What attitude do you bring to your training? When I move, I have a mindset of playfulness and exploration. I am constantly asking myself, “What if I did it this way?” and “I wonder if I can do that.”
It’s so easy to train without fully engaging with what you’re doing. But when we approach movement as play, our minds are excited and stimulated by new possibilities to explore. This mindset brings our awareness to our bodies and builds a stronger connection between body and mind.
The problem is, play can be harder than it sounds. It is something we do naturally as kids, but as we get older we tend to become more goal-oriented and lose that sense of curiosity and wonder. Returning to the simplicity and joy of play is incredibly healing, both for our minds and our bodies.
What I like to do is choose a movement and then find as many different ways to move in and out of it as I can. I have been doing this with handstands lately. I’ll ask myself, “What happens if I kick up into a handstand with one leg? What about the other? With two legs? With my eyes closed?” Each of these is a slight variation, and as I try each one I learn more about my body. I realize that one leg is better at kicking up than the other, and that for some reason it’s much harder when I close my eyes.
You can do this with any movement. You could try getting into the top of a push up position and exploring. Lift one arm, then the other. How’s your balance? Can you go from facing down to facing up without lying on the ground? How many different ways can you find to do that?
You can even do this with getting up and down off the floor. How many ways can you do that? What if you don’t use your hands at all? How does that change things? How much control do you have if you slow it way down?
Play is beautiful because it is the way we were designed to grow. It is so much fun to watch my son learn to crawl and try to stand. He’s not training or trying hard. He’s not frustrated that he can’t walk yet. His growth is motivated by joy, the pure joy of being able to move. And some days he does great and some days he doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter, because to him, it’s just play.
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