By Erica Harris, Military Spouses of Strength, SOFA Talks Manager
To be tenacious, according to Webster’s dictionary, means, “Not easily stopped, firm or strong; continuing for a long time, or very determined to do something. It seems like living in modern times it is quite prized to be tenacious- and it’s not a bad thing. Tenacious people get things done. They are successful, leaders, and don’t waiver when things get difficult. As I meditated on this word further I thought about the definition of being a mother. We give our body, mind, and spirit oftentimes to our children. Every decision we make we place our children as our number one priority. We are the cooks, the house cleaners, laundry service, dirty diaper-changer, 24 hour personal medical care and bad monster-getter, among countless of other duties. Now, don’t get me wrong, father’s do a lot too and oftentimes mirror the strengths that we might lack. But for this time, we bring our awareness to mothers and the military spouse (and if you’re both, hey more power to you!). It is these women that are the fiercest and strong women I know. I have watched women juggle a household of duties, a fulltime job, and still have the strength and the drive to be present as a mother and wife.
But when does being tenacious blur into taking on too much? We are constantly expected to be “plugged in” checking emails, making phone calls, driving kids to soccer or making healthy meals for our family (that 2 out of three eat-hey that’s something!). Too many times we are unaccustomed to finding the balance between being tenacious and having gratitude. I read something recently that really resonated with me “Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should”. Gratitude or thankfulness can usually be felt the strongest during the holidays where we might reflect on all the things we are thankful for or if we hear about someone experiencing tragedy. Or, if you can think back to a time where you felt extremely grateful. Perhaps someone you know did something so above and beyond for you and you just thought, “Wow, I can’t believe that did that for me!” If we were constantly consumed with being thankful we would walk around every day thanking the clouds, rainbows, the sun, the birds, the grass beneath our feet… and perhaps miss the opportunity to be of service.
In yoga we are always attempting to find this balance. I like how my yoga teacher used to say, “find the line between effort and ease”. The best example I can think of this is in Warrior II pose. Starting in a standing posture step the left leg back about 3 to 4 feet apart. Pivot the left foot to a 45-degree angle and align the arch of the left foot with the heel of the right foot. Now bend the right knee being careful to make sure the knee remains in alignment of the front toes. Allow the hips to open outward. Feel the strength of the right bent leg and the fierceness of the back left leg as they both root into the ground. Lift up all ten toes and release them back down to the ground sinking a little deeper into the foundation of this posture. Next float the arms out so that you create a parallel line from the floor. Turn the palms down. Allow this line to be soft, yet strong like a warrior. Roll the shoulder blades back and down creating space in the chest and lungs. Relax the jaw. Relax the muscles in the face. Look over the right fingertips as though you are gazing into the future and take 5-10 deep breathes through the nose. This pose is the definition of tenacity and gratitude. With too much softness we would fall over. But with just the right amount of strength from our foundation (our feet, legs, and core muscles) and the softness and gracefulness we feel in our heart, shoulders, and upper half of our body allows us to find great balance.
If you need a visual on how to get into this pose go to www.yogajournal.com . This posture is great for strengthening the legs, ankles, chest, lungs, and shoulders. In addition it simulates abdominal organs, increases overall energy, and relieves backaches.