Nuna Gleason is a Kenyan empathetic storyteller and yoga teacher who migrated to Maine in 2020. She has a BA in Psychology and is a certified Global Empowerment self-defense Instructor. She shifts perspectives on how stories are told by providing platforms for the oppressed and sharing stories of beauty arising from seemingly broken situations. Her passion is to lift young people whose voices are silenced by cultures of oppression. She is also the Executive Director at Wounded Healers International- an organization that rescues, shelters, and supports survivors of sexual violence. She desires to see every person realize the transformative power of their own story.
“Wanting to deepen my understanding of the practice, I completed 200 hours of Teacher Training at the Portland yoga project under a scholarship from Sea Change Yoga. Teacher Training grew my physical practice exponentially and brought me closer to myself. I was the only black woman in my class of 12 students; they all had some experience with yoga before. Like many Black folks, I used to believe that yoga wasn’t for me, and I was at the point of quitting; I am happy I did not stop.
Throughout my yoga practice, I sat in many classes and watched people pour their hearts about how yoga had healed them. I could not help but think about the black community and the trauma they have faced and continue to face.
I thought about many families who have seen their loved ones killed in the streets, My fellow asylum seekers struggling to adapt to complicated systems of immigration, and my African survivors of sexual and domestic violence who are silenced by culture. I thought of the community and the constant stress of living under oppression.
I wondered why it took me so long to realize yoga and how much practice had kept me grounded throughout everything I have experienced; why did it take me so long to become a trauma-informed yoga teacher? But, most of all, I wondered if yoga could be used as a tool for healing; why wasn’t it being brought into the communities that need it most?
I realized I was learning and teaching much about yoga from Indian ancestral philosophy, which is good and healing, but I still wondered about my traditional African roots. I wanted to connect to the expansive diversity of my African ancestry through yoga and deepen my union with Self through a Pan-African lens. I learned Egyptian yoga systems that are undoubtedly Afrocentric and center mainly on ancient Kemetic culture and African roots that have been largely ignored by mainstream yoga culture. And as an afro teacher and practitioner of high consciousness, I needed to create a space and practice that would allow culture to know its roots to take pride in its contribution to society.
At Kivulini Afro yoga studio, we break the box that society puts us in. We believe yoga is for everyone and anyone. You do not have to look or feel a certain way to practice yoga. We are committed to diversity and inclusion to expand the variety of students who walk through our doors.
We are redefining the status quo surrounding yoga by fostering an open space that aligns with our core values. This mission begins with educating ourselves and holding space for those underrepresented or unseen as we sweat, breathe, and grow together for a more significant impact.