My Yoga Story

I’m Mama Nirvana (Ruth Anne Lundeberg), a yogini with 45 years of practice, a yoga teacher with 29 years of experience, a yoga teacher trainer with scores of graduates, a Thai yoga massage practitioner,a craniosacral therapist, a Neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, An Inner Mind Sourcing (™) facilitator, a pilates mat and reformer instructor, a master hypnotherapist,a Buddhist (of the Theravadin tradition), a visual artist, a solo traveler, a vegan, a dancer, an avid outdoorswoman, a writer…and maybe a few other other things.

I have taught many thousands of yoga classes to many thousands of people. I’ve taught many yoga teacher training courses. I’ve passed on knowledge to teachers and they have passed it on to students of their own.

My yoga teaching style is richly layered and carefully constructed. Designed to challenge any level of practitioner, each class leads you towards the promises of yoga: bliss, self-mastery, health, attractiveness, personal empowerment, long-term happiness, long life, and success in all areas of life. It’s enough like other styles you may know to be familiar but different enough to be called unique. Something you would have to experience to imagine.

My yoga journey from the beginning:

My yoga story began a very long time ago. I discovered yoga when I was about ten or so through the books on my mother’s bookshelf.

My mother was a practicing psychic medium; we were members of the Spiritualist Church. That meant that people were always coming to our house for readings and seances and psychic development classes. I grew up talking with grown-ups about all things paranormal. I was fluent in astrology, reincarnation, meditation, and yoga-infused ideology. Around my house there was quite a bit of talk about disembodied entities, ectoplasm, alien abductions and a disturbing photo of Mary Tood Lincoln with her dead husband’s ghostly hand on her shoulder. A bit of “mom’s gone out ghost-hunting again” too.

At that time I read about the Transcendentalists, reincarnation, Theosophy, yoga philosophy, though my understanding was rudimentary given my limited (current) life experience.

I was also a passionate dancer. Bursting with enthusiasm I would choreograph dances and invite friends to perform them with me. The grown-ups would take movies. Perhaps while enjoying a cocktail and a smoke. Some days neighbors could spot me in the front yard wearing a leotard working out balance beam routines–on a board hidden in the grass.

Teenage years are almost a blank. A challenging family situation led to depression which led to alcohol and drug use and deep alienation. I was able to graduate high school thanks to an alternative high school. Throughout I kept doing meditation, piano (yes I was also a serious piano student) art, dance and yoga. And acid trips. Some tarot reading on the side.

In college I studied acting at NYU-a fine school many would say, though at the time I figured if they let me in their standards couldn’t have been that high. I majored in theater–at first classical, then experimental. My training was mostly movement based and included quite a bit of yoga. My theater training refined my speaking voice, something I am grateful for every time I teach a class. I learned to improvise, think on the spot, and be fearless when following my creative impulses. These skills form the backbone of my yoga.

At that time there were only a few yoga teachers in the entire city of New York. Dharma Mittra was one of them. Naturally I found my way to his studio. Sharon Gannon and David Life had started Jivamukti across the street from my apartment so naturally I found them too. Beryl Bender was teaching Ashtanga yoga at the Open Center a few blocks away so that was a must-do as well. And Integral Yoga Institute could always be counted on for a very spiritual class. In the summer I spent working at Omega Institute Glenn Black was my teacher.

During my years in New York, I had many opportunities to work in the area of my major, experimental theater, which I did for several years.

Then in 1990 a trip to Bali changed me forever. There I wandered around and visited temples, villages, and natural wonders. I met many Balinese people. I studied and learned classic Balinese dance. My spiritual and psychic abilities came forward then. I was immersed in beauty. The kindness of the people opened my heart wide. I felt safe and loved, and even though I was a stranger in a strange land, it felt like home to me. That feeling, plus my ability to quickly pick up the complicated dance, confirmed the sense that I had lived there in one or more past lives. When I returned to New York I found I couldn’t adjust and became both wired and depressed. I needed to move out of the city. I needed peace, quiet and nature.

I moved to Northampton Massachusetts a year later. By then I had aligned myself with the yoga path and decided it was time for me to teach. I started in 1992 and have taught ever since.

I’m forever bound to the beauty, precision and brilliance of yoga practice. After decades with yoga, I can vouch for the amazing benefits to the body, mind and spirit. Yoga has helped me be more resilient, powerful, and peaceful. Of course, it has also made me physically strong and graceful. Throughout the years I have dealt with divorce, heartbreak, and periods of financial struggle. I have always shown up for yoga, and it has been there for me.

None of us is immune from pain and difficulty in life and yoga does not always prevent the inevitable– but it I can attest that yoga heals, soothes and restores body and soul. And sometimes it simply keeps you alive.