When I think of the word ‘space’, so many different images come to mind, but the predominant one is a big opening. Recently my fiance, Brian, and I decided that we needed more space in our home, especially in the kitchen area. We’re a big family. Five kids. Our small kitchen just didn’t leave enough space for all of us to sit or move around comfortably. So the decision to take out a wall, let go of the adjacent office space, and create a bigger kitchen manifested. Giving up the office space was not easy for Brian. This was his space where he could hide away.
Giving up space—to create space for something new—isn’t easy and often scary. The unpredictability of the new way of being can be unnerving and definitely provoke anxiety. But the possibilities of what could become are also exciting and invigorating.
The more I began to ponder the word ‘space’, the more I realized how valuable it is. Not just physical space, but mental and emotional space, too. Removing a wall opened up so much space in our home, but it came by having to first let something go. So often in my life, I hold onto things, concepts, or ideas that do not serve me. Holding on is comfortable and the unknown seems scary. The default is to just hold on tighter and tighter which creates tightness, tension--and yes—a lack of space.
In yoga practice, we constantly talk about creating space. When I first came to yoga, I don't believe I totally understood this concept. It seemed very surreal. However, over the years I have come to understand the cue in different ways:
Physical space: Space in my body. Opening up tight muscles to create ease in the body. Letting go of the tension and tightness.
Mental space: Space in the mind from negative thoughts or worry. This requires letting go of the past experiences and future unknowns. Living in the present.
Emotional space: Holding space for ourselves to feel what we feel, acknowledge our feelings, and place a value on them. I believe letting go of hurt, pain, and anger are essential in order to create this kind of space. I also believe this is the hardest type of space to create.
The word yoga means to yoke together. In terms of space, I interpret it as yoking together body, mind, and emotions to create more freedom and peace. It’s the daily practice of each of these elements that we work on as yogi’s. It isn’t a goal to be attained, but the simple act of being aware. I’m certain many people struggle with the idea that just to practice is the goal. But space is ever changing, so how can there be an end goal?
If we’re constantly letting things go to create space for new ideas, thoughts, feelings, or things, then the space is being filled again each time. And then in time, as things shift and change, some of those new thoughts, feelings, or things become unneeded or no longer useful—and the process of letting go and recreating begins again.
What do you need to let go of right now to create space? Space for more of what you want in your life. I’m in practice of letting go of self-doubt, because I want to create space for calmness. A powerful inner-strength that is indestructible.
In my home, we had to let go of a physical wall for more space, and now I must let go of this mental and emotional wall. I know this isn’t easy, but I also know the first step is declaring your intention. Pronouncing it to the world and then practicing. Each time the self-doubt or whatever it is for you comes up is a chance to practice letting go. No matter what it is we are letting go of, we must accept that it’s a practice—and practice requires more practice—and in the end, the goal is the practice. And the practice creates space for something new.
I am imperfect, but I am perfectly me.March is my birthday month so I thought I would speak to the gift yoga has given me.
Pre 200 hour yoga teacher training, I was insecure about pretty much everything. Talking in front of a group of people scared the living $hitt out of me! Leading a group of people in anything was way out of my comfort zone. I had a false belief system that I was not good enough, especially compared to others. I took on this belief system as though it was the truth. No one specifically ever told me I wasn’t good enough, but unspoken words from childhood led me on this dangerous path of self-deprecation.
Asanas (postures), meditation, and self-inquiry are the perfect concoction for self-healing. Intertwined together they perform magic on the body, mind, and spirit. And they have helped me find my voice and access to self-confidence.
Asanas have not only made my body strong and flexible, they have given me the confidence to believe that anything is possible. The goal of the asana teaches us that even when the posture is hard—and when we want to give up—we can breathe through the resistance and find strength and ease. Asana teaches me day in and day out to face my fears, whether it’s balancing on my hands in crow or falling back into wheel. To trust in my gut and my body to do things I once would have deemed impossible.
Self-inquiry gave me the knowledge of a false truth. In the style of yoga I practice, we call it the ‘lie’. The lie that I am ‘not enough’. It seems so ridiculous when I now say it aloud. But for the majority of my life that I can recall, I truly believed this as true. That nothing I could do or say would ever be enough. As long as this story ran my life, it’s no wonder my self-confidence was nil. During my Level 1 training, through challenging self-inquiry exercises, I was able to unfold this lie. Baron had me stand in front of 150 people and I thought I was going to shit in my pants. The panic and anxiety was overwhelming—speaking about myself in front of a room of strangers about my very personal life. After what seemed like an hour of grueling questions, I was allowed to sit down and a huge sense of relief washed over me. I can’t explain exactly what happened that day. All I know is from that point on, things began to shift. I started to notice my lie all the time. Sometimes I could acknowledge it and let the emotions pass through me. Other times not so easily. Now, almost 7 years later, it still comes up here and there, but it is very weak and has much less power over me and my thoughts.
