During playtime, we fantasize. We stretch the silver lining of our assumptions and most importantly, we challenge a previously established framework, daring to use it in a different way. The result will invigorate our teaching. And we’re likely to discover that our students are much more agile and hungry for exploration than we may think.
The field of psychology has long established the benefits of play when it comes to creativity and learning. Messing around is how young animals figure out their pecking order, practice hunting and always manage to squeeze in a little stretch and a cuddle. For children, the same applies: spontaneous play (not-scheduled, not-planned, not-structured, not-assessed) is a fertile learning ground, both for recall and long lasting change. A new brain map is drawn without stress or pressure and the body eagerly listens to what feels good and is fun. Playtime can go a long way to get inspired and create new sequences that are exciting and surprisingly useful.
To play, you need a little time. 30 minutes usually works best. Maybe you get to the studio early, blast some fun music and sip a cup of your favorite tea. Pick your playground, lie down and breathe. Open your eyes and let yourself be drawn by interest instead of the internalized sequence drilled into us by a manual. You’re on the lookout for a sweet spot, a movement that will bring about a sensation, longing or just feeling of being held and cozy.
Let’s take the roll down bar on the Cadillac for example. Stretch your body out long and place your heels on top of it. The lower body will be slightly elevated, floating above your pubic bone, creating a hammock for your legs. Gently swing side to side or try a little bounce. After a lifetime of lower back problems, my spine really loves the buoyancy of anything that swings, vibrates and floats, which incidentally is everything we used to do when we played as kids. It feels great! It also gently stretches and tones the sacral area, balancing the muscles around the Sacroiliac joint.
Once you found the sweet spot, explore from there: adding gentle upper body flection in all directions while the legs are floating brings length and breath to the ribcage. Just letting the neck roll from side to side in concert with the sacral dance is a wonderful way to start the day.
Best of all, since you started from a place of intuition and sensation it becomes easier to connect with the person you’re about to teach. Your connection with their body will have a deeper dimensions of loving, caring, empathy and support. And your teaching will greatly contribute to somebody else’s well-being.