"Esalen is a place to turn inward and reconnect with Spirit. It’s in a remote locale, separated from the pressures to over-produce and move quickly, to be ‘plugged in.’ One of the best ways to unplug is to immerse ourselves in nature, to live and breathe with the rhythms of the earth and the tides. Without requirements, life simplifies. The mind quiets and suffering lessens. When we ease our suffering, the potential to grow, learn and change amplifies." —Robin Wilner
Yoga instructor and holistic nutritionist Robin Wilner facilitates our Guided Program in Creating Connection through the Rituals of Esalen. Our new Teacher-in-Residence brings a winning trifecta of accessibility, warmth and humor to the ritual construct.
“Rituals can help us develop daily habits rooted in discipline and commitment,” Robin says. “We keep coming back to a ritual practice (or sādhanā) even when we don’t want to because we know it has a lasting, healing effect. What I hope to offer guests on this journey are practical healing solutions to bring the body, mind and spirit back into a state of harmony."
Over the next month, Robin will lead guests through a Guided Program called “Journey Through the Chakras.” In addition to a welcoming circle, it features a variety of classes—from “Reclaim Your Roots” and “Stoke the Fire” to “Communication and Integration” and “Liberate the Mind”—all of which invite guests to explore their fullest potential through the lens of the subtle energy body with movement, breath and ritual practices.
“The chakras are our body’s energy centers, or what I like to think of as information channels,” Robin says. “They govern the mind/body connection, our behaviors, intellect, desires and our potential for transformation. When we feel an imbalance of any kind, whether it’s physical or emotional discomfort or disease, we can turn to the chakras as sources of healing by gathering information.”
Inquiry comes into play here: Where in the body do we feel disconnect or deficiency? How does that relate to our emotional experience at the moment?
“Working with the chakras takes us into the metaphysical, intellectual and spiritual realms,” she adds.
Originally from Chicago, Robin comes from a “very musical” family. She began dancing at the age of 3 and by the time she was 8, she was training to be in a dance company and already performing professionally. As she gained experience over the years, her natural music skills led her towards a musical theatre career.
“The dream of performing on Broadway was my motivation to keep training intensely and keep working while in school,” she says.
After college, Robin purchased a one-way ticket to New York City and stayed for the next 14 years. During her career, she traveled the country with prominent national touring shows—Cats, Evita, Sweet Charity, Mamma Mia. Her six-year experience in the Broadway cast of Wicked was a “real dream” come true and a remarkable time to truly hone the ritual of performing daily.
“I learned about discipline and commitment,” she says of her time in Wicked. “I learned how to keep showing up even on those days when my body ached and I was exhausted. It’s so parallel to the yoga practice. We keep showing up, knowing that some days it’s downright hard.
But it’s the healing we’re ultimately after. Whenever I thought about a young girl in the audience coming to see this beautiful spectacle of a show for the first time, I could muster the strength and energy to perform like it was opening night, even after more than 2,000 performances.”
As Robin continued to evolve personally and professionally, she realized how much yoga had become a significant part of her life, keeping her body healthy and free from injury as well as helping ease anxiety, especially through the tragedy of 9/11.
“The more I practiced, the more I fell in love with how I felt connected to Spirit,” she says. “Living and working in a highly-charged city, I needed to find balance and quiet. And yoga was how I found that. I knew I wanted to study the practice and philosophy for life, and I’d already been teaching dance for decades. So teaching yoga was the natural next step. And after 10 years, it continues to be my passion.”
Robin has lived in San Francisco since 2014. While several of her friends have shared what a magical place Esalen has been for them, this is her first time on campus.
“By design, Esalen is a place to turn inward and reconnect with Spirit,” she shares. “It’s in a remote locale, separated from the pressures to over-produce and move quickly, to be ‘plugged in.’ One of the best ways to unplug is to immerse ourselves in nature, to live and breathe with the rhythms of the earth and the tides.
Without requirements, life simplifies. The mind quiets and suffering lessens. And when we ease our suffering, the potential to grow, learn and change amplifies.”
When asked about what truly stands out in the new Guided Program she oversees, Robin sees a powerful opportunity for awakening and a deeper connection to the self.
“I believe that our body is a vessel for connecting to spiritual practice,” she explains. “Dropping into the energy centers helps us to feel more embodied. When we feel embodied, then we’re functioning beyond the status quo. We’re more awake, alive, conscious of our actions, mindful of our words and engaged in our relationships.
When we shift our nervous system from spending overtime in fight or flight to softening into a rest-and-digest mode, we simply feel better. We also discover new potential within the mind/body channel, more steadiness and ease. And eventually, stress can be replaced by untethered joy.”
Learn more about Robin and her work here.