Start & keep going

February 11, 2019

Many days of being the only one.
Many choices between vacation or more yoga training.
Many nights “in”-In meditation. In study. In more practice. In preparation. In quiet. In stillness.
Many mistakes, challenges, triumphs… later.
Many real connections nourished, a small and honest circle drawn around me.
16 years of yoga practice.
12 years of teaching yoga- (7 part time/ 5 full time).
2 years of yoga studio ownership.

To create a space, a place for what’s happening in this picture to thrive, live, and flouris

Do you see it?
The generations, “at home-ness”, love, the true depth.

This is Sacred Chill West.

Do you see these fierce women who’ve centered themselves, well-being, and joy in this moment?

Do you see it?

Where ever you are on your path, dear one, be consistent, persistent, be kind to yourself AND be patient.

16 years ago I didn’t have the capacity to hold the space for what’s happening here and now.
12 years ago I hadn’t actually done the work and was wasting time looking for a hack or short cut to where I am now.
2 years ago I wasn’t totally ready for the magnificent intensity unfolding.

But I started.
and that’s what matters. that I started and kept going. and kept choosing my own vision through many dark nights.
even now, I am deliberate in my choosing.

Dear one, start. Draw a tight circle around yourself.
Keep going.
Celebrate the truth that the real, beautiful, life-changing thing you are here to birth in the world, is too incredible to grow overnight.


How do I balance it all?

February 5, 2019

How do I balance it all? I don’t.

Being a wife. Mother to a toddler. Studio co-owner. Teacher.  Yoga Student. Creator. Director of Yoga Teacher Training. Retreat leader. Writer. Mentor. Responding to all of the things, usually in 48 hours or less…

When I think of balance, I think of holding multiple things at once and hoping nothing drops. Honestly it’s anxiety provoking.

These days, I work at holding only one thing at a time while staying clear that I am many. I cultivate harmony. To me, harmony means that all of the things within my life play together in a way that creates a sound that I can flow to.

Some ways I cultivate harmony that may be useful for other yoga teachers who navigate many responsibilities daily:

1. Center what matters the most to you and stay focused on what genuinely supports + appreciates that vs. subtracts from it.

2. One of our most valuable assets is our attention. We become  more of what we pay attention to. What deserves your attention in this moment? Can you practice holding one thing at a time?

3. Place practice high on your list.  As a yoga teacher practice supports your capacity, creativity, and authentic connection to self and the work. It’s necessary.

4. AND— also- give yourself permission for your practice to evolve and truly serve your real life, now. In the first 9 months of my son’s life, I’d practice yoga nidra for 15 minutes at least 4 times a week during his nap time. And that was it. I savored it and it saved me.

5. I recently read an article that said the average mother works 80-90 hours a week if you take career, child care, and household duties into account. I know this is true for many complex historical, systemic, and varied reasons.  And— If you are in partnership and there’s a pronounced lack of equity in the distribution of housework and child rearing, be empowered to shift it. It will benefit your whole family.

6. Lessen the “all.” Say no when you need and want to.

Fortify your true “all.” Say yes when you mean it.

I don’t balance. I tend to one thing at a time.

Yoga Teachers, every Tuesday I’m answering your questions about doing the work. Head over to my IG @octaviaraheem and leave your questions there!

After completing a 200 Hour Training, there are many paths to teaching yoga if you decide you’d like to.

If you decide you want to teach in a studio setting (this is ONLY one route) here are a few things I’ve learned over 10 years of teaching yoga as well as 2.5 years of owning Sacred Chill West.

1. Consider if your home (training) studio) offers a pathway for their graduates to become weekly/regularly scheduled teachers.

2. If you know you want to teach in a studio setting, yet
don’t feel quite ready to jump into teaching real folks, consider a mentor program.

3. If a studio interests you and you haven’t been, purchase the new student special and go practice+ be in community there. If the owner teaches on a weekly basis, take their class.

4. Go practice where you think you want to teach. Yes, I know that was #3. As a studio owner I always check to see if someone inquiring about teaching has been to Sacred Chill West. Here’s why, we build community, not simply classes and schedules. Additionally, our offerings at SCW (and most studios) are specific, so is the vibe. If you’ve never been we might not be your jam. Practicing where you want to teach FIRST gives you a chance to check studios out to! The studio isn’t simply “choosing you” you are choosing to be in relationship as well.

