A few weeks ago, I was visiting my ninety-five year old Grandfather in the tribal village, Khaknar, in Central India. One day, I went to a school that he had built and did a session of yoga with the children. There are three hundred kids who attend the school, from ages 7 to 16.
While doing yoga with about forty of them, I had the fortune to see their bright, beaming faces and I could see that each of their faces carries the spirit of my Grandfather. This brought relief and joy to my heart.
No matter how many more years my Grandfather lives, I realize that the spirit indeed is deathless, as the yogis have always said. It is our choice how much we give in this life to shine even after the body passes.
Today is the birthday of my Grandmother, Usha, who passed in 2003. While my Grandfather was deeply involved in his work, bringing educational radio and t.v. to India, traveling to South Africa as a teacher of the Vedas, working for the United Nations in the Middle East, my Grandmother brought up their four daughters on her own in New Delhi.
Like many women, she is an unsung hero and to me the greatest of all yogis. Growing up spending time with her, the peace that she carried amidst all types of adversity has had a lasting impression on me. I remember her going in for major surgery and smiling, totally relaxed, a deep sense of surrender and trust, allowing life to happen as it does. She was always like that, no matter the situation.
My Grandmother inspired me to start the Usha Yoga Foundation in 2005. Through this foundation, we have brought yoga to survivors of human trafficking in India, women who are healing from trauma in Rwanda, Korean-American women who have survived violence in Chicago, students who are overcoming anxiety and depression in England, amongst many others. My Grandmother's spirit lives on in each of these people as well as her daughters, grand-children and the many people she touched while living.
We are immortal. The spirit is deathless. We are the ones with one thousand arms, like the images of heroes in many world mythologies. The arms of the people my Grandparents touch are no separate from their arms. We each are capable no matter what our circumstance. How will your spirit live on?
To read more about the Usha Yoga Foundation, visit here.
The picture above is my Mom, Grandfather and me after a gentle evening yoga session in Khaknar, India.