Strength and Softness: A Mother’s Day Reflection

As I was preparing for my class this last Sunday, Mother’s Day here in the US, I did my usual meditation, and Durga, the Hindu deity, known as both the warrior goddess and universal mother, was drawn to my attention.  I thought about the statue I have of her, and the objects she holds in her eight hands. At once she carries objects for war and protection (a spear, a mace, a discus and a sword) and objects for creativity, fertility, and prayer (a conch, a lotus and a rosary) juggling and multi-tasking like most mothers that I know!  There is a quote that I love that says “we  bow down to her who is at once most gentle and fierce”.  And, I don’t know about you, but it reminds me of a lot of the women (and men) that I admire, especially my late grandmother, juggling the gentleness and fierceness all at once. So so many of us are always juggling, always pushing, always going, but how many of us take the time to pause and allow in the gentleness? How many of us rarely take the time to pause and find the strength to be soft?

So, you might ask, what does that have to do with yoga? What does that have to do with my practice on and off the mat?  In yoga, we play every day with the concept of push, using force or energy to move our body deeper into a pose,  exploring areas of tightness, and yield, taking a breath, pausing, listening to the feedback from our bodies and letting the softness do the work for us.  We practice every day in a combination of strength (the push) and softness (the yield).  In yoga, the breath is the bridge between push and yield and skill comes from learning to listen,  allowing your unconscious mind to guide you either to push or to yield in a given moment. So on this Mother’s Day I challenged my class to find the strength in softening, to find the strength in the pause.

So, I invite you to consider, how can you play with push and yield in your life? How can you explore the place in between, the place of receiving as well as giving?  How can we, each of us, men and women, learn to mother ourselves, both on and off the mat, and enjoy and celebrate our most gentle, and our most fierce?