Tag Archives: Play

we don't grow old... 051916

Research shows that play at all ages is what allows human beings to thrive. In Nia, we use play to train, condition, and heal the body. And we can also use play to help break habit, solve problems, heal relationships, and open creativity.

This week we used the No Words routine to play. You can find all playlists below or you can choose to listen to them by going to Spotify! You can listen for free at Spotify! Sign up for free, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first a couple of announcements about upcoming happenings:

• AFRI-Cardio with Live Drumming on Friday May, 20, 4:25-525pm at acac Downtown, Group Ex Studio
Join instructor Christine Bostic and drummers Jason Epsie and Rosie McKay for AFRI-Cardio, a class that’s a fusion of West African Dance and a great cardio workout! The live drumming will amplify the energy and offer a more authentic, traditional dance-workout experience. There is no choreography. Instead the goal is to relax, groove to the rhythms and forget you are sweating. All are welcome!
Friday, May 20 at 4:25pm | acac Downtown Group Ex Studio
FREE for members! No preregistration required.

• Ageless Grace at Buck Mountain Episcopal Church in Earlysville with Sheila Queen ~ Every other Saturday, starting May 21, at 11 a.m. in Deese Hall
A wellness program for all ages and abilities, Ageless Grace combines physical activity, brain exercises, imagination, and a sense of humor with music to stimulate a sense of pleasure and well being. Movements address joint mobility, spinal flexibility, brain coordination, and more. The class is done seated, making it inviting for those who may have physical limitations or balance issues. There is NO choreography to learn. All you need are comfortable clothes and a willingness to try something new! Join us and bring a friend. Suggested $5 donations help pay for this class and support Buck Mountain’s Health & Wellness Ministry.

• Myofascial Release Workshop with Mia Hamza ~ June 19 at EDGE Studio
Mia Hamza is one of the best yoga instructors I have – and I have amazing yoga instructors – and her Myofascial Release Workshop is one of the best I’ve attended. In this 3-hour workshop, Mia will guide you on an exploration of your entire connective-fascia system. You will experience a complete, full-body myofascial release that will leave you feeling amazing. And I mean amazing. This workshop is open to all bodies who can lie down on a mat on the floor and may be especially helpful for yoga students and athletes who cross train. Please don’t miss this. $45 pre-register / $55 the day of the workshop. For more information, connect with Liz Reynolds at

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, May 16, 2016, 1045am ~ Playing with Play (No Words)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 11am ~ Playing with Play (No Words)

Beach Drifter 4:02 Plazza
A New Day 4:03 Laya Project
The Great Unfolding 4:06 Quinn
Resolution (Rewound By Thievery Corporation) 4:02 Thievery Corporation
Look Up 5:56 Zero 7
Release It [Instrumental] 6:27 Afro Celt Sound System
Shisha 5:20 Naked Rhythm
Once Again (Live) 6:04 Hang Massive
Curried Ripples 5:03 Ganga Girl
Outro (Live) [feat. Mattias Windemo] 6:25 Hang Massive
Wishful Thinking 5:32 The Album Leaf
A Stream With Bright Fish 3:57 Brian Eno & Harold Budd

Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 840am ~ Playing with Play (No Words)

Thursday, May 19, 2016, 840am ~ Playing with Play (No Words)

Beach Drifter 4:02 Plazza
A New Day 4:03 Laya Project
The Great Unfolding 4:06 Quinn
Resolution (Rewound By Thievery Corporation) 4:02 Thievery Corporation
Look Up 5:56 Zero 7
Release It [Instrumental] 6:27 Afro Celt Sound System
Shisha 5:20 Naked Rhythm
Once Again (Live) 6:04 Hang Massive
Curried Ripples 5:03 Ganga Girl
Wishful Thinking 5:32 The Album Leaf
A Stream With Bright Fish 3:57 Brian Eno & Harold Budd


For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!


5 ways to play 051516

Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

Play is for kids.

It’s true: play is essential to the learning and development of young humans but research shows that humans at all ages need play to thrive. But while adults might play an instrument or play a sport or go see a play or even be in a play, we don’t tend to think of play as an adult activity.

In fact, notice if you feel resistance to play as something that is silly, immature or a waste of time. If that’s the case, entertain the notion that playing is just tinkering with something that you already do. What if play can be helpful when you get stuck in habit, in an unhelpful pattern, or when you’re searching for a solution?

Here are 5 ways to play that you might not have considered before and that just might shift something that needs shifting:

1. Play with something you do every day

Take a simple thing you do every day — brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or driving to work – and see what happens when you play with doing the repetitive process with variations. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or while standing in the dining room or with a different kind of toothpaste. Wash the dishes while whistling, do them more slowly or wash them as you dirty them instead of waiting for the sink to be full. Drive a different route to work, without the radio on (if you usually have it on) or with it on (if you don’t), see how many out of state plates you see. Take a habitual, repetitive action and play with it.

