The Importance of Play

By: Hindel Moskovits

I love when a fellow acroyogi asks if I want to play.

Play… A forgotten word, one I associate with my children.

Observe children playing. What do you see? Children playing have big smiles; they are giggling, laughing and learning while having fun. They are obtaining skills to problem solve, making friends, and learning to negotiate. They are exploring their imagination, exercising creativity and developing emotionally.

Do we as adults miss out on these experiences, these vital life tools? Are we inhibiting our growth, surrendering our time for the million other pressing issues that life throws our way? Did we realize how much of ourselves we compromised as we let playtime slowly slip out of our lives? Shouldn’t we benefit from all the advantages that play has to offer?

When I started playing again, I realized the price I had paid for allowing play to dwindle. I am an adult who loves playtime and I make it a priority. I want to share how playing- my acro yoga practice, continues to help me grow and bring joy to my life.

Smiling and Laughing Are Part of Play 

Like play, we adults often lose the habit of uninhibited smiling and laughing. Smiling makes one feel good, and that’s just the tip of its many other benefits. A smile activates the release of neuropeptides- tiny molecules that communicate with the body releasing feel-good neurotransmitters-dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.  A smile relaxes the body, relieves stress, and is a natural pain reliever.

You can find yourself in middle of the most stressful day, but when someone flashes you a genuine smile you can’t help but smile back. Smiling lifts our mood and the moods of others. It makes us more attractive, drawing people to us instead of pushing them away.

I’ve never had an acro practice that didn’t involve lots of smiles and laughter. Even as I write this I’m smiling thinking of my time with my acrofam. The smiling and laughter brings us together as we play, and makes friends like family while improving our mood. I love looking at videos of my practices, they make me laugh out loud and bring a smile to my face.

Playing Builds Friendships

When I look around at my circle of friends I wonder how many of us would be linked had we not connected through acroyoga. There is a natural instinct to connect with those like us, people we relate to. Does this subconsciously cause one to discredit one’s value based on age, gender, country of birth, religion, race, employment and so many other factors?

When you play there is a shared connection that breaks these invisible barriers we unknowingly create. Here, we practice together, all of us different colors, races and religions, different political views and stances. Some of us are in our 20s, some of us in our 40s. Would I ever imagine a circle of friends as vast and diverse as the people I practice with?

My life is enhanced by these people that I’ve come to know through our shared play and practice. I love the diversity among my acro community and now my life; we are all people, different on the outside but so much more the same.

Play Encourages Growth

I often meet people who are caught up in continuous pattern of life. They have distractions that make life better, but they experience no changes or real growth. I was once one of these people.

When I first started doing acroyoga I started an instagram account that documented day one, a sorry looking bird pose with sloppy form. Now each time I practice I see my progress and growth as well as areas that need improvement. I’ve attempted skills I’d never thought I could. I’m learning to no longer let excuses dictate my life. I see that hard work yields results. I learn it from the people around me.

My grownup version of play has changed my prospective on what is possible in life. It isn’t just in my acro practice. It means that I can change any aspect of my life if I put in the work and try hard.  Had I believed I was too old, or made other excuses, I’d still be watching from the sidelines, watching others succeed.

 Playing Raises Our Self Esteem

Before acroyoga a lot of my life was received with self criticism. All day a voice in my head told me I hadn’t accomplished enough, that I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to others, thinking they were better than me. Growth amidst struggles changes a person, and growth while you play doesn’t emphasize the struggle. Growth in acro made me feel proud of myself. It gave me passion for life and built my self-esteem. That voice in my head gets smaller and smaller. Being proud of myself makes me think about the person I want to be and gives me the strength to grow rather than subscribing to ideas that hinder me.

Through Play We Reach Goals

In acroyoga a big part of learning is making a lot of mistakes. It’s daunting to try over and over without seeing the progress. We can find ourselves frustrated and think badly of ourselves. However, if we learn from our mistakes eventually we receive the gift of perseverance. We become dedicated to this task, despite our journey of obstacles. We teach ourselves to see the goal and not be fazed by distraction and barriers.  We learn not to let life knock us down; we stand up stronger and bigger. We become achievers, seeing mistakes as growth, moments to teach us how to learn and progress.

During play I’ve had great opportunities to learn from my mistakes – and when you finally nail it, that feeling is magnificent.

Teaching and Learning through Play

So much I’ve learned has been lessons from my fellows. One of the unique qualities of playtime is the lack of structure, no rigid rules to follow, no higher-ups to answer to. Playtime is an equalizer of sorts. During play one may teach and one may be taught, yet no one governs. Through play we learn that everyone has something to share and everyone has something we can learn from them.

Just as you don’t need to be rich to give to the poor, you don’t need to be a master to teach someone else. We can be imperfect while helping others perfect themselves. By teaching what you know and being open to the teaching of others, you’ll make new friends and find new opportunities. You’ll see how everyone has their own special glow, creating respect for each other while building lasting friendships and strong peaceful communities.

Play Encourages Courage

How much of your day is comprised of things you’ve done over and over again? Many of us follow routines, eat the same foods, and follow patterns that feel comfortable and familiar to us. Routines offer us security but often we don’t realize that we are compromising ourselves, ignoring different experiences that could enhance our lives.  Sometimes we long to be daring and challenge that which we know, but our invisible chains cause us to retreat back to the familiar.

How conscious are we to try new experiences? How many of us want to break our self-inflicted confinements but are too intimidated to venture  past what we find comfortable.  Play encourages a safe space for us to attempt new things. It is during play where children try the monkey bars for the first time, or challenge themselves to go down the highest slide.

My experience at the Interfusion festival was with many who stepped far beyond their comfort zone. It was inspirational to witness. Could I be that bold to try things I had little experience with? Would I stand in the back and watch the others? It was at Interfusion where I saw people engaging in new experiences and practices, people brave enough to push away from their comforts. I got to witness the joy of that person’s first lift off the ground while trying acroyoga for the first time.

Trying new experiences have incredible benefit; overcoming fear, getting to know who you are, and inspiring personal creativity.  Today you can make a commitment to try something new, something that pushes your boundaries.  You will find that through engaging in experiences that are foreign to you; your life will have new energy and new excitement. If you haven’t tried acroyoga and think you can’t do it, I challenge you to push beyond your fear and join us. You are so much more than you know.

I am lucky to have acro, my playtime, in my life.  I’ve learned and experienced so much that enhances my days. Playtime is a retreat from the daily grind, it’s my happy place.

I’ve pushed myself to try things that scare me. My flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance are stronger. Best of all I’ve added laughter, friendship, smiles, growth and happiness to my life.

Come play with us at Interfusion Festival. Come experience what I have found to be life changing and magical. You will leave a different person than you arrived. I hope to see you there and experience this magic together.

About the Author 

Hindel Moskovits lives in Brooklyn New York. Aside for her passion for acroyoga she is a master cookie baker who loves exploring New York City with her two children.

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