just the other day, as i was cueing up my first of the month to do list, i paused and glanced at my name on a pepco bill. Nesanet N Alemayhu, followed by my address, Washington, DC 20016. it was a strange sensation. i don’t think i had ever looked at my name on a document and paused before. i thought, who is this Nesanet N Alemayhu? what has she become over the years? and is her external personality, the one that people receive, the same as what she feels inside?
last week, i spent a few days in portland, maine and boston, massachusetts visiting family and friends. it had been some time since i was in boston, the place where i feel like i did a whole lot of growing up. i actually experienced a deep longing, likely because i was sitting right outside the boston commons, on a glorious sunny day, wondering if i could in fact live there again. Nesanet Alemayhu was a young college student in those days, running around between fenway park and the south end, certainly not visualizing a future in Washington, DC.
the mystery of life is so mysterious! when i lived in boston, my immediate concerns were about my classes, my girlfriends at simmons, baseball games i did not want to miss, and maybe a few other things. when i look back today, i think, if that girl only knew where her life would go.
if we knew with certainty what would come next, would we be more open?
i find myself in constant awe of this universe, what my life has become, the experiences i have had, and those that are headed for me now. wherever you are reading this today, i hope you find comfort in knowing that there is so much more to come!
in the words of dr. seuss:
you have brains in your head.
you have feet in your shoes.
you can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
you’re on your own. and you know what you know.
and YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
practice continues with me on saturdays, 10:30-11:45 am at fuse. a 75 minute opportunity to move contemplatively from space to space and allowing those small journeys into yourself to serve as guidance for leading a conscious life.
happy may, i am excited for all the places you will go!
“with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear.” -ralph waldo emerson
i found this quote on a package that splendid spoon sent recently and i find myself returning to it multiple times throughout a given week. currently, it is on my vision board. i have spent a considerable amount of time ruminating on the behavioral characteristics of fear. what it smells like, tastes like, and feels like at the time that it has taken up residence in my mind. with all the transitions in my life lately, i have found it difficult to tune out, or rather, tune in to what fear is trying to communicate to me.
a lot of my anxiety and impatience is stemming from life asking me to bend and stretch in ways i never have before. buying a car, navigating the valleys of a new career, entering a new portal in my relationships, it all seems so overwhelming! and then i read, "with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear." is that what it takes? trusting myself? that and being open to the lessons.
i think part of the challenge is that i see fear as an enemy rather than an ally. despite how mean it may sound sometimes, ultimately, fear is a motivator that has the intention of keeping us focused on the path, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
are there areas in your life in which you are being asked to stretch in new ways? how can you remember to pause and trust in yourself?
saturday morning practice from 10:30-11:45 takes place at fuse in foxhall. come, move, and create new space in the body.
when leaping into whatever, try your best to not be afraid. be patient and when all else seems to fail, bet on yourself!
in the past 3 weeks, i have celebrated the entry into my third decade, started a new position, and reflected on my move to DC exactly 7 years ago. i remember the morning i woke up in my studio apartment in the back bay of boston knowing it was time to leave. i had visited DC a couple of times throughout college and had decided it was the place i would move next despite that i knew nothing more than the fact that DC was considered a second Ethiopia. i cannot express how right that decision was and how much i have grown since moving here. i heard somewhere recently that the gateway to change has three phases: pre-contemplation, contemplation, and finally, change. i realize today that my life is a good life because despite how much i fear change, i tackle it head on.
which area of your life requires you to change?
for some of us, change is very difficult. it is almost as if we are allergic to it. some of us are "cold turkey" people ... wake up, decide, and move. and the rest of us, well, we take up that grey area ... the area that needs encouragement, guidance, and a bit of hand-holding to get to the next place. no matter which type of person you are, know that your process is perfectly fine, you are perfectly fine, and your life is a good life.
i have returned to guiding one studio class per week at fuse in foxhall. fuse is known as a pilates studio until this year where they chose to add a yoga component. i am addicted to building, cultivating, and growing something from scratch and i am excited about building a yoga program that can continue to serve DC and humanity as a whole. practice with me every saturday morning from 10:30-11:45. the flow, called mindful movement, is loosely inspired by my ashtanga practice. it is ethereally slow, alignment focused, and just the perfect thing on a saturday morning.
