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Nine Nights of The Mother

Have you ever heard of Navratri? It’s a fabulous Hindu festivals celebrated twice every year, once in spring and once in the fall, in honor of the Divine Mother. (That’s us, mamas!)

There are three main personalities She incarnates as, and three nights are devoted to each one. They are worshipped in a specific order: Durga first, then Lakshmi, and Saraswati last. The reason for the order is symbolic of moving from gross to subtle, a recurring approach in yoga and ayurveda practices. The eight-limbed path of raja yoga/ashtanga yoga graduates from healing the body to harnessing the power of breath to stilling the mind mind and ultimately, transcending all three to connect with the Creative Source/God/Divinity. Ayurveda promotes a similar integration of body, mind, and spirit, emphasizing digestive health, self-love, and treating the self as spirit, to create a state of balance unique to each individual. As such, stories characterize Durga as the goddess of destruction, specifically destroying our fears and negative thoughts and habits that hold us back from living in our full glory; Lakshmi is portrayed as the compassionate goddess, her outer form a reflection of inner beauty, and the one who resides in the secure knowledge of abundance, giving and receiving freely with no expectation; the goddess Saraswati is often shown carrying a sitar or a book or scroll, nodding to her infinite wisdom and creative ability. The energy of each of them is within us along our journeys, moment to moment and on the grand scale. I must say I’ve noticed the presence of all three very close during my pregnancy.

Of course it’s perfect that there are 9 months, divided into three trimesters. I don’t know about you but I felt a clear transition from each trimester to the next. My experience of the first trimester was a beat down! Grounding is a nice way to say it, but destructive is spot-on. I learned quick and hard that my body, which I’d used so freely up until this point, was no longer mine alone and that loss of control brought me to my knees. I was sick and exhausted like many other woman. My mind, too, became flooded with a whole new world of “what if?’s” that had never occurred to me before. What if I miscarry? What if I’m not qualified for this role? What if my partner isn’t committed to being a parent? Changes were occurring rapidly; I scarcely knew who I was anymore. And honestly, the doubts and confusion haven’t stopped! At least not completely. But my greatest battle with these adjustments came during those first months. For me, it helped to process everything by looking at the changes as a necessary purging (literally!) to leave the space clear for this new being to enter, unfettered by my own junk. I see that clearing out as Durga’s power, slaying demons, providing an opening for Divine intervention.

And it came! Queue the songbirds, part the clouds! Lakshmi bloomed out of the lotus flower that was my second trimester. I felt recharged with energy and excitement. I flaunted my cute belly as it started to poke out further and adored my baby more and more with every twist and stretch I felt inside. My friends and family showered us with love, encouragement, praise, and gifts. Everything was so special! It was a delightful change of pace to be able to enjoy the miracle that was happening to us.

Now, I’m two weeks away from my due date and these past few months have taken a much more serious and contemplative tone. I think often of how I will be as a parent to my child, what wisdom I want to pass on to him and how to best deliver it. I seek out advice from women who have done this before and respect their experience. Labor and delivery are close, I am aware of the physical and mental shifts taking place to prepare us for the task ahead. This is Saraswati’s blessing, to offer an opportunity of this magnitude to grow and learn from.

Spring Navratri begins on Monday. I am welcoming the exalted presence of each of theses goddesses in the last weeks of my pregnancy! What metaphors for the nine months resonate with you?

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Like (Clarified) Butta’

I wanted this to be different.

In my mind it was to be a video post we recorded on how to whip up a batch of homemade ghee. We did film exactly that and started to edit.. and then didn’t touch it again for weeks. Not that I didn’t think about it all the time, but the way I thought about it included building a host of resentments towards myself and the people I love more than anything (naturally). With that attitude, I’m sure you get that I did not feel super motivated to approach this blog EVER AGAIN. I now realize that I had an expectation and instead of criticizing myself for not meeting the standard I set for how to start something new, I can acknowledge myself for creating such a cool opportunity.

