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!
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.
on sunday, february 14th from 2:30-4:30pm, i will be hosting the 2nd annual valentine's day partner yoga practice.
i believe that when we are living and acting from our heart center, we are nourishing not only ourself, but also those around us. valentine's day is commercialized as the day of giving love. so, while you are in the mode of giving, why not give something that will empower your partner and possibly introduce them to something new.
this yoga practice will begin by opening the heart chakra followed by a light-hearted and playful afternoon exploring various acro-inspired asanas that will deepen your connection. this practice is suitable for beginners and open to all partners. invite a friend, family member, your barista, or significant other and share the love.
sign up here!
it has become increasingly important to me to give in to faith. when i say that, i am not talking about the church or holy bible, but rather the transcendental force that is the universe.
i have realized that it is so important to return to the wholeness that we were born with. we live in such an unpredictable world that sustains itself on change. drastic change, none of which is reliable. what is reliable is the internal peace we are able to create as individuals and sustain.
i have been going through a process of excavation for quite some time now and each chord i stumble on, however painful, has delivered me closer to my true self. and more important, to the parts of me that need healing. so, when i speak of returning, i don't expect that we return in the same form we arrived, but in a different way. in a way we can relate to our emotional self, our childhood self, our adolescent self, our young adult self. all of these periods of identity that maybe did not get the attention nor the ability to fully express who they are.
i listen to people all the time talking about this fleeting notion of happiness. but what i hear beneath the surface of everyday language is people expressing their desire to feel WHOLE. happiness changes every passing minute, but wholeness, the feeling that one has everything they could possibly need, that is sustainable. and that is something no one in the world can take away.
so, as i traverse through this yogic valley, this healing valley, i am sometimes defensive, but most times receptive. i know beyond my human abilities to reason that there is something for me here. for all of us here. we just have to sit quietly enough for the truth to arise from the cave of our soul.
"your heart is the softest place on earth. take care of it."
last year, i led a 2 hour asana practice that included chakra meditation, journaling and intention setting for the coming year. this year, i am doing it again, but adding on 30 minutes for deep meditation and journaling.
i find intention setting very powerful particularly as we close out one chapter and create space for another. chakra meditation, when approached gracefully can open up space for tremendous clarity and healing.
new years eve practice will begin with a heating asana practice, evolve into deep meditation and journaling and conclude with restorative postures focused on renewal and a return to a state of peace. all levels are welcomed. please bring a journal, a pen, and any small objects that are sacred to you.
practice will being at 7pm and end at 9:30pm. sign up here!
first, as a human being.
second, as a human in the body of a woman.
third, as an artist.
fourth, as Nya Alemayhu.
fifth, as an Ethiopian--African.
sixth, as a "black" human in America.
I rise. I rise. I RISE.
ever since my first memory as a little girl in Ethiopia, i have felt that i sometimes over-intellectualize things. for a period of time, i thought it was a bad thing until i got to know myself and my mind a little better. my mental process asks a lot of questions. it asks because it seeks clarity and the clarity is then transferred to doing things in a more concise and harmonious way. this cerebral process works only some of the time.
the process of letting go has been a challenge for me since time immemorial. whether it's the trauma of being resettled as an Ethiopian refugee to Portland, Maine, or the bitterness caused by an abusive step-father, i stand stubborn, arms crossed, until finally, i release.
there has not been one aspect of my life that has been handed to me. i left my parents home in 2003, financed my college education, landed my first job, paid for my own rent, etc. and all the while, i would dig deep within the cave of my soul and excavate all that i have accumulated along my journey. each time i have chosen to let-go rather than cling-to, the universe has rewarded me. it is just now, as i am inching toward thirty that i appreciate how far i have actually come.
today, Jen Rene attempted to help me get into supta kurmasana, sleeping turtle. i am not yet able to come into the fullest expression of the pose, so for now, we use a block to support my feet. eventually, my feet will come behind my head, and my arms will bind behind my back! it was then that all of these revelations came. Jen said, "Nya, hold this for twenty breaths, at least!"
i sat there, in turtle pose, with my head down and my feet propped, internally weeping. every time i would tense my thighs, tears threatened to come pouring out of my eyes, but when i let go and released my thighs and hips, i surrendered. and then i thought, this is letting go. maybe it was only for five of the twenty breaths, but this is the practice. this is the samadhi that keeps me coming back to the Mysore room. maybe, if i keep coming back and accumulate these lessons over time, i can continue healing, "and when i get to where i'm going, they'll be only happy tears. i will shed the sins and struggles i have carried all these years and i'll leave my heart wide-open. i will love and have no fear, when i get where i'm going."
