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Koya Webb: It’s so important to know that we can grow through what we go through. We really can take what has happened to us. We can turn those lemons into lemonade. We just have to believe that we are here for a reason.
Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo. Welcome to another episode of MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast. Fear can stop all of us from time to time. Sometimes, our fears can even be dream destroyers, but my guest today is here to talk about how our fears can actually make us fierce. Koya Webb is the founder of Get Loved Up in international community and yoga school, and she’s the author of Let Your Fears Make You Fierce: How to Turn Common Obstacles into Seeds for Growth. She’s a yoga teacher, celebrity health coach, and vegan activist on a mission to combat some of the world’s biggest challenges including mental health, social injustices, and global warming.
Koya, thank you so much for making the time today. It’s so great to have you on MarieTV.
Koya Webb: It is such an honor. I’ve been a fan of MarieTV for the longest. It’s an honor to be able to just talk with you and share.
Marie Forleo: The title of your book Let Your Fears Make You Fierce, I know a lot about fear because I’ve lived in it. I know firsthand how abuse, depression, and suffering can make you afraid to live and crush your dreams. I’m wondering if you can take us back to sophomore year in college when track was everything to you and then, it all changed.
Koya Webb: Hm, I just got the chills. I don’t know why. I think it was how you said it, but I just got chills all over my body because it was such a profound time. It’s similar to I think what many people are feeling now with wou’re seeing all of the dark and the muck and the hardships that people are experiencing all around the world.
For me, that sophomore year, I had worked so hard. I trained so hard. I left home and had this dream of going to the Olympics. I put all of my blood, my sweat and tears into training and being the best that I could be. That day, when I was walking home for class and I got that sharp pain in my back, first of all, I thought I got shot.
I was like, “Oh.” It was so sudden I wasn’t doing anything athletic. I was just walking. This shooting pain brought me the ground. I was like, What was that?” It hit. I was literally scared to breathe because I didn’t feel it after it hit, but I was scared I was going to feel it again or pain or something, but I was like, “What was that?
Next thing you know, I felt it again. It was like this intermittent annoying like jab in the back. I went to the doctor. They told me I had a stress fracture. Anyone has had a back injury, they know what I’m talking about because it’s almost unexplainable the amount of immense pain. Then, it’s annoying because you don’t know when it’s going to hit, when it’s going to come up. It was just crazy annoying. You don’t know when you can move or how you can move or what direction. That’s how we feel like now. What can we do? You feel like, “Oh, I don’t know what to do because I feel like I don’t know what to expect.”
The coach came out from talking to the doctor. He was like, “Koya, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re out for the season.” I’m like, “This is a bad dream. This is not real,” which is how most people feel right now. This is not real. This is a bad dream. This cannot be happening. What in the world? Why? What is… I’ve been doing everything right. I’ve been doing what I was supposed to do. I’m training. I was just in denial.
For the first for the first day, at least, I’m like, “No. Someone wake me up. I must be sleeping for a long time.” The next day, I woke up, and the pain in my back, they put me on a lot of meds, but I could still feel a dull ache in my back. I was just depressed. I was just sad. I would go to classes. I was crying. I was just like, “What am I going to do with my life?”
I’m a southern girl from Humboldt, Tennessee. We didn’t have much growing up. Track and field was kinda my ticket. It was my ticket to travel. It was my ticket to inspire. It was my ticket to have purpose with my life. When all of a sudden it was taken away, I was confused. I was upset. I was hurt. And I just didn’t know what I was going to do in my life after that.
In the middle of class, I would just break out crying, and my teacher was like, “You need to go see the counselor. You are not okay.” I’m like, “All right. I don’t have a choice.” The counselor told me to try yoga. Here I am, a southern girl, southern Baptist. I’m like, “Buddha, worshiping, that guy.” I was like, “I don’t know about that.” She’s like, “No. No. It’s no Buddha’s in the room. It’s no like idol guys. No golden statues anywhere. It’s just stretching.”
Of course, there’s way more than that, but that’s what she told me to get me in the room. I went to the room. I was like, “I don’t belong here.” No one’s looking like me. I’m not flexible. I’m an athlete, but I’m a tight athlete from all the training and the lifting weights. I can’t even touch my toes. The only thing that I could do was a back bend because of the high jump.
For those who don’t know, I’m I was a heptathlete, so high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin. I did a lot. It was a lot of abuse on my body. I went in there. I just felt intimidated. I feel like I didn’t fit, I didn’t belong. They’re like, “This is going to be blissful and relaxed.” I’m like, “There is nothing about this that is blissful and relaxed. It is hurting me. I’m not happy. It’s not making me feel any better.”
The teachers saw how frustrated I was. She was like, “Koya, I just want you to breathe with me.” We took this deep inhale and exhale. I felt those chills that I felt at the beginning of this conversation. I was like, “Okay. That’s good. I can do that.” I can do the breath thing. I was like, “I can do the breath thing.” Me and that breath thing, we can we can roll. I was like, “Okay. I like this.” I did the breath. She was like, “Don’t worry about the poses. Do as much as you can, but just promise me you’ll just keep breathing and allowing that feeling.”
