“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” –Diane Ackerman
Weekly Focus: Lila (play / exploration)
Lila (or divine play) emphasizes the fact that the world is born in freedom + playful creativity, rather than necessity. In non-dualistic yoga philosophies, lila is seen as all of reality. In dualistic schools, lila is seen as the activities of god or the actions of the manifest Universe.
Throughout the warmer months we often see animals + children at play. So can we play + explore, allowing our playful nature to let us make mistakes + learn. Playfulness is a quality often lost when we grow up. It is so easy to get caught in the day-to-day, the rigidity of routine + monotony. While habits can create a good + moderate skeleton for balance, they can also have the quality of caging us in. When we become so engrained in simply checking items off a list, it may provide a space in which we are able to close ourselves off to the rest of the world. By breaking the mold + stepping into our sense of creativity, playfulness, and freedom to exist, we might find inspiration around us. It may even awaken us to deeper parts of the Self or closer connections to the Collective. What activities in your life evoke the qualities of play?
Passive Pose of the Week: Ananda balasana (happy baby)
Find the spirit of a child or lil’ bebe in this pose. While lying on your back, bring your knees in towards your chest. Reach your hands for the ankles, or inside / outside of the feet. As your feet press towards the ceiling, draw your knees down towards the floor. Take some time to play in this pose. There are many ways to explore in happy baby. You can take a gentle rock side to side, or forward + back, giving a massage to the spine. You might extend one or both legs, adding in additional stretch. This is a fun pose to take with your child or a significant small human in your life. Accessible + fun to play in, try having a short yoga practice with that smaller special person.
Active Pose of the Week: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (handstand)
Handstand is both challenging + playful. A wonderful pose to push your boundaries + explore your edge. It’s exactly as it sounds, you will be standing on your hands with our legs straight up overhead! Sometimes, the entrance to handstand is the scariest part. It’s not often that we spend time hanging out upside down. We recommend practicing at a wall, that way you have the support behind you to help give confidence and stabilization. There are a lot of options to get into this pose, but here are a few we like:
- Stand facing a wall. Cartwheel your hands to the ground and kick your legs up. The momentum here reduces the need for strength. You can kick fairly hard with the wall there to catch you. Just make sure you get those hands place only about 4-6 inches away from the wall.
- Come to a down dog position facing the wall, hands place about 4-6 inches from the wall. Walk your feet 2 -3 footsteps, so that you hips get closer to your shoulders. Lift on leg directly into the air behind you and make it strong. Lightly bounce off your grounded foot a few times to get the feel of lifting off. When you are ready to go up, bounce with control off of your back foot, let the extended leg act as a lever, helping to drive the hips over the shoulders. You can kick up pretty strongly with the wall to catch you, but we encourage trying to keep control, if you want to move away from the wall one day.