i love hearing from you, receiving your emails, texts, and phone calls and knowing how i and this yoga practice can serve you.
sending you love from my heart and wishing you a sweet valentines day!
i love it when the calendar starts over with the number 1 — something about a fresh start really brightens my world. 365 new chances to begin again and continue to work toward what it means to live your best life!
this year, i dare to try new activities, adventures, destinations, and new ways of seeing. i vow to leave the people, places, and things that make me uncomfortable, that kill my vibe, and dim my light. i will continue in my healing, in my quest to find and trust in God, and leap into whatever is next!
i hope that you, too, dare to not be afraid!
below is an affirmation i shared with those who attended the 4th annual new year’s eve intention setting and asana practice. write your name in the blank space, feel free to print and place on your fridge or anywhere that is visible to you on a daily basis.
i ________________ am grateful for all that i am and all that i have.
i receive all blessings and abundance that come my way.
i remove all blockages hindering my emotional growth, financial growth, and spiritual growth.
so. shall. it. be.
happy new year!
sending you courage in abundance…
on sunday morning, i had a strong craving to attend church. last week i was out of town and so the yearning to reconnect with God was very deep. my reconnection with the church is very new and although i should know, i did not know that it was the first sunday of advent. i smiled inside thinking, “i am always arriving at the right time.”
it has been very sweet to reflect on this past year. witnessing my own becoming with minimal judgment is the best gift i have given myself yet. through my partner,through therapy,through my new neighborhood,through the church, through returning back to ethiopia, and through yoga, i have found a whole new layer of being. even in becoming, it takes a village.
yoga teaches us that the “self” is not a permanent fixture. it is ever changing — everything is always changing all of the time. it is the reason we are also taught to pause, because in the pause is the lesson. i have had many meltdowns this year, but i have also had some awesome experiences.
last december, during the New Year’s Eve workshop, i asked everyone to make a list titled, stop. start. continue. each column had three things that one would like to stop, to start, and to continue. one of my start items was to send out a monthly note. and here i am, on the twelfth month of sharing and continuing to cultivate a community of people who can learn from one another.
this year, i will be hosting the NYE practice of chakra meditation, intention setting, journaling, reflection, and yoga practice. we practice 6-8:30pm, early enough of an ending to make plans for the rest of your night. we are very fortunate to return to the beautiful space at dock 5 above union market dc, reserve your spot here and bring a friend, i cannot express how much i love leading this workshop — this is the 4th year!!
i have opened up slots for private instruction in the new year. private instruction is great for you if you want to focus more deeply on your yoga practice and also to have something to look forward to weekly on your own schedule and at your own pace. private instruction packs also make a great holiday gift! send me a note to connect.
while we still have 3 weeks before christmas, now is the perfect time to cleanse from fall and our thanksgiving day feast! i am enjoying rebooting my system with splendid spoon’s juices and smoothies. you can take $20 off your order by using code: splendid.to/NYASPOON20
it has been an absolute pleasure to share with you these past twelve months and to receive your feedback. thank you, thank you, thank you, for showing up to my classes, my workshops, my times of need. thank you for allowing me to be there for you during your times of need. this yoga practice is one of the pillars of my life, it is an honor and a pleasure to experience it with you.
if you are into social media, lets stay in touch! follow me on instagram keep a pulse on my facebook page or drop a note any time to say hello!
wishing you a beautiful transition into the new year.
i returned from ethiopia early last monday morning. for the first time in my life of traveling, i slept through the first leg of the flight from addis ababa to dublin. one could even say, i had a smile on my face for the 6 remaining hours that i stayed awake until arriving in washington's dulles airport.
my homecoming has been jubilant, peaceful, and quiet, all at once. while adjusting to the time change, i have been up very early in the morning baking, awaiting the birds to rise, and enjoying the stillness. it has made me very heart happy.
i feel no sense of urgency. no sense of obligation. just a peaceful cloak around me as my eyes and ears re-adjust to the life i once lived. as i become one with my freedom, i am open to whatever is next. in my meditations, i have repeated the mantra, “clarity — direction — guidance” opening myself to re-alignment. as i watch the world around me travel at a pace that i am yet not ready to join, i embrace the stillness i found back in ethiopia and rest in its comfort. as the holiday rush begins, i hope you, too, find quiet moments to breathe, to make your coffee slowly, and to wait for the birds to rise.