I remember when I had that feeling the first time and it was when I got baptized. It was at a very pivotal point in my life when I was younger, and I remember being in service. I would ask my parents, “When am I going to get baptized? How am I going to know when it’s time for me to get baptized?” They’re like, “You’ll feel.” I was like, “What am I going to feel?” They’re like, “You’ll feel that.” I was like…
One time, the preacher was preaching. I felt those chills. I was like, “Oh, that’s it. All right. All right. It’s time for me. I’m about to get dunked in the water. I’m going to get baptized.” I feel so good. I know everyone might not believe and then have different beliefs, but for me, I’m a feeler. I’m an empath. When I feel those chills, that lets me know that’s for me spirit moving and the breath is spirit to me.
When I had that sensation, it was like, “You’re in the right place at the right time. Be there.” And so I fully surrendered to yoga for an entire year. I thought I was going to come back in six months. I came back. Pain was still there. Wow, I just had to buckle down. I did yoga every day. I did swimming. I did biking. I just prayed. I just practiced way more self-care than I’d ever done. I realized like, “You’ve been training, but you haven’t been sleeping.” I was also trying to maintain like a 4.0. You haven’t been sleeping. You’ve been studying, but you haven’t been taking care of yourself. You haven’t been getting enough sleep. You haven’t been letting your body recover.
I got a chance to do that. After a year, I came back to win the conference meet and lead my team at Wichita State University to their first women’s conference championship title.
Marie Forleo: Come on. That’s amazing.
Koya Webb: Thank you.
Marie Forleo: As was listening to you, Koya, I’m thinking to myself like, “Wow. You’re such an underachiever.” I can hear like in terms of that drive for excellence. I can recognize that in myself of like where… I even remember for me I danced and cheered in high school and that punishing of the body in terms of working out and lifting and not sleeping because you got the job. You want the 4.0 and all that stuff. I was like, “Yup, yup, yup.”
Those habits are hard to break. One of the other, one of the many things I admire about you is how tapped into your intuition you are and listening to your body and listening to your breath and that spirit and how it guided you. You trusted it. I think that’s a huge gift and one of the many that you bring as a teacher.
Koya Webb: Thank you. I appreciate that. We all have it. That’s what I like to tell my students is that we all have it. Some people are more sensitive than others. We get there different ways with different philosophies and practices, but we all have spirit because breath is spirit. When we enter this human experience, we have the breath. We have the spirit, and we can connect with it. We have it until we leave this place. I love just showing people different ways to tap into it so they can get that divine guidance as well.
Marie Forleo: Yoga really helped you heal, helped you lead on to a championship, but then what, how did things unfold from there? What was the next step for you taking this transition from in your book you were talking about? You had Olympic dreams when it came to track and field. Then, you made a shift. Tell us about that.
Koya Webb: So I went back to the track. I won all these awards I was like, “Yes. Thank you, yoga.” I left my best friend. It was like, “Thank you. Bye.” I moved to California. I moved close to the Olympic training center. I called this coach. His name is Ron Sheffield. I was like, “You don’t know me, but I want to go to the Olympics, and I picked you to be my coach. He was like, “Who is this?” I’m like, “You don’t know me, but I can promise you I’ll get better every single day. Will you please coach me? I need help.” He was like, “I don’t know you, but I like you.” He was like, “Yes I’ll coach you.” I’m like, “Yes.” That’s all I needed. I just needed one person to believe in me because I’m from the south. People are like, “What are you talking about? You got to move where and do what? Girl, sit down somewhere, get a regular job. Make some money.”
I’m like, “No, no, no, but you don’t understand.” It’s like , “Every time I try to talk to someone, they would not come with me on the vision.” Talking to Ron, that was the first like, “I will.” But I kept trying. I think that is innate in me. I’m a thriver. And I’m going to push hard. I’m ambitious. I feel like that’s helped me a lot in my career.
I was just like, “I got to do this. I got to do…” I didn’t look for anyone else. I knew it was him somehow and totally knew it was him. He said, “Yes.” I flew out there, gave up everything. Even a relationship at the time, I was like, “Come with me.” They wouldn’t come. I was like, “Well, I’ll be starting all over by myself.”
It was hard because a lot of times we want to hold onto things. I wish I could bring some family with me. I wish I could bring my partner with me at the time, but I had to realize that this vision was given to you. You have to go with it. If it’s meant for someone else, then maybe they come, or if it’s not, maybe they won’t. You have to like be okay with that.
So here I was. I moved out to California to train with a stranger. It was great. Training was great, but I went into the same pattern that I did in college burning myself out. Now I was trying,, I saved up a little money in high school being a personal trainer at the YMCA, but I didn’t have enough California price. Come one. I definitely believe wherever you go, you’ll make the money to figure it out, but coming right out of college, it was hard, and it was tight.