There is an old Cherokee story about a good wolf and a bad wolf. The good wolf represents kindness, love, and compassion; and the bad wolf symbolizes anger, fear, sorrow, regret, and greed. A young boy asks his grandfather which wolf wins in the battle. The grandfather simply answers “the one that you feed.” This story is a good reminder to each of us that what we believe—what thoughts we feed in our mind—are the ones that win. As I began to recognize my lie, I was able to stop feeding the lie, and it has grown weak.
Meditation is the third ingredient in my journey. It provides daily awareness of my thoughts for that moment of time. It helps me to be more aware of my own negative self talk, unnecessary negative thinking, useless worrying. It provides a place of grounding to keep me on the right path.
For me, the key to confidence is a continuous exploration of self-love and personal growth. Confidence has given me the power to create a life I am proud of. A life filled with joy, love, and compassion. And the tools to run a successful business, and to help others find their inner voice. This is the greatest gift yoga could have ever given me, as it is the gift that keeps giving every day.
You’ll never be my first kiss, or even my first love but you're everything I have ever hoped for, everything I have ever dreamed about, and that means so much more. - unknown
To my soulmate,
From the first time we met, I know there was something special. We talked if we had known each other for years. Your voice, put me at ease from day one! Your eyes were the kindest I had ever looked into, sincere and understanding. It is funny how people tell you when it is right you will just know! I’m not sure if I truly understood that until that moment. I knew it was right, even though it would take two years for me to tell you that. It is hard to put into words how I feel about you, because there are no words that give it justice.
Yoga has taught me how to use my breath, it has given me self-confidence, and taught me how to self-love. I am grateful for that, because without these elements I would have not been ready and open to your love. Your love has provided me with an incredible courage, that I have never known before. Courage to be truly vulnerable with someone emotionally and intimately. Being vulnerable with friends or even acquaintances doesn’t scare me, but being vulnerable with those who truly matter, terrifies me. Fear that I will no longer be loved, or fear of rejection. You have taught me to no longer be afraid. To speak what I feel to ask for what I need. You're ears are always open, never judgemental, and you always open to being a better partner for me. For that I am so grateful! You make me a better person!
I want you to know you, you mean the world to me. I will always put you and are relationship first. It is my priority. I have waited my entire life for you, and it is too valuable to put second. I love my children to the moon and back, but hopefully they will leave me someday as they grow up to also create families of their own. It will be then, just you and me. So, please put your fears to rest, together we can figure life out. Manage moody teenagers, pay the bills, and create beautiful memories. My one promise to you is that I will always love you no matter what our journey brings.
Rachel Goldberg, Co-owner of empower yoga ,LLC
Owner of Sweat.Laugh.Play.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Bene Brown
To be vulnerable is scary, hard, and electrifying. The definition of vulnerability is: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. WOW! Sounds terrifying? Yes, but as hard and scary as it is, it is also electrifying, empowering, and powerful.
For me vulnerability has opened the doors of my life to connection, friendship, and love! Yoga teaches us to live a authentic honest life, a life of integrity. So in order to be authentic I believe vulnerability is non optional. No matter how scary the idea of letting our true selves be seen, we must take that position. I chose each day to show up as I am and as I am not. This is not always easy and often frightening. Will my students, friends, and family stand by me, even when I’m not in the best of moods when I am sad or feeling down, angry or frustrated. Underneath these fears I believe is a fundamental need to be liked and accepted. Vulnerability is the willingness to let go of this need and develop self-love and acceptance.
So how do we love ourselves enough so the opinion of others is not stronger than are own self love? I believe through a strong practice of yoga, mindfulness, and self inquiry (the study of the self).
Asana (physical postures) have taught me how to listen and respect my body, an awareness of when to push more and when to back off. To connect to my body, feel my body, and listen. Our bodies speak to us, so often I believe we just don’t listen. We are animals and are instincts are strong and powerful, but how often do we push are instincts to the side and ignore them and listen from our heads or what we believe others think is right? I know I have many times, making decisions that later I realize were not in my best interest and that my gut was speaking, I was just not listening. My yoga mat has taught me the power of listening, and in believing in my own abilities. So many postures have scared me, but each one that has scared me has taught me about strength, facing fear, and allowing myself space to be vulnerable to fall, to get up and try again!
