can still find myself going back into my habits of dyslexia and not being able to concentrate.
When Dondi, my sister and I were young, we were put into Polynesian dance classes after a trip to the South Pacific. I had always loved to dance, but was very uncoordinated in the popular ballet classes where we weren’t allowed to be free to express ourselves. Again, I felt like we were little soldiers trying to leap with the grace of gazelles. My round, curvy body wasn’t ready for leaping and it came down with a plop, more like an elephant. So, when I saw these beautiful island women, who were curvy like me, dancing to stories about nature, I felt home. I knew I had found my personal dance style.
In Polynesian dancing, one of the dances we learned was the dance of the Maori, the native people of New Zealand. Along with dancing and chanting mythological stories, the Maori people use poi balls as a dancing tool. Poi which literally means balls are cloth balls tied on the end of long strings that one can whirl and create figures with in the air. Long ago in the ancient Maori civilization, this wasn’t a dance; it was a form of meditation and communication of the women in the tribe, when the men wouldn’t allow them to speak during their meetings.
As a little girl I began to get very good at playing with my poi balls creating complex patterns and designs. Then something interesting happened… My mom observed my grades improving, my social skills getting better, my dyslexia lessening and my social life becoming healthier! I had been a loner most of my life, with very few friends, but never really fitting in, and now I began to have more friends. I was becoming graceful and my coordination and grace was becoming more apparent. My Mom saw that the patterns that I was creating with poi balls were contributing to this and thought that there must be something to this ancient movement.
My Mother (Holistic health pioneer, Donna Eden) has always had the gift of “second sight” and natural intuitional healing. Early on, she wanted to go and find out what energetic patterns were that she was seeing. So she started to study Touch for Health with creators, John Thie and Gordon Stokes. In these early classes, she began to understand the importance of “cross-over” re-patterning and the figure eight movements for good health. Donna continued to observe mine and Dondi’s poi ball play and realized that the cross-over movements we were making in the air, were crossing over the right and left hemispheres of our brain and body. She could actually “see” that our energies were crossing over with her “second sight”. We’d also get happier every time we played with them and she realized that our Triple Warmer was calming and our Radiant Circuits (Happy Emotions) were turning on. This all made sense to her and it didn’t surprise her that our school work was also improving.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that Mom asked me to bring my poi balls to a workshop. I didn’t know what she was going to do, but Mom always springs things like this on me, and I just have to go with her and trust it! As it turned out, I demonstrated poi balls on stage and Mom showed the audience, through energy testing how my energies became stronger when I would swing the poi. If you’ve ever seen my poi ball demonstration at one of Donna’s workshops, you know what an incredible tool this is, not to mention what fun it is.
~ Poi balls are great for Strokes or any kind of Brain injury
~ They help Dyslexia and other learning challenges
~ They raise your vibration up out of Depression and Illness
~ They help your Auric Field stay strong
~ They can Empower you and make you feel Confident
~ Helps with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Range of Motion in the Arms
~ And so much more!
Poi balls are an enjoyable way to substitute the “Homolateral/Cross-crawl Re-patterning”. With poi balls, one can follow the same pattern as Donna Eden’s re-patterning for Homolateral/Cross-over exercises…starting with circles on either side of your body (as in “Homolateral”) and then crossing over, making figure eights on either side of your body (as in “Cross-over”). Spinning Poi Ball in this way is a more enjoyable way to substitute the “Homolateral/Cross-crawl Re-patterning”, which can take up to 5 minutes and sometimes be difficult for elderly people or boring for ‘antsy kids’.
Most people feel joy come over them and have a fabulously good time spinning Poi. For when poi balls are swung, the Radiant Circuits (Strange Flows/Joy Generators) get turned on, as well. In Donna Eden’s words, “Radiant Circuits serve as inner wells of joy, supporting a vibrancy and a harmony throughout the entire energy system. Charging your radiant circuits can change your future, orienting the psyche towards happiness rather than despair. When charged they help us overcome self-sabotage and negative thinking. They sustain us in a more constant state of happiness.”
Swinging poi can also can help eye-hand coordination movements, allowing both sides of the brain to be utilized. The figure eight movements can be done in front of one’s body, on the sides of one’s body, high above ones head or wherever you can think of swinging them. Poi balls are a great tool for those that are in a wheelchair or who can’t stand or move their legs for this “Homolateral/Cross-crawl Re-patterning”. In this case, wind them up on their hands to make them shorter or use pieces or silk material to cross over. They won’t be as strenuous to move and will do the same thing. Even if the poi are short, the figure eights patterns will go right down to our own DNA for healing and connecting systems within the body.
Poi balls are good for the crossing of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This makes sense to me, because one wants the energy flowing from one side of the brain to the other, so why not actually make this movement over the face and brain as well. With poi balls, one doesn’t need to think about this…the poi automatically swings high and crosses over the midline of your face. The poi are so long that it helps bring in the cross-over patterns high above your head and through the midline and down below your waist more you’re your arms would do in the same motion. When I see people doing the “Cross-crawl Re-patterning” in class but not crossing over the top part of their body, as they are so intent on touching their elbow to their knee, the motion stays below their belt only. One isn’t getting a full cross-over going through your face and brain and you may be doing a lot of movement for nothing. You need to cross over the center part of the brain (the midline), for most people with chronic Homolateral patterns. When you have a Chronic Homolateral pattern, this means that most people with this also have chronic illnesses or depression and can’t get well easy. Poi Balls help with this in an easier way!
If two poi balls are too difficult, start with one poi and cross over your body with eights. This is just as important as two balls for your energy. Stay with one ball, until you graduate to two balls. The idea is not to get frustrated, because your triple warmer (your stress button) will turn on and freak out! Remember, this was actually an ancient meditation tool. Take a break, and breathe. Do the Energy Medicine Technique of “three thumps”, including the thumps below the eyes, which are associated with worry (stomach points) in between the movements if it gets too difficult. Now, become one with the poi.
