Why does creativity bring joy?

How to balance your sacral chakra by being creative

Illustration: Kate Styling

Words: Stephanie Lam

Why does creativity bring joy?

According to ancient Indian texts, the sacral chakra is one of the seven central energy points in the body. Located about four finger-widths below the belly button, it’s associated with the colour orange, pleasure and creativity. Its Sanskrit name, Svadhishthana, means ‘dwelling place of the Self’.

What happens when your sacral chakra is unbalanced?

When all is well with your sacral chakra, you’ll be emotionally balanced. You’ll feel creative and alive, and relish the joy of experiencing life through your senses, without feeling overwhelmed. When it’s blocked or out of balance, you may feel as if you’re either too emotionally vulnerable or – the other extreme – dissociated from your feelings.

How might this show up in your life? An imbalanced sacral chakra can manifest as a yearning to create – whatever that means for you. Or, if you’re taking your creative activities more seriously than you’d like, that also indicates an imbalance. Maybe you’re experiencing pressure to create and you’ve lost the joy that once propelled you. Whatever it might be, there are many ways to nurture your sacral chakra (see below for a few ideas), but to switch on a sense of joyful connection, and feel harmony as you pursue your passions, try altering your relationship with creativity.

Can creativity bring pleasure?

The word ‘creativity’ might give you the heebie-jeebies, but it needn’t mean producing a piece of creative art. Creativity is found whenever you make something out of nothing. Cooking is creative. Cooking or baking alchemises ingredients and heat into taste sensations. Starting your own business is an act of creativity, as is crafting, gardening and house renovation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making balsawood aeroplanes or a hydroelectric dam, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can follow a set of step-by-step instructions and still find pleasure in the work.

But it’s that elusive concept – pleasure – that can be tricky. It’s all too easy to see creation as a chore, even when it’s entirely voluntary. Then there’s that oft-repeated phrase, ‘I’d love to have time to…’, with the creative act inserted at the end. Taken together, creativity is often seen as something that requires more time and energy than you can currently spare. If you relate to either of those, then your sacral chakra needs some loving attention. Find pleasure and lightness, and you’ll discover energy and time that you didn’t know you had. And you can do this by marrying creativity with a sense of childlike playfulness.

Why is it good to be playful?

Emma Jennings is a laughter-yoga leader and integrative humanistic therapist from Worthing in the south of England. Laughter yoga is a group exercise that incorporates simulated laughter, childlike games and gentle moving and stretching to increase positive feelings, decrease stress and boost the immune system. ‘When we play, we’re forming new neural networks in the brain,’ says Emma. ‘And it means that when we meet unexpected situations, or problems, we’re better able to respond in a more versatile and creative way.’

What this means is that as your mind becomes open through playfulness you’ll also be more open to the creative impulse. ‘You’re better at making novel combinations, or putting things together that you hadn’t previously thought of,’ says Emma. ‘I love this definition of playful.’

How to boost creativity

In the cult 1990s UK sitcom Spaced, artist Brian flings paint at a canvas while muttering ‘Anger… pain… fear… aggression…’. The tortured artist is a humorous figure, but it’s a stereotype because it contains an element of truth. Maybe you think you must be in the so-called zone to create. Or maybe you treat it as a job for which you must put in a full day’s work (even if most of that is procrastination).

Taking your creativity too seriously can be a one-way track to burnout. Of course, making things might be your job. But even if you’re getting paid for your creative work, there’s always room for playfulness within that. And beyond the 9-to-5, you’re almost certainly creative in other areas – which is where you can bring in an extra element of joy. ‘I think we can play with anything,’ says Emma (who describes herself as a ‘very serious’ person). ‘Find the thing that you love to do, and you’ll bring joy into your life. You’re likely to be connecting with other people who share your passion and your interest.’

How playfulness balances your sacral chakra

Your sacral chakra will feel more in balance however that playful creativity shows up. If you have a garden, toss in some wildflower seeds and see what happens. In the kitchen, experiment with making something for yourself – no dinner-party pressure here, just enjoy the act of creation, with you as the only witness. If you want to be more artistic, think frivolously. Write a limerick. Doodle cartoon flowers or hearts. Remember when you were a teenager and you filled the cover of exercise books with scrawls and pictures? That’s all playfulness, so start from there.

If you’re feeling brave, Emma suggests trying improvised comedy (see Breathe, issue 29) or a clowning course: ‘It’s very much about getting you into a state which is all about curiosity, creativity and wonder.’ In that state of playfulness, she says, you will naturally start to feel more creative. You may even find yourself bubbling over with new ways of being. But if you’re not up for clowning, never fear. ‘Just go and play,’ says Emma. ‘Think outside the box in terms of what you’d normally do – plan a surprise date with a friend or relative.’ And if you’re feeling more solitary, she suggests that you take yourself on a date. She says it’s about ‘filling your cup with creativity, so that you can be more creative in your output’.

