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Embracing the playful side of yoga: Līlā

Focus of the month - September 2023

written by Nora

Hey there, fellow friends of Yoga on the Move, we're about to explore a perspective that might just sprinkle a touch of magic into your yoga journey.

The three rising streams are united in Triveni full of nectar, The Yogis who unite with God enjoy it. One blossom opens downward, then all blossoms above awaken, If the blossoms unite with each other you will see the Formless.

Between the blossoms, flows the play of your destiny, There flickers the flame of your life, Beyond this flame you discover the eternal shrine of Divine Light, Your Self is united with it. This is the Divine Play, only a few succeed to share in it, Swami Deep saw it and Realized, the world is only a shadow.

- Mahaprabhuji

So, imagine this: You're at a yoga class. When the teacher says it's time to meditate, everyone sits up straight, gets all serious, and closes their eyes. But when the call for chanting comes, everyone just loosens up and lets their voices flow without overthinking it. Interesting, right?

Now, let's talk grown-up life. Most of our activities are all about being practical and methodical. For example if you want to bake a carrot cake, you follow a recipe step by step, and you get a delicious carrot cake. Repeating the process over and over again, you become really good at making carrot cakes.

But here's the catch: sticking to the same routine might keep you from discovering that one-of-a-kind twist. What if you dared to swap ingredients and create your own recipe? Risky? Yes. But who knows, it might lead to your new favorite cake!

Līlā - The Divine Play

Let's apply this mindset to yoga. Does yoga have a fixed recipe? Or is it more like a choose-your-own-adventure story? Well, that's where Līlā comes in. According to yogic philosophy, the world was created in a playful burst of creativity. The universe is a manifestation of Brahman, the underlying cosmic essence that encompasses all of existence. It is characterized by playfulness rather than self-awareness or deliberate intent. The world emerged from unrestrained creativity and a spirit of play, rather than obligation or practicality. In this perspective, the entirety of existence becomes a stage for a cosmic spectacle. It's not about rules and seriousness; it's about spontaneity and joy. The fallacy lies in regarding the actions enacted on this stage as absolute reality; those who fall into this illusion are believed to be ensnared by Māyā, the illusory force.

Play helps us grow

So why should we embrace this playfulness? Relationship expert Esther Perel hits the nail on the head: "Because it helps us grow—and because it’s fun." Play isn't just for kids; it's a way for us adults to connect with our creative, imaginative selves. Your yoga mat is a perfect playground. It's not about picture-perfect poses; it's about enjoying the journey, finding pleasure in the process, and maybe even surprising yourself along the way.

Think about kids for a moment. They're the ultimate players, right? They don't worry about outcomes or improvement. They play because it's a blast. And guess what? Childhood is when we grow the most – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Funny how something so impractical can be so effective.

Play breaks Routine

So, how does this philosophy weave into our yoga practice? Imagine stepping onto your mat, carrying the echoes of your daily routines. As you become more mindful, you'll notice patterns emerging. This is where the real magic unfolds. It's not about replacing old habits with new ones; it's about breaking free and crafting your unique flow.

But here's the twist: new routines can inadvertently become new ruts, creating unease if things don't go according to plan. Life's stressors can sneak onto your mat. And you know what? That's completely normal! Frustration is a sign that you're present, that you're open to change. That's the essence of yoga.

So, how do you break free from these patterns? You play! No rulebook, no strategy. Just you, your mat, and the unfiltered joy of exploration. It's about moving and breathing without a script. Embrace your inner child and let your mat become a canvas of discovery. Who knows what kind of magic you'll uncover in your own divine play?

Līlā in your Practice

Asana of the Month:

Natarjasana - Channeling Shiva’s Cosmic Dance Immerse yourself in the embodiment of Shiva's dynamic dance through Natarjasana, the Lord of the Dance Pose. Feel the rhythm of creation as you strike this powerful pose.

Your Līlā Playlist Why not curate a playlist featuring your favorite tunes? Let the music guide your practice, igniting the playful spirit of Līlā. Here’s my playlist for this month.

Dive into a Spontaneous Self-Practice Break free from routines and plans. Begin your practice without a set sequence, allowing your body to move as it wishes. Embrace asymmetry, and don't worry about “doing the other side” – just let your body flow.

Connect with the Playfulness of Children Spend time with the little yogis in your life. Their unbridled enthusiasm and joy are a perfect reflection of the Līlā philosophy. Engage in their world of imagination and discovery.

Indulge in Unproductive Pleasure Give yourself permission to do something simply for the sake of enjoyment. It could be art, dancing, reading, or anything that brings you unadulterated pleasure. Remember, Līlā is about embracing the joy of the moment.

Chanting Mantras to Awaken Your Inner Power Explore the resonant energy of these powerful mantras: Durga, Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati, Shakti, and Soham. Chanting them can connect you with the divine energies they represent, enhancing your practice with their transformative vibrations.

Let the spirit of Līlā infuse every facet of your practice this month. Embrace the joy of spontaneity, self-discovery, and connection as you dance through your yoga journey.

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