A few things got me thinking recently about Pole (and all its variants) in relation to PLAY. Firstly, a friend who had not experienced Pole before, remarked upon her first visit to Pole Infinity: “This is like being a child. I just want to spin around and around…. Wheeeeee…!” Secondly, Karen’s successful programmes in relation to combining therapy and wellbeing with activities such as self-defence, art, making sparkly postcards and, of course pole fitness and burlesque, highlights the significance of just ‘being’ – of being mindful, playful, energised. Further to this, Sophie, the Beyond Gravity Yoga instructor, inadvertently reminded me of re-living childhood memories through swinging, tumbling and hanging upside down as part of her Yoga class.
Admittedly, I am procrastinating from another task – In doing some research about the relevance of play, I couldn’t help but relate it to Pole Infinity. Via this research, certain words/ phrases stood out: ‘explore the possible’; ‘social play’; ‘bring people together’; ‘humour, flirtation, games and fantasy’; ‘adaptability’; ‘empowerment’; ‘passion’; ‘transformational’. Sound familiar…? I think that pole fitness/ dance definitely allows for all these things. And it’s not just Pole – There are various means by which one can play in order to, not only have fun, but transform. Play is associated with being a child, but what is to stop adults from playing a sport (‘just for the sake of it’), colouring-in, pretending to be someone else, pinning a friend to the ground (I’m thinking self-defence!) and yes, hanging upside down from a hammock or pole? Psychiatrist and play researcher, Stuart Brown, talks of ‘a spontaneous desire to get ourselves out of gravity’ – no wonder the Pole Infinity and Beyond Gravity Yoga studio is a place filled with laughter, friendships and transformation.
Research shows that active play has significant physical, cognitive and emotional benefits. ‘Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum… and helps contextual memory be developed’. Through participating in Karen’s programmes (Action for Happiness; Recovery Programme; Manage your Mind), I have learned about the mind and how some psychological issues are derived due to the brain’s natural instinct for survival (the amygdala is trying to protect us, but this can lead to anxiety). It is interesting to find that play, throughout our lives, is completely natural and has ‘a strong biological place’ in our adaptability and survival.
It is not surprising that KB’s courses and initiatives have had such success and amazing feedback. The ethos of freedom to just be you; the encouragement to climb higher and to relax your body; maybe even venturing to play dress-up – donning a mask, cat-ears, cloak, princess dress or 6-inch heels… Clearly this fits so well with resilience, adaptability, self-esteem and empowerment – just some of the areas focused on in the Psychological Wellbeing aspect of the programmes offered at Pole Infinity and Beyond Gravity Yoga.
Swinging around a pole, inverting, being a butterfly, fairy, rainbow or angel certainly amounts to being whimsical, fun and playful. The same goes for mindful painting; rolling around the ground; creating shapes and pyramids; floating in an aerial silk; dancing around a chair; getting that box split you always wanted to achieve as a child; kicking a football (or running like Phoebe from ‘Friends’ – a personal favourite of mine!) No wonder, at times (many times), I just want to spin and ‘play’ – no judgement; no thinking about what foot goes where; left from right; split, baseball or true grip… And this is especially true when I have not had the best week or feel frustrated or pent-up.
In the last couple of years, I have slowly integrated more ‘play’ into my life. This sense of fun, authenticity and not fearing judgement diminishes as we get immersed in our jobs, have bills to pay and have to ‘adult’. Who says, adulting can’t be fun…? So, put on your tutu, cartwheel across the floor (careful with that one!), dance in the rain… Or join us at Pole Infinity!
The possibilities of play, laughter and personal development really are infinite – Karen’s project, ‘Infinite Possibilities’, really demonstrates how effective and rewarding fun, challenge and creativity can be.