A harmonised sacral chakra equals a fulfilled sense of creativity and play. But you don’t need to be a chakra fan to recognise that playful people tend to be more joyous – and joyful people play more. ‘I firmly believe that playful creativity can help us to foster resilience when we’re facing adversity or when we’re in difficult situations,’ says Emma. ‘When we’re being closely creative, we’re much more likely to connect with others. That helps us to co-regulate, to balance our emotions and not to be too overwhelmed.’

How being creative and playful helps you live longer

It seems that being both creative and playful leads to longevity – a study published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 2012 found that creativity is linked to a longer life. And Emma quotes research from 2004 on brown bears in Alaska, which found that ‘the bears who spent the most time playing lived the longest’. It’s also long been accepted (although not easily proven) that if you’re creative, you’ll feel better in yourself. And playfulness is, according to psychologist, researcher and advocate for play Stuart Brown: ‘The basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun and wonder – in short, the basis of what we think of as civilisation. Play is the vital essence of life.’

So, if you’re feeling creatively pressurised or looking for a way to be more creative, then start adding in the joy. Likewise, if you’re experiencing other effects of an imbalanced sacral chakra – whether that shows up as emotional rawness or distance – then take some steps into playing with any creative ideas you have. Even if you’re the least creative person you know, there’ll be something you enjoy making. So, take off your adult hat, pick up a (metaphorical) paintbrush and experiment. Go wild. Relish the feeling of being properly alive.

How can I be more creative?

Start a hobby for a day

The thought of a long-term commitment to learning a new skill might feel daunting. And while slow crafts can bring great peace and mindfulness – think sourdough bread or knitting a winter jumper – a hobby in a day brings with it the joy of experimentation that your sacral chakra needs. If you have a free afternoon, dedicate it to trying a new hobby, without any intention to continue. Follow an online lesson on woodwork or try a creative writing workshop. Do it in the spirit of ‘Why not?’ and see where it goes.

Join a laughter-yoga club

‘In transactional analysis, we talk about the child ego state, and laughter yoga really encourages that free child,’ says Emma. ‘It’s a way of hacking our system and helping us get into that playful state of being.’ Additionally, sessions usually use plenty of games. As Emma says, they ‘help to foster that sense of playful creativity’.

Move your body

Getting stuck into a project? Set a timer and, every half hour, get up and dance as stupidly as you can. You can play music in your head or out in the world as you jiggle your arms and legs. Think of watching kids dance and how little they care. It will stop you being too much in your head, and free your mind in the process.

Change your style

Try out a new phrase you’ve never used before. Change your style of clothing or hair. Do a physical activity you haven’t yet attempted. Remember when you were a teenager and life was still up for grabs? Experiment (safely) with different ways of being and see where your new playfulness leads.

How do you balance your sacral chakra and welcome playfulness?

Connecting to your sacral chakra

As well as creativity and playfulness, the sacral chakra is linked to the element of water. One way to combine all these is via cold-water therapy. Advocates of open-water swimming enthuse about the sense of joy it brings them. Exercise is a great way to stimulate the creative mind, and plunging into cold water with a yelp is inherently childlike – there’s nothing dignified about it.

If you’re unable to experiment in this way, or don’t find it so appealing, then being near open or flowing water can also generate a sense of joy. This is also a good option if health factors make cold-water therapy unsuitable (see Breathe, issue 59). So, watch ducks on a river or stand under the shower and turn down the temperature. Relish the feeling of water on your skin.

Massage and yoga to bring joy

Any way of being physical connects with the sacral chakra, but especially nurturing, joyful activity. This can include pampering – think massage or yoga. Sacral chakra poses include squat (malasana) and happy baby (ananda balasana). But physical joyfulness can also take a more energetic form. Create a feelgood playlist and commit to dancing to one track a day.

Balance your sacral chakra with diet

The sacral chakra governs the intestines, so take care of your gut and it will respond in kind. Eating joyfully and mindfully reminds your body of the pleasure in eating. Consuming a variety of colours is excellent for the body in general, but orange is associated with the sacral chakra. You could also choose kimchi. Made from raw cabbage or other vegetables fermented with ginger, garlic and chilli, it’s usually orange-tinted and an intestine-friendly probiotic. Make your own in a spirit of open-minded experimentation (see Breathe, issue 19).

Be yourself to balance your sacral chakra

Take inspiration from the meaning of the Sanskrit name for sacral chakra and be yourself. Drop the mask you wear for others, and take time to be your own childlike, joyful being. Allow emotions to flow through you and open yourself to becoming fully present within your own skin.

As well as laughter-yoga workshops and training, Emma teaches improvised comedy and is the co-founder of Brighton Laughter Club. For more information, visit

You can read more articles about creativity and wellness in the latest issue of Breathe magazine.