Brene Brown, in her groundbreaking book, The Gifts of Imperfection, identifies the characteristics of whole-hearted people, individuals whom she studied in her research who shared certain traits of positive living. On that list? Play. Brown defines play as something we do because it’s fun and because we want to. It’s a chance to return to the energy of our inner child.
Playfulness is a key element in your asana practice. Or do you tend to only focus on the benefits of the Pose (such as strength, flexibility, challenge, etc.) when you are practicing? You can open yourself to play by practicing these poses.
Crow was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about my most playful practices. The moment I first managed to balance in Crow was one of the most joyful and fun moments during my yoga practice. Years ago, I watched other people find the sweet spot and thought that it was not possible for me. With one simple suggestion from a yoga instructor (to raise my knees on my upper arms), I flew. What could be more fun?
The most enjoyable balance poses are those that make us feel as if we were children again. We used to play, run, and jump as children without worrying about what people thought or what would happen. We were totally absorbed in the moment and the energy that our bodies gave off. The 5-Pointed star reminds us of this feeling.
What would it be like to take this playful, exploratory energy off your mat and into everyday life? Modifications are a sign of a healthy yoga practitioner! If necessary, use the wall or both feet on the floor.
Why not focus on play today? There are so many options in Warrior III. Smile! Imagine yourself flying in your Warrior III as you move from side to side. Want to earn extra play points? Want bonus points? Make some noise. Make some noise. Playing helps you to change your perception of the challenging feeling in your glutes. What can we do to overcome challenges with a sense of play?
To perform Scales Pose, find an easy seated pose or lotus position (avoid lotus when there is tension in your knees). Put your hands on the floor either side of you, and then lift yourself. Woah! Your pelvic floor will immediately start to move. You might only be able to lift your feet off the foundation for a second or less if you are learning this Pose. It’s a fun way to transform a typical grounded posture, like lotus or easy seating. Play is about trying out new things and being creative.
We often move from seated to upright in yoga with a slow and solemn pace. This energy has an important place in our yoga practice. So does play. You will be given the mission to go from a seated position to a standing mountain pose without using your arms. You may not have known that this is directly related to the long-term health outcome of your ability to make this transition. It’s a wonderful opportunity to let your playful movements strengthen your health.
Yoga is about silence, especially in a world that’s often noisy. Play, silliness, and laughter can be part of the practice. Play can lead you to explore new aspects of your training and to live a more fulfilling life.