I have two mothers who are yoga teachers. My mother-in-law right here in town, and my step-mother in Portland. I used to joke that Maya would be confused by my mom, her only Grandma who didn’t take or teach yoga.
Since I’ve been unemployed, my mother-in-law (“Ma”) has invited me to attend her yoga classes for free (the perfect price for the unemployed…thanks, Ma!). I aim for twice a week, but of course life sometimes gets in the way.
Since losing my mom last June, yoga classes sometimes get me crying. Something about slowing down and spending time focused on my body seems to send my thoughts that way, and releases the emotions. I’m OK with it, I know it’s normal and OK, and I accept it. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but yeah, sometimes. My ex-yoga teacher used to tell me, “Don’t worry, it has to come out. Let it out.” That was helpful.
Well, a few weeks ago, one of the participants in the class said that when trying balancing postures, she is able to balance well by imagining a loved one reaching down from Heaven and holding her up. So she doesn’t have to think about losing her balance, because she’s being held, and she can focus instead on her breathing or positioning of her body, etc. I thought that might be a nice way to get my non-yoga practicing mom into yoga, and a positive way to think of her, while at this phase of grief, so many of my mom thoughts are still dwelling on those last few months, wishing I could have changed things, picturing that last visit, etc. So I tried it. The first time, of course, it got me crying. I had to go clean up my face in the bathroom. But you know what? It works. When I’m having trouble in a pose, I ask my mom for help. She can help me to balance by holding me up. Or to reach more fully into a bend by placing her hand on my back and gently pushing me forward. She encourages me and guides me in a way that she never could when she was alive. It hasn’t made me cry since that first time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does again at some point. I’m OK with that.
Does this mean that I believe in life after death, in Heaven? That I’ve embraced religion at some level? No, not really. It just means that I’m taking comfort where I can, and allowing my mom to help me all she can. I know that’s exactly what she would want. My dad said something to me once, after my mom died, and he was telling me about how my step-mom talks to her mother a lot, even though her mother has also passed away. I said I had trouble with that, because of being an atheist, and not believing in life after death. He said, “Atheism has its uses, but don’t let it get in your way”. Thanks, Dad. That helps, too.