Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finding My Play Again

When my sister and I were little we had a swing set in our backyard, complete with monkey bars and slide. We would swing across the monkey bars, do front and back flips on the side bars, and spend hours pumping our legs, swinging higher and higher trying to touch the branches of a silver maple which shaded our afternoon romps. Our young bodies became strong and agile while we played, no need for free weights or cardio machines. Years later my adult self grasped onto the monkey bars while working as a camp counselor. I lifted my legs. The little girl inside said go for it. The adult body said hell no. I could not even make it to the second bar. I was not a weakling, I ran, I lifted weights, and practiced yoga (still do), yet I could not support my weight, nor let go for long enough to grasp the second bar.

When did I lose my ability to actively play? I know that many people play sports as adults, amuse themselves at carnivals and other forms of entertainment, but the play that I lost was an all encompassing, total body immersion kind of play. The kind where I hang upside down, twirl around and around on a swing, and run full speed and do a cartwheel in the grass, barefoot. The kind of play where I climb a tree, do a back bend or swing from a tire. I drive by playgrounds today and see adults, supervising little children as they let go and allow themselves to have full body fun, to watch the tree tops as they swing higher and higher and jump when the swing is still 6 feet in the air. I want to be that child again. I have tried, believe me, but my hips get pinched in the narrow swings, the backs of my thighs stick to the metal slides and my arms do not support my weight on the monkey bars.

So where am I going with this? At the risk of sounding like an advertisement (it really isn't,) I tried aerial yoga for the first time a few months ago. Not only was it a killer workout for my upper body, but it allowed me that full body play, which once I gained back I realized I had been missing. The class involved swinging, climbing, and hanging upside down. I left feeling energized, yet like I had a full body workout, to which my screaming triceps the following day can attest. I am not saying that everyone is missing play, but I was. I look forward to my biweekly classes at Berkcirque. I am also slightly tempted to invest in a tree swing in my back yard (while I still have health insurance). If someday you do see a 43 year old woman attempting to cross the monkey bars in the neighborhood playground, don't worry, it's just me, attempting to "play."
In the Berkshires: Berkcirque
Elsewhere: A good Google search will get you where you need to go.

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