All posts by TonyaKeach

Reflections on Stories From the Red Tent & Our Circle of Awakening

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I keep sitting and trying to write about the Red Tent movie screening night. I keep thinking about the power of Our Circle of Awakening. I am finding it incredibly hard to put into words… what I feel, what I see. It is pure magic, and adequate words seem to fail me.

“When women gather, the world changes”. I see it happen, each and every time. It does not matter if we gather by the thousands or just two of us. We merge, and laughter and tears flow freely. When we know that the space being held for us is sacred and true, we can be raw and unfiltered in a way that the world needs us to be. In a way WE need us to be. There is a consciousness raising on this planet right now when it comes to women and girls. Some might say this is Goddess Rising. I am one of those people. I am one of those women.

In our society, we are being increasingly challenged to change our narrow view about the value of feminine qualities. For example, vulnerability (traditionally thought of as being more feminine) is starting to be seen as an asset, not a liability. Historically women have been more cooperative than competitive. We are willing to nurse a sister’s baby and harvest a meal for the tribe. It has been known for a long time that educating a girl will benefit her whole community, not just the girl. Women are beginning to see that when we lift each other up that we ALL benefit. Women and men. And we don’t have to be “down” to be lifted… we can always bring one another higher.

The past month has been fraught with challenges for far too many of the women I know: injury, loss, illness, struggle. True tragedy has befallen women who I love dearly. Yet every single day I wake to find myself ever more joyful and hopeful. How can that be? It is certainly not because I do not feel their pain or because I avert my eyes or heart.

It is because I sit with them… we sit together, all of us, right in the middle of it. Whatever “it” may be. It is because we know that in our greatest sorrow and our greatest joy we here for one another. Even if we have only just met. We know we can place ourselves in the center of a circle of women and soak up whatever we might need. It is unconditionally offered. It is unconditionally received.

Then I see these women, I see us move through it, to the other side. On the other side we come face to face with an older, stronger, more confident, wiser woman. It may take awhile to find our way to her, but she is always there waiting patiently. Not that these experiences do not break us wide open, because they do. It is that these experiences do not leave us that way. Women may have nights when they come to Our Circle in pieces, but we help to put one another together again. We remind each other of the strength inside ourselves by seeing it in one another. We are a mirror for the other. We share our stories. We remember we are not alone.

In circles, in red tents, in the gathering of women there is power. There is love. There is gratitude. There is hope. There is joy. We sing, we dance, we meditate. We have the opportunity to show up 100% as we are. We have the opportunity to show up at our best or at our worst. We are celebrated for it all. There is a relaxing into our power that happens in women only spaces when we know we can let the armor fall away and give ourselves permission to truly be seen.

And a beautiful, natural consequence of a women’s gathering? The men are left to gather as well. Women’s empowerment is not only about the women. It has an amazing ability to ripple its positivity outward. The men who love us are supporting this coming into our greatness and helping in their own way. I find it very symbolic that for the Red Tent, flowers and wine were provided by the men who appreciate what we women are doing. They appreciate who we are being. Men value this shift also. As I said, it is magical and lifts everyone.

It is this that allows me to wake in the morning with a lightness in my heart and smile on my face. Because I truly believe that these women, US, WE are creating a universal shift for the better by being true to our experiences. We ARE lifting ourselves and each other higher. We are raising our daughters and our sons from this place of love and generosity. And as they always do, the children are paying attention. They are watching. We are taking our relaxed power into the workplace and into our culture. People are noticing, people are listening. The value of the feminine energies, which we all possess, is being recognized and honored. Except where there is fear of the power of women, but that is another blog for another time…

For the women, for my sisters: Thank you from the very depths of my heart for being you. Thank you for allowing me to hold a space for us to gather and grow. We have been coming together for approaching 2 years now… And the momentum is building. The community is growing. The magic is spreading. I hear month after month how important Our Circle has become to you. It is important to me too. I invited more Goddess into my life, and there you were. Many of you had been there all along. It was just that now we had a day, a time to gather, and with intention. I have always said that there is something absolutely essential to my personal dharma about Our Circle. I could not do this without you. And I know in the very fibers of my being… We are an essential key to the future. I can not wait to see where we go from here. The best is yet to come. I love you all.

Mothering the Mother

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Yesterday was a meaningful and exciting day in my career and for me personally. After the joy of teaching prenatal yoga in Bloomington/Normal for 13 years, I finally lead a day long retreat for the mamas in waiting.

It was a magical day shared with four amazing, strong, and powerful women. Half the group were women who have been on this journey for a while. The other half entering into a brand new world.  Two of the women were together in my prenatal yoga class years ago. I am so happy to see them back again. I was so happy to be able to offer all of them an entire day to nurture and celebrate their femininity and motherhood.

The day was filled with yoga, meditation, guided visualization, birth art, and sharing. It is such an honor to hold space for the raw, and yet tender experiences that motherhood brings. It is why I so love my work with the pregnant mamas. I knew the moment that I was going to teach yoga, that I wanted to work with women during pregnancy. I could not articulate it at the time, nor did I even fully understand it. But I knew it, fully and completely. And now I see why… They are the Goddess manifest in all her round, courageous, glowing glory. They are Divine Mothers on this planet right now. They are inspiring.

What I know now that I did not know then, was teaching prenatal yoga was the beginning of a calling to a path of women’s empowerment. If a woman feels empowered in herself, she will more easily have an empowered birth. If she experiences an empowered birth, she can carry that feeling for a lifetime. Much of that empowerment comes from the deep practices of yoga, but much comes from the bond that these women cultivate among themselves in prenatal classes and retreats. They share stories, collect knowledge, align with the wisdom within.

There is bond that forms with these women that last lifetimes, as they watch their babies grow into children, and right into (eventual) adulthood. They fondly remember decades later the times that they shared, even if distance or time might carry them to other coasts, or countries. There is nothing like feeling that you are heard and understood. In our society, most of us no longer have the opportunity to be with other women in this way. We do not live in a way where we really talk about pregnancy and birth from a personal and emotional place. These women hold space for those types of discussions. And they are really important discussions to have.

I am so excited to bring these retreats to Bloomington/Normal, and look forward to being able to to begin bringing them to greater Central Illinois as well.

And for all the hundreds of mothers and babies who have blessed me with their presence since beginning teaching prenatal yoga in 2002, thank you for all YOU have taught ME.

(((deep bow)))