The Ups and Downs of Motherhood
The Sanskrit word spanda means pulsation. Here I will talk about the aspect that refers to the natural ups and downs of life.
Sometimes we have an up and we get attached to it – the little one is sleeping well, we are feeling calm, etc. – but of course the nature of life is that this will change. The lesson of spanda is that we can lean into the change, rather than resisting it.
We see this everywhere in nature: flowers open and close, grow and die. Hearts expand and contract. Waves crest and fall.
We are simply part of this pulsation. And at our best, we consciously choose to support it.
For instance, sometimes we want to be social and then we might feel like staying in.
One side of the see saw is sometimes less fun: we might have a great day connecting with our child and then we just want to put them in front of a screen and do our own thing; we find a rhythm at night and then we watch it disappear.
Yoga teaches us to enjoy both sides of the see saw, in order to accommodate more power and joy in our lives.
You can experience the power of spanda by practicing this full exhale breath:
Full Spanda Breathing
Use your stomach muscles to gently push out your next exhale. Push and push and push some more, until there’s no more breath and no more calm space between the breaths, and then take a breath in.
Notice how full it is. When we participate in a long exhale like this, we allow our lungs to expand more and we naturally take a bigger in-breath, feeding our cells, tissues and organs with more prana (life force).
With each breath, do both sides a little less forcefully.
After 6 or 7 breaths, you will be breathing normally again, but much more in tune with the pulsation of both sides.
By embracing what’s happening in this moment more fully, we empower ourselves for the next chapter.
We know that when we work our body to its maximum ability, we then can allow it to relax and release into its blissful, neutral state. In studies that compared lying on the couch with doing savasana after yoga, the body was found to have lower pressure, heart rate, and firings of the brain neurons when it had moved through the pulsation of action and then rest.
Similarly, when we leave our little one for a while, we allow ourselves a deeper happiness and appreciation of each other upon our return.
When we walk around attached to our baby all day, and then give both of us a little space, we are fully empowering ourselves and baby.
The more we embrace the emotional see saw, happiness vs. depression, expansion vs. contraction, the better both the ups and downs get as we spiral higher and higher in our awareness, and our ability to include more in our joy.
In yoga, we embrace the challenge and ease, the fun connection to each other and the quiet, serene experience of the Self, the strength and the stretch.
If we’re pregnant, we use our muscles to create stability, we also can soften and flow through this special time in our lives.
If we’re a mama, we play with baby as well as teach him or her (and you!) that mama needs time to focus on herself.
Don’t fight the see saw this week Mama – enjoy it!