When I step onto my mat, there is nothing else that matters. There are no toys to be picked up, dishes to be cleaned, or clothes to be folded. I am no longer mom. I am me. There is just myself, my mat and my yoga practice.
As I take the first downward dog of the day, I can feel my whole body open up. My spine gets longer, my hamstrings and calf muscles stretch out, and my sinuses clear. For the next 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes, all I have to do is listen and breathe and move.
Over the years, I have taken many yoga classes. Some mediocre, many (thankfully!) not. While on my mat, I often get more out of my practice that just stretching my muscles. I often get a life lesson. Sometimes it is a psychology class about my ego. Other times, it is like therapy. Yoga calms my mind. It reduces my stress level both physically and mentally. It makes me a better mother. (more…)
Breathing into Relationship:
The Dance Between Diversity and Unity
The highest form of intimacy is love that does not annihilate difference. Evelyn Keller
I recently had dinner with some new friends from Nepal, a husband and wife and two younger children. My husband and I and our two children showed up to the apartment where chicken wings were frying, dal was bubbling in a silver pot and fried pakora was placed neatly on a plate.
As we sipped warm spicy chai tea, we talked in short sentences, learning to understand each other. I heard stories of loneliness and isolation in a new land, adventures to the mountains and the sand dunes of southern Colorado, and stories of the gods Sita and Ram from the Hindu tradition.We took pictures together and laughed and ran around the small apartment, playing hide and seek with a pink Nepali scarf tied around our heads.
Ajita, the Nepali woman, spent most of her time in the kitchen cooking, remaining very quiet and eating by herself in the living room. I felt discomfort arise at what seemed to be a cultural tradition, the woman preparing and serving the food but not participating in eating the meal.
When we sat down to eat, we were served with solid copper plates that are used only for “special guests.” We were asked if we wanted forks or if we wanted to eat with our hands and we all opted for the latter. Giri taught us how to eat properly with our hands as we tried to master this surprisingly difficult task.
He said to us, “I have tried to eat with a fork here, but I just do not feel nourished when I do.” After a delicious meal and nourishing fellowship, we left bowing saying namaste to one another. Giri said, “You are like family to us.”
On the way home, my family and I had a conversation about difference. My children shared how great it was to eat with their hands and asked if they could do that all of the time. We talked about the children’s names and how they were different from any names they had ever heard. We then talked about cultural differences that felt uncomfortable, like Ajita not eating with us or speaking very much. (more…)