They help you Auric Field stay strong! Your Aura is the electromagnetic field around your body. Most of us cannot see it, but it is full of energy. It kinda looks like Tinker bell’s light around her body. Our Aura is affected by all sorts of things in our toxic world. If our Aura isn’t strong, we’d be getting sick all the time. Your aura can get weakened, due to illnesses, surgery, a terrible trauma, being around too many people or cities (for some). When that happens…Gotta’ get your poi balls out and have some fun!
Poi Balls builds up the aura the protection field around the body. With so many young children being born with sensitivity issues, the poi balls are a perfect tool for protecting the field around the body. The construction of the poi ball is interesting. My mom says that because of the weight and the pull of the ball at the end of the string, it expands your aura even more than if you did a Celtic Weave exercise (Donna Eden’s exercises). I have always been a sensitive person to energies (toxic people and environments) and whenever I would swing my poi balls, I’d get happier, stronger, and more empowered to face whatever stood in my way.
Poi Balls have been great communicators of children and adults, with Autisms and Aspergers Syndrome. My Mother and I have gotten great feedback from people about their kids with Aspergers syndrome, Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia. The kids have a longer attention span, their ability to learn accelerates and their joy becomes greater. If you have a teenager who is struggling with life and perhaps you can’t get them to do any Energy Exercises, you might want to get them a pair of poi balls, which they can later convert to fire poi (many teens are intrigued by the fire poi). There are many fire poi spinning groups all over the world to connect to. The poi might help them to balance out and find a new talent in the meantime!
Adults benefit from the poi as well. Every adult who comes to my classes begins to lighten up and find their own inner child when they swing their poi. I have received feedback that using poi balls can help with carpal tunnel syndrome and range of motion in the arms. Personally, I have found that when I am depressed and if I swing the poi outside in nature, I can flip my energies around so that I am prepared to face the day in a happier more joyful way.
The history of poi is rich and sacred. It is a beautiful honoring to the Maori people of New Zealand. The Maori people have an immense respect for the poi. There are ceremonial poi movements and there are the movements done in performance with song (chanting) and facial expressions. To dance with poi is to become one with the poi.
I have heard many stories of how the poi came into being. One story was said to be a meditation and conversation between women at the times when men were having their meetings and women were supposed to be silent. I have also heard that poi balls were created so that women’s hands would be flexible for weaving. The men learned poi and brought it into their pre-war routines to train mentally and physically for battle. When the poi was used for physical training there was a hard egg or stone sewn into the rope for strengthening their wrists and honing coordination.
The poi is an expression for so many things…It is danced for war, to tell stories of the Gods, for conversation, to flirt between lovers, to calm the baby in a mother’s tummy, to honor the turning of the seasons, in exercise, and in many rituals including the building of a house, and for peace. Ngamoni Huata in his book- the Rhythm and Life of the poi, says “Poi can be anything you want it to be.”
Today, we see many representations of poi from traditional poi, fire poi, streamer poi and poi on chains. Many people excitedly tell me of toys they had when they were little that were similar to the poi. In South America, the Argentine gauchos whirl “Bolas” which are hard balls attached to strings (like poi). They strike them on the floor, making rhythms as they dance to display their talent. There are also numchucks, from martial arts, which use similar movements of cross-over patterns.
I have introduced poi balls to thousands of people all over the world. I have seen amazing shifts in people’s energies, from the moment they pick up a pair of poi. Children find it natural to have fun with the poi and they like creating new moves. Additionally, it can be very gratifying for a child to make their own poi balls. I have gone into schools to help the kids make their poi balls. I teach them about the ancient Maori ways…the singing and the chanting. Then we chant their poi into being. Teaching the children about the history of the poi and the Maori natives of new Zealand is important, as they can have establish a respect for the poi balls and themselves.
The art of the poi has been exploding all over the world since it’s early beginnings. I am so grateful to the Maori people for this ancient gift of the poi. Little did they know where the poi would go! I am grateful to these indigenous people of New Zealand who seem so in tune with the land, the earth, the seasons, the flow of energy and the power of emotions. With this connectedness to a very deep and spiritual place they have given us the gift of the poi which aides them in all aspects of life. May the poi aide you in life and may they bring you happiness, joy and a greater sense of health and well being. Keep your poi balls with you at all times; you never know when you will need them! And keep them away from your dogs! Go forward and swing poi!
Titanya Monique Dahlin is a multi-dimensional artist, a certified Waldorf teacher, a professional dancer, story teller, award-winning speaker and stage actress. She is known for her one-woman mythological dance dramas. Titanya assists holistic health pioneer and Mother, Donna Eden in Eden Energy Medicine workshops and has created many of the energy exercises used in Eden Energy Medicine. She also leads her own popular form of movement, based on the work of Eden Energy Medicine called, Energy Medicine Dance. Titanya has four popular DVD’s: Energy Dance and The Energy of the Poi. She is a graduate of the Donna Eden Energy Medicine Certification Program and is the “Eden Energy Movement and Activities Director and Mistress of Ceremonies” of the program. Titanya has studied many healing modalities as they relate to dance and movement. In 1996 she created Five Element Belly Dance which incorporates the ancient Chinese five element system and Middle Eastern dance. She and her sister, Dondi, teach annual resort workshops in this very unique style. Titanya just created an audio CD about the Five Elements and is also writing the long-awaited book, Energy Medicine for Kids.
Poi balls are for sale for $15 a pair. You will also find the DVD- “The Energy of the Poi” which has 13 different exercises with instruction, as well as the history of the ancient poi dance of the Maori people.