#MeToo, Yoga and Protecting Your Energetic Space favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - November 29th 2019

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: #MeToo

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

In this episode, Rachel is in Tulum on vacation with her family and trying to slow down.

After receiving some interesting news and getting kicked off a magazine cover shoot, Rachel does what she usually does: she speaks out for justice and stands with those who have been subjected to trauma. This is Rachel’s mission in life, to use her platform and voice to spark real change in the world.

Actually, this is all of our missions! We can all be of service in different ways in the world. However, being of service takes energy, and Rachel shares a story of a defining moment in her life when she realized it was all too much.

This episode can show you as well that to do good in the world, you have to make sure you are not spreading yourself so thin that you have no energy left for your own heart. Sometimes the universe is hitting us on the head with a big sign, and it’s important that we listen to it.

Only by filling your own cup first will you be able to bring your best self to the world, and that is exactly what is needed.

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Transcript

[001:14] Hi and welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl Podcast: Conversations From The Heart. I have to start off by sharing that for some reason I am super light-headed right now, and all day. I honestly don’t know what it is that’s going on, but since the moment I woke up this morning I’ve just felt really dizzy and a little light-headed, like I have really low blood pressure. Anyone who knows what that’s like, that’s the feeling I have. I don't know, I’ve just had that all day. A little bit of a headache, feeling a little dizzy, almost like even when I’m sitting down, like I’m about to faint or something. So in case I pass out mid-podcast [laugh], that’s what’s going on with me. But no, just sharing that in case you can sense a little big of tiredness in my voice today.

[002:03] I am currently … okay, let me paint you a little word picture. I’m sitting on the floor in my hotel room in Tulum. We are in Tulum, Mexico for a really well-deserved family vacation. We just came from Cozumel, a little island here off the coast where Dennis did an Ironman race … Which was [laugh], which was an ironman race [laugh]. If you’ve heard episodes of me and Dennis talking about Ironman before, you probably know how I feel about Ironman and how he feels about Ironman, but if you’ve never heard of an Ironman race, it’s basically a long-distance triathlon for crazy people. [laugh] So they do miles and miles of swimming and then like 100 miles of biking, and then … what is it? 115 miles of biking and then a marathon on top of that. So it’s like this whole day, from sunrise to sundown they are just racing. It’s totally crazy. And he loves it so much. Even this one, which he said was his hardest race of his life. And I could really tell he was struggling. Every time I saw him you could tell he was … ugh, it was a tough race for him. He hasn’t been training as much as he normally has, and I kind of think that he thought that he could just push his way through this race just mentally. Like, I don't know, he has barely trained, and then to go do like a 12-13-hour race, it’s crazy.

[003:27] But yeah, he did really really … you know, had a hard time. But he did well. He finished, and it wasn’t his worst time. It was an okay time still. For me, everything relating to Ironman always makes me a little tired. I don't know how to explain it. It’s like I have a little bit of resentment that I carry toward Ironman as a thing. After our first year, when the baby was born and then Dennis started training for his first Ironman ever, we had this big division in our lives where just I was a new mom and working like crazy and killing myself trying to make things work, and Dennis was taking 20 hours a week to train for this race. And I started building up this pretty serious resentment toward Ironman as a thing. Even though now our lives look super different, but every time we go to one of these races I have to really try to be supportive. I don't know, it’s like I have to put on my supportive face, kind of. And I kind of wish it came more naturally to me. There are so many … I see these amazing wives and moms and spouses and people who are supporting their loved ones, because it’s so hard. I mean, this thing, it’s like a feat. It’s a feat of endurance. For me it’s always like … I don’t want to say … I would never say it out loud in the middle of the race to anyone, but I’ll say it out loud here in private, between you and me: I don’t get it. [laugh] I don’t get it! I want to get it, I really want to understand the driving force behind wanting to spend 12 hours or 13 hours straight doing things like this, I just, I don’t get it. And for my little weird productive brain, it just feels like a waste of time!

[005:09] I don't know! Of course I don’t tell him this. And obviously I’m sharing this in confidence, you know, between you and me, privately … on this podcast [laugh]. But, no, we laugh about it a lot, we joke about it a lot. He was saying before we left, I said, “Are you nervous? Are you excited about the race?” He says, “I’m only nervous because you’re coming, and I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with something. I just want you and the baby to be okay and be happy.” I’m like, “Dude, where there to support you. It’s not the other way around.” He’s like, “Uh, actually, it’s more the other way around when you travel with me for these races.” And I think he’s actually right.

