Yogi Superheroes Round 2 – Day 3 – Lakshmi

So last night’s blog on Durga – easy.  Lakshmi?  Not so easy for me.  While we’re confessing…

But of course, that is the point of taking this workshop, of meeting these characters and getting to know them – you figure out who your default archetypes are and who you tend to shy away from.  And, of course, the ones you shy away from may have the most to teach you.  So yes, Lakshmi and me, here we are, figuring this out.

Lakshmi is the goddess of beauty, grace, charm, wealth, prosperity, and generosity.  She represents and embodies abundance. Because of this, she is worshiped in most Hindu households.  Offerings are made to Lakshmi to assure prosperity and success in all enterprises.

In all images, Lakshmi is gorgeous, with a beautiful face, pale skin, and bountiful breasts.  She is generally dressed in red and adorned with gold jewelry.  Her expression is calm and beneficent.  Gold coins spill from at least one of her hands, and her other hands are poised in mudras (hand gestures) that are meant to relax and reassure the viewer.

Lakshmi is almost always depicted in padmasana (lotus pose) atop a lotus flower.  In Hindu art and mythology, the lotus flower represents the spiritual path.  It grows in the mud and muck – IN it, but not OF it.  Its roots are very much in the earthly experience, but its stunning flower rises about the water, showing itself as it yearns for the sky.  Lakshmi’s association with the lotus flower indicates her strong spiritual devotion.

So what does Lakshmi have to offer us as yogis?  For starters, she offers an opportunity to really examine our notions of beauty and abundance.

“Beauty” has come to be such a loaded word in our culture.  It connotes a very specific look that you can find on the cover of any magazine in the checkout aisle at the supermarket.  It refers to skin color and texture, weight, body proportions, and facial features, right?  Hmm.  We’ve let it mean that, but we don’t have to!  In yoga, we talk about a beautiful pose being one that expresses its intention, one that exhibits balanced action, one that puts forth the best effort of the practitioner.  We yogis don’t believe that the practitioner’s waistline size or facial structure have anything to do with the radiance of the pose  – in the studio, anyway.  Sometimes outside it’s not so easy.  Take me for example.  “The goddess of beauty?  Can’t identify with her.  That’s not me.  Give me my warrior girl.”  Why not?  Why can’t it be me?  When I have the incredible good fortune of having people in my life that tell me I am beautiful, why am I always slightly shocked to hear it?  Yes, there’s food for thought there.  And practice to be done.  I think the more I try to embody beauty – MY form of beauty – in my poses, the more I can repossess this quality for myself and all of us. Lakshmi encourages that as she looks at us with unending grace, charm, and calm.

And then there’s this abundance thing too.  I wrote a blog post about this topic a while back (click here to read it) – about the challenge of seeing the world as having infinite resources to give to us. Lakshmi represents the bounty of grace. The coins are always flowing from her hands – they don’t run out after reaching a certain number.  So why do we so often operate on the assumption that there’s not enough to go around?  Sometimes it seems easier to plead poverty – spiritual or material – than to do the work required to recognize and warmly receive the gifts that constantly flow our way.

Most of all, Lakshmi for me embodies the divine quality of “purna.”  This  word is often translated as “perfection,” although I much prefer the definition “not lacking.”  To be “purna” is to have everything you need to succeed in this life, to be full and complete.  Lakshmi looks me right in the face and says “See, there IS enough.  You ARE enough.  And you are beautiful.” And she challenges me to look right back at her and accept that.  (Hello?  Durga?  Kali?  Are you out there? Rescue me from this!).

That’s my work, anyway…

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~ by bridgetannlyons on September 21, 2011.

2 Responses to “Yogi Superheroes Round 2 – Day 3 – Lakshmi”

  1. Hi Bridget
    I am a second year student of Yoga Therapy Irelands Hatha Yoga Teacher training course. I am in the process of setting up my website to advertise my beginner yoga classes. I really love the red and gold image of Lakshmi which you have on your page and I was wondering if I might have permission to use it on my web site, Ground Roots Yoga which is under construction at present?
    It’s funny I did a workshop in Anusara Yoga recently with Tahnee Fournier and I really enjoyed it. I would like to further my training in Anusara yoga at a later date when I have some teacher training hours under my belt.

    Namaste
    Susan Clohosey

    • Hi Susan – Good to meet you cyber-ly! Glad to know that you are spreading yoga love in Ireland, and that you’ve gotten a taste of Anusara yoga as well! John Friend, Anusara’s founder, is of Irish descent and travels there pretty often – perhaps you can catch him one of these days. If you are looking for a little more Anusara exposure, you might check out the free videos on my website – bridgetlyonsyoga.com – it would give you another taste of our alignment and heart opening principles. I just got that image off the internet, so I you can just run with it like I did, I imagine! Good luck building your website, and let me know if there is any way I can help!

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