The Gift of Holding Space for All


By Rebekah Manley of the Brave Tutu blog:

I circled the packed YMCA parking lot. My anxious pre-yoga pep talk did not go well: “I’m not going to get a spot and I’ll be late for class. There might not be room for me. Even if there is, I don’t want to be that person.”

I took a deep breath and kept circling. A red truck pulled out and Santa-ed me the spot. I ran into the Y, scanned my card and busted up the stairs. The yoga studio’s door was closed. BUMMER. You can’t interrupt class Rebekah, YOGA 101! I turned and started to descend the stairs. Then I recounted my earlier conversation with a family member. There was so much that needed to be released, that was out of our control. I needed this time to stretch and leave what I could “on the mat”, as the yogis say.

I grabbed my blocks, mat and blanket and bravely moused into the room. It was packed. I tried, I told myself, and slowly closed the door. But the instructor called, “We have room for you.” I felt my cheeks burn. I didn’t want to interrupt class. “Here or here.” She pointed to two spots. People would need to move. I sheeped into the studio.

A woman looked up at me from her full body twist. “There is space for you.” I exhaled in relief, not sure how long I’d been holding my breath. I could have hugged her. She kindly moved her mat over and smiled. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered. My limbs shook as I set up my mat. “Don’t worry one bit, I’m glad you’re here,” she whispered back.

The other woman next to me didn’t budge. I couldn’t blame her. I tried to catch her eyes to mouth “I’m sorry” but she was in the zone.

I stretched out and thought about this holiday season. How I’m in the best place I’ve been in years, but people I love are struggling. I wished I could take away their pain, fix all that needs fixing. I heard those words, “There is space for you.” Tears flowed past my cheeks—tickling my ears. As my heart hurt for others, there was space for me. I realized that, no matter what was happening—I could change or not. Celebrate or not. I could hold space for others in their joy, grief, longing, heartache, celebrations…as many have done for me. The moment filled me with power.

It also helps me to remember the woman on the other side; how many are unaware of others’ struggles. For some reason or another, they can’t meet us where we need them; only come to their mats. They need to focus on their own healing. 

Do you relate? Perhaps you want to make space for others but don’t know how? Or you need someone to do the same for you? Many times, it’s exactly as simple as saying: “There is space for you, I’m glad you’re here.”


Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)

-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.

I took the picture of my mat that day. I’m so grateful to be a member of the YMCA.


Editor’s Note: The Y welcomes guest posts from our members. We love hearing from you! Thank you to Y member Rebekah Manley of the Brave Tutu blog where this essay was originally posted. We are so glad you are here, Rebekah!

Members, would you like to share a Y story on our blog? Email Community Engagement Director Erin Walter at Thank you!



All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to

Contribute to the Y

We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors. As the leading nonprofit committed to helping everyone thrive at each stage of life, we are uniquely positioned to take on new and long-standing challenges more comprehensively than anyone else.

Your support through the YMCA of Austin’s Annual Giving Campaign makes this possible.