It's hard for me to relax. My life is fast, hard and strong on every level. From my morning routine of getting my daughters ready for school to my nightly lifting sessions in the gym, I know one speed: Go. And while I make time for myself in the typical way one mom might (pedicure, shopping, a night out with the girls), I really don't make time with myself. Ever.
This is the part of the equation that has been missing. That I've been craving. I might get a little new age-y on you right now. Stick with me. It's worth it.
When I first met Emily Leahy of the newly opened West Side yoga collaborative studio, The Space, I knew she would be transformative. She presented an immediate aura of energy that was open, inviting and without judgment. It was clear that what she was about to show me is her passion. This is the person you want to meet when you're going to take a class, that forces you to let go instead of go.
Community-driven at its core, The Space is a collaboration of yoga, meditation and healing, which, together, creates a powerful and positive impact on our lives. She spoke of vibrant living, thriving as an individual and, basically, living life feeling like a rockstar. She showed me the various spaces within her studio – the yoga room, the massage and healing room and the lobby area where local artisans, musicians, farmers and other small businesses will showcase their works. We got into a conversation about the healing services she performs – from Reiki (she's one of the few New Englanders trained in Jikiden Reiki, which is the purest Japanese form) to Hypnotherapy to Life Activation – and I couldn't soak in enough. This was a woman who could train your body and your mind to move obstacles. Or, in the very least, bring them to the surface to release. I probably need Emily on a monthly retainer and, quite possibly, in my house at the girls' bedtimes.
With an educational and career background in elementary education, Emily once taught children on a daily basis. She was practicing yoga regularly at the time, but knew her calling was one of expansion upon her passion while still incorporating her beliefs into child education, therefore, becoming certified in Yoga Ed. – a program that believes physical, mental and emotional health is directly correlated to academic successes and life fulfillment. After working with numerous yoga studios in their programming, training school districts to bring Yoga Ed. into their classrooms, and gaining certifications in life-altering healing practices, she found her way to the culmination of all her fluid and all-encompassing life-fulfilling ideas and ventures with The Space.
The class I took was a mixture of what's called Empowerment Yoga and Yoga for Healing. Empowerment Yoga decreases stress and anxiety while strengthening your focus, clarity, confidence and intention. Yoga for Healing uses restorative poses – some of which are with blankets or blocks – to help relieve physical stresses like back pain, indigestion, fatigue and more.
When I first began to move, I was kindly reminded (by myself) of how rigid I am. Of how hard I focus on “doing it right” rather than just “doing it.” Of how unaware I am of my own breath and the power it can exert if I allowed it to. In other words, I wasn't letting go. Which was exactly right, considering what I load myself up with on a weekly basis. As class went on and Emily spoke with quiet conviction and direction while helping guide my stretches by using hands-on healing and positioning techniques, I began to surrender. Soon, my body was just moving on its own, without my mind getting in the way, and although I was no longer paying attention to the actual “work-out” it might be giving me, my body's exertion was evident by the continuous sweat pouring off every last piece of all of my limbs. As I visualized, focused on my breath, cleared my thoughts and just did, I truly became one with myself. I thought of nothing. I let everything go.
But, perhaps the most profound moment of the night was during our final move into Savasana (when you lay on the mat in the end in complete peace and relaxation mode). Emily talked me into that place, from the toes up. As she guided me into complete relaxation, she used hands-on healing techniques. By the time she got to my head, I was pretty much in a trance, like nothing I've experienced before. My body tingled from top to bottom and I couldn't move. I could have stayed right there on that loft building's floor, in the abyss of my own pulsating nerve-endings, for the next 20 years. After class, she told me that my energy was physically vibrating off of my body. If that isn't some crazy amazing work for a Monday night, I'm not sure what is. (Bonus – I held crow pose for a whole two seconds.)
Emily hopes that instead of going home to lay on the couch after a long and hard workday, you will find your way to The Space to lie on the mat to restore, heal and just be with yourself. I think that's a solid idea for any night of the week. I know she'll find me on her mat again soon.