5. If you take classes at that studio who’s rep or IG you’ve been eyeing and think “yooooo this, all of this is my set!” Email them, say that. Say “I’ve been practicing in your community and I feel it’s MY community and here’s why” (specifics are good) or whatever version of that is real for you.

6. In that same email ask if they are hiring (or filling sub list) and what the process is.

7. Engage the process- fully and completely. AND keep practicing there.

8. If they say no, or not now, and it’s really your jam, continue to practice, keep showing up, keep building authentic + organic community.

. . . Trust it never goes unnoticed.

I’m carving out Tuesdays to write about and share what I’ve learned both about teaching yoga AND the business of doing the work.

Teachers- (new, not new, and in training) what questions do you have? Follow me on IG at @octaviaraheem and I’ll choose some and respond to them in the Tuesdays ahead.

Waiting and Watching

January 27, 2019

Waiting for someone you love to die is hovering 10,000 feet in the air, knowing you can’t help the crash coming.

It is the fear of falling to sleep because you don’t want to miss the last 500 breathes they take.
It is waking up to see the sun, yet stumbling through days in darkness.
It is hearing laughter and wishing today was easy as that sound.
It is stinging cold bites on the hottest day of the year.

You look at the phone when it rings and decide that if you don’t answer, you don’t have to talk about “comfort” care or how many hours there may be left of what the nurse called his “natural life.”

If you have ever watched someone about to leave their body you know that God isn’t always beautiful, and without a doubt, she’s real. You know sometimes there’s a fight. You know there is no winning or losing. There is simply real.

Watching my 93 year old grandmama watch her first born, my daddy, die,- I learned that mama’s never stop seeing the innocence of their baby and always remember the complete joy and pain of their child’s first breath.

If you’ve ever watched and waited for someone you love to die, you know the air in the room and your whole world changes. In some places it thins, so they can pass through. Other places it thickens to hold all the love and memories in.

You know that spaces outside of the waiting room feel like betrayal. The way everyone else’s time seems to move on while you watch for it to stop in a kind of forever way.

You know that every prayer is heard, and ain’t always answered in ways we can understand. You know that in the rawest of moments, prayer is a covering for your heart. You know that when everything is pulled apart at the seams, prayer is the thread that holds the smallest part of us together.

You know what it is to retrace a lifetime of memories only to realize there are too many gaps and no way to fill them in. You hold on to faith that those places will indeed be “where the light enters.”

You know that sometimes silence is a loud and deafening sound.

Two years ago, on this day, and after weeks of waiting and watching, my daddy left his body.

10,000… 9,000, 8,000 feet in the air…

I never actually crashed. It has been slow going, turbulent, and an honest grounding. At times I’ve closed the window and my eyes on this ride because there is really nothing to see out there, everything to feel in here.

Yet I landed. I landed with my feet and heart deeper in the earth.

And I am closer to all living things and everything that has breath.

Closer to the helm of God’s torn, yet regal garment.

Braver in the face of the grit, stuff, compost within us all.

I am closer to the place that grows and returns every life to its beginning.

Dr. King’s Heart

January 21, 2019

When Dr. King was examined post death, he was found to have the heart of a 65 year old. He was only 39. To say his heart was heavy and weary, is an understatement. To say it was weighted is to misstate the magnitude of the load. How could being three fourths human, second class citizens, and treated (in law and action) less than equal add up to carrying the most weight? Who can measure the pressure that all of this created on his arteries? How cumbersome were those imbalanced scales of “justice” to live with? Who can calculate how both the need to fight in the first place and how the reality of legalized terror on Blackness aged his heart. And what is the gravity of that legacy of terror and inequity on our hearts now?

I wonder how old my daddy’s heart was when he died. How a lifetime of dreams systemically deferred burdened his heart even without being on the front lines of the battle to end it? What race based traumas he’d stored in his vessels, unable to process them through channels that wouldn’t force him to block or corrode his own?

