Hold It

“Sthira sukhamasanam.”

(English translation: Asana is a steady, comfortable posture)

—“The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda.”

As mamas, how often do we hold things? Hold the baby, the diaper bag, your kid’s water bottle, their toy, your bag/purse, your breath as you catch your little one climbing maybe a little higher than is safe? Then you hold space for your child during emotional outbursts, and at the same time hold your own emotions to deal with later. In your head, you hold your to-do list, some memories from before you had kids, and ideas you want to remember for when you have time for your next creative project.

Then you go to yoga class, or you do a few poses at home and you hold postures, your gaze on an object of focus as you balance in tree pose, and maybe even your breath as you struggle in a difficult posture.

Hold it. Pause. Notice how much you are holding. I don’t want to be just another voice trumpeting the cliche, “Just let it go,” because I know how very hard that can be. I don’t always do well with that. Sometimes it helps to just realize how challenging it is to just let things go - our tension, our expectations, our hopes, our goals, our identities as moms/wives/executives/artists/friends/daughters and more. Sometimes it’s necessary to hold onto something, and just relax our grip on it; after all, we are someone’s mama, friend, daughter, all real relationships that are important. But we are also more than these roles and knowing this in our bones is the real gift of yoga.

So whatever you’re doing, whatever is worrying you or inspiring you right now, hold it for a second and just think of who you are underneath all of your roles.

Pause with me and notice how much you are holding and how strong you are for being able to hold so much. Hold it all and know that is the essence of feminine power, being able to contain so much. And then let it go, and know that is the other side of feminine power. Remember your cyclic nature: not all go-go-go, but also not totally passive.

Postures become true asana when they have both sthira and sukha, which is effort and ease or steadiness and comfort. In other words, how can you apply just the right amount of effort and let go of all the extra tension that creeps in unintentionally? Try your favorite pose, your least favorite pose, an easy pose, and a difficult one and see what you hold inside as you hold these postures: what thoughts, emotions, tensions, hopes, and expectations do you hold? How strong or weak do you feel as you hold these poses, and then, how do you feel as you let them go?

On this September Full moon, think of your own fullness. Meditation and yoga aren’t really emptying the mind, the way the popular notion explains; they are practices that help us discover our fullness and then separate the wheat from the chaff. What are you holding within right now? Which of these things give you strength and which weigh you down? Then you’ll know exactly what to let go of, and what to hold on to.

The light of the full moon shines Her light to bring us clarity on this: what is important and what impedes our higher potential? When to hold and when to let go? What to hold and what to let go of?

And of course, only you can answer those questions for yourself:)

photo below taken by my daughter shortly after she trashed the living room. I did yoga anyway. I could have cleaned first, but I needed a break right then and there:)

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