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Poi has a long tradition with New Zealand’s Maori people. Spinning Poi are weighted balls at the end of strings, which have a long, colourful ribbon attached, so that they can be spun around the body making hundreds of different patterns.

Yetithreads Poi

Getting Started

In order to gain a basic understanding of how poi works, you should consider that you are standing within a large dice. There are 4 walls surrounding you (front, left, behind and to the right of you) and of course the floor below you and ceiling above you. These six walls will form the planes/areas that your poi move in. You have a poi in each hand. Please try the following tricks to get started.

Poi Spinning Animation
  • spin both poi going forwards
  • spin both poi going backwards
  • spin one poi going forwards and the other going backwards

Now combine these movements (above) with changing the speed of the poi, so that:

  • the poi both move at the same speed (synchronised)
  • one poi is half a circle ahead of the other one (out of synchronisation)
  • spin one poi above head and one to the side (they will need to be out of synchronisation so that they don’t collide!)
  • Draw circles in front of your body horizontally (eg in circles just off the floor) -vertically


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Criss-Cross This is easier to learn the action with just one poi first of all. Start rotating the poi forwards, then cross your arm over across your body so the poi is rotating forwards, but on the other side of your body then bring your arm back so the poi crosses to the original side. Try and get this so the poi does one rotation on each side of your body. Now switch hands and repeat the procedure so both hands can do it. Now finally try this with a poi in each hand (tip from Francis Williams)
2-Beat Weave This is actually a criss-cross with the poi out of sync
each poi does one rotation on the same side of the body. (tip from Francis Williams)
Butterfly Hold the poi in front of your body (at arms length). Swing the poi inwards so they are spinning in sync and slowly move your hands closer together. Eventually one hand should be above (and slightly in front of the other. This works well if your wrists are very relaxed. With glow poi this trick looks great, and you can really see the Butterfly’s wings. (tip from Francis Williams)
Circles You can spin large circles that keep your arms outstretched, or you can spin lots of little circles directly in front, behind or at the side of yourself. You can spin circles under the leg. The only place you can’t do a big circle is behind the back (unless you are totally double-jointed!) Practice with one poi to discover all the different places you can spin a large and small circle, then try with 2!
Tadpoles Draw a circle in front of you with a poi parallel to the floor (just like you were stirring a cup of tea). The circle should be small. Bring in the second poi so that it does an alternating circle (eg so they don’t collide). This looks like 2 tadpoles swimming in a pond. The tadpoles can then go in the same direction.

Poi can have a steep learning curve while you learn certain tricks and it is much easier to learn from finding someone at a Juggling Club to teach you (or through seeing diagrams in a book or watching someone on DVD), but with enough practice and the occasional bit of guidance, you will soon be moving the poi fluidly all over the body and even become more flexible as you attempt the behind the back tricks!

Stirling Juggling Project's Emma showing us how to poi spin!

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