[005:44] But anyway, I think I did a good job being the supportive wife. I really did. We were following him throughout the day and having a really fun time with the baby. And the good thing about Dennis, he’s a special … oh, did you here there was a bird in here. In here! Man. We have like an indoor/outdoor kind of hotel room. There’s a bird here. The cool thing about my husband, I mean aside from the fact that I love him and he’s obviously the most amazing guy, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is just my favorite part about him. In these races I think a lot of the people who compete, they are very very serious about this race, right? They are like … they pass you on the course and it’s just, like, jaw-clenched, they’re just looking straight ahead. It’s like they’re closed off in this little box of just pushing themselves to do it. Dennis … I think because he doesn’t really care about time, he’s not competing with anyone, he’s not competing with himself even. He’s not trying to get a new personal record or anything. He just wants to enjoy himself. That’s the thing. He loves to race. He loves the community around the races. He loves the people, he loves the hold vibe. So he’s just like casually running, smiling, talking to people. And then he always makes the effort to stop whenever he sees us and then come give us kisses and hugs and let us know how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. I really love that so much. It’s my favorite thing. So even when he’s biking, and they’re biking so fast, and they’re just like bzzz, zwooping, zooming is the word. Zooming by super fast. He’ll pause and stop and get off his bike and lose time in the race just so he can say hi. It makes everything … yeah, it makes everything feel really beautiful.

[007:35] So I’m super proud of him. I wish I had the Ironman gene just so I could understand it a little bit more, but I just don’t. But he had a fun time. Cozumel was beautiful. We rented a little house, or a pretty big house I guess on the coast. It was a really, really beautiful. But not as beautiful as Tulum. To paint you a word picture, maybe I can do right now, I’m at this hotel, it’s called Sonara, and it’s right on the beach. So literally you step outside, just putting my feet in the sand immediately right outside my door. And I am so close to the ocean I was a little nervous about recording this podcast, because I was like, “Man, you’re going to hear the waves. It’s going to be hard to record this, but it’s actually … all doors are closed, so it’s okay. Maybe I’ll do a little sound byte for you later in the show. But it’s one of those hotels where we are now … literally one of those hotels where we have never … I have never in my life taken the time, the money, the energy to go to a place like this just for myself. I’m used to going to beautiful places and maybe hotels and retreat centers and resorts. If I’m doing a retreat or a group or I’m working or … I don't know, I’m doing something. And now this is the kind of place where there is yoga twice a day, there is sound healing and gongs and sound baths and temescal, sweat-lodges, and all sorts of healing things and body work and energetic work, and a really beautiful spa, and the restaurant here is mostly vegan and it’s totally grain free, and it’s just super, super, super nice. And coming here, making the decision to splurge and to … just to treat ourselves, just we’re going to eat all of the amazing food and we’re going to just like go to yoga every single day, take a class every single day. Which I never do outside of Aruba, outside of my own studio. I never take peoples’ classes who I don’t know. I’m very lazy and picky about stuff like that. You know, I had a massage today … It’s just … it’s really beautiful. And, of course, if I connect to the theme of last week’s podcast, me being in the pattern of when everything are chill and good and cool, then I get a little stressed out.

[010:02] So the first thing that happened when we came here - everything was so beautiful, so easy, wonderful, super happy to be here – is I can kind of sense this little vibration inside of me of stress arriving. And because I can catch it now, I guess, really … you know, I’m doing a lot of this work these days. I can catch it now, I can notice it. It gives me a little more space to catch myself with these sorts of feelings before I act on them, I guess. So I’m kind of expecting now, “Okay, when I get to a place of calm, of quiet, or a day off, or a staycation, then my mind goes into overdrive and starts looking for things to fix, looking for things that aren’t well, looking for things that actually, you know, dangers that are lurking around.

[Commercial Break]

[012:11] So we came here, everything is awesome, and then the baby gets a cough, like a tiny cough, literally no big deal. It’s like barely a cough. And I started getting in my head about, “Oh my god, okay wait, what if she gets sick right now? Wait, what if she’s super sick? What if she has some sort of tropical disease?” Never mind that we live on a tropical island. We live on the Caribbean, this is the same ocean we swim in at home. My mind was like, “Oh my god, what if she gets something? What if she gets Dengue?” And Dennis was like, “Dude, we have Dengue in Aruba. She can get Dengue every day at home. She’s never had Dengue. Why are you worrying about that?” And I’m like, “I don't know, but what about this? And then she didn’t eat well, and what about the water? Is the water okay here? She’s showering in this water …” And it took, I don't know, two days I think of being here. This is … today is day four. Wait, is today only day three? Is today my first chill day? Yeah, it is. I’m like embarrassed to say. Two whole days of being in this perfect place surrounded by perfect people in this perfect circumstance in this massive, amazing, mega-blessing that I’m finding myself in. It takes me 48 hours before I actually start enjoying myself. Is that … Is that … Do I have to be this way? Can someone … can I flip a switch to not … To not? Just to not? Can I just transform myself to one of those people who just go on vacation and immediately enjoy themselves? Like, come on! I’ve been really frustrated by myself. But because I’m aware and I can anticipate and expect it at the same time that I’m going through the motions of this worry and stuff, and I’m finding little things wrong with stuff that isn’t a problem. At the same time that I’m having those thoughts in the back of my head, this inner critical voice going like, “Oh wait, what about this? What if this happens? That’s bad …” At the same time, I can invite this other voice, this kind voice, this compassionate voice that goes, “Oh honey, it’s okay.” It’s almost like there’s this other presence inside of me watching my mind go into overdrive. And this presence, it’s just a soft, loving, beautiful, compassionate presence that just says, “Everything is okay. Even that stress, the worry, the overdrive, the intensity of me having a hard time slowing down, there is that other presence that just goes, “It’s okay. Feel worried, it’s okay. Be stressed, it’s okay. Be high energy, it’s okay. Be all the things that you are, go all in, go nuts, be anxious, whatever is there, it’s okay.”

