To be whole

August 5, 2019

My cousin Carlos is one of my youngest Ancestors. He was an artist. A visionary. A musician. And someone who danced, lived, and colored outside of others’ comfortable boundaries. He was a truth teller and rebel. He passed away on August 2, 2003 from injuries sustained from gun wounds. The last conversation I had with him was in June 2003. “He said to me, you sound so happy and free.” My reply was “I am.”

The men in my blood line have been asking to be heard.

I finally have both the softness, strength, capacity to listen.

For years and every time I lead a retreat, training, immersion, or teach at a festival I create an altar.

I usually bring images of the women, my grandmamas and their mamas. I place them on an altar. I say their names. I remember them and ask them to be with me.

A few days before leaving to teach at Asheville Yoga Festival and while practicing Empowered Wisdom Yoga Nidra I heard a clear message.

“remember the men. you don’t need to carry them. you DO need to remember and take them with you. They want to be with you on this journey to.”

And so, I took the men. My ancestors who I have the most complex, layered, and textured relationships with. The ones who are artists, musicians, lovers, devoted fathers, and deeply spiritual. The ones who are not. The ones who seemed to be trapped in the wrong place and time their whole lives and could not come to terms with the way the world dehumanized them. The one that turned on themselves and sometimes their family.

The poet in my blood is my maternal granddaddy, Nathaniel Norman. If I don’t remember him, I miss half of my words. I forget the songs and hymns that will soothe our souls. I forget laughter, sweetness, and charm. The wise economist in my bones is my paternal grandpapa, Big Charles. When I invite him into the space, he takes whatever resources available and multiplies them. He also guards energy and is a master of boundaries. The artist, rebel, and truth teller in my heart is my cousin Carlos. If I leave him out, I lack fierceness and the capacity to show up as my whole self no matter who it makes uncomfortable. And then there’s my daddy, Big Ram. He’s the philosopher and magician. The trickster and hustler. The preacher/sinner man. The fighting mystic in me. He is the container of multitudes, just like I am. When he’s in the room I know how to be with all that I am and love the unanswerable contradictions in my spirit. I can hold space for others to do the same for themselves with so much grace.

The Divine Feminine within me has awakened in profound ways. And in rousing that deep essence, the men call out for healing to.

I listen.

I gather our pieces, to be whole.

not bypassing

August 4, 2019

Someone who teaches, lives, and works in El Paso asked the question: “As a yoga teacher how do I continue to remain positive in the face of this.”

My response:
You don’t need to be positive. You only need to be real. The way I see the most powerful function of “the light” we cultivate in our yoga practice is to shine that light on our personal and collective darkness so that we can finally see what and where it is we have neglected, hidden, not tended to, pretended , or even “thought and prayed” it way back into the corners of our being.

We need places of refuge and healing- yes. And part of healing is turning our light to look deeply and closely at the wound.

We have so many personal and collective wounds. Ones rooted in systems and culture and those same ones defining our actions and interactions.

We need your light to illuminate this darkness. I am willing to look directly at this mangled bloody tragedy in El Paso through the lens of your light which is closer to it than mine is over here in Atlanta.

I say all of this to say… feel all of your feelings and express them however you need to. This is terror. This is tragedy. This is happening too often in our beloved country. A wall will not protect us, because the enemy is within, emboldened, and overly armed. I will not turn my face away from what ever you or the people of El Paso show me.

My response ends there yet my reflection didn’t. Sara Clark said it best “To see how police can gently escort yet another mass-murderer to safety when black and brown folk are gunned downed simply for existing is nauseating.”

We have at least two deep profound terrorizing wounds ripped/ splayed open here:

People in El Paso living daily life doing normal every day type things gunned down. Gone.
The white mass murderer apprehended alive. Unarmed Trayvon Martin was gunned down and killed. Sandra Bland was to. Tamir Rice. Gone. So many Black lives gone at the hands of those supposed to protect and serve.
Yet a mass murderer was apprehended without hurting him.

Are we paying attention to all of this?

We can’t skip this. This is what the light is for. To see our way in this collective darkness.

