I see glimpses of play in the lives of most people. But it is that. A glimpse. A father having a 20 second game of chase with his child around the breakfast table, young men hauling each other around between training drills on a football pitch or maybe couples tickling each other in the park on warm day in the sun. The play potential seems higher if you have children, are in a playful relationship or are part of a sports team but even then, the opportunities for us to forget our life stresses, often seem to diminish before our very eyes. Some of us have even forgotten what it is to play, or how to do it at all. So what is play?
Play is a timeless state where you can be yourself seperate from the life that surrounds you or as described by Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and founder of the National Institie for Play in California, “a state of mind, an attitude of curiousity and wonder”. Through play we learn about ourselves and how we connect to other people. It is mind, body and soul nourishing. Inside, we are all just big children wanting to laugh and be loved.
Seeped in the pressures to work and maintain certain self applied pressures we can become play deprived and at our core “depressed” because lets face it, life without play is bleak! Studies on rats have shown that play deprivation resulted in abnormal brain development and when placed in stressful situations “their cortisol levels don’t come back down” and “they often die.” (Brown) Yoga practice trains the mind to accept and release. The need to mentally and physcially let go is a survival requirement in this life!
I have the spent the last few years building up a business that emphasises that workout time is play time and your body can be your playground. In my mind, we should all create time to play for playings sake but the more play we scatter throughout the day, the better. We all benefit from exercise and we all NEED to play so why not put the two together? It pays to be Time Smart in this busy life. When you meet a good friend- go for a huge hug, when you walk your dog- play with your dog, when you are cooking- put some music on and bop around a bit. All these small mini-flecks of play keep us light, positive and happy 🙂 Play isn’t an optional extra. It’s what makes us feel alive.