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Namaste The Hard Way

By: S Worsham.
ISBN: 9780757320606.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

y mother used to chant in Sanskrit in her study before sunrise every morning. Though she died when I was 16--22 years ago--I always hear her voice that way. Off-key, but strangely hypnotic, the language both complicated and pure, reverberating around our house. For a kid growing up in Southern Ohio -- Bible belt country -- the sound was both alluring and repellent. "What's your mother doing?" my friends would ask. "Being a weirdo," I told them. And so encapsulates the coming of age story of Sasha Brown, a transplanted tween plunked in the middle of the Bible Belt with a macrobiotic hippy mom and a ribs-eating dad. A writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan, Brown's prose is heartfelt and hilarious, revealing her quest to find her way as two worlds collide. While other moms were at Bible study, her mom was studying Sanskrit; while other were finding friendship at Tupperware parties, her mom was finding enlightenment at the ashram. And when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she chose a healthy diet and yoga over aggressive chemo. When her mother died, Brown ran as far away from yoga as she could until a running injury left her needing the very thing she was running from. It was there--on the mat--that she processed her grief and found her mother again. As she went deeper into the poses, she discovered she was more like her mother than she thought. Through it all, she found a deeper understanding of the practice, of the breath, and of the life her mother lost too young. The practice that once seemed easy and slow compared to pounding the pavement in a new pair of Asics became the biggest challenge of her life. She learned that yoga is so much more than asana. So much more than breath. So much more than perfect poses. The "union" of yoga became one of heart and mind, and finally, with that maternal energy Sasha had been missing for so many years. In the space that she focused her mind and pushed her body to its breaking point was where she would see her mother. In the space of her yoga mat, she and her mother connect across time. Namaste the Hard Way is an ode to the timeless bond between mothers and daughters. Plucky and poignant, Namaste the Hard Way is for anyone who didn't want to walk in their mother's shoes (or sandals).

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

1. Centering

This is the moment we hit our mats,

when the lights dim and students

begin in silence, observing the bodies

they have brought with them,

and how they arrived.


Fastest Girl in the 'Hood

For the first ten years of my life I am the fastest girl in the neighborhood. We live just outside downtown Dayton, Ohio. The houses are roughly twenty feet apart, three-bedroom homes with one-and-a-half bathrooms and small yards. For my parents, as with most in the neighborhood, our home was a starter, the kind newlyweds bought in Ohio in the late 1970s for $19,000, wondering if they could afford it.

Then the kids start coming, first in a house two doors down, then next door. I am born next, on July 19, 1977. More children follow, one after the other, year after year, except in my house, where my parents wait almost nine years to have my sister. The neighborhood kids are like siblings to me. We play all day in the hot sun, pile like puppies into our parents' cars and drive to the pool, where we spend hours dunking each other, swimming to the bottom, and doing handstands with eyes so wide open they stay bloodshot all summer. At home we play hide-and-seek outdoors well past dark, catching fireflies and tackling each other until our parents scream for us from their front porches, long after the streetlights have come on.

It is a magic that later generations of kids may never experience, in a world of seat belts, child abduction stories, and dirt phobias, with parents so attentive that one can hear the whirring blades of their concern, like a helicopter circling over a traffic jam.

In the midst of all this, my mother discovers yoga.

On the afternoons I spend at one house or another, she is meditating. She had dabbled in meditation and some version of yoga back in her New York City days, before I was born. A close friend of my parents introduced her to George Gurdjieff, which led to meditation circles and eventually to yoga.

But this was long before I was born, even before my parents packed up their Brooklyn Heights rental apartment and moved back to their shared home state, Ohio, so my father could attend law school at the University of Dayton. They bought the small house on the corner of Burbank Drive and Audrey Place for $19,000. At the time it was a financial stretch, but they loved the details of the two-story brick house: the built-in formica kitchen table that jutted out from a built-in display cabinet, the cute sunroom off the dining room, the large room over the garage where my father could place his father's former law school desk, the walls he lined with books and papers, and the small sewing room, which served as a catch-all space because no one in my family could sew as much as a button onto a shirt.

These decisions were made long before me. They spent three years in this house while my father gutted out his classes and eventually passed the bar. There is a photo of him in his black cap and gown at his law school graduation. He has long hair and a long beard. He looks a little like a short, stubby Rasputin. Beside him, my mother is dressed all in white, and her belly is so big she looks as though she might topple forward. It's the only photo I have of her when she was pregnant with me.

They put me in the sewing room for the first few months of my life -- or so I am told. By the time I develop any conscious memory, I am in the large bedroom right beside theirs, with blue walls, a blue carpet, and a closet big enough to store all kinds of things, including my pinafore dresses, Christmas decorations, and my father's vast pornography collection, which was initially stacked safely in a box marked 'Ashley's things' in the top right corner of the closet. It takes me many years to find all those Playboy magazines, stuff them into a duffel bag, and distribute them on the school playground.

My parents buy me a water bed, which becomes the talk of the neighborhood. Kids come in and out of the house to jump on it and ride the waves. Another kid's house has a basketball court, and another's has a swing set. One kid has a garage full of old screws and pieces of wood that we use to build forts.

The three children next door -- Sarah, Josh, and Beth -- are my best friends. Adam and Amanda Burden live in the next house down. Next to them is David, whose parents hang Confederate flags all over the house and eventually move after a black family moves in across the street. There is also Little David, Betsy, Caroline, her younger sister Maura, and many others.

Around this time my mother starts attending a meditation group, and those children are added to my circle as well. While the parents prop their hips on pillows, ask for silence, and breathe, we run in the backyard, organize races in the middle of the street, and tie wagons to the back of bicycles so we can carry our friends from one house to another.

When I run I tighten the fingers of each hand into a blade that slices through the air, making me even speedier. I beat all the boys in our daily road races and dominate in the ghosts in the graveyard game and in hide-and-seek, too. I imagine myself winning Olympic medals, and I am sure I am the fastest girl in recorded history. My entire body is made of skin, bones, and muscle. I am tiny and compact (before my breasts make their dramatic appearance), and I am so willowy that my mother is often asked if she is feeding me enough.

I love banana nut pancakes and the sugar cereals my father sometimes sneaks into the house. I love pudding pops, chocolate cake, tuna noodle casserole, and chicken with peaches on top. I love broccoli, salad with Italian dressing, and pizza with black olives. I love breakfast at my Catholic Nana and Bampa's (my maternal grandparents') house best because they let me have bacon and they make their French toast carefully, not the way my mother does.

She is lazy when it comes to cooking, and her French toast always has cooked egg whites around the edges. Even though I love French toast, I don't enjoy being reminded of what's inside. It seems as if a disgusting secret is being revealed. It should taste eggy and buttery without revealing its secret. This is, perhaps, the only time I throw fits about food: when my mother makes breakfast with burnt toast, rubbery eggs, pancakes that are runny inside, and French toast with fried egg bits hanging off the plate -- all specialties of the house. Somehow I still grow. I become stronger and faster and taller, although the latter takes a while, burnt toast and all.


©2018 Sasha Brown-Worsham is. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Namaste the Hard Way: A Daughter's Journey to Find Her Mother on the Yoga Mat. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

Excerpted from Namaste the Hard Way: A Daughter's Journey to Find Her Mother on the Yoga Mat by Sasha Brown-Worsham All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.