In my 8 years or so of teaching pregnancy yoga, I’ve had the enormous privilege and benefit of simply being exposed to the process of gestation, birth & the on-going transitions into parenthood. This is no small thing in a society that is no longer tribal, where we are generally not privy to the rites of passage and the wisdom of the ages simply by virtue of living more closely with others. How else can we learn how to support one another through these transitions? How else can we prepare for safe passage through these remarkable portals, these thresholds that can never be uncrossed?
The majority of women I’ve known who’ve had a child have disappeared into what I call Motherland for about 2 years after the birth. Every woman is different, clearly, yet the all-absorbing nature of parenting means that what was once Her life very often is no longer her life. She has been changed so dramatically that even, apparently, so has her cellular make-up. I read somewhere that some of the cells of the child remain in the mother even after the birth, which helps explain that twin-like extrasensory perception that most mothers seem to have, of knowing where and how their child is, even at a distance.
I didn’t know this when I was pregnant 16 years ago. In fact I knew very little about this amazing miracle of co-creating life and bringing-into-Being another human. What I did come to know was that I was not in a place I felt (or trusted) I could birth and raise the child on my own. At least not without struggle and some levels of resentment that it would take over my own yet-unactualized life. And just as disturbing, if not worse, was my fear that I would unconsciously drown this next generation in baggage from my current and past generations. I had just begun to write the story of my grandmother and the trauma of her parents, a story that would not come to fruition–like any good teenager–until about 14 years later. So I had only just opened the attic door to that ancestral baggage, and it was heavy & dark.
Deciding to kill my child was the most difficult decision I have yet to make. And I say it like that so as to avoid any euphemisms, any softening about the reality of what I felt then. And still feel now. It was a sacrifice of a life–a blood sacrifice. I did not take it lightly, as I doubt any woman in her right mind would. But I took it with full awareness of the levels of non-right-mindedness that had run down my family tree to me in that moment. My greatest fear was that, without light, I would be sucked into the darkness and would blindly tap dance out the family tunes for yet another generation. Instead I determined that I would clear this baggage as best I could. I have since learned the family songs that were borne of their pain, and I can perform them when appropriate. I have also been learning, and even creating, new songs.
Let me interrupt myself here by saying that this is not an easy topic to write about publicly or to even speak about privately. I have only been more public with this in the past couple years and in this process I’ve come to realize just how pivotal a moment that decision has been in my life. Abortion is still controversial in so many places, which means that feeling safe to discuss my experience of it is still not assured. This is risky for me to share.
So why do it? Because what I have found is that mothers will do nearly anything they possibly can for their children. Yet we are often seemingly incapable of making that selfsame sacrifice for ourselves. We can’t seem to identify–much less stick to–the discipline (being a disciple to your higher self) it takes to shapeshift out of the shit. Yet when women are pregnant, all sorts of “bad” habits are dropped. It might be letting go of alcohol or other drugs, changing diet, slowing down and taking better care of their systems, even developing intuition. Often it’s not even a struggle because the body so clearly wants health for this process of creating another life. Other times habit and desire are still there, clamoring for what we’re used to. Yet…
What would happen if we lived our lives as though our Life depended on it? Who would we be then?
That phrase is something I say in some of the more challenging Kundalini Yoga exercises in MYOGA–“Do this as though your life depends on it. And if you can’t do that, then try doing it as though the life of someone you love depends on it.” In the myoga MAMAS classes we do an exercise where you flap your hands for 3 minutes. Sounds simple right? So, so, so incredibly challenging, and triggering, for many folks. Here I am teaching this to a New Zealand All Black rugby player, Glen Osborne.
I could have done all sorts of difficult, impressive moves with him but, on the advice of 2 guys who were doing yoga with me to prepare for a marathon, I gave him this. Watch as he struggles with it! And clearly his struggle is not just the physical but also the social. The overall effect though is also fascinating. If you watch to the end you’ll see how the seeming absurdity of it pulled everyone into the practice and created community, even hilarity.
