About Xena & Salka Yoga
The Short Version: About Me
Sacred Journeys & Shamanism
In 2011, to deepen my studies of Andean Medicine, I embarked on my first trip to Peru.
Since then, I've returned to Peru many times worked with master teachers and connect travelers with local healers with whom I've developed trusted relationships. My focus is on connecting people not only with profound medicine experiences but also safe experiences.
Plant medicine ceremonies such as Ayahuasca and Wachuma (San Pedro) are and transformational and safe in the right hands. As a bridge to these medicines, my top priority is safety and knowledge, every step of the way. In my experience, people have the most learning and success with plant medicine ceremonies when taking a 3 step approach: preparation, ceremony, integration.
I offer opportunities to properly prepare for these ceremonies as well as provide support for the integration process when the ceremony is complete and people have returned home to their day to day lives.
The Long Version: My Story (warning, it's a wild, but true tale!)
before The Dream
I was born in Seattle, Washington and growing up, I attended the Lutheran Church with my family. Although I had been raised in the church, in my early 20’s I decided to leave as I did not feel that what I was being taught was in alignment with what I had come to believe about the nature of God. Though I left the church, I still felt a deep spiritual connection to something greater than myself and spent much time learning about other spiritual traditions. However, like so many people trying to juggle the demands of family and career, eventually I became increasingly disconnected from my spiritual nature. That changed one morning with an experience that set me on a very different path.
Going to Leavenworth for the Christmas Lighting Ceremony was a family tradition, one that I had participated in since I was a child and continued to enjoy with my own young children. But in 2006, with a 2 year-old who did not tolerate long car rides (and a new puppy in the house!) I decided to break with tradition and stay home with my young daughter while my husband would travel to Leavenworth with our older child. After an early morning send-off, knowing my young child would soon be up and keeping my on my toes, I settled onto the living room couch, hoping to catch a little more sleep.
I began to dream as I often do and found myself in a snow-covered forest, with more snow falling all around. A boy who looked about ten approached me. He pointed to a building in the forest, where the soft glow of amber light shone from the windows. The boy said his mother was there, and that she wanted to talk to me. I followed the boy to the building. Inside, it appeared to be some sort of bicycle repair shop. A woman stood behind a counter. She had dark hair, short blunt bangs, and sported several piercings and tattoos. After she introduced herself as Jenna she asked, “Why don’t you ride your bike anymore?”
I had been an avid cyclist in the past, but work and kids had pretty much eclipsed any time I had for riding. I explained this to Jenna, who pointed to a bike-like contraption in the middle of the room and she encouraged me to get on. I had the feeling that if I got on the bike I would be “traveling” – perhaps farther away than I wanted to, especially with my daughter about to wake soon, and I expressed this concern to Jenna to which she replied, “Oh, don’t worry. I always make sure the babies are sleeping before performing an Out of Body Experience.”
The Fires of Memory
Intrigued, I climbed on and immediately found myself in a new room. I was wrapped in red velvet and floating in the air as I maintained a position that was very foreign to me. I was floating and spinning, with my arms reaching up and over my head to grasp one foot. As I continued to hold the pose and spin, I realized there was no effort involved, I simply had to think about spinning in order to spin. Jenna’s voice came again, but this time, unlike voices in most normal dreams, Jenna’s voice seemed to come from outside of me, as if coming from a person in another room. She said, “Do not worry. Koala (the boy) and I are still with you.” Then she added, “Soon the fires of memory will start.” Her words resonated deeply and seemed to be a prediction of some sort but at the time I did not understand their meaning.
I looked down and saw a bed, also in red velvet; the room appeared to be in a hotel. And older woman with brown skin and wearing a matching print skirt and headscarf was rifling through the contents of a suitcase. I somehow knew the suitcase belonged to me, and I asked Jenna, “Who is this woman and why is she going through my things? Is she me? Is she someone I will meet?” But before I could get an answer, there came a powerful physical sensation as, with an intense force, I came rushing back into my body. My eyes flew open. Although immobile, my body was in a state of pure bliss. It was a completely new sensation. All my life I had experienced vivid dreams. However, I had never been through anything like this; the physical nature of it was so unique, I could not categorize it as a dream. I had no explanation and wanted desperately to know what I had just experienced.
