At the start of 2021, I got an email that changed my life.
In-between weekends of our Yoga Hive live-on-Zoom 200-hour yoga teacher training, a trainee sent me this email:
I just have a few questions…
Need the pronunciation of Sanskrit for downward facing dog.
Can we discuss the patriarchal ideas that are infused into the culture
and women’s roles in yoga?
Also (and I’m on Day 1 of my moon cycle), I’m wondering if there are
any specific poses to help with cramping.
I remember smiling. I love questions. They’re the bedrock of the yogic tradition. Whatever the students ask helps co-create the flavor of each training. As far as I’m concerned, if an inquiry arises, it’s something we all need to know — and I fully include myself in that. I learn so much facilitating yoga teacher trainings.
Per usual, I got to work.
Recording the pronunciation of adho mukha svanasana (down dog) — no problem. Regarding cramping, I had a few of my own experiences to share, plus I gathered feedback from other yogis I knew.
But the patriarchy? And historical roles of women?
That was a new one.
As I started to flip through the 2020 version of the training manual I’d written, and the textbooks I’d assigned, I started to connect the dots on the relevance of her question...
Nearly all our textbooks were written by men. What’s more: Nowhere in the 180+ page manual I’d written and revised for half a decade was menstruation mentioned once… nor were modifications for cramping or any other common byproducts of being on a cycle, through menopause, hormones, or ways to accommodating women’s’ unique bodily features (like breasts and larger hips) in a pose.
Regarding historical context, I taught how vinyasa was originally created as a fusion of yoga and gymnastics for teenage boys.
I covered the yogic goddesses as feminine archetypes.
I mentioned the impact a woman named Indra Devi had on spreading yoga throughout the USA in the 1970s and beyond.
But a specific account of women’s history in yoga or the influence of patriarchal systems was nowhere to be found… in the manual, or in my head. The feminine perspective wasn’t there, because I hadn’t been taught it. And I hadn’t known to search for it.
I honestly didn’t know the answer.
I addressed the topic briefly with the group, explaining what I did know: Women were restricted from accessing aspects of the yogic teachings throughout time, just as women were shunned throughout many periods in history — and still today.
The juicy conversation that ensued lit a fire in me that’s been burning ever since — it has informed every book I’ve added to my personal library, the overhaul I’ve made to our beloved YTT manual, and it served as the catalyst for my decision to work nearly entirely with groups of women in future teacher trainings and many of our Arctic Hive retreats. The intersection of yoga + the history of the sacred feminine has been a constant theme since that moment because it’s exactly the direction my own practice needed to go.
Through countless courses, trainings, books, immersions, classes — you name it, I’ve been on a mission to discover more about both my familial lineage as well as my soul’s lineage through yoga, how faith and spirituality intersect that, and most importantly: What all of that means through the lens as a woman.
And with the exception a few close family members and girlfriends with whom I can openly share and who’ve been cheering me on, the journey has been me, my journal + pen, surrounded by a council of powerful women through their written word. Yep... just me and my books!
But I’m feeling a shift again after all this time. I’m determined to make 2023 a year filled with support that goes beyond my bookshelf. Perhaps you, too, are looking for a community where you’re free to share what you’re discovering on your spiritual path? A place where saying the phrase “this might sound weird but…” is never necessary? A container of women that strives to include wisdom from MORE traditions, rather than to say “our way or the highway”?
I’m honored to launch a cyclical online community for women that weaves wisdom so we can learn, practice, and evolve together. Most importantly, a structured opportunity to practice Kriya yoga on a mat, Kriya yoga during daily life, and Kriya in the loving presence of Mother Nature.
A community of women to spark spiritual exploration, integrate through soulful sadhana, and deepen our connection to the magic of Mother Nature all around us.
SHEvolve offers the space to grow on your unique spiritual journey with encouragement and education along the way. Each month, we’ll explore how to bee present with one aspect of yogic philosophy/teachings, through the lens of sacred feminine — in loving contrast to the masculine culture we live in. You'll learn during a wisdom talk, you'll experience through a kriya yoga practice, and you'll apply wisdom through a prithvi (earth)-based practice that you can take into nature wherever you are.
Just as the bumblebee visits a hive to store nourishment and cultivate a family, SHEvolve sisters support one another as we hear wisdom, cultivate a daily soulful sadhana, and connect to our magic within.
