Being you IS a Choice: Raven Brown

Raven expressing Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana) pose in Denver, Colorado.

“When you see yourself in a way that you never have before it’s transformative. My name is Raven and I see transformation as: the possibility that everything you thought to be true in your life, who you are, or what you believe in could very well be wrong.

I’ve been living my life for 24 years, and I found myself asking: who actually am I?

In that moment, I was not grounded…I was floating around in new thoughts of who I was in a world of the unknown. It was at the end of a yoga class and I was laying there on my back with tears coming out of the corners of my eyes because I felt like I was having this ‘aha’ moment of: nothing is really “right” or “wrong”. I actually am the Divine. The Divine is actually in me.I had been thinking about my sexuality and I really came to accept it- being a pansexual for what it was in a yoga practice. I truly felt like I was having a conversation with a higher power. If I deny or dislike a part of myself, then that’s me denying or disliking a part of the Divine and who am I to do that? This is how I was made and I was made exactly how I was meant to be. For me to judge any part of myself, is questioning something way bigger and more all-knowing than I am- and that is not my place.

Raven reaching up at a Steam Espresso Bar in Denver, Colorado.

In the past,  I thought that I couldn’t have it all. Part of the reason I thought I’d never become the wife I am today is because of the expectations in my mind of what a wife was supposed to be like.

This misconception was something that I broke through with in my last yoga teacher training- I actually can have it all. I can be multidimensional. I used to believe, I can’t be a wife and travel; I can’t be a wife and have a career; I can’t be a good wife and be pansexual or sorting through trauma. But actually, I can do all of those things. I don’t have to pick and choose which one thing that I want to be or do. It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad wife because I value independence. It might look different than what other people’s marriages look like, but who cares? This one is ours.

I’ve given myself the freedom to constantly evolve, to not be tied down to labels and I genuinely feel like I can be whoever I want to be. I gained a lot of personal power and control over my own life by changing my mindset in this way.

Yoga pose in Denver, Colorado.
Raven reflecting on her yoga journey in Denver, Colorado.

A part of my story is that I was sexually abused and suffer from PTSD because of it. I’ve never really had a healthy relationship with sex. While going through my first yoga teacher training, I realized just how much my choices and overall way of being were still rooted in that experience. A question I found asking myself was: Am I really choosing this, or is this coming from the old me?

Digging in and doing the work has really helped me understand myself and my own trauma lot better. Now, I can make choices that are authentic to who I really am and what I really want in life.

Raven outsideSteam Espresso Bar in Denver, Colorado.

I think that if I hadn’t gone through yoga teacher training, my husband and I would have a very different marriage. I’ve worked to understand why my former idea of love was the way that it was. Back then in sexually abusive relationships, ‘love’ didn’t feel like a choice.

I now understand my worth and I know that I get to decide to change at any moment. My idea of love is different and this knowing- that I have choice is something that’s transformed my life because of Yoga.

Raven’s tattoo: Sangha means sacred community.

Sangha means sacred community— the kind that both lifts you up and holds space for you to work through and discover challenging things.

I got this tattoo because that’s what my Baptiste Yoga communities have been for me.

The work that we do in yoga is uncomfortable- physically and emotionally. If you’re willing to get uncomfortable, you’ll get through whatever it is you need to and come out transformed. You will, and I’m not in the work of making people comfortable…this is why I teach. I believe that if you don’t ever want to be uncomfortable in life and experience or look at yourself in a new way, then you’re just going to remain where you’ve always been.

Raven in a yoga pose- drishti to the sky!

I just really want people to understand that yoga is for everybody. There’s no specific social group or type of people that do yoga. Anyone can do yoga and anyone can get something out of it. If you go to a class that’s not for you or doesn’t really resonate with you, you could be resisting the looking in at what’s buried deep underneath.

My advice would be to not give up. I feel like a lot of young people of color in this country, specifically, are hesitant to practice yoga because it seems unapproachable. And, the truth is- it’s only unapproachable if you make it that way. We get to make it whatever we want to make it; we get to belong wherever we say we belong- just like anything in life. You don’t have to be any one way in any one job; any one title; anything for your life. If you choose to be that title, you don’t have to make it what it’s always been.

You can choose to remain or you can choose to change. It’s a choice, which is an amazingly powerful thing.” – Raven Brown

Check out our other inspiring stories of everyday yoga practitioners and please, #ShareToEmpowerALL ! We strive to empower others to get vulnerable, and be inspired to start a yoga practice of their own to bring in hope & possibility.

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