The mystery of what had happened—the strange floating pose, the woman going through my luggage, and the words from Jenna—all stayed with me. I could not let them go and so later that day and with child in hand, I to ventured into a local spiritual bookstore. Within minutes of entering the store, I found myself face-to-face with a statue of a woman in the exact pose I had been holding in my dream. I was floored. I had never before seen this position and there it was, right in front of me. I examined the statue and discovered it had a name: Dancer’s Pose. I had previously done very little yoga—I’d taken a handful of beginner Hatha classes and had occasionally popped in a prenatal yoga video during my pregnancies. But as I faced the statue, there was no doubt or hesitation. I bought it on the spot, along with two other statues in different poses. At home, I set them up in what could be described as a sort of alter. Shortly after, I began to study yoga more earnestly and started searching to understand had transpired in my dream.
Threads of Synchronicity
Turning off my filter to anything I would have previously labeled as “woo-woo” or “crazy,” I read everything I could find about out-of-body experiences, consciousness, the brain and the nature of reality. For two years I spent all my extra time researching, often at the computer until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. I followed threads that took me to topics on shamanism, quantum mechanics, and the uses of psychedelics in indigenous cultures. The list went on. There were days I wondered if I was losing touch with reality, but I felt compelled by something beyond myself, something greater than myself, to follow what I now refer to as “threads of synchronicity”. One thread would lead to another until I found myself, (“quite by accident”) enrolled in a training class to become a traditional mesa carrier in and Andean Medicine tradition. This would be the start of a calling, and a path of transformation. I would spend the next few years studying this tradition and other healing modalities with various teachers.
My studies eventually led me to Peru, where I have since been many times. I have had the good fortune to work with a variety of incredible teachers, and to commune with many ancient sacred places. During one particular journey, I traveled to the sacred mountain of Ausangate, the mountain considered to be the wisdom keeper of the lineage I was training in. As I stood at the Lagoon of Death, I made an intention to cast off and into the sacred lagoon anything that no longer served me: I rid herself of over-identifying with certain roles in my life, and let die any beliefs that were holding me back. After having completed the ceremony at the Lagoon of Death, I participated in a ceremony at the Lagoon of Birth. Diving naked into the freezing waters located high on the mountain, I emerged having been cleansed and “re-birthed” by the sacred lagoon. With open arms, I embraced the rays of sun that fell upon my skin. It was a truly magical moment—one that I would find had changed me more than I even realized at the time.
It would take me more than a year to fully integrate the experiences of that particular trip, and to find a way to bridge my day-to-day life with the spiritual path I was now walking. There were times when this integration process seemed smooth, but more often, it seemed like a very bumpy ride. The magical moments I had spent on the mountain had not been culminations of experiences, but rather beginnings of an ongoing learning process that would turn my world, my thinking, and my perspectives upside down and inside out as I dove even deeper into understanding who I was and what was truly at my essence. And, of course, it changed every interaction I had—with my friends, my family, and the world in general. There were days the learning seemed incredibly difficult, and I would think I wanted to return to the ways things had been before that trip to Peru. But as true and deep transformations work, there really is no going back—only moving through to deeper depths.
Becoming a guide
Since this transformative experience I have deepened my practice of yoga and in 2016 became a certified yoga instructor. I have found that the practice of yoga has complemented and supported my shamanic practice and I have been working on bridging the two worlds of yoga and shamanism into a cohesive practice not only for myself but to share with others as well.
I am eternally grateful for the experiences and lessons I have received while walking this path. My hope is to help create opportunities for others to also have these deep transformative experiences, so that they, too, can awaken within themselves a deeper connection to their own essence, and the visible and invisible worlds that surround them.
If my story resonated with you, let's connect!