Ode to the Divine Mother

Swan River Jivamukti teacher Keith Porteous poses in lotus position at the Marigny studio ten days before her baby is due Today I woke up in a state of bliss. The sun was shining as I walked to the Green Project to get some hardware for my Mardi Gras costume (The Human Photo Booth). I had the new Radiohead album playing on my iPod, Thom Yorke's sweet familiar voice soothing my soul. As I walked balanced on the railroad tracks alongside of Press Street I slowly waved my arms up and down as if they were wings, feeling the strong winds blowing on my bare skin from the Mississippi River.

This thought occurred to me; "I am exactly who I was meant to be." I felt goosebumps move across my skin. It was a feeling of pure love, of being held in the arms of the universe. One verse, one love, one me.

The second deep blessing of the day came during my thursday Jivamukti class, held at the Swan River studio in the Marigny and taught by my dear teacher Keith Porteous. Keith is 10 days from her pregnancy due date, and it was one of the last classes she will be teaching for a while. I asked to accompany her on ukulele for the kirtan (sacred chant) before class and she happily obliged me. I suggested we sing Bhajamana Ma, a chant for the Divine Mother, in honor of her pregnancy.

The chant in Sanskrit is "Bhajamana Ma Ma Ma Ma. Ananda mayi Ma Ma. Ananda rupa Ma Ma." ~ translated by Swan River co-owner Michele Baker, in English it means "I give all of my love to the Divine Mother. Take from me all that is not free, and allow me to experience eternal bliss, dearest Mother."

It is beautiful that the word "Ma" means the same in modern English as in ancient Sanskrit. A sound as simple and profound as Aum. In western religions the mother is downplayed and the father is the ultimate expression of divinity. I believe that this imbalance has led us down a destructive path. We all need the compassion and nurturing nature that comes from the feminine aspect of divinity to heal the toxicity and war that we have wreaked upon the Earth.

I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by strong and beautiful women. They are all my teachers in their various roles in my life; Some as friends, some lovers, some strangers who share a moment, some mothers and grandmothers who have brought life through their bodies into the world. They are all manifestations of the divine.

Keith Porteous yoga teacher

As I practice yoga asanas I strengthen my connection to the Earth, the mother of all life as we experience it. Asana means "seat", and somehow these postures that we work on day after day connect us to the Earth. The illusion of separation from the source of life slowly fades as our hearts open and we learn to "sit" in alignment with the divine.

To see my beloved teacher Keith with her mamma's belly so big and round fills my heart with love. What a blessed child to be born with her as a mother. What a blessed soul I am to have her as a teacher. How blessed we all are to have each other. Share your gratitude with the mothers in your life, and you will find the blessings returning to you, the flowers of wisdom blossoming all around you, and your connection to the Earth becoming stronger.

Please visit my NOLA Yoga Photography Project to see more photos of I have taken of yogis and yoginis, and to find out how you can help me on my path to becoming a yoga teacher.