for stress management, anxiety, depression, energy levels and health - if your doctor recommended yoga or meditation
Do you seek peer support for a diagnosis of a mental illness, or physical malady that you think that yoga might help?
Do you sense that spirituality is missing in your health care, contributing to insomnia, chronic stress or pain?
I am a Yoga Therapist and meditation teacher. I work one on one and in small groups with people seeking recovery from traumatic stress, spiritual emergency, anxiety, depression and transformational crises. I host workshops and trainings and speak at conferences.
International Association of Yoga Therapists-Certified Ananda Yoga® Therapist
Ananda Yoga® Instructor, 2005
Ananda Restorative Yoga Instructor, 2006
Ananda Meditation™ Instructor, 2006
Yoga of the Heart® Instructor for cardiac and cancer patients, 2006
Certified Level Two Warriors At Ease® Advanced Teacher: Teaching Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Meditation in Military Communities, 2015
Registered Yoga Alliance® E-RYT Yoga Teacher and Yoga Alliance® Continuing Education Provider
"You made me feel safe..."
— Lori O'Toole, Retired Corrections Officer, Los Osos, California
A bit of my story
I was introduced to Hatha Yoga as a child. I began an earnest practice of Bikram Yoga in 2002. I have studied and practiced Raja Yoga since 2005. In 2013, I was initiated in the Kriya Yoga meditation tradition of Paramahansa Yogananda. I meditate daily.
I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
I harness Divine energy to accomplish my highest potential through Yoga.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My sisters and my friends and I grew up in a privileged community in Hollywood. Most of our parents were a part of the entertainment or fashion industries: creative, educated and driven.
Traumatic stress and spiritual emergence during college, in 1995, changed my life. At the time, I did not know about spiritual emergence, psychiatric institutions or protocol, symptoms, standards of care or self-advocacy. My father, my aunt and my older sister, D’Arcy, all lived with addiction and distress, untreated or mistreated because of stigma and misunderstanding.
All her life, my dear and brilliant sister suffered with cyclical depressions, social problems and substance abuse issues that began in her teens, financial issues and low self-worth. She continued to suffer in her own way until her suicide in 1999, by way of a drug overdose, at the age of 30.
Two years after D’Arcy’s crushing death, grace brought me to the Yoga mat and to Al-Anon, a 12-Step Recovery program for friends and families affected by the diseases of alcoholism and addiction.
I enjoy greater self-awareness because of these practices. I became better able to self-regulate emotions and behaviors. I can better self-advocate – especially important while negotiating treatments that would be best for me.
These secondary benefits of my Yoga and recovery practice – self-awareness, self-regulation, self-advocacy – were key for me to find and begin to trust relationships, the medical community and a lifestyle that worked for me in a synergistic way. I overcome the traumas navigating life on a daily basis.
I have become an expert at integrating social ignorance, fear, shame, stigma, labeling and trauma; transforming the disenfranchisement of involuntary institutionalization and medication, corruption, bullying and the public health care system. I have discovered how to transmute a questionable standard of care into something enormously purposeful for myself and in service to others.
I now thrive as a leader, teacher and psychiatric survivor, having nearly arrested what has been called a chronic, progressive and potentially deadly disorder.
I live a radically different life today, a wholesome, empowered, modern life based on universal, spiritual principles. Yoga has slowed and reversed significant personal health challenges for me, including the aging process. I have built and maintained strength, flexibility and balance. Mindfulness is my compass every step of the way. I have improved my heart-rate variability. I am able to rest my mind and relax my body now, at will. I have learned to control my weight, compulsive and self-destructive behaviors and no longer suffer from troubling thoughts through the practices of Yoga.
I found a community. I am part of an international movement. I experience a healthy sense of self-identity and the joy that comes with selfless service. I enjoy the serenity of living a rich, structured, faith-based, non-conformist, spiritual life. The satisfaction of being an educator, advocate and activist for survivors of trauma has reframed my recovery experience.
My Yoga teachers saw a spark in me and encouraged me to attend a Yoga Teacher Training. I chose The Expanding Light at Ananda for a month-long immersion in ashram life.
I surprised myself by becoming a talented and well-liked Yoga instructor, and returned to Ananda Village the following year for a summer-long residential stay and more training at The Expanding Light.
I had not set out to become a Yoga therapist, nor a meditation teacher, researcher or activist.
I expected that, in Yoga Teacher Training, I would learn why Yoga brought my anxiety and depressive symptoms toward balance. While evidence was not immediately available, a Yoga therapy and research tide was building.
I encourage engaged conversation. The connection of talking about the metamorphosis that I experience helps me to interact with life in a new, illuminated way. Through the models of Yoga and 12-Step Recovery, I live the experience of recovery and know the potential of this path for recovery for people like me and, more profoundly, like my sister, who seemed to struggle under every circumstance, despite intelligence, talent and beauty and despite access to the best medical care in our society.
In refining my own life-management skills, I have shattered deep isolation, denial, shame, and fear. I use my curiosity and my courage to stand up for myself in the face of injustice.
My paradigm has shifted. I have been granted powerful, incremental and safe transformation. I am gifted to share this learning with others.
Self-exploration, my attitude of willingness and the peace that I have found in service has stretched, strengthened and balanced me. Yoga-based practices have enhanced the quality of my life and empowered myself and my community in ways that I could not have predicted.
Private Yoga Therapy Sessions
For Customized Deep Relaxation, Restorative Yoga & Meditation Programs Click Here
Individualized, one-on-one yoga therapy, including an in-depth western and yogic assessment & lessons for personal issues such as pain management, emotional control, and better sleep.
Classes, Events, Training.
Trauma-sensitive restorative yoga classes, therapeutic retreats, certifications & trainings for small groups online and in person.
Expert long term care and peer support during spiritual emergence and emergency, navigating transcendent events & Kundalini awakening.
Integrative Mental Health.
Improve behavioral & mental health, psycho-spiritual development and self-regulation, enhancing empowerment, relationships and community inclusion.
*A note on the cultural appropriation of Yoga
The active performance of a complete Yoga, beyond physical exercise, is taught to inspire peace, including racial and social equity. I have been given the responsibility to learn, practice and teach a method of Self-realization called Kriya Yoga, which originates from a culture other than my own. I instruct, mentor and counsel, in service, with an awareness of the complexities of modern Western culture and of the commodification of Yoga. As a white, queer, non-binary, disabled person with class and education privilege, I am committed to learning how to teach more accessibly, with sensitivity.
Other resources on cultural appropriation include Yoga Is Dead Podcast and 8 Signs Your Yoga Practice Is Culturally Appropriated and Why It Matters
Remembering The Bigger Yoga • Follow @BrookeWestYoga
"I slept for ten hours last night and needed less medication to sleep!!”
— M.K., Sydney, Australia