desire or obligation?

photo credit:  james jackson

photo credit: james jackson

i recently found myself in northern maine, stuck on an icy road, hysterically awaiting the arrival of road-side assistance. i was on my way to a 1:30pm appointment at the maine state prison to visit my younger brother, when upon the instruction of google maps, i wound up on an icy road, unable to get myself out of there. i cannot explain in words alone the state of panic i was in, not because i was stranded for what became 2 hours, but because i knew i would miss the visit with my brother that i had flown 2 hours and driven another hour and half for. in my moment of deep sadness and inconsolable sobbing, it dawned on me that i was not crying for the fact that i was helpless, but because i was more devoted to my brother than to my own safety and well-being.

the light that entered my consciousness while in that moment revealed to me a tremendous level of devotion and love i have for my brother, it was also an opportunity to realize how many times i have put others ahead of my own safety and well-being. it caused me to go down the rabbit hole of questioning when exactly this conditioning began? and of course, where all answers lie are in childhood.


{how many times do you operate in your life, in your interpersonal relationships, and in your work, from a place of obligation rather than a place of desire?}


i grew up as the eldest of six. my parents worked opposite shifts, my father in the morning and my mother in the evening, effectively rendering me the mother in her absence. i cooked the meals, i helped with the homework, for all intents and purposes, i raised my siblings. this is where my sense of obligation comes from, the continuous messaging i received growing up that i come last. 


as i write this, i am grateful for the day i was stuck in the car, helpless, stranded, sobbing … it showed me where a part of me still believes and thinks i rank in the order of importance. the way the universe teaches us where we need to heal and what we need to learn is not always the most graceful. i mean, did i really need to be stuck on an ice road in the woods of maine to see this? 


i am committed to using my own healing to help heal others. if it moves you to meet for coffee, to drop me a note, and share some of what you struggle with and what you are learning, please know it is my honor to hold space for you. it is important you know that you are not alone.


we have 2 slots left for the women’s yoga retreat to ethiopia. i am happy to send you our itinerary so that you may decide if you would like to join us. there are 10 fantastic women coming, i am so looking forward to all of you meeting one another!


may all burdens you carry that are not yours be removed from you and returned to the rightful owners already healed.


big love,




Nya Alemayhu

Nya Alemayhu is an author, entrepreneur, wellness coach, and yoga teacher based in Washington, DC. Nya began her physical asana practice in 2004 while attending university. She received her first teaching certificate in 2013 and has been sharing the gift of yoga ever since.