in an effort to get your body moving this fall, i have teamed up with core72 at cathedral commons to offer free community yoga on sunday november 5, 12, and 19 from 10:30-11:30am. registration is not required, all that we ask is that you bring your own mat.
the end of the year is fast approaching! the 4th annual New Year’s Eve intention setting practice is scheduled for sunday, december 31st from 6-8:30pm. i absolutely love leading this practice which is compromised of asana, chakra balancing, and intention setting. by reflecting on the year that has passed and inviting the new, we consciously create space to manifest what we desire in our lives. the evening has always been filled with the most exquisite energy that reverberates for the days, weeks, and months to follow. reserve your spot here, it is always sold out!
i am always delighted to support you through private instruction, and to share with you the gift of this yoga practice. send me a note to get together.
be still and watch the universe open up for you.
i have come to the realization that as i age, i want my experience on earth school to soften me, not harden me. i want to be fearless in giving myself the kindness, love, and respect i did not receive. and i want to use all that i learn to live my best life.
in january 2016, my intention for the year was returning. a conscious past life regression in order to cleanse, heal, and unearth the roots of my patterns. it has been a deeply painful yet rewarding self-exploration journey, one that has left me in awe. and one that will put me on a plane to my birth country, addis ababa, ethiopia, after nearly 10 years tomorrow morning.
a lot has changed for me over the course of these last 24 months. in an attempt to align with my highest self, i changed neighborhoods, made tremendous breakthroughs through counseling and yoga, and resigned from my post at Ann Mashburn. as i continue to get closer to my why and shed the layers that no longer serve, i am humbled by the universe asking, are you living your best life?
guilt, fear, and shame, were keeping me from daring to live my best life and tuning in to the things that matter most to me. guilt of appearing too selfish. fearful that i am leaving others behind. and shame for not being content with what i have and where i am, and instead wanting more. i realize that what i want is to cultivate relationships (emotional, financial, mental, physical, spiritual) that are rooted in love, reciprocity, and respect. and that actually, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
what does living your best life mean to you?
i will return from ethiopia on october 23. join me for satsang on sunday, october 29 from 10:30am-12pm focusing on inversions. if you are terrified of getting into headstand, don't let fear stop you. come and be guided intelligently and safely into the world of inversions. coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow.
to keep up with my active and busy lifestyle, i teamed up with splendid spoon for meals throughout the week. all of the meals are plant based and free of gluten. the best part is that there is no cooking involved! you can customize your delivery to reflect all three meals of the day or choose what suits you. as a gesture of my gratitude, use this code: NYASPOON20 to receive $20 off your order!
i hope that you, too, return and reclaim what is rightfully yours. a life filled with an abundance of creative space, relationships rooted in reciprocity and respect, and a healthy lifestyle that will carry you for years and generations to come.
live your best life!
fall is my favorite season. i love when the air turns and i can wear my scarves, sweaters, and boots again. i love the colors changing. i love a hot chocolate in the morning warming me from the inside out. and mostly, i love falling back in love.
it has been an intense summer for all of us, each of us changing and transforming in our own way. and with the recent eclipse, i know so much continues to change and shift. it is an amazing time to stay observant and receptive to all the unexpected.
fall is a great time to fall back in love with our friends. our self care rituals with meditation and yoga. our trail runs and long walks. falling back in love with baking blueberry muffins when everyone is still asleep inviting them to awaken to the sweet smell of love. throwing in all of the veggies in the fridge into a pan and making a huge frittata, and whatever else fell off our plate for the summer.
i know for certain that i am looking forward to hot chocolate dates with friends, trail running in rock creek park, and falling back in love.
join me for satsang on september 24 from 10:30-12 focusing on cooling seated postures. coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow.
fall back in love with your yoga practice with 20% off a private instruction 5 pack and invite a friend to share the time with you! from the drop down menu, choose 'class pack' and 'fall back in love.' private practice is a great time to customize what you want out of your practice, ask questions, and work on the more challenging postures you have been curious to try all in the comfort and safety of your own home.
i am all about falling in love, every day!
i have just returned back from a 4 week sabbatical. there were days of contemplation, days where the whole day was spent in pajamas, days where i had nothing planned, days where i cared for others, and a day when i knew it was time to return to my tree house in washington, d.c.