I’ve put all the details below if you feel the resonance with this — and I'm so excited to announce our theme during our first 9 months: We'll dive into the 9 planets of Vedic Astrology!
BUT, before you scroll, I’m excited to tell you about a FREE offering with me on Zoom this Thursday, December 15 at 5pm AK time:
SHEVOLVE // ORIGIN
December 15th, 2022
A FREE women's circle + satsang + yoga practice
to explore women's history in yoga
LIVE on Zoom with Mollie Busby
(+ recordings will be available to all)
4pm AK / 6pm MST / 7pm CST / 8pm EST
Join me for this FREE offering that offers a sneak peek into SHEvolve — no strings attached. During our 90-minute Zoom call (or recording if you can’t make it live!), you'll get a first-hand test drive of what you can expect in the SHEvolve community.
You in? I would love to be in circle with you — whether you're able to be there live, or join via recording.
It was 2020, and I was standing at the bottom of a steep hill in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness next to a massive stack of plywood.
Those sheets would become Arctic Hive’s first three guest cabins… but first? They needed to travel a quarter mile, uphill.
On my back.
There are some things I consider, and think to myself: Yep, not doing that. A few examples:
But for some reason, I looked at that stack of plywood which needed to be hand-hauled UPHILL to the build site and thought, Well. This should be interesting.
I got to work.
At first, I worked on perfecting my technique so that each trip uphill would be as efficient as possible. It was helpful to see the big stack every time because knowing how much was left meant that my body knew what to expect. As the stack dwindled, I could feel my energy draining faster and faster.
In an instant, I realized I needed to muster the same strength I’d been cultivating on my mat during all those hours of Kriya yoga and meditation. It literally blew my mind: Carrying plywood IS Kriya.
This entire journey building Arctic Hive could be mundane task after mundane task… or, it could be one loonnnggg Kriya — which means evolutionary action. If I can do Kriya on my yoga mat, surely I can embody the same strength and stamina with these final sheets of plywood.
(Below: me, carrying interior plywood later on that winter… we don’t have any photos from the original epic plywood haul!
And that’s what I did — and have been doing every day since. I’ve Kriya-ed my way through building four cabins, two domes, garden beds, a dog yard AND our new house that’s nearly complete! In that moment years ago, I realized I could practice yoga anywhere. Anytime. And that was not only “good enough,” it was more than enough. I felt deep in my bones that its the way nature intended it.
(Below: Me, in the rain circa 2020, putting up cedar shakes)
With awareness, breath control, reflection and proper technique, yoga and meditation were literally EVERYWHERE. And where there was yoga, there was my spiritual connection. Yoga means “union,” and as such, the practice pulled together my material world with my spiritual world in a seamless harmony I’ve been so grateful for. No more guilt.
Whether I’m meditating on a cushion or breathing as I install a roof on our new home, my life has become the practice.
And yet (can you believe there’s still more to the story?), there was one final piece missing from the puzzle that was a complete blind spot. I didn’t even see it coming until it arrived in my email inbox.
That story comes tomorrow — and it’s the final chapter of this mini-series with a SUPER exciting announcement for how I want to invite you to kick off 2023.
See you then,
I remember the first yoga class I taught after returning from India.
I was nervous — not because I wasn’t prepared to teach. On the contrary… I was more trained than ever. I was about to teach a class in a way that I knew none of my students had ever experienced before — and I had no clue how they’d react.
For years, I’d been showing up as a studio owner to teach a consistent, powerful sequence of physical poses. I taught what many — in the west — consider “yoga”. But after my life-changing journey to the source of yoga in the foothills of the Himalayas, I couldn’t go back to the way I’d done it before. My new style had my same personality, but with new breathwork practices, ancient mantras, and repetitive techniques designed to re-write deep-seated subconscious programming. These practices (which we call Kriyas) had given me a direct connection to my inner wisdom and paved the way for massive healing and transformation I so deeply needed.
I knew in my heart that my next step was to share. But how?
I’d spent years fitting into the box of “yoga” that others expected of me. But in that split second, sitting in front of a room full of students, I recognized that familiar feeling of being different. My childhood insecurities reared up… I almost didn’t teach the class.
But something inside me insisted: It’s time.