[014:56] And then two days in I start to softly, almost like a leaf falling from a tree, and it’s all erratic and twirling all around and left and right, and then suddenly it starts to mellow out, and it starts to just slowly flow all the way to the ground to land. That’s been my process over this past couple of days. It’s interesting, and it’s also exhausting to think this much about how I’m feeling, what’s going on, what’s moving … a lot. A lot. It’s interesting to me that it takes more work for me to be on vacation than it does to work. [laugh] Literally takes work for me to be on vacation and to be off.

[015:46] Of course I’ve also, you know, since we came here I’ve also been working, just tiny bits. I have things I’ve been doing, little meeting here and there. And then I don’t think anybody missed this crazy thing that I shared on Instagram this week. We had one of the work-type things that we had planned for this trip here in Tulum was we were going to do this cover shoot for this magazine. I’m not going to … you can go to my Instagram and read the post. I’m not going to go into the drama of it all. But it was just the cover shoot for this magazine, and I was excited. It seems like a cool magazine, people had been on the cover before that I like. I was just positive to it. And then the day that we’re supposed to shoot, I get this email that suddenly the cover is postponed (which means canceled) and that they can’t have me on the cover because there’s a conflict of interest in the fact that I played a supporting role in the documentary on the #MeToo movement in the yoga world, and the big article that New York Times released a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure you guys have read the article. If you haven’t, you should go read it right now. Big article in the New York Times around consent and non-consensual touch and assists and adjustments in the yoga room, and why … or I guess the fact that there has been this culture in yoga for decades now that allows for inappropriate behavior and that allows for almost this acceptance of inappropriate behavior, inappropriate adjustments, of people not feeling safe, of there being this grey area where teachers have almost shows this predator-like behavior, re-traumatizing women who have been through sexual assault and just inappropriate assists and adjustments. People touching you in different ways, intimate ways, without asking if that’s okay.

[017:36] So for me, I played a really small role. I mean, not … The article wasn’t about me, this documentary wasn’t about me in any way. I am not a survivor of sexual assault, I don’t have my own story with some yoga teacher where I was inappropriately assisted or adjusted in a yoga class at all. My role was just that I collected stories from people who did have those experiences. So I used the platform of Yoga Girl on Instagram to call for stories and for people and women (and also men, we had also men who wrote) to share their experience, “Have you ever been inappropriately touched in class or by a teacher? Have you ever had an uncomfortable experience? Have you ever had something that shouldn’t have happened? Do you have a trauma?” There was a lot of things that came from that. So hundreds and hundreds of people wrote. I mean, I think our final tally was 600-something stories? But then by email I think we had 400 and something stories, and the women who gave us consent to share and publish and for me to forward stories to a journalist was 135 people. Which is a shit ton of people. 135 people who gave their consent, who wanted to share and put their name on a story.

[018:54] And I forwarded this and have been working together with a journalist from the New York Times to get this story together. And it was not for me about any single man, right? Or any single teacher. I am not sitting here with a personal grudge or with beef of some sort to different kinds of teachers. It’s just this is a phenomenon that needs to stop! This is a part of this culture, this mysticized (almost) culture of yoga where people don’t know where to draw the line. We allow people to touch us in the yoga room in ways that we never would allow random strangers to touch us in our day-to-day lives, but because it’s yoga and it’s a little mystical and people don’t know exactly what to expect, or feel like the teacher is this almighty, all-knowing person … unfortunately there have been a lot of teachers out there who take advantage of that position of power. And the stories I received were everything from stories of all out rape between student and teacher. A couple of those. Harrowing, horrifying to read. A lot of stories of inappropriate sexual advancements in class. So yeah, trigger warning, I’m sorry, I should have shared that maybe a minute ago. But yeah, little trigger warning here in case you want to skip this part. But a lot of stories from women who has adjustments in down dog from a man who pushed his erect penis into their behind. Like, that was a common one. I got a lot of stories about that same kind of adjustment. One specific one where a man would ask women to sit down it his lap in chair pose, and again, erect penis poking up your ass. A lot of stories about people confusing the idea of heart-center or heart chakra with fondling and grabbing breasts. And just a lot of … a lot of really bad stuff.

