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Movement play time!

Movement play time!

Did you know that our ability to PLAY is one way to stay young at heart, and it's a skill that most of us have lost as adults? Jobs, kids, responsibilities take priority over playtime and dedication to our own movement practice. Our ability to play is similar to our ability to learn any other skill. If we don't practice it, we become less skillful. If you learned to play the piano as a child, but your practice dropped off, it's unlikely you'll be as adept as you once were. However, we can reconnect to the skill with patience and practice, and learn again.

I don't know about you, but going to the gym or working out at home can feel like a major bummer, like a chore. Sometimes it even feels like a punishment for "being bad" with our food choices or to overcome what we feel was a lazy afternoon binging on Netflix. How can we make movement fun again? How can we learn to enjoy our movement practice and at the same time, ignite new learning capabilities for our brain?

Sara Hula.jpg

When I was a kid, I didn't have a workout plan. I climbed trees and jungle gyms, swung from monkey bars, jumped over fences, practice swinging a bat, threw a frisbee, roller skated, ice skated, jumped rope, played hop-scotch, rode my bike all over the place, hula hooped (poorly), skate boarded (how did I live to tell about that?), and jumped on the pogo stick (that was a bit of a disaster, just between friends.) Rain, shine or snow, my family used to have to practically drag me back inside when the sun went down. I was strong, fit, flexible, and happy as a lark. Granted, we don't have as much leisure time that we did in our childhood, but we can still carve out time in our day for some fun movement. I think we could all take 10 minutes away from social media, TV, or the newspaper to move our bodies and have a bit of fun at the same time. 

Our brains and bodies LOVE novel movement. The nervous system is always seeking feedback and information, and enjoys a challenge or a new puzzle to solve. That is why we often see a plateau in progress if we do the same elliptical machine for months on end, or don't vary our weight routine from time to time. Adventuring is about growing your comfort zone, after all, so let's devise a game plan to have some fun and move our bodies!

  • Skip to the mailbox and back, 10 times. If your mail box is really close, skip down around block instead. Be prepared to have some puzzled neighbors. 

  • Set a book on your head while standing. Try to come all the way down to your seat on the floor, anyway that you can, then come back up again and try not to drop the book. If that's too easy, don't use your hands to sit or stand, you overachiever!

  • Head to the park, put on your headphones, and do "walking lunges" - 20 forward, 20 backwards and sing along with your favorite song as you go. The lunges will most likely turn into a random dance party, and that's OK!

  • YouTube a dance step or line dance that you've always wanted to learn, and get after it!

  • Twirl a hula hoop. I promise you it's super humbling but really fun, and a killer core workout (and not just for your front abs!) Try spinning with just your arm or leg too!

  • Buy some sidewalk chalk and draw out a hopscotch course. If you're not sure of the rules, get Googling. Your kids will enjoy this almost as much as you will.

  • Challenge your friends or children to a jump rope contest. Set a timer and see who can jump the longest without snagging a toe on the rope. 

  • Get on your hands and knees, curl your toes under, hover your knees one inch off of the ground, and crawl while keeping your back as level as a tabletop. Say hello to your core, my friends. Once that becomes too easy, set a book flat on your pelvis, repeat the crawl, stay low, and don't let the book slide off of your tush. 

  • Head to the nearest playground and hang from bars, swing, ride the merry-go-round, or go down the slide. Seriously, you can thank me later. 

  • Stand on your right leg with a water bottle or another object in your right hand. Set the object down on the floor, anywhere but not too close to your right foot. Then pick it up with your left hand, stand up again, and set it down with your left hand, get creative with your placement. Retrieve with your right hand again, be sure your left leg stays off the ground! Try for 10 rounds on your right leg, alternating the arm that sets and retrieves the object. Then repeat on the left leg.

  • Play twister. Yep, I went there. Be prepared to die laughing. It's worth it.

Reconnect to your inner child, plaster a smile on your face, and go have some fun for 10 short minutes. Boost your "feel good" hormone production by engaging in movement play and create new neural connections with a new movement pattern that has been dormant. I'd love to hear how it goes, or if you were inspired to create your own 10 minute movement play plan.

Yours in discovery,
Sara Paige
Women on Adventures Yoga Mentor

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