We had the good fortune of connecting with Zahabiyah Yamasaki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zahabiyah, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Amidst the overwhelm of a relentless work schedule, my mindfulness meditation practice has indirectly taught me is to passionately take in moments of joy. To hold them and honor them, in the moment, just as they are. To cherish them and savor them. And to let that part of the practice spill over into all aspects of my life- serving as a continual resource and in many cases: capacity and resilience builder. I believe this is one of the non-traditional habits that have sustained me in my trauma work. I have a habit of overworking which has been a symptom of my trauma and I am often propelled into hyperarousal which doesn’t always lend itself to restorative breaks. But ever since I stopped treating meditation as another thing I needed to fit into my schedule, it has shifted the way I live my life, the day to day, and all aspects of my world. I am certainly human and its an ongoing practice but whether it’s intentionally taking a deep breath and dropping into my body before giving a big speech that I care deeply about, taking in a hug from my son in the most mindful of ways, choosing to close my computer and my eyes- resting a palm on heart and belly instead of powering through, savoring a cup of coffee, smelling a flower on our walk…there are so many way ways that weaving the practice throughout my day has changed my life.
The resources are within us and around us. Recently I was working on a large trauma-informed yoga consulting contract and lost all of my edits in adobe! My normal tendency would be to cry and power through to try and recoup everything I lost. But instead I looked at my son and husband and we decided to take a sunset hike. The space and time it gave me to renew and replenish was not only necessary but effective in helping me look at my work through a new lens. Because the thing is the waves of life are strong and smooth and then they repeat. And none of us are immune from the next wave. And you deserve anchoring, joyful, restful moments wherever you can grasp them…and allow them to resource you through the storms. Weaving frequent moments of self-compassion and rest throughout my day has completely revolutionized my work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There are so many days I reflect on the journey that @transcending_trauma_with_yoga has taken me on. The years of healing. Of work. Of unpacking messages that didn’t belong to me. Of refusing to believe those who didn’t believe in my voice. Of relentless tears. I remember the moments they’ve led me to. The power of being grounded in my inherent worth. The softness that self compassion brings when imposter syndrome makes me feel small. The joy that comes with fiercely believing in dreams and watching them unfold. The palpable feeling of taking up space despite all the ways trauma makes it easy to shrink. I remember that not one part of this journey has been easy- but finding purpose amidst the pain- has fulfilled me in ways I could never have imagined.
I sometimes spend moments reading through the hundreds of journals filled with trauma informed yoga classes I’ve prepared for and written over the past nine years. They have the ability to take me right back to where I was during that particular chapter of my journey. They reveal so much of what my heart was holding. I have moments of remembering the time, energy, passion, and overwhelm it’s taken to write hundreds of pages of trauma informed curriculum…and then taking the steps to move through the fear + vulnerability of sharing it with the world. Each day my beautiful community reminds me of the power of showing up- even on my hardest days. Because more than anything- the survivors I’ve been honored to meet on this journey have been my greatest source of strength.
I’m so grateful for all the ways this little woman of color owned/ healing in progress/ life passion organization has grown. I hold so much gratitude for all those that believed in this little dream- their support has held my heart through some of the hardest moments of my life. And I’ll never forget it. I am most proud of my features with CNN, NBC, and Huffington Post as well as my trauma-informed yoga curriculum for survivors being implemented at nearly 30 universities and trauma agencies. I am most excited about my forthcoming book Trauma-Informed Yoga for Survivors of Sexual Assault which will be published by W.W Norton & Company in 2021 as well as being chosen as a lululemon ambassador! And more than anything else, I am grateful to every survivor who I have been honored to support in their healing journey. You are not alone.
And in case you need the reminder: don’t ever listen to those who tell you that you’re not capable of achieving all that you’ve dreamed for yourself in this life. You are worthy of it all.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A trip to Los Angeles isn’t complete without a walk along Zuma Beach, a latte at Caffe Luxxe, a yoga class at Liberation Yoga, a hike to Franklin Canyon with a special visit to see the turtles, a plant based meal in the Courtyard of Gracias Madre, yummy vegan Thai food at Araya, and a night out on rooftop of perch or in the lobby of Hotel Figuerora! This would be more of a weekend agenda
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My sister Almina Khorakiwala has been instrumental in helping me recognize my worth. A little story to help articulate how much she means to me. When I was speaking on @saharmartinezmft podcast @whatsthatlikeforyou she asked me about a moment where my bravery surprised me. And it brought me back to this time when I was giving a keynote at Duke University for the Yoga in the Era of #MeToo Embodied Learning Summit. When I think about that time in my life last year, I remember my pure exhaustion but I also remember my strength. I just led a 3-day trauma-informed yoga training in St.Louis at @empowered.spaces and the day before leaving for that trip I learned of my husband’s cancer diagnosis. I’m not the kind of person who can compartmentalize my feelings so I showed up as my full self that weekend- emotions and all, yet I was still able to hold the container for the space as a trainer.
Eve Andry, Garrett Yamasaki