The Lock and Key

July 15, 2019

My name sake. My great great paternal grandmama, Ms. Mama Octavia was short, stubborn, and didn’t say nothing she didn’t mean.⁠

The story goes she was released from a family she’d served when the man of the family died. Along with her release, she was given the equivalent of change to start her new life with. She sewed that change up into a pocket at the heart center of her dress and walked away with out looking back. ⁠

Born into a kind of servitude, whereby her body didn’t belong to her. Her time, space, and energy was claimed before she ever took her first breath. She needed to be stubborn. Tough. ⁠

My great great grandmama shut down and locked up parts of herself to survive. I inherited those locks and that capacity to shut down and out as a means of survival. I have lived behind some of the closed tight doors that she had to hide within. ⁠

She refused to be broken. Her refusal to be broken kept her existence in tact. She loved. And she created. And I am here.⁠

I inherited Ms. Mama Octavia’s locks, and in this life, I’ve also inherited the keys. The prayers. The practices. The means to free up. ⁠

She continues to show up in my meditations, yoga nidra, and dreams. She, continues to tell me:⁠
“Daughter, the tools that aided our survival ain’t always the same tools to thrive with. Open the locks, release the chains. You are meant to thrive.”⁠

My grandmamas are with me on every retreat. Every class. Every circle I hold space within.⁠

They are as real as sunshine, and also magic. like you and me.⁠

Today at noon, VIP registration for my New Year 2020 Starshine & Clay Yoga Retreat for Women of Color opens. This particular retreat is for sisters, women, who are ready to use the key and open the lock. For sisters who are ready to free up. To claim our legacy of freedom.⁠

On my VIP Starshine & Clay list? Check your inbox at noon today. Not on my list? message me at octavia@octaviaraheem.com to be added before noon.

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream…” -Maya Angelou


The past four weeks I’ve worked with 9 women in my #Held mentor group for yoga teachers. We’ve named, faced, and began to clear limiting beliefs.  Slaying all manner of oppressive dragons, We’ve unearthed dreams that had been marginalized, beaten, shamed, hated, ridiculed, and buried deep within us. We’ve actively reclaimed our right to rest, dream, rise up, and work for our own visions/ dreams more than someone else’s.  We’ve remembered dreams that are 500+ years old.


And what has emerged is forever free within us.


Grown women deserve space to dream. When we dream. When we vision, we remember and tap into our creative power.


Power.


Sisters. We have a wealth of creative power.And for some of us, it’s bound up, tied up, being poured out for everybody else, and leaking out in places where we lack boundaries in relationships, family, and work. It may be historical, but that’s not our legacy.


It’s time to snatch our power back.
Old paradigms and systems rely on women’s complicity in being “drained” at home and work for its fuel.  Abiding in that place won’t create the space and time for you to dream and reconnect to your creative power.
Snatch your power back from the vampires, parasites, lazy lovers, energy drains, and inner gremlins that keep drinking up all the fuel you need to grow your visions and dreams.


Your family and even “friends” who depend on your energy to feed them and their visions & dreams even if it starves yours— they may suddenly become unavailable or the opposite- clingy, as you begin “operation snatch back.”


Get your energy together anyway.


Snatch your creative Power, your energy, your fuel back.  Run to the wide open field of your own heart and mind. Dance freely in the field of your own imagination.


Rest and dream there. Rest and meet your dreams. Your creative power is in there.

Be Her Now.

June 24, 2019

“Be here now…. Be HER now.” – Lux Atl

Long before I co-owned Sacred Chill West, I owned my work.  I operated with the level of discipline, focus, commitment, care, and consistency that I believed owning a brick and mortar space would require.  
I was off by a lot (owning a physical space asks for more than I could have imagined) yet the inner muscles I stretched and strengthened then,  expanded my capacity to both “hold down” and elevate my work- now.
I honor the wise part of me that knew that the kind of freedom I wanted required discipline.
I treated myself like the woman I hoped to be and I grew into her. I treat myself like the woman I am becoming. I grow into her.

