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by Teresa Dornellas. Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Vulnerability is often confused with weakness. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, according to researcher and author Brené Brown, “vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage”.

And the source of the word courage is the Latin word coeur, which means heart (the French kept it intact, but in Portuguese we say ‘coração’ and, in Spanish, ‘corazón’).

So, to have courage is to lead with our hearts, to show who we are without fear of not being accepted or liked. And to be vulnerable, we need first to be courageous.

Vulnerability means to open our hearts, to lean into uncertainty, to risk something with no guarantees of a positive result. Like falling in love. Or starting a business. Or changing jobs.

Without vulnerability, we can’t truly connect with others. We are too afraid to allow ourselves to be seen. We protect our hearts too much, to the point of closing it down – and in that process we miss so many precious life opportunities.

It is true that life is messy and unpredictable. It has always been, but right now it feels like it’s even more so. We are now collectively faced with the reality of impermanence and life’s fragility. We may try to hide, but there’s nowhere to go. It’s all right in front of us, all the time.

And how do we stay true to ourselves without courage? How do we allow ourselves to feel our feelings, the good, the bad and the ugly, if our hearts are closed down, sealed, shut?

Vulnerability doesn’t mean to be overly emotional. It means to acknowledge and feel our feelings, knowing that we are humans and that we can’t numb just the stuff we don’t want to feel. When we numb ourselves, we numb it all, including the beauty and the joy and the pain and the suffering.

During a crisis, my tendency is to become overly productive. To roll up my sleeves and “get things done”, and beat myself up at the end of each day for not having done enough. My type A personality takes over.

And that’s what the last 2 months have been for me: taking care of stuff. Keeping the studio running. Learning new ways of teaching. Learning new systems. Helping clients, organizing things.

However, last weekend, something happened that forced me to stop, to put everything on hold and redirect my energy. I was for 2 days, again, on ‘taking care of business’ mode, but a different kind of business. My heart was exposed the whole time, and there was so much uncertainty.

When the issue was resolved, I finally felt the weight of everything. It all crashed down on me like a huge wave. I felt it all: the fear, the intense love, the longing, the joy – all at the same time. I was truly vulnerable.

At some point during the weekend I had this thought: to love is to take your heart out of your chest and offer it to someone else having no idea what they’ll do with it, how they will treat it.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One time a good friend of mine wrote this in a well-wishing card: ‘I wish you all the joy and all the sorrow’. At the time I thought that was mean. Now I totally get it: we cannot separate them. If we decide to connect with others, to show up for ourselves and to be vulnerable, we need to know we are open to all the joy and all the sorrow – and everything in between.

And this is my wish for you today: that you can be brave enough to feel everything fully. That your heart is always, always full.

One Response

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!