What I say to the mamas when we’re doing this, is that it’s Nothing like childbirth. This exercise is Nothing at all like birthing a baby! Which usually lightens them even as they flap onwards. What this exercise Is, is an opportunity to develop a relationship with intensity. And this dialogue with intensity, and your familiarity with your quit-points, is what is so beneficial when you come smack up against some of the most intense sensation you’ll ever meet.
Interestingly, this exercise is recommended for Depression, which is potentially one of the most debilitating experiences a person can have and one that I have seen more & more of on health forms. I am no expert on depression. I only know those times my energy has dipped so low for so long that I can’t imagine it’ll ever change. Whether deep sorrow created that stuckness or the sadness got deeper from feeling stuck–or more likely a deadening downward spiral of both–I have also known that any action, any movement at all, is more than none.
I call this the ‘flapping wings exercise’ and it works on the lung meridians, where our grief can get locked up. I think of this action as stirring up the unexpressed emotions, the untold stories & the sense of shouldering responsibilities that gets bound into the heart, shoulders & neck area. Flap it off. Steve the presenter on the right of the screen says it true when he says,
“You can’t feel depressed–you feel too silly!”
At one point I get fed up with Glen’s reluctance to engage, his derision of what is odd or new, and I say, “If I can do it, you can…I thought you were a tough guy. Keep going!” What I feel we so often fail to recognize is the immense challenge in the simple. I also see that much of our current world has been premised on a man’s view, without recognition or respect for the strength and sacrifice that is inherent in a woman’s body, whether she has children or not. Keep flapping guys. There is much to learn here.
What I have learned about sacrifice is that it’s an insult to that which was sacrificed if I let the difficulty of the decision & the sadness of the situation deaden me. It’s an insult to Life itself if I then refuse to live fully the life that was borne of generations of told & untold sacrifice. Sacrifice is about giving up something for the sake of something else. I have given up someone who could have been, for the sake of the Self that I could be. It would be a sacrilege to then waste the existence that sacrifice was made for. So I hold myself to a high bar and I continue to make the most of this one life I’ve been given, gratefully. If you’ve practiced with me you may know that I also hold my students to a high bar. I know how much more Light they are capable of radiating and I’m persistent in reminding them.
Recently however I’ve been frustrated with how slowly and painfully the myoga online school has been evolving. By the time we finish editing and uploading the content, writing up the pages, organizing the payment systems & the emailing systems, creating the marketing & putting it “out there”, it will be 2 years since we started filming! 2 years! You’d think I’d disappeared into Motherland. The other day my mom’s drumming group journeyed for me on this frustration of mine. My question was, “What are the next steps for this to be sustainable for folks in their practice & for it to sustain me in my life?” One strong dreamer saw an infant, the preciousness of a newborn and how careful parents are with their children in the early days. She said, “Cherish what you’ve created. Share it with those you trust. Ask them for their input. It will grow.”
So, here I am sharing with you a very sensitive story & a very precious creation of mine. MYOGA Freedom is a product of that sacrifice of my flesh-n-blood child. It is a gathering-together of most of the teachings I have explored since I was first introduced to yoga at age 7, and since that sacrifice in 2000 when I was galvanized to get down to the business of clearing crap & cultivating freedom to unfold. There are all-ways new ways and exciting changes in yoga, yet what I can offer you is what has worked for me, & others. These are weavings of the practices that have enabled me to identify and drop my family baggage in order to shapeshift out of the shit, and blossom anyway. Lately what I’ve been shifting, even further, is my treatment of mySelf. Engaging with my creations, and mySelf, as though they are my own children has brought a whole new level of respect, kindness & diligence to the many tasks required to live a good day and do a good job.
This is a touchy-topic-packed post. What has touched a tender point for you? What do you cherish so much you would sacrifice for it? Has this been done unknowingly? Are there parts of your life you could willingly reclaim and make sacred (the root meaning of sacrifice) once again in your life? Is there an action or a movement, a light-ening, that could help you drop some dross so more of your shine can be seen?
Please feel free to comment here or in private with anything that arises for you from this. And I also very much welcome your recognition of my myoga baby and the depth of source that has created it. May it, & these writings, serve you well.
Much love, Mox