Monday, June 20, 2011

Mantras & Motherhood

Music can be a powerful tool for supporting transformative experiences in life.  One of the most transformative being giving birth.  In this article, yoga teacher, mother and music lover Kirsten Hedden, recounts her experience of how mantras, divine sound, healing vibration and breath were the keys to finding a transformational yoga practice while delivering a baby.

I was in labor for 51 hours.  It was the best yoga practice of my life.  I’m not some Olympian of Labor, otherwise I’m sure it would have been much shorter.  I am a survivor of a tough challenge given to me by a universal spirit that offered up a tiny being with a spirit greater than mine.

His spirit had to be greater than mine in that moment because while I struggled to empty my body, he struggled to keep life in his.  We made it through because of divine sound.  For a while focusing on breath was helpful and focusing on sensation, but when all those physical skills left me, I still had vibration and music.

Musical mantras filled my room and often the nurses from other deliveries would stop in because they had heard that this room was relaxed, there was something special happening in the room with the music.  People that had never practiced an asana or heard of conscious breath felt drawn to the music and those vibrations had a real and present affect on absolutely everyone that entered and listened.  Bhakti yoga.  It brought my son into the world on a glorious vibration and he was breathing into it.

For my birth practice, I found myself turning to the obvious mantra of overcoming obstacles and I like to think that Ganesha spirit laughed my son into this world.  Krishna Das’s, Door of Faith saw me through the long two nights of labor, but a mantra manifested into my mind as I neared the end.  Om gam ganapataye namaha.

Coincidentally, this was the first mantra ever taught to me (Thank you Tammy Mitchell of Heading Om).  I had learned it about 3 years prior and about 7 years into my yoga practice.  When everything seemed to be fading, I kept repeating to Ganesh in my mind.

And then there he was.

It didn’t happen like I wanted.  My son was born by C-section.  I hadn’t practiced that.  It didn’t fit my ego’s yoga ideal.

And then there he was.

It didn’t matter how he had gotten there.  We were alive. 

And then there he was.

I practiced the mantra up to that moment; it made me feel that it was a natural birth.  It was natural because it was bathed in a spirit of belief and acceptance and surrendering to not what I wanted, but what life needed.

And now this is the mantra I sing to my son so often when he is upset, frustrated, confused, and even when he is happy.  I think he’s getting close to singing along.  Attached is my Overcoming Obstacles playlist.  It really revs up my practice and keeps me focused on overcoming the obstacles to my progress.

-Check out her 'Overcoming Obstacles' playlist on YogiTunes:

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

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