i feel very much at peace. a sort of full acceptance that everything is temporary anyway, so what's the big deal? where before i would get so upset with myself for not knowing what i want to do with my one-wonderful-life, now i just take it one day at a time. and let my one-wonderful-life reveal to me what it would like to do today.
this life is a gift. time is a gift. the privilege to use time as currency every day is a gift. if we were more open in the way life leads us, imagine all the surprises we would find!
i am still taking a teaching sabbatical, but join me for private instruction on monday's, you can reserve your spot here.
satsang this month will be held on august 27, coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow.
i hope you are enjoying the warm sun loving on your skin. sunday morning pancakes. and all the surprises. and while time may not heal all wounds, it certainly does make things more clear.
"now is the season to know that everything we do is sacred." -hafiz
healing is a topic of life that i am deeply interested in and devoted to. i became conscious of my own healing journey about 18 months ago when i hired a therapist to help me understand my individual traumatic blueprint. it has been an awakening and awe inspiring journey, and while sometimes painful, it has been worth every hour we have spent together. i had always interpreted healing to mean that it was an inside job, but what i have learned is that healing is actually an outside job. the depth of ones healing isn't fully realized until there is an interaction with the universe where one is shown that they are actually learning acceptance, intimacy, safety, and trust. when these states of being are mirrored back to you from the universe, healing is accomplished.
i thought it would be a joyous exercise to jot down some of what healing means to me and perhaps this will inspire you to create a fun list for yourself.
healing to me means...
lots of sleep
long days of living without doing
listening to the birds sing
a long hot shower
lighting a candle
hot lemon water
living my best life
a beautiful glass of wine
kneeling for prayer
long aimless walks
taking care of mom
what does healing mean for you?
i am on sabbatical and focusing on each part of what healing means for me. satsang is on july 25 from 10:30a-12pm focusing on balance and standing postures. reserve your space here. coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow!
keep a pulse on me this summer through my social media outlets, or shoot me a note.
sending you healing in abundance!
i fell into a very fascinating conversation regarding time this past weekend. i am one of those folks who is perpetually busy. with the exception of the hours i use for sleep, my days are usually fully scheduled. it had never occurred to me that this was a “problem” because in my mind, i was choosing this way of life.
as far back as i can recall, my schedule has always been full. while in conversation, effortlessly, the words “you know why i do this, right? when i was a girl, in order to avoid being abused by my step-father, i scheduled myself for activities after school” flew out of my mouth. it was as if something was speaking through me — a new portal of insight. and here i was, still scheduling myself for activities even though there was no longer anything to hide from.
it is amazing what happens when we accept the responsibility of being an aware, conscious, and softened human being. habits long formed are willing to reveal their source and permit the path for reformation. what a gift in this life to work through the anatomy of our being and recreate a harmonious world within ourselves. i have been over scheduling myself for nearly two decades and it is just now that i can clearly see why.
what is the source of some of your habits?
in honor of slowing down and assessing how i use my temporal currency, i will be taking a teaching sabbatical beginning july 1. you can still practice with me through the monthly satsang in my home and through private instruction.
enjoy final days of practice with me at georgetown yoga this month on tuesday june, 13, 20, 27 and thursday june 15, 22, and 29 at 7:45pm. satsang this month is on sunday, june 25 from 10:30am to 12:00pm. reserve your spot here. coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow.
so with that, use your temporal currency well. i wish you the best of everything.
this past sunday, as i was leaving a coffee shop walking past the bishops garden, i felt a certain resignation in my soul. a resignation to faith. to believing and trusting that no matter where my life is going, it is going exactly where it is supposed to. and all the fears that come up like weeds in the garden of my life, are just little indicators that need patience and reassurance that all is going to be well.
i spent the whole month of april moving from an apartment i occupied for four years on U street to a small, light filled, tree house across from the washington national cathedral. leading up to the move, i had so much anxiety about the act of letting go of one space for another. i was not sure if i would like it, if i was making a mistake, if it ended up not being right for whatever reason… i tried many ways to talk myself out of leaving U street despite that i had felt creatively stifled for months. something inside of me must have known what was right because on april 1, i camped out on the floor of my new place just so i could start the month off right. i used the remaining 29 days to move my things in slowly and to give myself ample time to transition. it was as if i was holding my own hand through the process. it was the most mindful, low stress move i have ever experienced.
