Series on Games: Bring it in
Updated: Jun 29
At TrainMovePlay we only play games with kids...and teens... and adults; and small, intimate groups of people who know each other well and large groups just meeting; and to break the ice, let off steam, come into contact, and loads of other reasons. Games serve so many purposes that when we sat down to write one blog post about how and why we use them, it quickly became a whole series of posts! So settle in for a series on games and tasks.
In this post we share some of the games we use most often when we want to redirect the energy of the group inward. We provide detailed instructions on how to play them, with notes about the groups and situations in which we find them most useful, and tips for leading them effectively. We'll also include variations to make them more versatile, challenging, or appropriate.
It is a happy talent to know how to play. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
So much of what we do is SUPER fun that the energy of the group we are working with can often become external, boisterous, or unfocused, which can sometimes be dangerous. At those times, we need to draw the energy back in. Other times, the high, external energy is fine, but we still want to offer opportunity for individuals to practice managing their focus. It is always a nice practice to work on directing our focus outward or inward as we chose, without getting swept away by the environment or situation around us. So, when we want to redirect the energy inward, rather than tell our participants, "Stop having so much fun!," we turn to one of the following games.
Instructions for Play:
Phase 1 All participants stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle and slightly squat down so hands are on knees and faces are close. The leader starts by turning to one person next to him or her and saying, Zoom! That person turns to the next person and says, Zoom! The Zoom travels around the circle as quickly as possible back to the leader, kind of like the game Telephone, but out loud. Try a few times like this, getting faster and faster. This phase is about reaction time, so work together to get the Zoom to go faster. Go both directions.
Phase 2 The Zoom can change directions at any time, so anyone in the circle can either pass it on, or throw it back to the previous person.
When and With Whom:
This magical game works with everyone! Simple enough for preschool kids and still fun for adults.
Small groups or big groups. You can always break bigger groups into smaller circles if it is taking too long for the Zoom to get around. Or see the Variations below for bigger groups and more challenge.
Really good for bringing the energy in without bringing everyone down.
We love this game as a wake up game for early morning sessions because it takes very little instruction, people catch on quickly, and it makes people laugh right away. And also good for midday restarts, like right after a lunch break, because it gets us back together as a group without demanding too much physicality. This game wakes up the mind and the group synergy.
A nice game when kids are getting a bit wild, because it has the magical quality of a secret. You can even whisper the word Zoom instead of saying it loud, so that is really draws the focus in and brings people into the intimacy of sharing a secret.
Throw two Zooms into the circle! Start a Zoom in one direction and a few mins later start another and see if one can catch the other.
Or start two Zooms in different directions and watch as they cross paths!
For very large groups more Zooms might be possible.
Credit: As far as we know, this game is a Martin Moesgaard original.
It has the magical quality of a secret...
Instructions for Play:
Begin with one base, one flyer, and one spotter (if either base or flyer is inexperienced at this game). Typically it is easiest for the base to be the first leader, so without either partner speaking or cuing verbally, the base begins to lead a pose or flow and the flyer follows as much and as far as possible.
The idea is to improvise so that one partner doesn't know what is coming, so no agreed upon set flows or washing machines, although the leader may chose to lead part or all of a washing machine. This is probably more true at the beginning of the game when both partners are trying to tune-in and become sensitive.
Play until someone decides it is enough and then verbally or non-verbally communicate, "Down."
When and With Whom:
This game obviously takes some skill and knowledge about different poses and transitions, although with a skilled base or flyer, it is pretty interesting to see how much a beginner can learn with no verbal cuing at all! *Spotters highly recommended for a new partner learning new skills without verbal cues!
This can be a great wrap up game at the end of a class, workshop, or weekend to give participants a chance to review new material without all of the verbal baggage and noise that has permeated the rest of class.
Also a great review at the beginning of a new session. For example, in a day-long workshop, you might use this game after a break, to get brains and bodies back in the acro mood. At the beginning of the second day of a multiple day workshops, this could be a good warm up.
Also a great mixer - use this game with time limits and rotate partners so that different people work together for short bursts.
Flyer-initiated may be a bit more challenging, but definitely doable.
Unassigned leader is also an option - both partners must tune-in and become aware of who is leading and who is following and when the leader is changing. This becomes a serious communication exercise. We were recently in a workshop with Elad where he used this game as a entry to a discussion on the importance of waiting and patience in acroyoga.
One partner, probably the follower, could close her or his eyes to heighten sensitivity and listening awareness.
Credit: We first played this game with our teacher training group at AcroYoga Montreal and have played it with many groups since.
Instructions for Play:
Start is groups of 2 people: One person is the Magician and hypnotizes the other person with his or her hand.
The second person, the hypnotized person, glues his or her eyes to the Magician's hand.
Wherever the Magician moves his or her hand, the hypnotized person follows, always trying to keep the same distance between eyes and hand.
It is good for the Magician to begin somewhat steadily and predictably and then move toward more unpredictable and more physically challenging patterns, changing up the level, speed, direction, and pathway the hand is traveling.
After a good first round, it is good to change roles so that other partner becomes. the Magician. We call it, Pay Back Time.
When and With Whom:
Like all of the "Bring it in" games, we use this one when the group energy is becoming dispersed and we want to reconnect.
This one can be super fun in a small space because the Magicians can guide their partners over other players, around obstacles, etc. It is nice to let the game go on a bit longer than expected so that the Magicians are forced to get more and more creative.
We always use this game with beginners to introduce spotting and the amount of focus and intense attention a spotter should have.
Great for family or kids classes as an opening to a discussion on taking care of each other, maintaining focus, and, ultimately, good spotting behaviour.
This game, like many, belongs in several categories and has many uses and benefits. Besides bringing the energy in, it also has the potential to get the follower moving in unpredictable patterns. The more chaos that is introduced by the Magician, the better the warm up for the partner's spine, joints, and mind.
Instead of a hand, you could use objects, like the practice ball being used in the photo below.
If you use an object that falls, the Magician could randomly drop the object, in which case, the hypnotized person should catch it before it hits the floor.
Credit: we first played Magician's Hand with our teacher training group at AcroYoga Montreal. The introduction of an object in combination with the Magician's Hand game was inspired by some time with the fabulous duo, Fighting Monkey.
There will be a Quick Reference Guide to all of our games included as the final post in this Series on Games, so check there for an alphabetized list of all of our best games.
Whether we are leading a yoga, movement, Acroyoga or other type of class, and no matter the size or demographic of the group in front of us, games are useful tools. We would loooooooove to hear some feedback from you about how you use these and other games in your movement classes and experiences.
Which games do you love?
Which ones of your favorites did we leave out?
How have you adapted our ideas?