Being her now is:

So much inner work. Radical truth telling. Re-shaping my most intimate relationships. Defining my place vs. playing the role I was given.It’s not letting myself off the hook when it’s hard.It’s laying down in soft places and praying deeper than I ever have.It’s standing and walking through the fire until I see the blessing (tapas).
It’s ugly crying to release the heat and cleanse.
It’s bearing the gifts that my Ancestors gave without shame or apology.It’s trusting that what I’ve seen in my heart and mind’s eye is mine. It’s the smallest of steps and decisions I make every day- to be her now.


Sister, Trust her enough to do your work, now.  Honor her by tending to the details and process in the choices you make each day, right now. Let the distractions go.


No one else has read your book. She has.  Every day that you ink, you become the master of her story.No one has healed in your wellness space, yet. Every day that you save, plan, and study, she does.No one has walked the gardens you tend to. With every seed that you dig and plant- your bare feet become more deeply rooted on her true path. No one has held the baby you long to carry. Mama, she has. with every layer of womb wound you peel back. She holds baby.No one has heard the songs you write except for her. With each note and lyric you lay down, there’s another track to carry her forward.


Every step and stumble, you become more of her.More of your whole self.

Sometimes it seems like her “glow up” happened overnight or his “come up” was easy or breezy.⁣If we pull back the curtain on the person who inspires you a lot, the person who you <3 and follow and triple snap on everything they post,  it’s likely you’ll see plenty of failure, rejection, and mistakes.⁣ You will see resilience, will, and challenging choices.⁣You’ll also see a kind of discipline and devotion to their path that can’t be reflected on a two dimensional screen.⁣⁣

When I realized that I wanted to do this work, teach yoga, create  a sustainable wellness community by owning a yoga studio I desperately wanted a short cut. ⁣I wasted time looking and wishing for one.⁣I haven’t found a short cut to my dreams that I would trust. I have discovered best practices that are rooted in integrity, relationship, and commitment to actually doing the work.⁣⁣When I began teaching yoga and I’d have 0-4 students in class… I so wanted to skip that part and hoped for some fast track way to fill up my classes. ⁣

Thank goodness I never found a short cut. I would have missed out on so many honest, real, and grounded lessons and relationships if it were any other way.⁣⁣

12 years of teaching yoga and two years of studio ownership. Some of the best practices to build a class have been:

  • Commit:  Most studios have a time commitment of 6-12 months for new teachers/ classes on schedule. Set your own internal commitment to align with that if not more. Gaining a class is a commitment, not a stepping stone or just something to do.
  • Be intentional:  Incorporate a theme into your class. Teach with a peak pose in mind. Share stories and poems- points of connection in your class. Do everything with intention. If you use music, create playlists that support your theme or the energy you wish to cultivate in your class. Students know when they’ve experienced something especially crafted, tended to, and thought through vs thrown together at the last minute. This doesn’t mean that you doggedly stick to your plan if the real live students in front of you need something else, it means that you honor the seat of teacher by knowing why you make each choice you do when you lead a class.
  • Before your class: Your yoga class doesn’t actually start when the schedule says it does. It starts when you begin preparing for it. It starts when you pull into the parking lot. It starts before and as the first student shows up to check in. Make sure you arrive at least 20 minutes in advance to greet + check in with your students before class starts even if there’s desk support where you teach.
  • After class: Barring an emergency, don’t disappear to the bathroom or jet after each class. Ask students how they feel and if they have any questions. Always remember to thank your students collectively and/or individually. This shouldn’t be a huge time commitment, no more than 10-15 minutes.
  • Be a student in community: This may seem redundant,yet it is really important. Practice where you teach.   
  • Show up: Minimize your absences. Students and studio owners need to trust that you will show up for your classes. Consistency goes a long long way in building community.
  • Social Media: If you don’t share your why for teaching, valuable content, what you are teaching and where, how will students (present and potential) know? Also, it’s not always the number of “followers” you have, it’s the quality of engagement. There’s value in small active/engaged numbers vs. big numbers of “lurkers”, especially if your goal is to build your local classes, events, and workshops. There’s so much we can say about social media… more on that soon!

Subscribe to our mailing list

Studio Updates & News

Subscribe to our mailing list

Sign-up to be the first to know about new retreats, trainings and classes.

* indicates required