Play is not just for kids anymore!

Lindsay Krahn graduated from our 2021-22 Yoga Teacher Training Program, and wrote this blog post as one assignment. Lindsay’s yoga practice was re-inspired by the inclusion of play in her explorations.

Believe it or not, yoga doesn’t have to be all perfect postures where you have to go through pose by pose, all in a very serious silence. Yoga can also be a tool for connection with yourself, others, and a source of fun!

Sometimes contrary to finding a perfectly-aligned Warrior 2, play happens when you explore, imagine, or find enjoyment from an activity without any need for an objective or outcome.

Play is important for kids and adults alike. It can help calm our nervous systems, make us feel happy, creative, and curious, and get us into a ‘flow’ state where we feel focused and engaged. When bringing play to the mat, it invites curiosity of ourselves, our experiences, and the world around us.

Choosing an exploration of a pose gives us the opportunity to tune-in with ourselves, to connect to who we are and what we need. And when making play a regular practice, these benefits may spill over beyond the practice itself.

If you’d like to experiment with the practice of play into your yoga practice, here are some ideas to get you started:

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  • Use your imagination! Try ‘embodying’ a pose (Imagine what a tree would be like while in tree pose. See if you can feel a sense of ‘fire’ while holding a plank. Imagine that your legs are glued to the ground in cobra.)
  • SMILE while you’re practicing
  • Explore new or different postures than you’re used to, or try coming into or out of postures in a way you haven’t before. Notice how it feels in your body
  • Use a ball to juggle, kick along your mat, or balance with your hands
  • Try using props (or non-yoga props!) in an unconventional way – see if you can come up with a use for them!
  • Consider adding non-asana movements to your practice, whether it be dance while you’re centering yourself, an exercise, or something else entirely
  • Give yourself the freedom to choose. In your personal practice (and even in a studio), you don’thave to stick to what’s being offered. Welcome movement and curiosity, even when it doesn’t look like what the instructor is teaching (or what you think you should be doing)

In my personal practice, opening myself up to play on the mat has helped me create a practice that is fun, constantly evolving, and keeps me coming back. I find imagery a particularly useful tool to connect to my practice and quickly get me out of over-thinking, and into my body.

If you don’t have an at-home yoga practice (or even if you do!) I’d encourage you to set a timer for a couple minutes just to be on your mat. See what comes to you – what do you naturally want to explore? Movement or stillness? A particular movement or shape? What comes to mind for you? It might not be anything, or this might feel challenging, and you can take note of that too. Different play strategies might feel good for some and not for others, and that is perfectly okay. The nice thing about play is that it can be completely customized to different people and their experience of play.

Spend some time exploring what brings YOU into a playful, curious state and then bring that into your yoga practice. Next time you roll out your mat, give yourself permission to invite play to the mat. You might surprise yourself!


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