[020:44] So I am a huge fighter for justice, for social justice. And of course I’m a feminist, of course this is a really big topic that I wasn’t going to ignore. There was a reason I called out for those stories in the first place. But it’s important for me that I share that I wasn’t sitting there with this one specific teacher in mind that I wanted to take down. That has nothing to do with my involvement in this at all. I was just collecting these stories as a neutral person and wanted to forward them to someone who could actually do something about it, right? I am not an investigative reporter or a journalist, I am not the police, I am not the judge in some court of law somewhere, I am just yoga girl. I’m just a yoga teacher that happens to have a platform on social media with some influence. That’s it.

[021:34] So it was really beautiful how it all came together, and the story was released, and then the journalist decided to focus on one man in particular, because that’s the person she had the most evidence against and the most women who were willing to, I think, stand up and on the record share these inappropriate things and these terrible, terrible things that had happened to them. I can tell you the list I have of teachers who have committed these offenses, who have acted in totally inappropriate ways, and at some points bordering over to total, absolutely sexual abuse and assault in the room and outside of the yoga room, that’s a list of 80 teachers that I’m sitting with. Now, it’s not my job to go investigate these 600 stories, or these 135 stories where we had consent to follow up, or consent to share and publish. That’s not my job! I’m not going to go investigate this. That’s not what I do, right? I’m not the person who is going to go and say, “This is true and this is not true.” Or, “Here is the evidence against this person.” Like, that’s not at all my role. And I think it was really clear in this article and the documentary as well. There was no moment in ever where I spoke about a specific teacher. The teacher that was mentioned in the documentary and in this article I have never met. I have no relation to whatsoever. I’ve never practiced with in my life. I don’t even have anyone on my team, or close students, or anyone who is a practitioner or a student of that teacher, at all. I just collected those stories and forwarded them to this journalist.

[023:12] So what’s interesting now, for me, has been this magazine cover that was supposed to happen. So it turns out the publication, this magazine was owned by the same parent company that also owns this chain of gyms that hosts, or runs, these big teacher trainings, yoga teacher trainings that are run by this same teacher that was mentioned in the article. So these people … and it was not really unclear, but they were almost trying to say, like, “Maybe it’s better for you not to be affiliated with us.” Almost gaslighting me, trying to turn this whole thing around as if actually it’s damaging to me, where actually they just wanted to silence me or punch me or alienate me and not have me on the cover because that magazine is owned by this company that does trainings with this teacher, and they felt that that connection was too close, or whatever.

[024:07] So for me getting this news was like, man, I couldn’t … I posted the whole email on my Instagram, if you want to go read it. But my jaw fell to the floor mainly with the stupidity of this decision! If anything, if they were actually worried that maybe I didn’t want to be affiliated with this magazine because there is some connection to this teacher training program or this other teacher or whatever, then they could have shared that with me. They could have said, “Hey, just a heads up. Do you want to be on the cover knowing that this is the truth?” And then I could have made a decision there, right? And educated decision. But that was not it at all. It was just very clear that whoever the leadership team is, or higher up the corporate ladder the decision was made to … you know, I was a whistleblower in this situation. I was part of getting these stories and these women to come forward that eventually, or essentially, was taking this teacher down, or at least holding him accountable for his actions. I played a small part in that, and that was enough for them to want to completely distance themselves from me and cancel the cover and all of this stuff.

[025:14] So for me it was just … this is … I couldn’t believe it! I was like, “This is the stupidest shit I’ve ever in my life seen.” Because if anything, what an amazing opportunity for better publicity, if anything! For them to own up and say, “Hey, this has happened. We know that this is the reality, these are the allegations that are out there.” You know, touching on this story, what is my motivation behind bringing this forward? How can we all continue to carry the legacy and the art and the practice of yoga in a responsible, safe way? And, you know, I’m sure … I mean, I’ve heard that this chain of gyms and this teacher training program, they’re making changes in how they are going to require teachers to ask for consent before touching other people, and that they’re working on making their spaces more safe. Isn’t that a great opportunity for them to share that in this article together with me? It could have been, if anything, an opportunity, I think, for them. And then to do this so openly and to say, “Hey, you blew the whistle on this guy. We work with him, so you can’t be on the cover anymore.” I was just like, man. Man oh man.

[Commercial Break]

[027:56] And then I … I posted that, just posted the email to Instagram, and I had a lot … I had people come up to me yesterday and today in Tulum to hug me, literally. Like, in the street, on the beach, in this restaurant where I was and say, “Thank you for speaking up. Thanks for taking the risk. Thanks for sharing.” Because it felt like an important thing! Like, man, the fact that we’re still in this culture of silencing people, that yoga actually isn’t a feminist … it isn’t part of the feminist movement in any way. Yoga hasn’t gone to the place where we’re even close to anything equal, anything fair. There’s such a division, such a power imbalance already between student and teacher. And so many male teachers out there, taking advantage of that power, I mean, it’s 100% totally true.