So for the umpteenth time in my life, I stepped into a space of embracing that which makes me different. I taught my first public Kriya yoga class… and no surprise here: I haven’t looked back.
From yoga teacher trainings to online courses to 60-minute studio classes, yoga retreats and yoga festivals, I’m honored to have taught thousands of receptive yogis what I brought back from across the globe.
Each student has their own intimate experience with Kriya — a Sanskrit word that means simply “evolutionary action”. I sequence the Kriya techniques with dancing, whole-body shaking, and familiar yoga poses and sequences we all know and love. This is all wrapped up into what we call a yoga journey. The experience isn’t just a bodily workout… it’s a work in — allowing us to access parts of ourselves we didn’t know we had using mantra, intensive breathing, mindful repetitive motions and more. I’ve had students tell me that years of struggling to reconcile aspects of themselves came together in just one particularly powerful Kriya yoga journey.
Although the yoga I teach is undeniably different, I’ve let go of any resistance to walking this path because… well, I love it. My life has become this practice, and this practice has become my life — and I’m proud to say so.
What started as a way to learn my body became a mindful meditation to meet my spirit. I finally learned what it meant to have a spiritual practice.
It felt stable and supported. But… there was a catch. Once I stepped off my mat or cushion, my life “outside of yoga” building cabins, living in the wilderness, and tending a growing sled dog team felt somehow detached from that blissful yogic path.
I knew something still hadn’t clicked but I couldn’t put my finger on it… until the plywood came into the picture.
I’ll tell you part 3 of this story tomorrow!
I’ve always done things differently — it’s baked into the fiber of my being. Over time, I’ve found delight in being able to surprise friends and family with my next move.
I didn’t spend my teenage summers boating and sunbathing on the chain of lakes in my hometown, despite protests from my tight-knit group of girlfriends. You could find me leading wilderness expeditions, not showering for days, and cooking over campfires amongst mosquitoes and black bears.
(Below: Me, circa 2006 leading a group hiking for 17 days on Isle Royale)
In college, when many of my friends were studying abroad, I was bound and determined for my sorority to win a competition called Humorology. Myself and a group of 30 others spent the better part of four years creating annual 20-minute musicals with original scripts, song lyrics to popular tunes, and choreography. Six teams would compete each year for the glory of 1st place… all along the way, raising money for local charities. I’ve starred in leading roles like Princess Peach, the Queen of England, and Miss Piggy.
In 2010, I told my family I was leaving my dream job as a style editor of a magazine and moving to Utah, chasing after a California guy I’d met just six months earlier.
(Below: Me, emcee-ing a fashion show in Madison, Wis. in my favorite pair of 3-inch heels)
In the years that followed, I married that guy, started a nonprofit, learned to backcountry ski (which had a steep learning curve from my hometown “hills” of Wisconsin!), explored mountains on five continents, and opened four yoga studios.
(Below: Sean and I on our first ski/snowboard expedition to arctic Norway in 2013)
When originally announced to my friends and family that Sean and I were going to live off the grid, I had a lot of explaining to do… namely, what precisely that meant, and how we were going to build a livable home (a yurt, and later a small cabin) with exactly zero building experience.
Years later when I decided to move to Alaska, you’d think I’d announced I was moving to the moon! Would I ever come back to visit? Was it safe? Was I sure?
Yes yes yes, I assured them. By the time everyone got used to Alaska (alongside the fact we were amassing more dogs than was socially “acceptable” anywhere but here!), I announced that Sean and I would be building a wilderness retreat destination and our home above the arctic circle, 270 miles from civilization, in a village of 12 people.
The crowd went silent.
My best curveball to date! And look at me now :-) My life has been filled with surprises, and I’ve been so fortunate to have the support network that I do. And while my off-the-beaten-path adventures have been posted on social media, televised to global audiences, and cataloged through my writing, blogs and newsletters, my spiritual journey over the past 7 years has been more behind the scenes — and surprisingly, I consider it one of the most rewarding adventures of my life.
It was a peculiar thing, starting down a spiritual path that was undeniably different from anyone else in my life. Normally, I’d embrace this and proclaim it loud and proud. But for whatever reason, I kept my initial progress quiet. If we’re being honest, it was one of the first times I was terrified to do things differently.
I’ll tell you why tomorrow.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.