And, you know, it still turns out to be perfect, because this theme has been rampant during my pregnancy. I spent the first three months blaming my discomfort on the newness of the town I lived in, having no awareness of the kind of games progesterone was running on me. My formal practices of seated meditation and yoga asanas that had come so effortlessly to me before were now a burden. Even considering something other than lying in bed became the bane of my existence. My dietary “choices” were nothing to be proud of. ETC. At some point in this journey, things are going to get so drastically different than you’ve ever known them to be. It’s like an intense grounding happening in a space where there is no ground! After the first trimester, when the perpetual haze lifted, I really saw how much of an effect being pregnant was having on me. I immediately felt more compassion for myself  and responded by treating myself more gently and lovingly.

I have begun to relax more and more into the knowing that I am doing the absolute best that I can at any given moment. And, by the way, so is everyone else!  created a tremendous amount of welcome space to my outlook. Space in which I can create more possibilities, rather than complaints. Space in which I can create inspiration. Space in which I can create my health and that of my baby’s as a priority, which does mean practicing asanas and meditation. Letting go of my rigid ideas of what things have to look like forever frees up all this SPACE!

What I’ve been able to come up with after detaching from the video I made and got overwhelmed by (moving on!!) is to share these other expertly done resources for HOW TO MAKE GHEE

An easy-to-read and informative blog post from my absolute favourite cooking site. Oh, and the author just had her first child in the past month! http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2010/12/ghee-whiz-2/

A super authentic approach. This devotee begins from scratch, with raw milk. You can use store-bought butter, if you prefer, and start the instruction from there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJHqaQgVz0o

OR you can take the route of buying ghee already prepared at the market. Purity Farms is the company I’ve seen in the Northwest and West Coast. Banyan Botanicals also sells some http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/searchprods.asp

Ayurveda recommends adding ghee to the mother’s diet throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is good for healthy tissue building in your body and that of your baby. Ghee also lubricates the digestive tract to help ease dryness in stools and the straining that accompanies constipation, so be sure to take extra right after birth to make your first movement as smooth as possible!!

May you all be safe, happy, healthy, and at ease. May you love yourselves completely and with great kindness for doing your BEST! Always remember that you are the perfect mother to your child. He chose you as a parent for everything you are AND everything you’re not.

Bless,

Daya Devi

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Embarking

Hari OM!

Beloved Sisters and Brothers

We’ve been called (literally, our dear friend and teacher phoned us up and recommended we start this blog!) to share our perspective on pregnancy from eyes of two yoga practitioners — me, Daya Devi, expecting mama, and Hari Das, the baby’s father!

About us and why we were inspired to begin this project..

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We met as a full time staff member and a full time dedicated resident at the Sivananda Yoga Center in San Francisco in June of 2011. Yoga practice (sadhana) has permeated every moment of our friendship and partnership since day one! Of course there have been modifications to our daily routines along the way, though maybe none as drastic as the shifts I’ve experienced as a result of this, my first, pregnancy. I offer one of Swami Sivananda’s many quotable sayings  “Adapt, Adjust, Acommodate” for times like these.. and so it is! While Swamiji himself was an advocate for welcoming women into the yogic lifestyle i.e. ashrams and ceremonies, there is still minimal spiritual guidance from the great saints of India on how to maintain practice with direct relation to pregnancy.

And finally, what you can expect to find here over the next 20+ weeks..

Specific asana classes geared for moms-to-be? Abundant! (You can get a yoga class tailored to ANYTHING in the west!!) But advice on how to approach your meditation cushion during the sometimes constant sickness and fatigue of the first trimester? Crickets! Or at least crickets muffling out the voice of the Divine Feminine. Though I may have found Her resources after the despair of my third month had passed, I am still uplifted and exalted to know now that other seekers have confronted this conflict. I will absolutely be sharing their wisdom with you, plus, interviewing women I know personally who have supported me and/or helped pave the way for conscious pregnancy/childbirth/upbringing of pure souls! From my own bank of accumulated learning, I’ll offer simple Ayurvedic remedies, yoga asana variations for pregnancy, breath work, and guided meditations for the whole family to participate in!

As we go along, any requests, questions or suggestions will be received openly! Thanks for sharing life with us. May you be safe and loved and healthy and free!

OM Shanti