[028:49] So, after I shared that I was dealing with a lot of back and forth. I guess, you know, people who practice with this teacher … I had people write me who were super upset and said they have followed him for years and years and go to all of his retreats and whatever and trained with him and studied with him and he’s amazing and fantastic, and why are you trying to take him down? And I was like, “Dude! I have no intention to take him down. That is not my job, that’s not why I’m here, that’s not what I do. I have no personal issue with this one teacher. I have a massive personal issue with the fact that this is allowed. That’s a problem, that this is so prevalent that I put out one single Instagram post in, what was it? Fall of 2017. That we had 600-plus responses from people who happened to see that post, and then made the effort to sit down and email me. Right? I have a problem with that. I have a problem with the fact that there are people out there who have been through sexual abuse and trauma, people who have been raped, who have had horrible shit happen to them. And they find their way to the yoga practice to heal, and that they risk being touched in an inappropriate way that might re-trigger that very same trauma that led them to yoga in the first place. That I have a fucking issue with. Hell no. Hell. No. Won’t stand for that shit.

[030:10] So I just felt, you know, like I gladly forfeit and give up a thousand covers of a thousand stupid magazines if it meant I was of service to one woman who has suffered. Or if that meant that it brought us a fraction closer to keeping our shalas and our yoga rooms safe for everyone. They should be safe for everyone. No one should ever have to enter a yoga class feeling worried. Where is my teacher standing? Are they going to touch me randomly? Are they going to ask me? I sometimes feel that way, not because I’ve been through sexual abuse or assault but because I have pain sometimes in my body. And I realize that now, I think, of course it’s coming up more because we’re having this conversation out loud and in public. But I took a class this morning at this beautiful space, beautiful teacher, totally appropriate, the teacher wasn’t assisting or adjusting anyone in the class. And there was one moment where the teacher walked to the back of the room to I think turn off the fan or do something with the lights, I don't know. Just flick a button I guess. And the one moment where the teacher was behind me, fairly close, made me go, “I hope they’re going to touch me,” because I had a lot of lower back pain this morning. And then I caught myself with that little moment of fear, of like, “Ugh, I don’t want to be adjusted.” And I’m just thinking … that got me thinking, “How many times have I felt that way in a yoga room where I’m kind of preparing myself to be touched when I don’t want to? Instead of having the automatic … you know, the automatic baseline should be, “Someone is going to ask first.” Right? So you can totally relax regardless. Which means that for all of the moments, and there are so many moments where I yearn for touch, where I want an assist, where I want to be adjusted, where I want support, where I want that hands on connection. But also then to know that they’re going to ask, and then I can say yes, and it’s going to be so well-received, right? I mean, there’s teachers that I have practiced with who have changed my practice, who have helped me so much in my body because of their touch, and thanks to their touch. So it’s not about touch being good or touch being bad. Touch is neutral. It’s how we receive it, you know? And if we don’t have the choice to say, “Yeah we want it,” or, “No we don’t,” we risk traumatizing someone or triggering something in someone, even if our intentions are really good.

[032:31] So I think … I don't know, I was, when I woke up this morning feeling a little bit dizzy and I had that feeling sort of all day where I just feel a little drained I guess. Sharing this story now I’m realizing probably has something to do with that I spent like two hours yesterday talking to people online. One, comforting women who have been through something hard. I’ve had a lot of messaging and back and forth with women who wanted to share something, you know, something that happened with me. And then of course dealing with people who didn’t agree, that I shouldn’t have posted that and I shouldn’t have been a part of that article, and I shouldn’t have whatever. And then of course the many thousands of people who are just supportive and just sending love and all of this. It’s a lot of energy to sit with. And maybe that’s a part of why I’m feeling a little wobbly today.

[Commercial Break]

[034:43] I have a story I want to share [laugh]. This is a story that, speaking of dealing with a lot of energy from different kids of people, that being either a really amazing, positive, great thing, or a challenging thing, or both at the same time. One thing it is, for me, regardless, is it’s overwhelming sometimes. That’s just it. So whether I am receiving amazing feedback and talking to people who just have positive things to say, or I’m having really wonderful, beautiful, positive interactions, when it’s with large amounts of people at the same time, even when it’s positive it’s overwhelming. That’s just what it is. And something that I am sort of sitting with or inquiring about within myself is my ability to deal with that kind of high intensity energy. And it’s an energy that, of course, I deal with every day through social media. That’s been a big blessing and a big struggle for me for the past eight or nine years. And also, you know, having these conversations, doing this kind of work where I feel really dedicated to wanting to be of service, really, if I can help spark change in any way, if I could use this tiny bit of influence to do something good, I’m going to do it.

