Biography

The body as teacher . . . experience wisdom and creativity through the framework of your very own body.  

Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) is a teacher, teacher trainer and educational researcher in integral yoga, meditation and other contemplative and spiritual practices, having established wellbeing meditation spaces, accredited meditation university courses and staff and student integral yoga programmes in both China and the UK. She is the founder of The Art of Integral Being® and the creator and director of education of the 500-hour Teacher Training Programme in Integral Yoga Studies®, accredited by Yoga Alliance Professionals (YAP).  

She holds doctorate from the University of Nottingham on the integration of meditation into higher education pedagogy and curriculum, exploring direct first-person phenomenological experiences of meditation from philosophical, psychological, sociological and neuroanthropological perspectives. Her experiences of having lived in six countries­–UK, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Spain and China–and of having travelled and studied extensively across the world have shaped and sustained her personal daily practice, teaching and educational research. She has trained extensively in Asia and Europe in a number of traditions and paths, including integral yoga, kundalini yoga, yin yoga, meditation, nada yoga and sound healing therapies, trauma-informed yoga, Taoist practices, yoga nidra, tantra, vipassana, zazen and mindfulness, and some elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbalism and shamanism. She continually fuses these traditions and paths and their practices into the open, fluid, culturally responsive and creative system of integral yoga.

Gabriella has been teaching in adult education teacher since 2003 and teaching in higher education since 2008, where she developed and led a number of university modules for under-graduate and post-graduate students within the faculties of Arts and Humanities and Humanities and Social Sciences and Education Studies departments of a number of British universities, including the China-based campus of the University of Nottingham, where she developed and lead the international communications first-year programme of study as well as many other modules and courses between 2013 and 2019. Following extensive training, since 2012 Gabriella had also been teaching yoga, meditation and other contemplative and spiritual practices to adults and university students, which led her to begin teaching formally, researching and integrating these practices into her curriculum design and development in her higher education modules ever since.

She continues to teach, train university teachers and develop her research within the field of contemplative education. The reason for this integration is simple: every single experience, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant is both an educational opportunity and an education in its own right. This is what education is. The practice of integral yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices from wisdom traditions from across the world are powerful conduits for awakening to our Integral Being because they turn our attention and awareness inwards. It is in this very place, deep within the body, that insight, wisdom and creativity is hidden in plain sight.

‘Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.’ ~ William James 

She is a member of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE), and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) (now Advance HE) and examiner for teaching fellowship applications, a member of the Philosophy of Education Society for Great Britain (PESfGB), a community partner of Yoga & Body Image Coalition (YBIC), a member of Plant-based Health Professionals UK, a registered teacher with the Independent Yoga Network (IYN), and a registered senior yoga teacher and teacher trainer with Yoga Alliance Professional (YAP). Her academic teaching and research profile is accessible through ORCID. She has published in academic journals including British Journal of Educational Studies (BJES) and British Educational Research Association (BERA), and is currently writing her first academic book on the curriculum and pedagogy of Integral Being.

Currently, she works in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at the University of East London and has been a member of the OfS-funded international research team RAMHHE (Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education) since April 2020. She is also trustee for the educational charity The Meditation Trust and runs her flagship Integral Yoga Studies® 2-year programme and other classes and workshops in North London.