Lila – The Divine Play

This week has been a great week. I have had my sister & her two beautiful daughters, Mali & Kendall, visiting.

Kendall is just five months old, so her holiday had consisted of being held, kissed & cuddled constantly, and of course a lot of cooing over how cute she is!

Mali is six next week. Kissing and cuddling happen on her terms! She likes to be cooed over too and we tell her often how beautiful she is. But what Mali is really all about is PLAY! Nearly every waking moment if her holiday has been spent in play. If she can rope someone else into playing with her then great, if not, she is just as happy to play on her own. All is as it should be in her six year old world.

We are all aware of the research showing us just how important playtime is in the development of children. It develops & contributes to their cognitive, physical, social & emotional wellbeing. It is so important that it has been recognised as a ‘Human Right’ for a child to have free-play.

Inspired by my niece, i decided to read up on what it is exactly that ‘play’ does for a child. Heres a few things that research has shown ‘play’ does for children:

  • Develops their imagination & dexterity
  • Builds physical & cognitive strength
  • Allows them to create and explore a world they can master
  • Helps them to conquer fears
  • Helps them to develop new competencies leading to an enhancement of confidence & resiliency with future challenges
  • Teaches them about relationships
  • Helps them to manage emotions & cope when unsettling things happen in life

Sound familiar? Are these exactly the same things we cultivate in our Yoga practise? So what’s the difference?

Essentially there is none. And I think a lot of the time we forget that. We take our practise & ourselves way too seriously. I say often to my students, the serious stuff will happen in its own way, in its own time, without us having to add the stress of pressure on ourselves.

The sanskrit word for play if “Lila”. Most often it refers to the play of the divine. The Creator, who creates all things freely, spontaneously & for the pure joy of it.

The pure joy of it – shouldn’t this be why we practise?

There is a famous quote by Plato which says “You can discover more about a person in play than in a year of conversation”. If we spend 60 – 90 mins on the mat how much can we learn about ourselves? And if the ultimate goal of Yoga is to truly know & understand ourselves & through that understanding become more connected to the universal, then we are going a great way about it. Why not play & enjoy the experience as we go?

“Play keeps us alive & vital. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it life just doesn’t taste as good”. And neither will your practise.

Categories: Contemplate