Yoga + Play

Amy Olivia Bell Yoga Wellness Wellbeing Blog

Play …it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. (Stuart Brown)

When was the last time you played? 

What constitutes ‘play’ you may ask?  Some of play examples include…

  • Object 
  • Independent
  • Social
  • Story Telling
  • Sport
  • Rough & Tumble
  • Exploration
  • Music
  • Art
  • Puzzles & Games

Why am I getting you to check in with yourself with how much play is in your lives?

Because “…play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem-solve, and more. Particularly in tough times, we need to play more than ever, as it’s the very means by which we prepare for the unexpected, search out new solutions, and remain optimistic.”  (Stuart Brown)

As we know play is vitally important for children’s emotional, mental, social growth and development, but it’s also highly important for adults to thrive as well, both on a personal and professional level.

I know it’s so easy to get caught up in non-play related duties and activities which comes with the responsibility of being an adult but all work and little or no play is not conducive for good health and wellbeing.

Amy Olivia Bell Yoga Wellness Wellbeing Blog

Therefore I invite you to commit to Playing more often, let's work towards not only making time for Play but also finding ways to interweave Play into our lives in and around our work.


LILA (accent above ‘i’ and ‘a’ to elongate sound)

Meaning- Play; Sport; Divine Play

  1. The cosmic play.  The idea is that creation (the world we live in and the lives we lead) is a play of the Divine, existing for no other reason than for the mere joy of it.
  2. According to some of the Vedanta schools, it is the motive of creation.  Some Nyaya-Vaisesikas and Tantrics also hold this view.
(A Concise Dictionary Of Indian Philosophy by John Grimes)
It’s helpful to be reminded not to take life and yoga too seriously, to lighten up and find joy and flow with play.

SVADHISTHANA (sacral) CHAKRA – The Creativity And Sexual Chakra

Translation – “your own home” or the “sweet place” (your pleasure centre).

Key words – Flexible, Flow, Changeable, Pleasure, Fun, Joy, Letting Go and Instinct.

Benefits – Increases vitality, sensitivity and creative abilities.  Feeling more confident and able to express yourself.

Element – Water, Liquid Matter.

In the spirit of Lila and connecting with Svadhisthana Chakra, you can also use your yoga practice to explore play...

  • Don’t be too attached to perfection or the outcome of your practice, have fun.
  • Introduce more FLOW into your practice, move like water, create fluid, wave like movements.
  • Mix things up – choose some new yoga poses you’ve never tried before and incorporate them into your practice.  Perhaps also include a particularly challenging one that your practice can lead up to.
  • Alternatively move from posture to posture with no particular goal, take your practice in whichever direction you fancy.
  • Create a long sequence of postures on one side before repeating it on the other, this will lesson the repetition of switching sides immediately after every posture.
  • For the next posture or next sequence lead with the left side first, most commonly we always lead with the right.
  • Vary posture hold lengths, play with stillness and dynamism, examples include; take your time in certain postures breathe for 8-10+ breaths; pulse in a pose – Chair Pose, lower hips and ease off rpt x8; be more explosive like in continual handstand scissor kicks; one breath per pose….
  • Play around with doing classic postures slightly differently, explore different variations, change your gaze, your arm position, move your hand into a mudra etc.
  • Pay attention to the transitions between postures, (a key aspect of Vinyasa Flow), get creative in how you move in and out of poses.
  • Periodically break out into dancing, let go and freestyle, which is a huge component of Play.
  • Try acro yoga.  It’s a wonderful practice to play with, you’ll fall and laugh, be forced to interact with your yoga partner and be challenged to problem solve i.e balance hanging off your partner.
Amy Olivia Bell Yoga Wellness Wellbeing Blog

Here are some quotes to inspire you to introduce more play into your lives...

  1. “Stepping out of a normal routine, finding novelty, being open to serendipity, enjoying the unexpected, embracing a little risk, and finding pleasure in the heightened vividness of life. These are all qualities of a state of play.”  Stuart Brown
  2. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  George Bernard Shaw
  3. “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”  Abraham Maslow
  4. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. “Whoever wants to understand much must play much.”  Gottfried Benn
  6. “The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”  Brian Sutton-Smith
  7. “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”  Mark Twain
  8. “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”  Kahlil Gibran
  9. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”  Richard Lingard
  10. “Play is the stick that stirs the drink. It is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun, and wonder—in short, the basis of what we think of as civilization. Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”  Stuart Brown

To learn more about Play and the importance of it, you might like to watch these Ted Talks in this curated "Play" playlist.

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