2. Play with something you think every day

Notice repetitive thoughts — that thing you always think when you see yourself in the mirror, or about the drivers who are in the wrong lane or when it’s time to do that thing you don’t love to do. Notice what you think every day and play with thinking something different:
“Hiya, gorgeous!”
“I’ve made that mistake before. Here’s space to get in front of me.”
“This is going to go easefully.”
Take a habitual and repetitive thought and play with it.

3. Play with someone you see every day

Relationships can become habitual and repetitive especially if we see them regularly. Play with greeting people differently or instead of asking how they are, compliment them or say how good it is to see them. Over the evening meal, ask a different question:
“What was surprising today?”
“What was funny today?”
“What did you learn today?”
Take a habitual and repetitive relationship and play with it.

4. Play with something you’re learning

If you’re starting something new or learning a new skill, allow some play into the process. Whatever you’re learning, repeat it and practice it with variations. If you’re learning something physical, like a dance step or a soccer skill or how to mince garlic, do it slowly then do it with one eye closed, then while humming L’il Liza Jane. Memorizing a speech or French verb conjugations? Whisper them, say them while walking the dog or make them into a little song.
Take a new skill and play with it.

5. Play with something you’re stuck on

Maybe you are having trouble solving a problem or making a decision. Maybe a creative project is stalled and you’re not sure what to do next. If you’re stuck, what the hey, you might as well play with it. Write about it in a journal – stream of consciousness style or write the question with your dominant hand and the answer with your non-dominant hand. Ask your twenty-years-older-than-you-are-now self what to do next. Take one small step in any direction and see how it feels.
Take a problem and play with it.

PLAY 051416

Friday 8am. Julia’s yoga class. We’re in a wide-legged forward fold called
Prasarita Padottanasana. No surprise, we do it in most classes.


“From here,” she says, “Why not take Firefly?”

Firefly? I’ve experimented with several arm balance poses with little success but Firefly? An arm balance with the legs wide and lifted off the floor? But, shazam, why not? It’s Friday morning with Julia!


I lower my hips, bend my arms and gingerly lift my toes. For a second, just like its namesake, I hover over the ground…and then tip over and dump awkwardly onto my butt. I snort because, butt-falling.

Julia is all for it. “Yeah! Falling is great! Yoga can be so intense, serious and challenging, it’s important to bring a sense of playfulness to it.”

“Samuel L. JACKson,” I think. “LIFE can be so intense, serious and challenging. It’s important to bring a sense of play to everything!”

Years ago, I read Stuart Brown’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul and it profoundly changed the way I think about play in my work and in my life. We’ve all experienced the State of Play at some point. Executives call it The Flow. Athletes call it The Zone. No matter what you call it, according to Dr. Brown’s research, some characteristics of play are:

  • Purposelessness, that is, the activity is done for its own sake. It is intrinsically rewarding.
  • Timelessness – an engrossing activity in which the player loses her sense of time (you know, “time flies when you’re having fun”).
  • Safe – In the state of play, we are incapable of failing.
  • Pleasurable – of course, play is fun!

Our culture tells us that play outside of childhood is silly and pointless but research shows that it is essential to people of all ages. Part of the reason the practice of Nia has been consistently interesting to me for more than 16 years is this element of playfulness. It’s also a big reason I love my husband (and cat) so much.

In Nia we use play to train, condition and heal the body and by practicing play we develop an effective way of learning, improving processes, increasing creativity and solving problems. In his May 2, 2016, post “Thoughts on Play” Todd Hargrove defines play as repetitive movement with variations. This definition gets directly to the integrated nature of play.

Imagine seeing someone doing a repetitive movement with no variation. This would look rigid, like work, not like play.

Now imagine seeing someone doing movement that had no repetition at all and was only variation. This would look like crazy chaos, not play.

But if you saw someone repeatedly doing something with slight tweaks and variations – like throwing a ball or skipping rope. That would look and feel like play.

Dr. Dan Siegel, UCLA professor of psychiatry and overall neuroscientific badass says, “Integration is health.” Without integration, a person, group, system, or organization swings either to rigidity or chaos. Play, then, is a healthy place to be.

Playing with play is the human way of learning, creating, and healing. How can you play today? In anything you do ~ from dreaded chores, tricky conversations, creative conundrums or physical challenges ~ incorporate playful tinkering to see what happens.

Integration is health and play is integration so go play.

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