i think we are all in a way resigning to faith. to a belief that the world is actually a good, safe, and whole place. and despite all the fractures of society, we are all moving toward healing. we heal one, we heal all.
on the yoga front: i have taken over thursday night slow flow at georgetown yoga. if you enjoy the tuesday night class and want a double dose, or if thursday just works better for your schedule, you can practice with me at 7:45pm.
satsang this month is on may 21 from 10:30-12. we will focus on spinal mobility and work to liberate the spine through twists. reserve your spot here. coffee, discourse, and pastries to follow.
sometimes all we need to do is move out of the way and allow everything else to shift around us.
i have been exploring the blueprint of my trauma consciously for the past eighteen months. maybe it has been longer, but i feel like i only began to actually see myself quite recently. more specifically, i have been enamored with the ability of trauma to stay alive in the body long after the traumatic event has come to pass. it is the reason why practicing and teaching movement has become so important to me as a vehicle for healing.
i experience the resurgence of trauma through gut feelings, through temporary paralysis in circumstances i feel i cannot control, and sometimes, through my dreams. what i have come to learn is that in moments like these, when present experiences mirror the past, my brain and body are unable to discern what is really happening in the moment.
part of seeing oneself fully is being brave enough to hold compassionate space for the person we find. the one who is afraid. the one who does not feel safe. the one we judge. the one we know needs us more than anyone else. it is through studying our individual blueprint that we begin to actually see. it's our map for understanding our behaviors, reactions, and triggers.
if you considered the scope of your trauma, moment to moment, would you change how you show up in the world?
when i began to cultivate a yoga practice twelve years ago, i had not realized that it would serve as my medium for healing. i was not aware that i needed to heal. through my practice i have been able to slowly regain ownership of myself and change the harmony of my inner world. even still, i am just beginning to feel the warmth of my own heart.
practice with me tuesday april 11, 18, and 25 at georgetown yoga. wednesday, april 12 at 7:45pm, i am filling in for Tali Herskowitz and leading one of my favorite practices; restorative yoga. come release and fill up on a midweek self-care session! satsang this month is on april 30, focusing on forward folds: surrendering to what is, 10:30-12pm. sign up for your spot here!
be the subject you want to know better.
i have long believed that visceral responses are guidance from the divine. it took me a very long time to tune in, but ever since, i have not looked back. in fact, if i do not receive a visceral response from my everyday life experiences, i have been programmed to believe that whatever it is, it needs further exploration.
when i reflect on the months before i moved to DC six years ago, it was a visceral decision to leave Boston in search of something bigger --- deeper. and to trace back even to the move from Addis Ababa to Maine, while it wasn't a solo choice, it was a shift that was motivated by something deeper. thus, i have come to rely heavily on my biofeedback and what it has in store for me.
there has been a lot of rumbling in my soul, and i imagine it is so for the collective conscious. the world is so traumatized by an orchestra of events ranging from rights to our bodies, to terminal illnesses that claims lives seemingly over night. every day, headlines are taking our attention away from the virtues we want to cultivate such as compassion, gratitude, and loving-kindness. now is the time to tune in. to sharpen the vision. to listen more. and to walk fully into our light. if you have yet to feel a ***shift*** within wait, it is coming for you.
what are you being called to do?
practice tuning in and listening to your biofeedback through asana practice. i am teaching at georgetown yoga on tuesday's march 7, 14, 21, and 28 from 7:45-8:45pm. and hosting satsang in my home on sunday, march 19 from 10:30am-12pm.
if you have yet to attend satsang, i invite you to join in. you can liken it to a relaxing sunday morning with good coffee, sagacious discourse, friends, food, music, and some yoga. we'll be covering backbends from cobra to wheel. reserve your spot here, space is limited.
also for the month of march, i am offering 20% off a 5 class pack for private instruction. if you are new to yoga or want to deepen an existing practice, private instruction is the best compliment to your every day activities. the great thing is that you do not have to do this alone, you can share the 60 minutes with up to three other friends. if you would like to take advantage of this offer, send me a note.
i wish you love and light from the depth of my heart and hope that at least today, you find the courage to walk fully into your divine light.
i spent all morning taking delight in the time i had at home. usually, i have an hour in the morning to practice my self-care rituals which consist of hot lemon water, 100 squats, an omelette if i can squeeze it in, and finally dashing out wishing my cat Kali a wonderful day. today however, i had 2 hours. not only could i extend the time i cared for myself, i even had extra time to enjoy the process.