I became a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. My schedule is this five to eight training, 10:00 to 2:00 or 3:00 on the track and 5:00 to 10:00 PM training again. Sometimes, I wouldn’t get sleep. I went back into the same cycle that yoga got me out, and yoga was nowhere in the picture. I just have to be honest. I said, “Thank you. I got healed. I was back on the track and back running myself into the ground.”
What happened? I got injured again because your body is like, “Hold up. Wait. You’re abusing me. What is wrong with you? Didn’t you learn your lesson the first time?” This time, I was like, “Yoga.” I forgot it. I had forgotten it because I was so eyes towards this goal. I think sometimes that’s what happens. We get so focused on a goal we don’t, we forget self-care. We forget that it takes balance, and it takes harmony.
I had forgotten what I learned. I went right back to my conditioning of just over achieving and pushing so hard and not giving myself enough self-care. TAnd so this time, I was like, “All right. I’m going back to yoga, but I want to know why does it work so good. What? What is yoga?”
I decided to get a yoga teacher training certification. I really understood the yoga is so much more than stretching and just healing your body. It’s mental and spiritual. It’s guiding you to not only my best self physically, but also mentally and spiritually. That’s why I feel so great. Yoga became my best friend then. It’s been in my life since then. I was like, “You know what? Everybody needs to have this gift of yoga like, “Oh, my goodness.” It’s like a huge gift that not many people… Now, it’s mainstream, but then, not many people knew about it. And so I committed to being a teacher and sharing yoga with as many people as I could.
Marie Forleo: So beautiful. Now, the place I want to go next is around you recognizing in your heart for yourself that this dream of going to the Olympics specifically for track and field, that it was true at one point in your past, but it was no longer true now. The reason I want to dive into that and peel it back a little is I think that especially for people who are ambitious and driven and disciplined, we can become, like you said, so eye on the prize that we almost have this notion that if we change or we evolve or if we take a goal that we said was so important or this dream that I must make happen and then discover a new truth that somehow we’re a failure or that that’s not okay or we don’t have permission to or there’s kind of all of these layers that go on that I’ve seen in colleagues, I’ve seen in myself where you start to almost doubt, are you okay, are we allowed to do that? Tell us about that experience for you. What was happening from the inside out?
Koya Webb: Well, I truly believe that you can’t fail unless you stop trying. You cannot fail unless you stop trying. For me, during this healing process, my goal and you have to remember your why. You have to realize that the catalyst or the vehicle to get you to your why might look differently. My why, why did I want to gold, an Olympic gold medal? I wanted it because I wanted to help people live a healthy and active lifestyle. I thought I needed Olympic gold medal to do that.
I’m inspired by the magazines. I’m inspired by the medalists and how they’re going to schools and speaking to children. The, the why, was what fueled me. It wasn’t the medal. What are you going to do with the medal? Hanging up in the house somewhere. Really?
I remember that. To have this yoga and holistic health make such an impact in my life, I realized that I can help people right now. I’m good enough right now. I don’t need Olympic gold medal. I don’t need all these accolades. I can start. I realized being a personal trainer as well that I’m helping people right now. I don’t have to go anywhere. I feel like a lot of times we feel like we need to reach so far outside of ourselves to make a difference and to make a difference in the life, but we are good enough today right now, every single person.
Yes, it’s great to have education. Yes, it’s great to do things and have accomplishments, but I feel like sometimes we can get so focused on those accomplishments. We can get so focused on achieving that we forget that we are good enough right now and that we’re making impact right now.
Marie Forleo: That’s right. I’m curious inside, Koya, did you have in your own mind or in your own heart that little tug of war that I was describing where you’re like, “Gosh, am I making the right move? Am I giving up a big goal,” or did it feel so clear to you or maybe it was actually a progression? Maybe, at first, it felt like a little tug of war and then, you’re like, “No. I am crystal clear. I am ready to move forward in this new direction.”
Koya Webb: I am still not crystal clear.
Marie Forleo: I adore you. I love you.
Koya Webb: People were like, “When did you give up the dream?” Like, “Who said I gave up the dream?” I might be 50 and go to Olympics. I don’t know. Honestly, to be honest, I cannot sit here and say, “I’ve given up my dream for the Olympics because I have not.” Every now and then, when I go past the track, I still get that little energy in my body. I’ve always even when I was running, I knew it was going to be something that I did for a long time.
Yes, I had goals of making these like, “When I’m 35, I’ll do this.and when I’m 40” But I always plan for it to be in my life. Even though I’m not training, I still run a mile a day. I still stay in good shape. I still have somewhere in my existence that I might just go to the Olympic still. To be honest and maybe you can relate like I feel like everyone has those things like, “I might not be doing them now, but you don’t know when I’ll come back.”
Marie Forleo: Yeah. Can we dive in there for a minute because that was me a lot with dance when I had this entire portion of my career when I was a Nike Elite athlete and I was teaching hip-hop and different styles of dance all around the world, but in a fitness environment which was perfect for me. Then, I let that have a rest so I could focus on our online business and the education business. I was like, “Okay, this is kind of my next chapter.”
