by KiraGrace Warrior Octavia Raheem
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?
The smallest of gestures offered up by others who had recently both surrendered and won a battle that spans the universe: giving birth. Those welcomed me.
The welcome came in the form of texts, calls, intense moments of shared truth, laughter, tears, long gazes that refused to “not see” my truth: the profound challenge and the immeasurable beauty that my transition into motherhood yielded. One of my favorite messages was from a yoga student I’d met only once. She simply said:
Dear Octavia/new mama: “You can do THIS, because you DID that.”
The big gestures from more seasoned sisters and mamas who have been walking across both the ocean and fire of mothering for some time: Meals left on doorsteps. Phone calls just to listen, sing, chant or pray. Arms and hands outstretched to hold me. The knowing when to come and when to go.
Women. Mamas. Other warriors. They have been my welcoming committee. The ones to most fully acknowledge that the woman who I was when I went off down that muddy red clay road is not the one who returned. Women. Mamas. Other warriors have been the ones to most acknowledge that a new warrior has come home.
Octavia's son, Oyentunde Nasir Raheem. Born on April 2,2016
Octavia Raheem 200hr, E-RYT began practicing yoga in 2003, completed her initial 200-hour certification at Peachtree Yoga Center in 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been teaching since 2007. To date, Octavia has taught over 7,500 hours of yoga in studio, corporate, and private settings. She has headlined Wanderlust Yoga Festival 108 Atlanta. Additionally she is the creator of growing yoga brand CHILLshop®yoga, retreats, and immersions.
Octavia can guide you to your hard edge: “Hold that plank!”
Your soft edge: “Rest and melt in to that child’s pose.”
Ultimately to your center and hold space for you to rest and settle there.
She believes both strong aligned movement and unhurried stillness are essential in our yoga practice in order to cultivate more harmony and balance in our lives.
Off the mat Octavia is a new mama, life partner, writer, educator, and founding board member of Atlanta Based Nonprofit, Red Clay Yoga. Additionally she volunteers at Yoga, Literature, Art Camp for Teenage Girls at Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts.
These wise words from activist/warrior/poet Audre Lorde guide her: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”