i have just returned from a sojourn in charleston, south carolina where i celebrated my turn around the sun. with an abundance of time, filled with nothing but activities that evoke states of gratitude, fulfillment, and joy, i fell into the hands of bliss. i realized that this was the first time, in the whole of my life where i felt absolutely no guilt about giving to myself first. this caused me to wonder, aside from the week of my birth, do i spend the other 358 days feeling guilt about giving to myself first? even more important, i wondered, how can i take this experience home with me? how can i find time each day to rejoice in the miracle of being alive? i think the answer is practice. practice giving to yourself first!
while it may be true that there are many things that consume us, ranging from our children to our work, it is possible to cultivate a daily self-care ritual that allows space and time to feel grateful, to feel full, and to feel at peace. i invite you to practice giving to yourself first in some small way, every day, consistently. how much time isn't as important as the consistency of the ritual that you create. the truth is, the more you can practice giving to yourself first, the better you will be at giving to others. i will be rooting for you all the way!
***7 chances to practice with me in the month of february:
monday’s february 6, 13, 20, and 27, join me for small group yoga limited to 6 students in the lounge upstairs at chaia. chaia, a female-owned business run by the dynamic duo Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon, offers seasonal, plant-based, tacos with an emphasis of sourcing locally. if you haven’t been, you are in for a treat! reserve your spot here!
tuesday’s february 21 and 28, i will be guiding a slow flow at georgetown yoga. my class on tuesday’s february 7 and 14 will be guided by the lovely Molly Dunn.
finally, on sunday, february 26, join in on satsang #2 focusing on neck and shoulder opening in my home from 10:30a-12p. following practice will be a reading as well as coffee, tea, and breakfast pastries. reserve your spot here, space is limited.
thank you for joining me on this journey, it is my absolute pleasure to serve you!
happy new year! i hope the first eleven days still have you gripped in the palms of inspiration. i have a feeling this year is going to be expansive. for all who have been doing the deep work toward living a more conscious, connected, and whole life… this year is yours! stretch out your wings, take up as much space as you need to, and expand!
at the 3rd annual new year’s eve intention setting + 2 hour practice, i met some of the most wonderful people and mindfully, we sealed one year in order to begin another. i used this template for provoking the minds of all who were present and a few days later, sat down with my journal to set some intentions for my year. the idea is to list a thing(s) that you would like to stop, to start, and to continue. the things you want to continue are those that are already working well for you. the ones you begin new are things you may have been thinking about for a while, but haven't put into action. and the things to stop are those that enable you to get in your own way. my list is below, i hope it is helpful for you in generating your own!
this year, i will…
stop: wasting energy
this year, i will…
start: facing my fears
start: making myself breakfast as many mornings as possible
start: monthly satsang in my home, sign up for the first one here!
this year, i will…
continue: peeling off the layers
continue: practicing mindfulness and yoga
continue: the process of becoming whole.
conscious, connected, whole living, happens one simple step at a time. every day, begin again. find me on tuesday nights at georgetown yoga for a slow vinyasa at 7:45pm.
date: saturday december 31st, 2016
level: all levels
location: S3 Active, 1274 5th street NE
note: no refunds or credits for workshops, space is limited to 30 students.
join Nya Alemayhu for this special two-hour practice on New Years Eve. Nya will guide an empowering vinyasa flow that will prepare the body for a focused meditation on the energetic and emotional qualities of the chakra— the seven major energy centers of the body. these powerful centers can be accessed in a yoga practice using physical postures and by tapping into breath practices, visualization, mudra, mantra, sound and meditation.
the chakras and their corresponding natural elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) will guide us from the toes to the crown of the head. when we learn how to use our yoga as medicine to organize our energy and observe our emotions, a greater level of health, peace and balance is possible. there will be time to journal what arises for you and what you hope to manifest in the coming year. practice will conclude with restorative postures focused on renewal and a return to a state of peace. all levels are welcomed. please bring a journal and a pen along with any small objects that are sacred to you.
sign up here!
photo credit: james jackson
when i reflect on who i was before i began my practice, it is not an exaggeration to say, i hardly recognize myself today. entering the yoga portal has not only regenerated my heart, but it has restructured my thoughts, my beliefs and my attitude to and relationship with the earth.