Then, last year, when I launched my book, Everything Is Figureoutable, but I’m like, “Coming out with the dance again, we are going to have a concert with 15 dancers.” There will absolutely be choreography. Do you know what I mean? When you were saying that I was like, “I am with you.” You and I, we share so much of the same DNA. It’s like, “Oh, and that might happen again. It might happen again.” I love it.
Koya Webb: I love that. I love that. I love your book, Everything is Figureoutable. I love that philosophy. I love that you brought the dance back because when something’s in your DNA, you really can’t just be like, “Oh, it’s done.” No, it’s there. If it’s real, it’s there. You might do it in a different way. You might teach your child to do it. You might be a coach for it, but it doesn’t really leave. If it’s DNA deep, it doesn’t just go away.
Marie Forleo: That’s right. That’s right. I love it. The lesson too is I think again so many things I admire about you, Koya, but I love how you also, I believe, as part of that shared DNA is being a multi-passionate entrepreneur. It’s not like, “Koya is only a yoga teacher.” No. She’s a holistic health coach and an author and a speaker and an activist. The list goes on and on. It’s all authentic to you.
When I read your book as I’ve been getting to know you more, as I follow you on Instagram and everything, I’m like, “This is such a beautiful example of a multi-passionate soul,” where from my outside perspective, and please correct me if I’m wrong, you embrace the fullness of who you are. You share it with an open heart and an open mind. I’m like, “Yes,” because I’ve always done that. People were like, “But wait. What do you do?”
I’m like, “I do all those things.” Tuesday, I might be here. Thursday, I might be there. Saturday is going to look a little different. In two years, it might all change.
Koya Webb: I love that. Yes, you’re absolutely right. I think that’s what attracted me to you in the first place is because she’s multi-passionate. You’re not ashamed of it. I think a lot of times, the world wants us to fit into a box and this beautifully curated box. When I would go to agencies, people like, “You’re so complex. I don’t even know what to do with you.” I was like, “What do you mean? This should be good. Just pick something.”
I’m just like, “Why is it so hard for people to deal with multi-passionate people?” It’s not like I’m trying to do everything. No. I literally love everything that I’m doing. I know people have that that thing a jack-of-all-trades. I was like, “I’m not really a Jack of all trade.” I really love mastering things that I’m passionate about. I feel the more that we normalize mastering things that we’re passionate about, it gives people an opportunity to fully express who they truly are.
We are multi-dimensional human beings point blank period. I think we are suppressed when we try to put ourselves in a box. I’m not saying everyone’s meant to do eight things. Maybe, two or three. When really you really start feeling into your gifts and talents, I do believe we’re given more than one. That might look like your career and your family and a hobby. It could be that simple. For us, it might be seven different things. So, there’s levels to it.
I do believe that we are meant to thrive in different ways. The more we have a time and opportunity to nurture those things and not suppress them because… Focus is very important where you focus your energy and your time. I don’t want anyone to get me wrong. Focusing your energy and time is very important. I did have to learn that lesson as a multi-passionate person, is that, okay. Now, of all those things you like, what do you want to focus on? What do you want to prioritize because where your attention goes, energy flows.
If you want it to be successful, you need to put enough energy into it to make it successful. As a multipassionate person, I had to realize like, “Okay. What am I making a priority? Is track and field a priority right now? No. Is the yoga party right? Yes.” Then, after I got my yoga certification, I was talking to a client. They were like, “I don’t want to work out today. I just want to talk to you.” It’s like, “Thank you.” I want to talk. I realized that I had a passion for listening to people and asking them the questions to help them get to that greatest version of their self.
I got a life coaching certification. I love just listening to people and say, “Well what do you think about this, and what do you think about that?” Then, they would, “Oh my god. That helped me so much.” Again, it still goes back to my saying why of helping people live a healthy and active life, but it expanded when I got to yoga because it was mental, spiritual, and physical instead of just physical. That’s the part that being an empathic person and being a very spiritual person, that made me feel more fulfilled.
Marie Forleo: Yes. Okay. I’m going to shift gears a little bit. In chapter three, again, love the book, chapter three, you wrote this as a title. It’s one of my favorites. You are not a victim. You are a creator. You shared that you’ve been sexually assaulted three times. You write, “I want you to know that I don’t take healing from trauma lightly.” Can you tell us about the power of living from this creator mindset and what that means? Just to give some context for everyone, Koya and I were talking and all of us have been talking about this year being so incredibly difficult in so many ways.
It continues to be difficult. I think one of the words that has been highlighted so many times for me personally and for other people this year is that word trauma. That’s why I wanted to have this discussion with you because it’s so important. I know as a kid, it wasn’t really a word that I was exposed to that much. I think it’s so important to have conversations to normalize and to open up that dialogue so that people feel less shame and less alone.
Koya Webb: Well, thank you. Thank you for going there because I think it’s so important for us to talk about it and talk about trauma and talk about the things that we’ve been through, so other people going through the same things know that they’re not alone.
