The Joys and Benefits of Play

Hello from one of my favorite places on Earth - The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY!  My family and I have been looking forward to this week all year long.  It's family week at Omega and we came here together to immerse ourselves in our own versions of play and rest in the safe haven of this little oasis.  

My husband and I are both enjoying the Joy Of Play Camp for adults together, while our son is off as a "junior ranger" in the Little Forest People Camp.  We are harmoniously communing with nature, revisiting with friends we made from last year, making new friends, resting, swimming in the lake, and best of all, we are playing. 

Oh the joy of play!  Being here always reminds me of the importance of play.  Play is the original form of learning.  Through play, we not only learn about the world around us, but about ourselves and others as well.  As a child, play was the catalyst for how we met other kids.  It's a form of connection to ourselves and to others.  When we play together, we become in sync with one another.  These are a few of my intuitions about the benefits of play anyway.  And as it turns out, science supports many of these intuitions (and more!) about the benefits of play. 

According to current research, play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex.  When kids are given brief and frequent opportunities for free play, they gain a greater capacity to pay more attention to academic tasks.  There is empirical evidence that play promotes creative problem solving and that play increases the capacity for both language development as well as mathematical skills.

Essentially, to play is to develop real life coping strategies that allow for the social and intellectual skills necessary to thrive in relationships with other people and in academic settings.  To play is to explore, to investigate, to be in the flow and to have fun!  When we play, we build connections and creativity with friends and family.  It's a golden opportunity to let go and just be, no matter what age we are.  I encourage each and every one of you to get out there and play today and everyday.  Now if you will excuse me, I am off to play some more!

For those of you in Lancaster, PA who are looking for an opportunity to play, you can catch me teaching a Vinyasa Flow Yoga class at West End Yoga Studio every Wednesday evening at 5:30 pm.  Beginning August 20th, I will be teaching Yoga Basics for beginners at West End Yoga every other Saturday at 1 pm.  I look forward to seeing you there and I promise to bring the joys and the benefits of play to you in each one of my classes.