Neoteny is the retention of immature qualities into adulthood.
Hold on….I am not asking for an increase in immature behavior. I personally have plenty of that already.
But I do want to start adding to your day, one of the first things that adults lose when “real life” starts to get in the way.
I have three brothers and growing up we weren’t taught how to play. We would just be together and start inventing games to play.
Unfortunately for my mother, this lead to a fair share of contusions and head trauma requiring trips to the emergency room (ah, that explains a lot). But we were just doing what is a human birthright by playing.
Even as adults, PLAY can have space in our lives just like WORK and SLEEP do.
There has been a lot of research done on PLAY in recent years. This is only natural as PLAY is part of our evolution.
According to physical anthropologists, humans are the most neotenous, most flexible, most plastic of all creatures and that gives us a heads up on adaptability.
Check out Stuart Brown’s book “Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul” for more on PLAY and how to add it into your life.
A simple way to add PLAY is to incorporate primitive movement patterns to your movement practice. Some of these movements are rolling, rocking and crawling.
Yes…rolling, rocking and crawling ON THE GROUND in the same way an infant does as it develops. In what way will this help your overall fitness, mobility and stability?
The simple answer is it will help with everything.
Infants explore these positions thousands of times on their journey towards high level functional movement and start losing all of those hard earned skills right around the time they have to sit in school for 8 hours a day.
Fast forward 30-40 plus years and you have…. I don’t even have to paint the picture, right?
Reintroducing rolling, rocking and crawling may be just what you need to kickstart your own journey back into fitness and movement. A simple way to start is by sitting (not laying) on the floor when watching TV.
The great thing with sitting on the floor is that you can’t stay still for long. You have to keep moving. Explore different sitting positions.
Then try crawling to the kitchen for your glass of water. Crawl backwards on the way back to the TV.
Sounds easy and can look silly (especially when you make animal noises), but you might be surprised at not only how difficult this can be but also how great you can feel afterwards.
Here is one example of crawling:
Experiment with different movements and transitions. There is no wrong way to do this as long as you are having fun and not getting hurt.
I started adding rolling, rocking and crawling into my clients’ fitness routines and noticed big improvements in stamina, strength and how they move overall.
Did it make me good enough to win against my hen 9 year old god-daughter? Nope! But, we did have fun!
A while back we travelled to China and one of the parks we visited had the bridge pictured below. After the long bus ride to the park, I decided to crawl across the bridge as a way to get my movement practice in for the day.
This was much harder than it looked but I was smiling before, during, and after!
It’s time to get serious about PLAY.
Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi
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