For me, experiencing that trauma, it’s disgusting. It’s terrible. My first step and the steps that I take my client is just acknowledging that it happened and acknowledging that it does not define you. This event that happened in your life, it does not define you. Acknowledging that it happened does not make it define you, whereas I think a lot of people and myself included, I didn’t want to acknowledge. I wanted to pretend like it didn’t happen, I just want to forget about it. I just want to like put it in my past and get on to the first thing every single time. I reacted in the same way.
That didn’t happen. Whatever. It’s in my past that it’s ridiculous. I’m moving on because that ambitious part of me wanted to just move forward, but, yeah. I was moving forward with my life, but trauma, it’s in your cells. It’s in your cell. Ignoring it, it leaves it there. I wasn’t able to get it out until a long time. Here I was. I was teaching others. I was still living in my purpose, but I had this hidden trauma in my cells that was affecting my relationships. It was affecting my ability to trust.
It was even attracting more negativity in my life because I’d be like, “Oh, well, I can’t trust this person because this is this.” Even if I didn’t say it, or I didn’t believe it, it was still there until I brought it out. I feel like the title as you mentioned, I’m not a victim, I’m a creator, just speaks to the fact is that when something happens, we have to acknowledge it and it’s terrible, but we don’t have to stay in that victim mindset.
We can realize, “Okay. If I acknowledge what happened, I can decide what do I want to do with the lessons that I learned from this experience.” For me, what I learned is that when things happen and when challenges happen in our life, it gives us the opportunity to become stronger. It’s all about our perspective. Our perspective can bring us to a paradise, or it can keep us in prison.
For a long time, I let my perspective of that incident keep me in a prison of I can’t trust men and I can’t trust people, in general, fully. I had a hint of doubt about pretty much every relationship in my life because I was like, “Well, when is this person going to turn on me, or is this person using me?” Honestly, I’m still working through it. Let me just be completely honest. I’m still noticing hints of resistance, of fear. It almost brings up tears in me because you want it to be done, but I cannot sit here and even tell you that that it’s done, that my healing is complete.
I can tell you that it’s like yoga, it’s a practice. I have chosen to become a creator and to tell my story to help other women and men thrive who have been traumatized and who have been feeling like they’re victimized and realized that you don’t have to live in that story. You can still follow your purpose and live your truth and do what you wanted to do before that happen because, again, a lot of people feel like after that moment, life is different and feel scarred for life and feel really down.
A lot of times, everyone’s physical reality is different, like, how they physically heal for me depending on the intensity. It’s really important to just realize, “Okay. With what I have now, how can I still live my purpose? How can I still live my truth?” That’s how you become a creator. You say no matter what, I am still committed to my purpose. I am still committed to my truth. That’s what I am.
Now that I remove those layers of victimization, I’m able to stand up as a creator. I’m able to speak about it without crying usually. I still have emotions that come up, but I’m able to talk about it without feeling like, “Oh my god.” Now, I’m grateful that I took the time to talk to friends about… I remember the first time that I shared it, my parents didn’t know until the book came out. They didn’t know.
I didn’t want to include it in the book. I let people read it. I included it. Then, I wanted to take it out. I was like, “No. I don’t want anyone to know.” It was just a fear around me thinking people would think less of me if I share what happened to me. But it’s the opposite. Most people can relate because, unfortunately, a lot of people have been assaulted in the world. If I didn’t share my story, it’d be so many people that still feel bad about themselves because of what happened to them. It shouldn’t be that way.
I had friends who read, they’re like, “Please, please, please. Don’t leave out a thing. It helped me so much.” It was those, that feedback that allowed me to push forward even though I was still having resistance and doubting myself, and fear was coming up for me. I was like, “Okay. Okay.” It was really hard for me. It was a huge growth experience.
After the book, after writing the book, I went through a whole another season of healing because, again, it was putting my story of trauma out there not just for myself to process which I did process a bit, but now is putting myself out there and sharing this with my world and with the family. That’s was a whole another step in the right direction of saying, “I am not ashamed. And this happened to me, but this doesn’t define me.” And what can I create with where I am now and what I have now? That is what not being a victim and being creator is all about.
Marie Forleo: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for being so open and transparent. I think all of us are on a journey of healing and my own personal exploration of healing as it relates to trauma this year, what I’m discovering is that it really is a practice. As a yogi myself, I’m not a teacher, I’m just a student, and I enjoy yoga. I enjoy so many physical movement practices, but what I’m continuing to see is that there are just more layers and more layers and to be able to find the right approaches, the right practices, the right therapies, what everyone has a very unique path that they want to go on but to give yourself the space, and I just remember earlier so much I identify with you while my personal situation is different than yours of just any time something bad would happen, I just go, “You know what? I’m stronger than this. I’m over it. I’m going to move on.”