[036:07] And Dennis was saying, yesterday I was like, “Hey, I think I’m going to post this email.” He was like, “Dude. Aren’t you opening yourself up to some sort of liability? Like, could they sue you that you’re posting an email?” I’m like, “Dude, relax.” He’s like, “Okay, they can’t sue you for that. But couldn’t they start an issue? Like, they could make your life hard.” You know, this is a multi-billion dollar company, this company that owns this chain of gyms. They have 1100 employees. It’s a big, big company. He says, “If they want to make life harder for you, they really could. Are you sure you want to risk that?” And it’s a valid question. Obviously it’s a valid question. Coming from my husband, especially the place in my life where I am right now, where I am kind of burnt out and tired and moving through a lot of things, and for me that’s not even a question that I ask myself. It’s just like, “Hey, I gotta say something. Come on! You can’t allow for this stuff to happen. What else has happened in our past where people have stood up, spoken out about injustices, to immediately be punished or silenced? It happens all the time! And if this is what we risk, if every time we face something that shouldn’t be that way, and then we know, “Hey, if I say something that shouldn’t be that way I risk losing something. I risk being alienated or punished,” we’re not going to be able to ever spark real, true change. It’s just, that’s just the way it is. So for me it’s not something I think twice about. It’s just, “This shit is unfair. What else is happening? What else is this company hiding or keeping quiet about?” No! Of course I’m going to share it. Let’s go. [laugh] That’s just, yeah.

[037:46] And then at the end of that, dealing with the massive influx of energy that’s sparked by controversy is, for me, an increasingly challenging thing. And I don't know if it’s getting to this place in my life, I don't know if being a mom and … I think have to be a little more protective with my energy. Or if it’s just that I’m drained, right? I don’t have as much energy to shoot out into the world all the time. I can’t be on all the time. I need more time to recuperate, more time to go in my little cocoon and recharge than before. I didn’t used to need that. I used to be able to teach a thousand-person yoga class and then, you know, not skip a beat. I didn’t even need to nap afterwards. I would just move on to the next thing. Like, life was easy. I had so much energy. I could literally teach a thousand people yoga, hug all of them, and then go rock something else immediately following. That was not a thing. And now, just the thought of that feels … oh my god, feels daunting. Feels a little bit crazy.

[038:54] And the story I want to share, it was really something really profound. I don't know if it’s going to sound as profound as it was, because it was light, but it was a very profound moment for me earlier this year. I didn’t want to share it on the podcast even though it was a defining, life-changing moment, because I really don’t want anyone who has been to any kind of group or retreat or in person event, book-signing, whatever, any kind of in person experience with me to ever feel like they have ever been a burden. Absolutely not. But the groups and trainings and retreats, and meeting people face-to-face, teaching people face-to-face in the room, it’s my life’s greatest joy. It’s why I’m on this earth, it’s my dharma, it’s part of my life’s purpose. It’s really what I’m meant to be doing. 100%. And every person who has ever come into the yoga room with me to practice, to make the effort, to pay money, to spend time, to travel the world and to come practice with me, it’s my greatest blessing. It’s what allows me to have any kind of semblance of this kind of life that I have, and I’m so grateful for it. So I didn’t share this story earlier on because I didn’t want anyone to ever have a connection to anything not being good, yeah, being present with me in the room.

[040:16] But I had this big moment, and I feel like I can share it now because enough time has passed, and I also feel very neutral around everything else. So, a retreat I did earlier this year, and I had retreats earlier this year because of my burnout … I need a better word for that shit. Can someone fucking, like, bring me a word that feels … that has a higher energetic charge than burnout? What the fuck does that even mean? But I think that’s what I have. That’s what I’ve been through. I lost steam – I don't know how else to phrase it – at the end of last year, and I got super tired, got super sick, you guys know. Yada, yada, yada. So I started inviting friends and other teachers to teach retreats that I already had planned. So I had a couple of retreats in the year where I had someone else come in come in and teach half the classes. Which was such a good idea! I don't know why I hadn’t done that earlier. It was … I was afraid that it was going to take away, somehow, from the quality of the week, or that people would feel like they didn’t have enough time with me. I don't know what I was scared of. It was amazing. All those retreats that we did, it just elevated them. Of course, you know. And it allowed me space to interact more with everyone in the group, because I could participate in classes and not just lead and lead and lead and lead, but actually just be there. It was amazing!

[041:38] So, one of these retreats we did was, yeah, one of the … I think maybe the best retreat of the year. Like, one of those retreats where just everything flowed so seamlessly. Like, everything was just divinely synchronized and orchestrated somehow that just everything fit. And because I only taught half of the amount of classes I normally teach in a retreat I felt so at ease and so at peace and not at all tired, not at all drained even though I was still moving through some sort of health stuff. So at the end of the whole week, right as I … I go to teach the last class of the final morning. I told Dennis in the morning, I was like, “Hey, this is like THE best retreat ever. I feel energized by this week. This is how I want to feel with every group we have. I just … I want to feel this supported. This makes me … it allows me to teach, to be my best self, to teach the most epic classes because I don’t feel tired. And, of course, having the added layer to everything of being really physically ill made everything hard for me this year and last year. So that was one of the things I was worried about. But I didn’t get sick, or sicker. Everything was really good, really fine.

