Posts In: motherhood

Deep in my marrow, I knew it would change everything. It had to.

I labored 2.5 days. Traversed through physical, emotional, spiritual issues I thought I had moved through 1000 times before. I burned sage and I prayed. I played Outkast and I danced. I made offerings and I cried. I called on my Ancestors and I listened. I crawled up to the helm of God’s dress and I pulled and pulled until an opening was revealed.

Through the opening and beyond, this mama walked across water and blood to go get my baby. (I passed so many mamas who have been and will be- along the way.)

Reaching down into the river of both time and myself to touch Oyetunde for the first time, I reached down to catch all of the dreams, fears, doubts, and longings I’d never whispered to anyone before.

He was born just before dawn, and though my labor was an epic quest and rite, in the final stage I did not push. I did not need to.

The work had been done. I got quiet enough so I could hear the breath and pulse of God. I followed that sound toward my baby’s heart. In tune, I breathed the fullest breathes of my life until we both made it to the other side.

My mind was full, and not crowded. My body had ripened soft, yet not been swallowed whole in the consuming process of giving birth.

My heart was cracked open, but not broken.

I had done the hardest thing I had ever done.

Today, my son turns two years old.

Because of him and the power, freedom, and healing of his birth, I know anything is possible.

“extra” weight

September 13, 2016

page-header_almost-flying

I didn’t start where I am in that picture above. And I’m not there now.

That picture was 4 years ago. I gave birth to my son 5 months ago.

I am beginning again.

I went to my 2nd nonrestorative or yin class in almost 7 months yesterday.

My intention for the practice was this: to love up on all my “extra.”

In yesterday’s class I put my knees down for every plank.
Rested in child’s pose 5 times in one hour, and made room for my “extra” : skin, scars, pounds, and props.

Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s not. But I have to fight to love my “extra” and guard my eyes and mind against all the “21 day yoga shred plans and meditate your way toward a mini dress (and away from biscuits) madness” because I need my practice to be a safe and exploratory place as I feel my way through this new place called mother –hood- land.

And I’m fighting and working, y’all.
Not to get “back” in that pose or body.

But to move from feeling “extra” to this:

This is not extra.

This is me, whole.

Mamas, I’m sorry

September 6, 2016

I owe some mamas an apology.
To that one mama:
who returned my text every three months
who called all the time cause she needed to hear real words
who suddenly couldn’t make a lunch date, ever
who brought her kids everywhere
who took her kid nowhere
who left her fancy gig to stay at home
who started a business the year her daughter was born
who left my yoga class before the final mmm of OM every other time
who bought the 10 class card and only used like 1.5 of the sessions
who only talked about baby body functions, nap schedules, and milk production every time I saw her
who didn’t want to mention “kid” or “baby” when she was away from hers
who didn’t want anyone to hold her baby
who wanted everyone to hold her baby
who had on the same pants every time I saw her
who stayed with her because she was afraid to face it alone.
who had a 2nd one coming… 3 months after her first was born
who left him as soon as she could walk straight, after her 2nd was born
who had all the successes, yet said she her life had no purpose until she held her baby in her arms.


Mama hood is a rare open field and wilderness all the same: Uncontrollable, exposed, and exposing.
It is at once a shared and sacred journey. At the same time a lone and mundane one.
The walk is a weighted one. We carry generations on our hips and often times, the future on our backs. While holding close, the present: tiny and growing hands.
The weight is constantly being added to. When you’ve shifted enough to have a handle on it, it changes. Just when your skin toughens from trooping, uncovered through flat plains, the terrain changes.
It gets wild and muddy again. your skin starts to peel, maybe it sheds, now you hella exposed, again.
and see, before I set a foot on this path, I thought I knew something about how your way was going and why it looked a lil cray from my pretty sitting place.


Sounds silly.
But It’s true.


I didn’t have a pedicured toe on the ground you’d been stomping through, yet I thought I knew something of your walk.


I’m finally crawling along now, and big enough to say.
Mama(s) I’m sorry.

No shortcut.

July 26, 2016

Those of you who live in Atlanta know that highway 285 allows us to bypass traveling through the center of our city to get just about anywhere we want to go.
You also know that there are times when 285 is painfully congested. The other option takes us straight into the heart of our city.

Transformation and change require us to get right into the center. To bypass the challenges is to skip over the rich experience derived from the feeling of every single track we lay down as we tread our path to a new ground.

As a new mother, I could not bypass the critical and profoundly demanding first two weeks of me and Oye’s life together. There was no way around the sleepless nights, cluster feedings, and painfully tender wrists from holding, lifting, and carrying him.

