Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi)
My experiences of having lived in six countries (UK, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Spain and China) and having travelled and studied extensively across the world, have shaped and sustained my personal daily practice, teaching and educational research.
I have been working as an adult education teacher since 2003. I have been teaching in higher education since 2008. Since 2011, I have been studying seriously and then teaching yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices. Since 2014, I have been researching and teaching the practice and philosophy of fusing these two educational contexts and contents.
My doctoral studies focused on the integration of meditation into higher education pedagogy and curriculum for developing students integrally. In which, I designed, developed and ran university courses that encouraged the exploration of interpersonal and interpersonal relationships through the integration of two meditation practices as well as introspection and embodied awareness through contemplative reading and reflective writing – the core experiential learning components of the courses.
I continue to develop my research and teaching in higher education today. I also continue to teach yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices in universities and local communities today.
I am a Senior Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), now AdvanceHE and also an internal examiner for HEA teaching fellowships where I am currently employed at the University of East London in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). I am also a teaching member of Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) and Philosophy of Education Society for Great Britain (PESfGB). My academic profile connecting research and researchers is accessible through ORCID. I am also a community partner of Yoga & Body Image Coalition (YBIC), a teaching member of the Indepedent Yoga Network (IYN), and a registered and insured experienced yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals (YAP). Additionally, I am trained in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA England) and a member of the UK-based charity Mind.
I have been encouraged and inspired by many wonderful teachers and students over the years and thanks are due to them here:
I am especially grateful to Ananda Vir Kaur and Tao Prajnananda, founders of the unique teacher training school Yoga Integral Dharma Ananda in Valencia, Spain. My first and some of my most profound experiences from practising Integral Yoga led me to begin my first teacher training course in Integral Yoga, with two unforgettable teachers, as well as a large cohort of fellow trainees and friends.
Others I have learned a great deal from include:
Two incredibly sincere and authentic yoga teachers, Li Laoshi, founder of Heart Yoga (心瑜伽), and Gao Laoshi, founder of Purusa Yoga (普茹撒瑜伽), both based in Ningbo, China.
Victor Chng, founder of Yin Yoga Asia, and one of his wonderful protégés who also trained me personally in Yin Yoga, Ms Jjoyce Chong, as well as Dr Retisha Sharma and Master Prashant Singh for their training in the 200-hour Yin Yoga at Union Yoga Ayurveda in Singapore.
Dr Zhu, at the oldest hospital in Ningbo, China, and his student Kite Tang, for their patience and enthusiasm in teaching the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the living practices of Five Elements (wǔxíng, 五行) diet and nutrition for healing (yàoshàn càiyáo, 药膳 菜肴; shíliáo càiyáo, 食疗菜肴) and classical herbalism (艾草).
Satya Narayan Goenka, founder of the modern vipassana movement, whose spirit is present at the many centres across the world in which I’ve been able to attend a number of 10-day and 3-day silent meditation courses year-on-year.
Pere Marced Barrachina and Cleo Peterson at Fractal Change, for their wisdom and generosity in facilitating the many magnificent emotional process ceremonies that I have experienced and shared with others.
My dear teacher Prem Varsha Ji, based in Rishikesh, India, for teaching me 300-hour traditional Kundalini Yoga.
Kathmandu Centre of Healing, in Nepal, for the Sound Healing teacher training course with master Shree Krishna Shahi.
Maayaa School of Healing, in Rishikesh, India, for Maayaa’s wonderful Sound Healing teacher training course.
Jane MacKarness at Classical Yoga UK, based in Devon, for her beautiful Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Thank to you the remarkable staff at the Residential College, The Sports Centre and Wellbeing Services, their support and generosity helped me to establish and run the University of Nottingham Ningbo China campus’ first extensive yoga programme. Their support also allowed me to turn a space on campus into the first silent meditation room for staff and students. Thank you to Patti Wallace, director of Wellbeing Services, for her wisdom and inspiration.
I am extremely grateful for receiving the ongoing and invaluable support from my supervisor Dr Bob Adamson, at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Without his feedback and encouragement, I would not have been able to complete my doctoral thesis, entitled ‘The Integration of Self-inquiry Meditation into Higher Education: Between Philosophy and Practice, Beyond Mindfulness, Towards an Embodied Curriculum’.
My dear friends and fellow yoga, mindfulness and meditation teachers, Gabriela Eguino, Athena Han and Susanna Wickes. Our shared vision has enabled us to work collaboratively in Ningbo, China, to build a caring and uplifting community.
To all my students, past and present, for teaching me so much. To all, I feel eternally grateful.