That whole thing, and I just love and appreciate you for being just willing and for us to have this conversation now because I would imagine there may be some folks listening to us who also share that idea or that notion of when something really, really painful happens that you’ve been trained or conditioned or just your mind or society is like, “Nope, it’s over and done with, and I need to move on, and I need to present this strong front or whatever your kind of narrative is.”
I’ll tell you from my own experience, every time I keep peeling back these layers, I continue to find deeper wells of strength and deeper wells of compassion and humanity that I didn’t even know existed before.
Koya Webb: Absolutely. I always say your issues are in your tissues. A lot of people wonder like, “Oh, why do I have this tightness, these aches and pains, or why was I in yoga and pigeon pose and then, I started crying” because a lot of the times when we stuff our emotions and we don’t address them, write them out, dance and now, I have a lot of tools to help get emotions out and so using the practices of breath work and yoga and meditation to process, it allows me to release some of the pain and trauma, not only for my childhood, not only for myself, but from constant things that I’m experiencing on a daily level and to see that physically shift my energy and shift the energy of my students and clients is miraculous. It is absolutely miraculous.
I think in the beginning, I was like, “Maybe, it’s just what I’m going through, but the more and more I teach and then I train, I realized, “No.” We all have this beautiful ability to heal trauma and using the breath which again is spirit to breathe through the pain and breathe into our heart and breathe into our body and release that trauma, packed down and didn’t want to talk about, it helps us shine as the most beautiful and powerful version of ourself no matter what.
Marie Forleo: I love you. Thank you. Shifting gears again because that’s what I like to do, so you wrote in the book about the time that you were kid and you were singing ain’t no mountain high enough. Your dad, he had a long week. He had a lot on his plate. He was like, “Pipe down.” Basically, I had the same thing happen to me except it was my brother. I was singing. I was like so happy. I remember that very kind of sharp whatever he said to me like, “Shut up, you’re terrible.” It was young, but locked into my brain, Koya.
I’ve talked about this before that I couldn’t sing or that something about my voice was not right, not good, stop doing that. I love that that’s the story opened the chapter about limiting beliefs because if we have that idea whether it was around singing or anything else that we experience as a kid that we can’t or we don’t what’s not possible for us or we’re not good enough in some X, Y, Z away, we don’t have to live with that limiting belief, and we can actually transform it.
I’m curious, you wrote in the book, you said, “Limiting beliefs are just there to tell you where you need help.” That was beautiful. What exactly do you need to cultivate or who do you need to invite into your life to move through that limiting idea? Just tell me more about limiting beliefs, how you see them, how we can transform them. I have the sentence stem that I want to go to next, but just let me hear your philosophy on limiting beliefs.
Koya Webb: I truly believe limiting beliefs are just like a sign of where we need more love. I believe fear whatever vibration, it, fear’s our friend. It shows us places that we need more love, we need more nurture. We need more attention there. Even the things happening in the world is showing us places that we need more attention. We need more awareness. If we look at it as like more of a calling like, “Hey, something’s wrong here. We need to fix this individually, we need to fix this collectively.” That’s what limiting beliefs are, when we have like, “I’m not good enough. I’m not old enough.”
To be clear, my dad says, “Shut up.” My dad is a very positive person. We heard him cuss one or two times, but shut up was a thing that we did not say. For me, to be singing my heart out, “Ain’t no mountain high enough,” and I was into it. I sing it over and over and over and over. I had a mic, the karaoke that he just bought me for Christmas. It was blazing through the house. Then, it wasn’t even a warning. It wasn’t even like a pipe down or you know how when it gets to the third time and they’re just done with it.
He was holding on to it or you could tell because he’s like, “Koya, shut up.” I was like, “I’m a daddy’s girl.” I was like, “I was traumatized.” I was like, “I thought I was singing good. I thought he was vibing on it,” because no one said anything. I thought everyone was just living their whole life of me singing this song to the top of my lungs.
When that hit me, it crushed me. I went to my room. I just cried forever and ever and way too long. I remember coming down like an hour later looking all puffy face and snotty nose. He’s like, “What’s wrong with you?” He had no clue I’d been crying for an entire hour. It’s like, “I swear you’re just singing. What’s wrong? What happened? Who hit you? What happened?” I was like, “You told me to shut up.”
He was like, “Oh, come on. Come on.” My mom’s in the background laughing. I was just crushed. I went back to my room, was so hurt. Honestly, I didn’t know that that affected me for as long as it did. Then, I realized after doing some work myself and some counseling myself is that, “Why are you afraid to sing? Why are you afraid?” I used to sing in the church choir and things like that.
Then, that instance, that visual, it kept coming up for me because again I know my dad didn’t mean anything by it, but I realized that I had stuffed that moment in my tissues and in my cells and in my body. I’d never dealt with it. I never told them how I really felt. I had to go back and talk to myself, the younger version of myself and those who do therapy and know this type of coaching, you know that a lot of times, when we have wounds as children that we don’t deal with. We actually have to go back and heal it by speaking to that younger version of ourselves and saying, “It’s okay. You sound good,” because even if we’re like, “Oh, I’m fine now,” a lot of times, again, it’s in our cells, it’s in our tissues that we’re not good enough or we don’t sound great. First of all, I went back. I did that childhood work of just going back to myself and saying, “You sound amazing,” and understanding my dad was just tired. He didn’t mean it. Then, I talked to my dad about it. He was like, “Girl, I love your voice.” I did that healing work.
