Before I became a Yoga Teacher, I had visions of all the wonderful things I would do. Hearts would heal, hips would open. Hearts would heal, hips would open and winged-things would come out, a rare species the kind you mostly see behind glass, dead. This kind, alive and flying. Hamstrings would release and become string instruments to play, the whole body a chorus of music and butterflies.
I would teach and the world would be better. I would teach and the world would be better and I would start with my Mother.
Before I flew home, I made the goal of working with my Mother. We would wake up in the mornings and walk up to the loft. Sun would stream through the big bay window and we would look out onto the lake, white and frozen and become everything but. We would be the Mother/Daughter Yoga pair I so often envied in the city. The pair that arrives together, sweats together, leaves for sushi together. The kind that says goodbye in unison and walks down the stairs, backs turned, you can’t tell which one’s which.
My ideas were very idealistic. I would work with my Mother, bring ease to her low back, her painful shoulder, her busy mind. Together we would instil peace in our home at Christmastime and our family would feel closer together.
My Mother and I, closer together.
The reality was different.
The reality was each morning brought up immense frustration, anger and sadness. I experienced a kind of impatience I’ve never even came close to feeling in all my teachings in Toronto. I was annoyed when I had to explain things twice, when I didn’t see a change even after specific instruction. I was annoyed when I saw the imbalances in her body, her inability to respond to lefts and rights. I was annoyed with all the imperfections I saw in this body that so closely resembled mine.
Usually, I only express this kind of disgust or impatience when it’s directed at myself. And with this in mind it makes sense, because in a way, it was.
In my Mother, I saw me.
Jess Robertson, co-founder of Moksha Yoga, said something that always stood out to me:
“I have two Mothers. My biological Mother and the Earth Mother. My aim is to Serve them both.”
My biological Mother and the Earth Mother. If you go down deep enough, both lead to the center. If you really go down deep enough, these two Mothers become one Mother. My biological Mother and the Earth Mother, one Great Grand Earth Mother.
My Mother is the root of all things. The heart, the breath, the soil, the sky. The roots down low and the branches up high. My mother is the root of all things. She is my creator, my maker, my shaker and breaker. She is the woman who gave birth to me in her waterbed at approximately 5 PM on May 21st 1987 and she is the woman who gave birth to it all, before time began. She is every question I have, she is every answer to every word why.
Her roots are connected to my roots and actually her roots are the source of my roots and actually her roots are my roots and she is why I am here.
To teach Yoga to your Mother is to get to the source. To stand eye to eye with the source. To open stand open palms, open heart with the source. To breathe with the source, to move with the source.
When I serve Mother, I serve myself.
To teach Yoga to my Mother may just be the greatest challenge there is. The greater the challenge, the more potential for change. The more potential for change, the more potential for good.
So to anyone looking to bring more Peace into your life, look to yourself, yes. But if you want to look deeper, look to your Mom.
The sole purpose of Vrksasana (Tree Pose) is to come back to your foundation. The roots, the centre, the source of it all.
Want to work on Vrksanana? Start with your Mom.
Place your hands on your hips. Pour your weight into your left foot. Raise your right knee forward. Notice the tendency for your right hip to lift. Bring it back down. Draw your knee out to the right. Without using your hands, place the sole of your foot to the inside of your left thigh, calf or toes to the earth. Bring your palms to heart centre.
Lengthen your tailbone,
I lengthen my tailbone.
Draw your low belly in
I draw my low belly in.
Soften your shoulders,
I soften my shoulders.
I try to breathe.
I am not breathing.
I see her collarbone soften and her sternum lift and inhale air comes in her heart lifts lifting my heart with it.
I see her chest fall and her jaw melt. I see the outer edges of her lips turn up and, like a puppet from above, make two tiny bows attaching each string to the outer edges of my own lips, pulling gently.
You breathe, I breathe.