An Interview with Shiva Rea
Nov 26, 2013 02:33AM
Recently, Sofia Sunaga, a friend of Natural Awakenings DC, had the opportunity to speak with yogini, firekeeper and global activist Shiva Rea, well-known for the creative and transforming ways that she leads in the evolution of prana flow yoga throughout the world. Rea is the creator of prana flow yoga and the innovator of many programs such as Yogadventure Retreats, Yoga Dance for Life and the worldwide Global Mala Project. She also writes for several publications, including Yoga Journal, Yoga Plus Joyful Living and has authored many award-winning CDs and DVDs.
Shiva Rea on the questions that matter:
I understand the term global activism, from the perspective of my mentor, Andrew Harvey, who has written books on the subject. For me, it is really how my experience of yoga has evolved. It has always been important for me to work with yoga as a catalyst for change, not only of individual healing but also for collective consciousness.
Part of that was my personal journey—one pivotal time was a nine month period, when I was in a car accident and broke my pelvis. Two months later, my mother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Then, there were the fires in Malibu and we were evacuated from where we live. And, there were the earthquakes. Soon after that, my mother passed. It was this nine-month period, when I was really shaken at a foundational level, that I was at the peak of my yoga practice.
I feel like the world is in that similar “shake-up” period now. It is a wonderful shake-up. For me, it feels like there has never been a riper time to ask the simple question, “In the end, what matters most?”
Shiva Rea on collective action:
A key element in my practice of sacred activism is meditation. There are studies about the power of meditation as a kind of vibrational dissonance normally described as stress, but also impacting groups of people. It has been measured that when people meditate together, there is a change that we are just beginning to tap into. When we get together for a positive act, the affects are felt beyond ourselves.
Meditation serves on both an individual and collective level. This was the idea behind the Global Mala project. In 2007, when I heard Al Gore’s message that climate change is the issue of our time and we have to do something now, I looked to the right and left and thought, “I’m in this yoga community, and we have these tools of consciousness. Are we really using them together?”
So that year, on United Nations International Peace Day, I decided to bring people together, synchronizing breath, intention and global awareness in a yoga practice, to raise consciousness and funds for good causes. It happens now all over the world spontaneously. No one has to pass through any administrative hoops. People just say, “I’m going to lead a global mala,” or “I’m going to raise funds,” or “I’m going to bring my community together.”
Newark, New Jersey is the greatest example that I know of right now, because Newark public schools offer yoga to about 15,000 kids. Every year, the high schools of Newark have a huge global mala and it brings all of the yoga studios in that area together.
Shiva Rea on nourishing acts:
The idea of sacred activism is that it doesn’t always have to be letter writing or protests (which I believe in), but it can also be nourishing acts. Another sacred activism project I participate in is called Yoga Energy Activism. It is based on the idea of doing something by doing nothing.
We are encouraging people to take an “energy sabbath”. On the new moon, on the full moon or once a week, we encourage others to just unplug. Do something nourishing. Be in candlelight and take a technology fast. It doesn’t even have to be for 24 hours. Even three hours is enough. This doesn’t diminish the power of the internet and all of social media, but when you take a one-day energy sabbath, the amount of energy you save is enough to power your laptop for an entire year.
Imagine if we combine many people doing that together, we’re actually making change by doing something nourishing. I think that is the kind of concept we need because everybody sees we’re just at that edge of easily being depleted. Our resources, our energy levels are being overwhelmed. Sacred activism is a kind creative response, through yoga, to whatever is happening—and everybody can participate.