Then, I wrote and produced my own song. That was a big healing thing because I did the writing with a friend of mine, Justin Michael Williams. Then, we recorded it. I filmed it from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM to sunset, had my friends come through. I just fully let myself have that vision.
Marie Forleo: I love that. I love that. For anyone who has a limiting belief that maybe isn’t about singing because Koya and I share that, you have this incredible sentence stem that you can reinvent any limiting belief by basically turning it around. The sentence stem is rather than saying, “I’m always late,” for example, the limiting belief like, “Oh I can’t be on time for anything. I’m just a mess.”
I am working on being on time or for you and I, oh, I don’t have a good voice. I’m working on making my voice the best it can be. Are you still using that set in stem because I think it’s great? I think people are going to love it.
Koya Webb: I am still using that. And I plused it a little bit. Now, I tell people that they can turn limiting beliefs into liberating affirmations and to speak it as an affirmation. What is your liberating affirmation for singing? I sing. I know the world is blessed by my voice and my message. If it’s like, “I’m always late,” I arrive on time, and I arrive in the right place at the right time. It’s like, “How can you make it a liberating affirmation.” It has to have some power around it.
A lot of people say, “Well, that’s not true.” Well, it’s true when you speak it. Now, you just have to live up to it. And also not feel like you have to be perfect. Do I feel like I hit every note in everything? No. It’s not about perfection. It’s about living as well as you can and living up to those expectations of yourself and your truth and your purpose as much as you can, but it’s not about being perfect at anything, it’s just about doing the best you can. I think once you’ve turned that limiting belief to a liberating affirmation, you can fully stand in your power and not a perfect power, but a power that makes you feel good just because you’re showing up.
Marie Forleo: I love it. Okay. Last place before we wrap up, I want to talk about the power of scheduling because I love that you shared this. I love that you shared that discipline with your daily schedule is not punishment. I think any time I get into a productivity conversation because I am a woman who, generally speaking, likes structure and I find a lot of freedom in it actually. I find tremendous liberation in the freedom of knowing the places where I’m investing my energy because then I feel tremendous harmony and alignment. And that freedom that comes from it is awesome.
That’s not to say that I schedule every minute of every day, but generally speaking, I like that. I’m curious to hear about what your schedule is looking like these days and what your philosophy is around scheduling.
Koya Webb: Well, my philosophy around scheduling is there is freedom in discipline. There is freedom in discipline. Again, like you said, it doesn’t have to be perfect and down to the T, but it’s like I schedule six to eight hours of sleep which means I’m going for six to eight. Sometimes, I get four. Sometimes, I get six. Sometimes, I get seven. It’s not a perfection. Again, it’s about the freedom of knowing that I’m going to function better, I’m going to have less injury which I learned by getting injured many times and realizing that, no, you have to take care of yourself.
I schedule it, six to eight hours of sleep. I know that I function better when I have spiritual time in the morning, time to meditate, time to do breath work, time to write what I’m grateful for, time to go outside. My mom’s in town, so time to connect with my friends or family. I am just a better person. So, scheduling that time in the morning, and it’s loose.
Sometimes, I write. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes, I do something else. But I’m waiting to work until like from noon to five. Now, do I take some things early? Yes. It’s like I put that schedule out there for structure. I tell people, “Make your ideal structure and stay on it most of the time, and it’ll help you stay balanced, but you don’t have to always lean into it because some people look at that schedule, and they laugh at me because it has so much on it, but I’m like, “I’m not doing every single thing every single day.” This is my idea. I think everyone listening to this, make your schedule because it’s going to help you because a lot of people say, “I can’t do this. I don’t have time for this.”
You have to make time. You have to prioritize. If you don’t put it there and if you can’t even see it, it’s definitely going to be hard to do it. Definitely, as we talked about earlier, being multi-passionate you got to make a little time for everything. If you don’t, you’re not going to feel like you have time for it. I make time for my spiritual time. I make time for my work. I put in a lunch break in there. I tell my team, “Give me 30 minutes to an hour between events, so I can breathe.” Does that always happen?
No. Sometimes, this event to events in 15 minutes, but it’s scheduled. When I need to reel it back and cancel some things or move some things, I do. I think a lot of people, the more that we do that realize we don’t have to have it perfect, but the more we schedule, we have freedom because it’s like, “Oh, I stopped working at five,” so I have from five to seven or have from seven to 10 to see friends.
Now, you don’t have to and I think a lot of us entrepreneurs we’re like, “Oh, I got to focus on my business, and I don’t have time for friends.” A lot of times, we lose a lot of friends and lose connection with family members because we’re so headstrong thinking we have to only focus on that, but what we’re missing out on is the fact you don’t know what friends or family might be a blessing to what it is you’re trying to do.
