Don’t worry, even though I’m an ex-swim coach, I’m not going to tell you to swim laps (I certainly have no plans for the back-and-forth…I’ve done enough of that). Today’s Self Care topic is about playful movement.
Note: If you have not had instruction in how to swim, use your judgment. You can still play in the shallow end with a friend and a lifeguard present.
Depending on the way you approach it, aerial can be a very playful activity. But chances are you also have goals that you’re working toward. If you ever find yourself getting caught up in the goals and the drills and losing sight of the playfulness of aerial, you’re not the only one! Our culture encourages and rewards progress and improvement. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if we limited ourselves to only these aspects of aerial we would be depriving ourselves of one of its greatest gifts.
So why swimming? Like our medium of air, water allows us to perform a great variety of movements. You can go upside down, somersault without touching the ground, extend your body, twist, and bend in any direction. But here’s the kicker: in aerial, you are only touched by your apparatus, or a partner if you are working on duo+ acts. When you swim, you are touched everywhere at all times by water.
I know I know. You’re all, What are you getting at Sara?
What makes water interesting is that you can perform all the types of actions you normally do in aerial, but with additional stimulation that you don’t normally receive. This can help you to move awareness more thoroughly into your body and observe familiar movement through a different lens. This is a key method for body awareness breakthrough.
Plus, water lends itself to play. You can do flips, handstands, and twirls–and all without the risk of falling. You can stretch your whole body in any direction, moving freely, structured only by your body and perhaps also by the pool floor or walls.
Playful movement can reconnect us with the happiness that is always resting somewhere inside the soul. It can break us out of overly rigid training patterns and help us remember spontaneous, creative, and joyful movement.
Water can promote a relaxation of mind and body, which opens doors for new ways of perceiving yourself and the world around you. Don’t believe me? Try gathering a bundle of noodles and placing them under your knees, back, and neck and begin to f l o a t with no effort whatsoever. It’s a beautiful sensation.
Finally, unless you are an aerialist AND a competitive swimmer, water movement does not contain the pressures you might find in aerial training. You don’t have progress goals or role models you want to live up to. You’re just moving for the sake of movement.