letting go is a process. give time, time and let go of what you can, when you can.
physical release ----> emotional release ----> mental release ----> healing.
this friday, April 10, join me from 6-8pm at Buddha B Yoga for a 2 hour restorative practice. we will be focusing on the root chakra, muladhara, the seat of all spiritual energy. this workshop will be co-hosted by Julia Colton who will guide you through a three-part-breathing technique known as deerga swasam. Julia will also guide you to savasana through yoga nidra. bring a journal + pen along with warm socks and an extra layer of clothing.
as we welcome the spring season and with it, an opportunity to cleanse and renew, restorative yoga is a wonderful addition to an existing practice or a journey into a new practice. to restore something is to renew it or to bring it back to its natural state and so, we will be exploring what it means to restore things in our lives. this practice is suitable for everyone including beginners. due to the quiet nature of the practice and the use of props, space is limited to 15 people. the cost is $30 per person. sign up here.
on sunday, join me at dock 5 above union market from 12-1pm for a class focusing on twists. twists spiritually prepare the mind + body for a change in direction. twists are also beneficial for detoxing and massaging the internal organs. twisting not only allows the spine to stay supple, but cleanses the organs from the inside out. asana is practiced as a way to create space in the physical body, thereby creating space in the mental and emotional body. sunday is forecasted at 71 degrees, come and de-stress!
"everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it"
on saturday, february 14th from 5 to 7pm, i will be hosting a valentine's day partner yoga practice.
love is the largest energy current that runs through you. when you are living and acting from your heart center, you are nourishing not only yourself, but also those around you.
this practice will begin by opening the heart chakra. you will learn how to assist, massage, stretch, and use your partner's breath and body to support your practice. enjoy a light-hearted and playful evening, exploring various acro-inspired asanas that will deepen your connection to your partner. this practice is suitable for beginners and open to all partners. invite a friend, family member, your barista, or significant other and share the love.
Please sign up here.
cost: $20 per person
happy New Year from the very base of my heart and a big thank you to 35 amazing people who practiced with me last night at buddha b yoga for the NYE Intention setting practice, i will be scheduling a follow-up workshop! there will be a few changes in my teaching schedule for 2015 as i take on more training and travel with my teacher to India, keep a pulse on my website for all pertinent information. i am looking forward to better serving my community and inspiring change.
i am also very happy to announce that yoga with nya is permanently staying at union market beginning this sunday January 4. we are very excited to offer the community yoga classes at dock 5 with specialty workshops and guest teachers.
look forward to seeing you!
photo credit: David Forney
for the past year, i have been teaching yoga all over washington, dc. it has been such an incredibly growing experience for my soul and hopefully for those whom i have had the pleasure to teach. i vowed not only to be a teacher, but also to be my own yoga student. i have embraced sharing the gift of yoga as my purpose in life right now. my aspiration is to continue learning so that i can serve all demographics and learn the breath techniques and alignment techniques that will continue to strengthen my teaching.
every yogi dreams to one day take a pilgrimage to India. a pilgrimage to the source of all that is whole in the world of yoga and an opportunity to really bare one’s soul. i have been given an incredible opportunity to study and teach for 15 life changing days. i am calling on my student and teaching community to help me achieve my dream by donating to my trip. my goal is to raise $3,000 to cover the cost of my training and my stay in India. any contribution you can make before january 10 will help me reach my goal. for every person who donates, i will offer 65 minutes of private instruction. this will make me a better person, a better student and a better teacher. it will help me to fulfill my purpose of teaching and nourishing the future in the same way the universe nourishes us all. thank you so much for your time, consideration and generosity.
everything that leads to change in our life begins with an intention to change.
join me this New Years Eve for a 2 hour practice from 7pm-9pm. we will meditate on intentions and goals for the new year and reflect on the year that has passed. this will include a 90 minute asana practice that will ground you, open your hips and heart and conclude with restorative poses and a lengthy savasana. please bring with you a notebook and pen!
Sign up here I look forward to seeing you!
join me sundays in november at union market for a vinyasa class for all skill levels. the class is FREE and welcome to all. the class will be held above the market in dock 5, please enter through the stairway on the far right side of the market and come up the stairs. some mats and blocks will be provided, but its never a bad idea to bring your own mat. i look forward to meeting you!