But the fact that you’re putting them on the back burn and on the side, the people that love you the most, you’re not giving them an opportunity to see you, to feel you, to love you. It’s so important as a workhorse and as someone who’s very ambitious and passionate, just give yourself a little cutoff time. Give yourself at least two to four hours in the evening to connect with friends, to connect with family, to have like some type of social life and maybe a little bit of spiritual time before you go to bed because it’s going to help you process your work. It’s going to help you process your day. It’s going to help you sleep better. It’s going to help, I mean… we need each other. I know we’re in a time where we’re socially distant, and it’s all this blocking, but we still need each other. Even if it’s a Zoom call or whatever, that time to connect, to sing, to dance, to do whatever you like, maybe you’re playing chess online, whatever it is that brings you joy, give yourself some time at the end of the day to do that because you’re going to sleep better, you’re going to recover better.
Give yourself time to eat. I’m going to be honest. I had times when I worked so hard. I didn’t even eat. I take a quick protein shake which I still do sometimes, but I make myself have at least one or one or two good meals a day. That is really important for a person who will literally be like, “Oh yeah. I’m just going liquid today because I don’t have enough time.”
I had to realize, “No. You have to make time to make yourself at least one meal a day.” I say make like make it myself. I can order out in fast food, but that’s not the same quality. It’s not the same energy. I have to make myself make one meal a day. It feels so good. It feels so much better to be balanced and really realize that I have freedom to be my full self when I schedule and I have a little bit of discipline.
Marie Forleo: You are such a gift. Is it okay if I read a short part from your book?
Koya Webb: Please.
Marie Forleo: Would that be okay? You write. It’s near the end. “I can’t promise you that bad things won’t happen in your life or that fear won’t ever flatten you. All I can say is that as you are challenged and as you go through those challenges, you will become stronger. Don’t be afraid, not of challenges, of failure, of judgment, or of fear itself. Right here, right now, make a commitment to look fear in the face and say, ‘I have enough love for you. I can get through this. I know how to get through this. Do this and you will be more than okay. You will be fierce.” Your words, my love.
Beautiful. Anything that you want to leave us with today? If people want to follow you, I enjoy you so much. I don’t spend a lot of time anymore on social media. I have to be really transparent, but when I do go there and I catch a post from you, you bring so much light and so much love and so much good vibes. I’m like, “Koya.” I just want to reach out and hug you. Anything that you want to leave us with today and where can people find you.
Koya Webb: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for reading that passage. It’s one of my favorite passages because it’s so real. We’re all going to experience things, but I feel like it’s so important to know that we can grow through what we go through. We really can take what has happened to us. We can turn those lemons into lemonade. We just have to believe that we are here for a reason. That reason is not to be destroyed. That reason is not to be flattened by our challenges.
But I love that passage. I love that we end it with that because that’s the thing that I want to end with just knowing that you are enough. I am enough. You are enough, everyone listening. We are enough as we are. If we believe in ourself every single day, every single day, we’re going to be a blessing to the world. Just like nature, it just shows up and shines as it is imperfectly perfect.
I feel like when you really believe that to your core, your life is a blessing to the world, and all the toxic things, they’ll slowly work themselves away little by little, day by day, breath by breath. Yeah, you can find me at koyawebb.com. I have my book, Let Your Fears Make You Fierce: How To Turn Common Obstacles Into Seeds For Growth. I love sharing that book with everyone. I have a little gift for people who tune into my website koyawebb.com. I’m always giving gifts and giveaways and things like that.
I have my yoga school, Get Loved Up Holistic Health and Yoga School where I teach teachers to share this gift of yoga, meditation, breath work and the science behind why these things work because I think it’s one thing to feel that they work, but to know the science behind why does my heart feel more open after I did that that chakra balancing yoga class. Why do I feel so good after a good cry?
We’re starting to get into the science behind that. I love sharing that with people. I love you. I appreciate the joy that you bring me. I’ve been to B-School and it really helped me live my purpose full out and know that I’m loved and know that I’m okay being a multi-passionate human being and actually pour into those passions versus try to stuff them or hide them away. It’s blessed my life immensely. Thank you so much for having me.
Marie Forleo: Koya, I adore you. I love you. Thank you for the time we spent together today. I’m hoping that when we find ourselves on the same coast when I come back to the West Coast and it’s safe for us that I will be able to come see you and give you a big hug in person. Thank you so much.
Koya Webb: Thank you so much for having me. Yes, I want you to come and see me in LA, get out on the water, have some fun. Yeah, that would make me happy.
Marie Forleo: Come on, now. Wasn’t Koya amazing? I just adore her. Now, Koya and I would love to hear from you. I’m very curious. What’s the biggest aha moment or takeaway that you got from this conversation? Most important, how can you put that insight or that aha into action starting right now? Leave a comment below. Let me know. Now, as always the best conversations happen over at marieforleo.com. Head on over there and leave a comment now.
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