[042:50] And then I teach the last class of the retreat, and it’s beautiful, it’s perfect, it’s like the group … everyone is crying, I mean in a good way, not crying out of, “It’s terrible.” Crying because we’re feeling so much, there has been so much healing, so much connection, friendship. It’s an amazing group. And after class I step outside to have breakfast, and we’re all having breakfast and the kids and Lea Luna and everyone is around. And this one moment happens at the very end, right before everyone is about to leave and head to the airport where people start asking me to take photos. And this is, like, a minor thing. I’ve shared on this podcast before I really don’t like taking photos. I hate taking selfies. Once in a while no big deal, but especially for events, or if I’m teaching a big class. And I’ll share that, if I’m ever doing a big event, I will happily stay and talk to every single person that comes. I’ll hug, really, heart-to-heart hug everyone in the room. But I don’t want to stand there smiling for pictures.

[043:54] It’s just, I kind of … I don’t say this publicly a lot, but in those moments where I have felt kind of, okay, I have to take a photo and then a photo and then a photo. And I know people have this heart-centered attention that they just want to remember that they were there! They want to be able to share with the world, like, “I had this amazing experience. It was great!” It’s this positive, loving thing. But there’s something about it where after ten, twenty, thirty, forty of these photos, it’s like the smile I had for the first photo isn’t real anymore. I mean, it’s just not. It becomes this like we’re posing for a photo instead of having a heart to heart exchange, right? And I hate it! I’m so sorry, I just, I can’t fake it. I just, I hate it. I hate taking photos. I fucking hate it. I hate it. Okay, that’s just what it is.

[044:44] And oftentimes I will, even though I hate it, I will sacrifice that because I’m like, “Who am I?” Like it’s a conceited thing to do. Like, who is that arrogant that they won’t take photos with people who they love, who they had this amazing experience, like of course. So always at the end of groups, whatever group I’m doing, I always, always, always make sure I get a photo with every single person who wants a photo. It’s never been a big deal. But somehow, this retreat, I don't know what it was, if it was that I was sick or tired or that everything was so easy the whole way that I just totally let my guard down. I don't know what it was. But there was that final moment before heading off to the airport where just like a frenzy happened where everyone wanted to take a photo at the very same time. And a line formed. And it was a little hectic, and I think people were rushed and they were trying to get to the airport, and they wanted their photo so bad. And I just am standing there and I’m smiling and I’m smiling and I’m smiling and I’m smiling and I’m smiling, and you know 50 photos later I’m just like … I had to go into my office and sit on the floor and cry. Like I was almost hyperventilating. I almost had a panic attack! Not a full-fledged one, because I had one this fall. So not like that bad. But I had to literally, you know … and just my system was like, “What is happening! Are you okay? What just happened?” And I don't know why.

[046:03] And it’s not the fault of the people who were there. That’s why I didn’t share this story earlier because it was so important to me that no one would ever feel that way. No! And normally, for me, this is all fine. It was just I was in a space where I wasn’t fine. It wasn’t okay. It was too much, yeah.

[046:19] So anyway, that happened. I’m on the floor of my office like hyperventilating, feeling totally drained, like what the fuck just happened? Like I was hit in the head with something. And then it was time for my friend, who was co-teaching with me, to leave with her kids. And they were outside in the van and we had to hug, we had to say goodbye, and I just felt so sad. I just felt so unbelievably drained and confused. I’m like, “How could I have had this whole retreat feeling so strong and held and supported and amazing, and then this thing happens at the very end and now I feel like I lost everything. I feel totally heartbroken, like drained, like what the fuck. And I felt so heavy. Yeah. It was like this very overwhelming kind of sadness.

[047:04] And I’m saying goodbye to them. And then Satya, who is her daughter. She’s, how old is she now? Eight. Eight, I think. She’s in the back of the van and she goes, “Oh know, Rachel, Rachel, Rachel! I forgot. Here, I need to give this to you.” And she hands me a note, a piece of paper. And I said, “What’s this?” She said, “This was my intention that I wrote for the first day for the retreat for myself. And I was going to burn it in the fire yesterday, but I forgot, and when I woke up this morning I realized that was because it was meant for you.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” She says, “This is your intention now.” And I go, “Okay.” And Satya means Truth, I’m sure you guys know, in Sanskrit. She’s this very intuitive, yeah, very truth-telling, clairvoyant little eight-year old. She hands me this, stuffs this little piece of paper in my hand, and they take off, and they leave. And I’m standing outside of the studio just feeling so heavy. They left, like it’s just, I don't know, feeling so confused. Lost. Like I was just feeling lost, feeling a lot. And then I open up this piece of paper, and it says, “Stop talking to strangers.” [laugh] Stop talking to strangers. Literally, I fell to my knees crying, because I felt like god is smacking me in the head with a brick right now. That was the feeling. It felt like just the sky opened up and some sort of divine … You know, it was like god sent me a message through her, right? Literally written on paper. “Stop talking to strangers.” Not in the sense of like stop teaching yoga, you know? No! But in a sense of that many moments in my life, in my day, in my week where I spend overwhelmed with other peoples’ energy. Where I am engaging with people through social media who actually don’t really know where I feel judged, where I feel overwhelmed, where I’m spending a lot of time talking talking to people that I don’t know. That feeling of, “Stop talking to strangers.” And it was just … man!