Asana, meditation, and self inquiry also teaches us about our thoughts, it builds awareness. For example, when we are in a posture and the negative self talk begins; “I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough, flexible enough, skinny enough! Look at the girl in front of me I’ll never be able to do that!” These thoughts are useless unkind and self-deprecating. For me this has been one of the most powerful life transforming parts of my yoga journey. I have come to learn to change those thoughts when they show up on and off my mat. This builds my awaress muscle. I can notice a self-deprecating thought, and the second it show up, I can swap it for one that is kind and empowering.
From a place of self-love and self acceptance, I have developed the strength to be vulnerable. I can show up each day as I am and as I am not. I teach, live, and love from this way of being. I can tell you that this is the most liberating, freeing, and electrifying feeling. It has lead me to profund friendships and a relationship I could have never dreamed of. It has inspired my life in so many wonderful ways. I truly believe my vulnerability has given permission to so many others to also live their lives from this way of being. From love and self-acceptance.
So what’s possible for you if you give up self-deprecation and chose self-love and acceptance. If you chose to be vulnerable on and off yoru mat. You let others see you for who you are and who you are not?
When the shit hits the fan, what do you do? Do you relax into the drama or resist-knowing this only makes it worse?
The choice doesn’t always seem like a choice, but it is. My first reaction used to be resistance. I would freak out, scream, cry, or panic. I’ve even been guilty of throwing a plate of food across the room, but now, I’ve learned to hit my mat. When I bring myself to my mat I can hear my breath and feel my body, and automatically my mind slows and I feel a sweet release. For me when shit happens, this is how I’ve learned to cope. My old way to react - shutting down or just holding it in until I exploded days, weeks, or months later just wasn’t productive. So when the shit hit the fan most recently I witnessed the amazing impact of yoga on my life.
Five months ago, I stepped off the ledge and opened Inspire Yoga. I was excited, scared, and anxious about this journey, but ready for the challenge. And boy has it been a challenge! In five short months I have learned more about business ownership and myself than I could ever imagine.
I made it through the challenge of our construction, from picking out floors to heaters to finding people to help you get the job done. I trusted that the people I hired to do the work knew what they were doing. Joke on me! Apparently people will tell you anything you want to hear to get your $$$.
Just as our community was gelling and I sensed that people were getting to know our brand and name, - The SHIT HIT the fan, BIG TIME! I was informed that “Inspire Yoga” would have to change our name as we were in violation of another studio’s trademark. What happened? How did I react? First with lots of resistance, denial, tears, and then that resistance relaxed into acceptance. I hit my mat, I breathed and I released what was no longer serving me once again, resistance. As the resistance melted I could once again see possibility. It was totally out of my control and fighting it didn’t serve anyone. And now, with our new name “EMPOWER YOGA”, I am ready to move forward with a smile on my face.
Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath, and let go of what we cannot control. Relax into the resistance to see a new possibility. As my teacher Baron Baptiste says, “What’s possible now?”
Stay in the pose, the pose doesn’t begin till you want out. So I tell myself just one more breath, okay one more breath I can do this. This is the same feeling that comes up for me when shit happens. Can I just breathe? Yes, no, Yes, Yes, yes I can. As I tell my students, and myself “try easy” relax into the pose. This doesn’t mean it is easy, and doesn’t mean you aren’t sweating buckets and cursing in your head, but you are still breathing and you are not fighting. You don’t run away, you breathe through the resistance, you relax with what is.
Power Yoga is often confused with kick your own assana. Yes, it does do this, but it has also taught me that I can breathe through anything life throws at me. It has empowered me to follow my dreams, to not give up when things get rough. It’s given me the permission to fall on my face and get back up again, again and again. I can relax into the resistance and come out of it stronger than I was before.
It has taught me that anything is possible. Every pose each day is different and as you let go of the fight you find new breakthroughs. You discover you can stand on your hands lightly, you can surrender in pigeon, and you can re-brand your business if that is what the day brings. Through yoga I have not just watched my body transform but I have slowly noticed my life transform. I have learned to let go of the fight and be light, to breathe, and through this I believe I am ready to take on any shit that is thrown my way. Yoga is my saving grace; it constantly brings me back to my breath, back to myself.
Rachel Goldberg E-RYT 200
Co-founder Empower Yoga, LLC
Mom, Wife, yogi, and dark chocolate lover. Believer in possibility and showing up as you are; fully present and ready for anything. Dedicated to the Baptiste Methodology and empowering others to be a “Yes” in their lives.
Connect with Rachel [www.empoweryogaatl.com]