Mamasté - Mom, Bow To The Divinity In You
Among other pursuits of self exploration, I am an avid yogi for almost 20 years. Yoga is a practice. It is mental, physical and spiritual all at the same time. When I started in 1997 it was to recover from a bad ankle sprain. As I gained my strength back, I continued going to class. While practicing recently the resemblance of ‘Namaste’ to ‘Mamaste’ resonated with me. Namasté in sanskrit means, “I bow to the divine in you.” For us practitioners, we use this greeting to end our practice. It is a friendly salutation and reminder that we are loved and respected. This translates perfectly in honoring mothers, current, soon-to-be and deceased mothers.
My own experience with Mother’s Day changed last year. In December 2014, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Our lives changed dramatically with that news. Little did we know what a short time she would have with us. She did not suffer too long, however, we were all devastated by the diseases’ swiftness and its toll on her in 75 short days.
Losing my mother has been one of the hardest things in my life. We all experience loss in many ways over the course of a lifetime — a pet, job, partner, friends, classmates, grandparents. However, the loss of a parent is devastating no matter what your relationship is to them. My mother was there for me whenever and wherever I needed her. As many people said to me, celebrating ‘firsts’ would be the hardest. After her passing, Mother’s Day was the first holiday. We haven’t lived in the same city in years, so most times I may not have celebrated with her. Yet, that didn’t stop me from shopping for ‘just the right card’ every year, picking a cool stamp and depositing it in the mail to arrive before Mother’s Day. Last year that changed. I wanted to buy a card so bad it brought tears to my eyes. Instead I found the perfect one for my sister, a mother of three, because I knew she would appreciate it like my mother did.
My mom gave me the confidence to use my wings and fly off. She knew she raised an independent woman who would be successful in her life no matter where it took her. I know she’s looking down watching and guiding me to keep up the good work. That’s the job of a mother. A mother is forever the protector, teacher, worrier, facilitator, care-giver and the list goes on. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss and think about her. Maybe it will get easier, but not anytime soon. My sister and I live 6,000 miles apart. It certainly has not been ideal while going through a very rough patch in life. Living that far away makes us appreciate our time together that much more. Navigating this life altering experience has been eye opening for both of us. The strength and stamina our mother instilled in us is alive and well. My regular yoga practice has been instrumental in helping me manage my stress levels and the void my mother has left in my life.
Finding time to fit yoga into a busy life can be a challenge. However, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness and honoring “your” yoga everyday. We are overloaded daily with positive, negative and confusing messages. The never-ending to-do list, mind chatter, beeping text messages, a crying child, endless emails are just some examples that keep us from finding inner peace. Why not schedule “me-time”? Your health and well-being are going to keep everything running smoothly. If you’re down, so is everything else! Taking small steps starts the ball rolling and will make the adjustment easier. My initial suggestions: yoga, journaling, meditating, a 30-minute walk, reading, listening to your favorite musicians while concentrating on your breathing, cooking, or one of those popular adult coloring books. Whatever gets you out of your routine and allows you to focus and be present. You never know, finding time to color may spark your interest to sign-up for a drawing class.
If you love the idea of yoga, but don’t know how you’ll get to an actual class, there are some yoga habits that you can incorporate into your everyday, while doing those other things you HAVE to do. Niyama and Prnauama are perfect places to start on your own. While theses are only two of what are called the eight limbs of Yoga, and have fairly generous definitions, here is the gist of their meaning.
Niyama: Personal awareness
Niyama is how you treat yourself or your attitude towards yourself. For starters, take note of how you treat the checkout woman in the grocery line. Did you feel good about your interaction or did it leave you feeling negative and stick with you as you moved into your next to-do task? Being kind to others not only makes them feel good, but you as well.
Pranayama: Breathing or control of breath.
Pranayama practice also makes the mind calmer and more focused. While cleaning-up after a potty training incident or cleaning up that presentation for your big meeting, try slow mindful breathing. Try breathing in through your nose as deep as you can filling your lungs and feel it in your back and all the way up to your shoulders. Then with the same controlled speed, breath out that air, engaging your abdominals until it’s all pushed out. Do these several times and you should feel a release of tension and recenter your focus.
For a full explanation of the eight limbs of Yoga, check it out on Yoga Journal Get to Know the Eight Limbs of Yoga, by Mara Carrico. Yoga Journal. Aug 28, 200.
When I “bow to the divine in you” I bow to all my influential teachers. My first teacher was my mother. To all those mothers new to the practice of yoga, meditation or finding their “me-time” in the world, keep the faith. While you are busy living your life, someone near and dear is thinking of you. Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation and love. It’s a day to recognize ALL mothers: the mother-to-be who is excited and anticipating the upcoming birth of her child; the hardworking mother that endures everyday ebb and flow; the mother who has passed and their impressions left behind – you all deserve this great admiration for your divine self.
I am grateful for my humble, giving and amazing mother. May she rest in peace.
For More From Christy
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SF Yoga Mag :
Wanderlust 108...San Francisco Style, by Christy O'Connell. April 19, 2016.
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Super Soul Yoga Hike, by Christy O'Connell. February 26, 2016.
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