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The Yoga of Motherhood

Course content:
In this course, we will explore the concept of motherhood through our yogic tradition and what this means in a contemporary, liberatory context. We will also reclaim our siddhis as mothers and explore what it means to foster a culture of care and community in which we can thrive. I use the term ‘siddhi’ deliberately here, not in the sense of esoteric powers of rishis, yogis, or seers, but as a reclamation of a feminine aspect of Divinity innate in every mother to harness forces of healing. During the colonial period, western medicine rose up to assert its hierarchical forms of power and control over our bodies and our lives. This, in part, led to the loss of many sacred qualities of femininity and motherhood, including our traditional skills in the realm of healing. The loss of innate autonomy can cause a deep and desperate sense of helplessness, especially when we or our loved ones are not well. What if we could rely more on ourselves in this process of becoming well and whole, and help our children to become well and whole?

Certainly, a decolonial approach pushes us beyond treating individual symptoms to go to the root of our suffering and to see ourselves as whole, multidimensional, interconnected beings. This return to the roots of our disconnection and dis-ease may be a long and winding path, but one that we will negotiate together in this course as we traverse new pathways of decolonization and liberation. Western science has finally made links between the past sufferings of our ancestors and current health challenges in ourselves and our children. Epigenetics speaks to the environs of our gene expression and has proven that we are not simply individuals living out our lives but profoundly interconnected in a tapestry of wellbeing and interdependence that spans past, present, and future. This knowledge is something our yogis understood thousands of years ago, which included the impact of karmas and ancestors on our present lives. This course brings together ancient and modern knowledge to help us understand and utilize the power of motherhood in the essential societal work of restoration and healing.
Locating ourselves within a Hindu yogic cosmology, specifically in the work of Indian revolutionary, mystic, and yogi, Sri Aurobindo, and his spiritual consort, The Mother, on what they call ‘the vital’ (also known as the pranamaya kosha, the sheath of lifeforce) as well as contemporary literature on healing, we will explore the connections between social and historical injustices and our current health crises, specifically female-related health issues that impact the ways in which mothers are able to (or unable to) nurture and nourish our children. We will also explore the necessary concept of restorative medicine and how we can bring this into our own lives. Ultimately, in this course, we will discover and engage in our own, long-awaited, homecoming. We will discover our way back into our culture, our authentic selves, and into our bodies, and in doing so, break constricting mental, social, and cultural patterns to pave liberatory pathways for ourselves and our children.

Course Learning Objectives:
In this course students will be able to:
a) Understand yogic concepts of motherhood from a liberatory perspective.
b) Learn about the five koshas, specifically the pranamaya kosha and how it operates in influencing our health and vitality.
c) Learn about how Sri Aurobindo and The Mother conceive of the pranamaya kosha as ‘the vital’ and go deeper into this vital realm to develop our understanding of how traumas, karmas, ancestors, outside influences, and our own unprocessed emotional turmoil impact our lives and those of our children.
d) Expand our consciousnesses as mothers to empower ourselves to be present for the emotional/mental/and physical realities of ourselves and our children, and to open the doorway to healing through the vital realm. We will be engaging in class with simple yogic techniques to enter into this expanded consciousness and to cultivate our own innate abilities and siddhis.
e) Understand the fundamental connection between historical traumas and disease.
f) Strengthen our confidence, inner vitality, and health as mothers and engage in fostering communities of care.

Class Structure:
There will be a minimum of 1.5 contact hours with one or more faculty every week. The class is structured in a way that promotes discussion based on self-study and reflection each week. While
the content being discussed in each class will be concluded within 90 minutes, the discussion time will be free format, and can continue for an additional 30 minutes. The class will be a safe and inclusive space for sharing and discovery. At the end of the course, students will be required to submit a (non-academic) summary paper based on students’ self-reflection on what they have learnt and assimilated, and what has touched and inspired them deeply.

Area of Study: Yoga Studies

Program:  Certificate Program in Hindu Studies

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study.

Faculty: Ms. Shilpa Agarwal

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: October 11, 2022

End Date: December 20, 2022

Day: Every Tuesday

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022