I consider the exploration of cultural, historical and privilege awareness to be part of my spiritual practice.
The deep roots of yoga pre-date religion and are found in pre-vedic shamanism – nature based traditions that came from Indus Valley Civilization in what we now call India. This was passed on, teacher to student, on and on, over millenia.
During the British invasion of India from 1848-1947, yoga was forbidden and disparaged by colonizers, then later stolen, exoticized, and often stripped of fullness and depth as it proliferated in the west and made its way into my corner of the world. In many ways it could be said both intentionally and unintentionally appropriated by white folks – including myself.
I was drawn to yoga at the turn of the century in the year 2000, due to an experience of ‘collision with the infinite’ that felt very fragmenting. At the time, without feeling much connection to my own ancestral cultural spiritual wisdom, yoga philosophy books were the only places that seemed to have words and ideas that addressed that experience in a helpful and integrative way for me.
It also offered so many practices that allowed me to feel centered, strong, and gave me a fresh sense of being deeply grounded in my body – yet also very attuned to the truth of myself ‘beyond’ my body – something no other practice, (other than perhaps sleep and dreams) had been able to offer.
In sharing the particular stream that is the dynamic and evolving expression of Yoga Nidra, I do my best to humbly honor its multi-faceted depth and true roots, while also knowing the impossibility of that – that I cannot possibly do it justice, holding the challenging paradox of even attempting to do.
I am so grateful to my yoga teachers Misha Butot, Erich Schiffman, Richard Miller, Donna Farhi, Susanna Barkataki, Indu Arora, and to my central sleep and dream teacher (outside of sleep itself!), Dr. Rubin Naiman.
I also feel bountiful appreciation for the many wise non-human teachers and non-linear learning that come from nature; the elements, seasons and cycles, creatures, and the invisible world.
Part of why I offer this work comes from my own experience with exhaustion, burnout, insomnia and sleeping pill addiction in my 20’s, all of which I was able to heal from.
During this time, it was striking to me that all of the mental health and medical professionals I saw were more interested in giving me drugs and labels than simply suggesting “Maybe take a nap!”
I also do this work because after over 16 years of holding space for people to profoundly rest in Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra, it turns out I am naturally gifted and deeply inspired in the distinct realm of rest, sleep and dreams, and because it’s clear the world needs this kind of support, perhaps now more than ever.
When we transition into states of rest and sleep, the brain steadily dismantles the models/concepts we use to interpret the world, leading to moments un-constrained by our usual mental filters.
This is massively important and exciting to me, because of it’s visionary potential:
It OPENS vision,
- From narrow to expansive
- From rigid to inclusive
- From clinging to waking, to dream vision
All of which helps evolve consciousness to be more holistically creative, for the benefit of all beings.
Each human body is like a planet unto itself. When our bodies and minds are running too hot and too fast, it literally creates inflammation – physically, mentally, energetically, emotionally, spiritually.
The more humans slow down, rest, dream, and sleep when they need to, the more anti-inflammatory medicine for the earth that holds us all.
The more we will actually be able to see the stars that only glow in the dark.
The more healing that can take place personally and collectively.