the very first yoga lesson i learned is compassion for oneself. compassion for others, as a concept and as a practice, had always made sense to me. graciousness, kindness and empathy toward the human condition is not something i had a challenge giving to others, it was just something i did not believe in giving myself. i grew up the eldest of six children—two brothers and three sisters. my parents were working-class African immigrants who were more focused on providing for the family than actually being with the family. naturally, i adopted the maternal role for my siblings and provided all that they needed, ranging from meals to help with homework, and even so far as interpreting the valleys of adolescence. as a result, i had deeply identified with the caretaker and caregiver archetype. somehow, i had internalized that to mean that caregivers nourish others but not themselves. you can only imagine how much this mind-frame dictated my relationships.
i found that the reason why i did not believe in compassion for myself is because i did not think i deserved it. the alchemy of my personal trauma includes guilt, shame and worthlessness. the narrative of my trauma includes abuse, abandonment and lots of fear. all of these emotional knots were hiding in my body, particularly in my heart and throat.
i had come to a point in my life where the undercurrent of my childhood trauma was beginning to swallow me. one day, i accepted that while my yoga has lifted the veil of my inner world, it was not enough. i needed a verbal sounding board. it was not until i began psycho-therapy in addition to my asana practice that i saw exactly how much was beneath my surface.
yoga asana practice is incredible for creating space in the physical body. all the lengthening, stretching and twisting actually has a purpose. i believe that it allows for emotional cobwebs to be given air and space, so that we may see what we have been hiding inside tight hips, shoulders and particularly, in the space behind the heart. all of these asana, or seat, require that you be still and see what arises. that information is the reason why one shows up for practice. to see themselves in their natural, vulnerable state—and to be empowered enough to soften it.
the second yoga lesson i learned, or rather reclaimed, is my voice. part of growing up in an abusive home is not speaking one’s truth—or any truth really—that would disturb any concept of peace. for fear that my thoughts and words would create more harm for me, i said nothing. i had not realized how much of this was also woven into the fabric of my beliefs until i began to hear and see myself.
yoga can be seen from an intellectual perspective as a template—as a pillar to lead one’s life. it takes a certain amount of bravery to face yourself, compassionately and begin to untangle the layers. if i did not have the haven of my mat, i don’t know that i would have trusted enough to actually unearth all of my being.
sometimes, i still cannot recognize myself and i realize it is because my heart has been regenerated and just as a foreign object, my body is not yet used to it.
i roll out my mat every day because it’s a reaffirmation that i am worth it, that i am sacred and that i am divine. this is also the same reason i teach. i want to hold space for people to see the light in who they are and to be in awe of how beautiful and brightly it shines.
i have been going through pretty extensive psychotherapy for quite some time. for a long while, i was using my practice as therapy, meditation as therapy, running as therapy, until i realized i would benefit most from an actual person listening to me and working with me in understanding the alchemy of my trauma.
last November, i found a very special woman at the viva center and have been seeing her weekly. we have gotten to the part of my trauma that is painful to even look at, let alone talk about. the part of my narrative that i have been hiding and hiding from my whole life. as i untangle my "true self" from webs of guilt, shame, and other unpleasantries, i have surprisingly found space for acceptance. a lot of untangling trauma is remembering that where you are presently is safe, good, and whole.
on wednesday, after my visit that i could barely sit through, i left her office and walked outside to unlock my bicycle and get on home. right near my bike there were two stones engraved with a message. one read, "believe" in orange stone and the other read, "courage" in blue stone. funnily, i picked up both and tossed "courage" back on the earth. convincing myself that i didn't need it. i didn't need courage. and then i picked it back up with a sweet smile in my heart because i knew these were messages i needed today. and always.
self-study, also known as swadhyaya in sanskrit is the fourth limb of yoga. through the study of oneself, it is believed that we become nearer to not only God, but our divine nature. as i go into these darker parts, the universe, my guides and those who love me are reminding me to have faith and to not be afraid.
and have courage.
its been a long time since
i have heard you
i almost forgot what you sound like.
countless years you were silent
a burning coal at the base of my neck.
i hear you at work
with my friends
with my love
i hear you in the silent gaps of my solitude.
i never believed you could sweetly
speak your truth.
and listen to you now,
saturating the earth with the sound of your love.