I recently learned my hippie parents introduced me to yoga while still in the womb. At age 6 my mom & I spent time at Kripalu Ashram, at 16 I began practicing Kundalini Yoga and, after leaving the US in 1999 to roam India, I returned to Kripalu for my 200 hour certification in 2002.
Although privileged to teach in a number of countries, Aotearoa New Zealand is where I’ve lived the longest (since 2005) and feel the most at home. In 2008 I opened Powa Centre in Wellington and organized my teachings under the brand MYOGA which stands for Manifest Your Own Greatness thru Awareness, and which was coined with the intention that each person must “own” their own practice.
MYOGA’s guiding principle is freedom to unfold. Each aspect–mudra, mantra, pranayam, asana, poetry–has been chosen for its efficient and effective ability to cultivate both union and liberation. MYOGA Basics recognize the value of caring for our foundations, while MYOGA Seasons honor & ignite the powers and energies within us–our chakras–as well as those without us–the seasons of our natural environment.
Additionally, my own journey with hearing loss led me to place great emphasis on the healing power of vibration and learning to own and speak Truth, found in MYOGA Sounds.
I have certifications in Pregnancy Yoga (2003), Radiant Child (2009), Forrest Yoga Advanced Teacher Training (2016). I’ve been registered with the Yoga Alliance since 2004 & since then have become an ERYT, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with a minimum of 1,000 “in the field” (closer to 8,000!). I formulated and led a Yoga Alliance-certified 200 hour teacher training, taught on TVNZ’s Good Morning Show, and also in the local women’s prison, for two years.
In 2014 I put most of my teachings online including MYOGA Restores (the MYOGA Mamas module waits in the wings!) and in 2015 I took a “spiritual sabbatical” to question deeply what has become of the Yoga Industry.
My name is Melissa Elvira Billington and I am of Robertson, Carr & Billington descent. My parents are second cousins so I have a double dose of the “fierce when roused” Robertson blood and it is this part of my ancestry that has been so proud, for hundreds of years, to be descended from Pocahontas, which becomes a hot topic in the podcast whitepeoplewhispering I’ve been exploring with Chas Jewett. Even though claiming this ancestry can be offensive to those born and raised on a Reservation/Prisoner-of-War-Camp, or within the on-going genocide of Native people, I include it here out of gratitude. Without it, & even without the controversy, it’s unlikely I would be here. Inquiring into the untold truths of Matoaka/Pocahontas/Lady Rebecca’s short life, but long legacy, has required me to question all I think I know, yet to also do my best to learn from how she bridged worlds. How can we have the conversations now that did not happen 500 years go, the conversations that cultivate peace & understanding between the native & invasive paradigms!
I was born in ancestral lands in Virginia but then raised in the NorthEast and went to school at both Temple and Cornell Universities. After working as a milliner, actor, and costume designer/creatrix in Santa Fe, Idaho and New York City, I went overseas in 1999 and have not lived permanently in the US since then. Although I loved university, my greater education and blessing has come from living in India, Barbados, Puerto Rico and New Zealand, as well as traveling to many other lands.
This blog came to be in 2014. It’s some, of what I’ve managed to put into words, of all that I’m learning on the road. Slowly perhaps I’m becoming more graceful at moving between worlds, between hemispheres, between languages, between landscapes, between roles and between values. I’d love to see more of how wecan connect beyond apparent blood ties–how we can come-to-be Unity in Diversity. I mean no offense to actual tribes striving to survive white settler colonialist tactics to obliterate them. My intention is to use whatever privilege I have to enlighten from ignorance and uplift from struggle. I start with the only ground I can truly claim as my own–mySelf.
Those who have had their lands & culture taken from them do not appreciate the continuation of that taking, by using the word Tribe.
I get that.
Yet I also get that, at this stage in our evolution, we are all craving a healing that will stick and a sense of belonging that is unshakable. Trust the Longer Journey (something I say a lot in my teaching) means that we are unfolding & learning the wisdom of interdependent & conscious relations over time. How we do what we do IS what we do. In what small, immediate way can we live the dream now? –so that we can wake up to the injustices that rule our current world? Seems to me, working with a longer, wider, deeper view allows for the fact that the material world transforms more slowly than the lightening speed with which we can see it in our minds.
In highschool I realized:
In the past few years I’ve been actively seeking that longer, wider, deeper view that allows for the wobbling of on-going balancing (that is the reality of the illusory noun we call Balance). In these past 4 years, I’ve been blessed to be able to go on “walkabout”, on pilgrimage, & in that time my eyes & heart have been more widely opened to the welfare of water, women, animals & children in our shared world. Perhaps the start of this pilgrimage in 2014 was when I admitted defeat, not knowing, & was then given my first water song, from the Northern Ojibway. Since then, taking on the responsibility, privilege & blessing to pray to and for WATER each day has opened my eyes to the plight of water everywhere on our finite planet. I offer much gratitude to Sharon Day for carrying on the water-walking ceremony of her elder Josephine Mandamin, and am grateful to have walked both Lake Seneca and the Missouri River with her.
Additionally, I’ve been intrigued with how we birth ourSelves & our next generations into being, as well as our relationships to pleasure. I’ve recently graduated from an Ecstatic Birth Practitioner Training with Sheila Kamara Hay & looking forward to the adventures that await in that realm.
What has also grown in me in the past 10 years is the direct-revelation practice of shamanic drumming journeys. My mother, as ever my teacher, shared with me her practice & also her teacher, Pat Floyd, a longtime student of Sandra Ingerman.
Here you can view some of my acting work, including the solo show inquiry–PocaHauntus–Shapeshifting History into HerStory –into my personal ancestry and the colonizing beginnings of what we now call the US.
More recently in my onstage life I’ve been studying comedy, as a means of coping in an increasingly unfunny world, & also out of respect for what I deem to be a very high art — the ability to speak truth in a way that it’s enjoyed. This has led me onwards into a search for “what is funny?” and, even further, considering whether it is possible to enlighten — to ‘free people from concern’ as Jim Carrey says — without doing harm. Through all of these (and more) explorations, I remain curious. I find I move towards what frightens or confuses me, such as stand-up comedy, relationships & birthing!
(And yes that is a slice of celery on my forehead.)
I speak of my own story as it’s the only perspective I have a right to speak from, but I share it here so we can mirror and grow from one another. Feel free to engage, in a good way, with the posts!
May you walk in light & love all-ways,