Returning to the work I passionately love, there is no way for me to bypass feeling both the fulfillment of being exactly where I am when I am teaching a class, private session, or CHILLshop AND the intense longing to return to my son.
The access I gain when I take a route directly into the truth of my experience drops me at the front door of humanity. There is so much strength and softness, pain and healing, misunderstanding and knowing there. I do not want to pass over any of it.

And it is intense.

The world right now is intense for many of us.
We cannot bypass this moment of feeling all of the potholes, ditches, obstructions, and debris spread out in all directions around us.

We must not take our eyes off of the road as we make our way forward.

Let us not use our yoga to bypass hard realities being re-exposed from the well-worn highways of our history, no-not this time.

What road will you take? Will you take the path that will not allow you to miss the pulsing, churning truth of the diversity of our oneness?

Is it education? Is it reading books that challenge your view about an “other”? Is it listening and feeling someone share his or her experience of being Black, Woman, Muslim, Gay, or any “other” beyond your own experience without guilt or the need to interrupt? Is admitting that you don’t know how it is for her, him, them, or even simply me? Is it signaling, like a flashing red light, to a family member, friend, or co-worker who keeps telling that same “joke” about those people? Is it investigating how and where systemic and institutional privilege exists for you more than others? It it then using that very privilege to hold our institutions more accountable to our most marginalized citizens? Is it praying for your heart to be cracked open so that you might have space for “the other” without judgment, fear, or condemnation?

As yogis, we cannot bypass our reality by simplifying oneness to a singular experience.

We can no longer stay in our prescribed and “safe” lanes based off party lines, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Not challenging injustice, bigotry, hate, and untruths- even if it does not affect people “like” us will wreck us all.

In all of this though, we must pull over and rest before we get weary.

We need our energy to stay “woke “and present within the vessel of life- as we ride toward tomorrow, together.

Warrior’s welcome

May 20, 2016

A while back I read something regarding postpartum women in another culture from a by gone time.

The article noted that for weeks after giving birth, the mother was mothered and her primary role was to connect to and nurture her baby. The women of the village tended to her so that her and baby could begin and thrive (not simply survive) through the 4th trimester or time immediately following giving birth.

Once that time ended, the new mama and her baby would go back to the village. When they re-entered society they were given a warrior’s welcome.

This struck me: a warrior’s welcome.

I think a warrior’s welcome acknowledges that even in the most peaceful pregnancies and birthing times there is a fight.

Every woman slays her own inner and outer beasts, dips into her own valley, climbs her own rugged or smooth mountain, faces her own Goliath with the dual sling shot of both her strength and surrender in order to bring forth new life.

Her body expands and is broken open so that the circle of humanity and her linage is not broken. In labor she pours her heart over an altar lined with trillions of raw threads- spools of hope, anticipation, defeat, and triumph.
The welcome acknowledges that she is a new being, not simply the same one, returning.

Here and now- we usually simply return. We return to expectations about how we ought to look, keep company, keep house, keep it together, sleep, work, dress, feed, love —it goes on and on.

And so, many many of us forget that indeed we are immeasurably powerful, even as we enter the most vulnerable, humbling, and softening times of our lives.

Besides let’s be real, who can peel her whole self back, reach through walls and generations of muscle, bone, and blood to retrieve another’s body, bringing life earth side?

Who but a warrior can do all that and live to tell about it?

Giving birth

April 7, 2016

He’s here! Me and Jemar’s son, Oyetunde Nasir Raheem arrived Saturday April 2, 2016 at 5:37am.

Our birthing time/labor was yoga in the most profound sense. Lots of yin and yang. Lots of fire and water. Sound and silence. Some CHILL. Plenty FIERCE.

Clearly every birth experience is different. For me, the newness that is my son’s life, that is my life, that is NOW, would not emerge until I went all the way IN.

I had to go IN to doors, crawl through barred windows, and scrape against deep caverned walls within my body, mind, heart, and soul to bring NOW about.

I had to go IN
dark crevices (contract /down)
expansive light (open/up)

For me to get to NOW and rest in it, I had to go through.

Going in, I came out with a tangible being, my son, Oye.

AND with this truth sewn into the red clay fabric of my cells:
No matter what task is before you. No matter what course – murky or luminous- must be traversed. no matter what valley must be staggered under. no matter what mountaintop stares you down. no matter the power of the wind battering against your face. the messy kiss of sun against your head. Or the howl of trees bending against your back. No matter if you are barefoot or well heeled on your path,

Own it. Walk it. It belongs to you. You belong to it.
No matter how dusky the morning or bright the night, no matter how strange the landscape becomes as you travel
You cannot just quit. You cannot just leave.

The only exit is to fully enter the passageway of NOW, be with one small contraction/expansion- one wild, feeble, loud, or silent step at a time.

Because THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH.

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