There is a reason children play. It isn’t because they’re immature. It’s because when we play, we learn. Children aren’t restricted by limiting beliefs, fears, or insecurities. As these develop over time, we end up playing less and learning less.
Play isn’t new. Our ancestors knew how to play by combining fun, physical activity, and learning. Boys rough house and wrestle today in the same way ancient Greeks did thousands of years ago. It’s an innate way to learn what the human body is capable of and how far it can be extended. Wrestling in ancient times helped boys to synergize the actions of the body with the mind.
Art from Greece depicts acrobatics done on the back of bulls. By engaging the body in creative ways, people were able to better understand themselves and the world around them.
Today physical fitness has taken a different approach. People slog through long runs, visit the gym using the same routine again and again. It’s far from play.
By bastardizing what it means to be physical and active, modern society has lost play and the brain chemicals that we all benefit from engaging in these activities. Endorphins are some of the most powerful brain chemicals responsible for improving mood and happiness.
One of the reason I do acro yoga is to get the dopamine and oxytocin that comes from such a physical and playful practice. Not only do they feel good, but these brain chemicals are responsible for our ability to focus, maintain motivation, and be more successful. Besides the brain chemicals, I feel far more connected to my partner and teacher while learning such a beautiful and simple practice.
More important is what play can do for your soul. Humans are bred for connection and interaction. We are social creatures and there is no better way to socialize than with our movements and words. At a fundamental level, play will help make you a more creative, enjoyable, and constructive person.
Luckily, adding more play into your life doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive. There are plenty of great ways you can add more play in your life. Many of the practices can be done on your own, with a partner, or limited equipment. In fact, if you’re really creative you can probably think of some methods of play that come from your childhood.