[049:21] The part of this that makes … that creates actual community, the part of this amazing practice that sustains me, that’s everything to me, the community that’s built, that heart-to-heart, oh my god here I am, I feel my heart, I’m looking you in the eye, we’re in this together. Like, that’s it. That’s it. That’s the moment that I live for. So how can I cultivate more of that and stop interacting with the whole world, with my arms stretched out so wide, so far that I eventually spread myself so fucking thin that I can’t even close a retreat without falling apart on the floor of my office? For it was just … it was a massive, massive, massive insight of, “Man, I’m spending a lot of time in my life talking to people who I don’t actually know, directing my energy everywhere,” right? Like every cause is my cause. Every fight is my fight. I gotta speak up for everyone. I gotta talk to everyone. Everyone who reaches out needs a response immediately. I have to engage and communicate and hold space for everyone, you know? I’m like talking to everyone all the time! And for me I really felt like this was sort of god’s way of saying, like, no more retreats. No more groups, for now. No more living your life through this virtual world. No more social media. No more of this stuff where you spread yourself so thin that you don’t have enough energy left for your own heart at the end of the day. No more. Stop.

[050:55] And this was really early this year. And I have this … I still have this intention card, this note, it’s on my altar. And I look at it every day. And for me it’s that, you know, making the distinction between getting to that heart-to-heart place and remaining in that heart-to-heart place where the exchange is so even that I don’t feel drained at the end of it. That’s it. That’s my … that’s my work. 100 percent, that’s my work. Creating this container where it’s equal, where I give and I receive, and I’m able to receive. And I give and I receive and I can really receive. So it’s not just, you know, this idea of being a teacher, it’s bullshit! This idea of I have to lead, I have to host, I have to guide. No! No. I want to be there in the room, on the floor with everybody else, sweating and crying. And fuck, I want to be a retreat participant in my own retreat. That’s what I want. I want to do the sharings and sit face-to-face, heart-to-heart, and sweat and cry with snot pouring out of my nose and like feel all this shit. Like, that’s what I want! I don’t want to … I don’t want anybody to be a stranger in my life. I want to feel it and be here, fully.

[052:17] So as I figure that out, right? How can I continue to lead and guide and teach while receiving everything back in return that I need to sustain myself so I never at the end of a retreat feel like I have to go lie on the floor and cry? That’s … that’s bullshit. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. That’s my work. And until I get there, I need to stop talking to strangers. I need to bring all of my attention, all of my awareness just back home. Back to my own heart, my family, my daughter, my husband, my life here, now. Right here as I’m sitting here now.

[052:56] [deep breath] I don’t know if you feel the same. I have an inkling, a feeling that maybe you feel the same. I would love to hear from you, honestly. Where are you spreading yourself thin? Where are you losing out or missing out on some of this energy? Where are you directing your awareness where you’re not actually filling your own cup first? And perhaps it’s not so much about cutting things out of our lives, but just getting really clear on our priorities, right? Getting really really clear on why we’re here in the first place, what we’re looking for in the first place. For me this idea of I’m teaching, it’s like I haven’t been a student for a long time. Man, I’m so ready. I’m so ready to go lie in a puddle of sweat on my mat and just be taught things. That’s going to be my next year. It’s just receiving. Re-learning. Restoring. Resetting something.

[054:07] I am wishing you a wonderful, beautiful, healing rest of this week. Get your priorities straight, regardless of where you’re spending your energy, your time right now. Make sure you leave enough of it for your own heart, your own space, the things that really, truly, deeply, deeply, deeply matter. And then if you look at, you know, what kind of life do you really want to have in the next year, next three years, next five years? You’re sewing those seeds right now, and you’re going to reap what you sow. And I can see kind of clearly how the past decade of my life I’ve been planting my seeds in other peoples' gardens. Like I’ve just been out there with my energy for a long time, out there, and I feel so strongly that coming back home, I’m going to make my life a little smaller, a little closer. Yeah. So, thank you for listening. If you share with me, I am so happy and grateful to hear what you have to say. Really, truly, truly am. Comment me on Instagram. Drop a review for this podcast, send me an email, really share, share, share. I might not answer but I read everything. Trust me on that. And I feel everything. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’ll see you next week.

[End of Episode]