Five years ago my mama survived a heart attacked that her surgeon said he’d seen take out 97% of the people who came in her condition. Of course there are many factors, some would call them “life style”, yet who can tally the impact of decades of racism, sexism, and poverty on my mama’s heart? How long had she been in that war? Did it start the day she was born? Or did it begin the day that she innocently watched the night news and asked her mother “mama why they put the dogs on the Black children like that?” only to receive no answer other than her mother’s silent tears. Or was it the the constant devaluation? Working more and harder than any man I know for less, always? Or was it the constant scraping to make dollars out of wooden nickels for me and my sister? What really attacked her heart? Who’s counting the additional weight of it all?

Sometimes I lay my head against my husband’s chest and listen to the story it taps out, loud and strong. I feel our Ancestor’s whose blood refused to drown in the Atlantic Ocean swimming within his veins.The ones who survived the field and the lash. The ones that broke the wings of Jim Crow. Sometimes it drums rapid and full of strained whispers, running running, running so fast from the south to the north and back again. I wonder who’s been running through his pulse when I hear that frantic banging from the door of his heart. Who within him was bound and tried to escape? Is my husband’s present life evidence that they found some chamber of freedom?

The other day I asked my two year old son where his heart was and he touched my chest and said “in there” and then pat his own chest, and said “here too.” He smiled.

I wonder if he meant, his heart feels all of the living, age, time, and experiences of mine?
If his heart is already stronger than other little boy’s because of our shared legacy?
I wonder if he meant he carries the wisdom of all the living before him, and also has fuller access to the lightness of his being because of the price they’ve paid?
And I wonder if he will be even more devoted to freedom and liberation of all our people in his lifetime because of that?

I thought of Dr. King’s old heart in that young body.

I thought of all of the hearts that have beat, pulsed, fought (publicly and/or privately), and loved in order for our love to exist.

And I remembered why I stay focused and unapologetic about living in such a way and doing work that supports the hearts of people who’ve been running so far for so long, all while carrying the heaviest load.

Birthday Reflections

October 22, 2018
She was moving a refrigerator when she went in labor with me.
(Moving a refrigerator after coming from out my Aunt Gloria’s house getting her hair touched up, cause she had to be fly for birth- that’s my mama!)


I didn’t come out until mama, deep in labor called on her mama, Annie Mae Williams who’d been gone from this earth nine years, one month, and four days before I was born. When my mama called on her mama, as her story goes, I came on through.


And the way my daddy told it. He held me, his first one to make it out alive, on his right side. He held his best cuban cigar (he’d been saving a decade) in his left hand.
An old ritual.  Calling mama’s mama. Pushing a fridge- My welcome to this world.


This week I saw another birthday; and I turned a corner.


Mama told our birth story again and I tried to remember it.
In dad’s physical absence two hawks followed me all day.
Jemar held complete space for me to simply do me and not the 1,000 other things I usually do in a day. And I felt deeply seen and understood in that space.
Oye “baked” me a cake out of play dough, pine needles, and red clay. And I remembered the beauty, mess, and sweetness of my Gainesville, Georgia childhood.


I cried, laughed,smiled, and remembered a lot on my birthday. Mostly laughed and smiled.


I got a facial for the first time in 5 years. Katie took me to another planet with massage + reiki. I ate icecream for lunch. I met up with my life/business coach who  helped me recount another birth story of sorts, how I got from the mud of last October to the lotus of this October. That night, I stayed up way too late and read a book from cover to cover, Kiese Laymon’s memoir- Heavy…A love letter to his mama (y’all read it-it’s brilliant).


Retracing steps, I turned a corner and ran into my whole self. We stood for a moment staring at one another full of shy admiration of who we have become. Who we love. How we love. How we are loved. How we’ve pushed all manner of “bigger than us things” out of the way when necessary. How we’ve inherently known when to call Annie Mae and nem (our Ancestors) when we couldn’t push anymore. How we’ve known to tuck our best away for our very best ,even at our worst like my dad did with that one cuban cigar.


I come from real, loving, and imperfect people. From a real, loving, and imperfect place.

That has always been true.

I turned a corner and ran into an acceptance of my past and present that I didn’t know I needed in order to access the infinite potential of my future..

This year is a rebirth.

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