Leading Joyful Lives: How to Play Together

Play is a primal part of us—here’s how to unleash it.

Play isn’t just for kids. Running, dancing, meditating, practicing: It’s how we harness our inner spirit and feed our imagination. #OmOutAndPlay with us at a Wanderlust 108 event or festival this season!

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We need to play together.

Instead we often find ourselves overbooked, on the go, moving forward, and going further—all the while getting heavier, growing wider, and losing touch with our senses. In our high-tech society the word “play” means increased isolation and low-touch sensory exchange. But play is the gray space in our brain that needs to be ignited each day. We should allow ourselves to wander, mentally and physically, off the grid of procedure and routine. But sadly, we’re even over-scheduling the masters of play: our children.

It’s time to get back to our roots, dig in the dirt, fantasize, collaborate, and be creative—even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Don’t plan play into your schedule (making it one more mechanical chore) instead look for opportunities to naturally incorporate it.

Take Your Tribe to the Mat

Grab a friend or lover for your next jaunt to the gym or yoga studio. One of my favorite phrases is: Couples who play together stay together. Lab studies have proven that when a couple engages in a physical activity or challenge they feel more “in love” and satisfied with their partner. It also increases adherence to an exercise program and makes it feel like it moves along faster.

There are similar benefits to working out with a friend. Social psychology and the pack mentality states that the mere presence of someone else increases energy output and aids in motivation, while encouraging diversity and fun competition.

Do Something You Like

This might seem reasonable, but it’s amazing how many people try and force themselves to do things that don’t fit their personality. The first step to putting play into your day is finding a style of exercise or activity that you enjoy. Think of it as a spiritual puzzle—you have to find the piece with your edges. You know yoga is good for you, but maybe you want to trance dance or tango, too. Festivals are fantastic exposure to new forms of play, vibrant days where you can embrace the variations inside you.

Get a New Playlist

Were you a hard rocker or a metal head? Maybe a disco king or a fan of smooth jazz? Pick music that picks up your mood and it will up your caloric burn and make things more fun. Studies are finding that quick tempos increase heart rate and breathing while slower bass lines help you chill out.

Sometimes making a playlist can take a while and be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately mood-magic motivation can be had with the playlists on YOGANONYMOUS. Enjoy everything from the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, and Ziggy Marley, down to some hip-happening house music.

Be Silly

Playtime should not be called “work.” But there are times when we all just have to get it done. So when I’m tackling household chores I loathe I try and make a game of it. I insist on bringing play into the everyday—even in the grocery store. When my daughter and I shop for groceries we race down the aisles on treasure-hunt competitions, we stop to dance, and we toss things into the cart and score points. On the way there and back we sing as loud as possible in the car (often rapping alternative lyrics to popular songs).

Play is a primal part of us. Psychologists say we never lose the ability; it just has to be reignited. As we mature our daily routines restrain us, and fear stymies spontaneous freedom. But there’s one thing our brain really needs more than downtime: playtime.

andes-hrubyAndes Hruby has spent 30 years as a certified fitness instructor in five disciplines and graduated Columbia University with an MFA in writing. The American Council on Exercise accredits her as a Health Coach, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Facilitator. To better balance her body Hruby began her training in the Ashtanga community under Beryl Bender Birch, David Swenson, and Nancy Gilgoff. Hruby was previously the NBC Fit Guru of Connecticut, and for over a decade was the owner of Studio Blue: Fitness Made Fun. She currently writes a lifestyle and fitness column for ConciergeQ and has been a contributor at: Glamour, Elle, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and numerous online zines and blogs. After an injury she turned her attention toward coordinating unique retreats at Manu Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica.