Welcome to Gray Bird!
My name is Meg Nalezny. I’m an occupational therapist (OT) and yoga instructor with a specialty in adapting yoga for all bodies, minds, and circumstances. I offer in-home and community-based yoga instruction and occupational therapy consultations in the beautiful Twin Cities area.
I’m delighted that you’re here.
Read on for a bit of my story and how Gray Bird came to be. It’s a lovely story, and it starts on a small vegetable farm in western Minnesota.
After graduating college with a highly useful English and psychology degree (ha!) and minimal life direction, my growing interest in all things agricultural and an ache for the outdoors led me to an internship at Earthrise Farm in Madison, Minnesota.
In mid May, fresh off the college campus, I rolled up the gravel driveway at Earthrise and was instantly, lovingly absorbed into the busy hum of farm life. As I weeded lettuce, picked tomatoes and made strawberry jam, it occurred to me that I loved all parts of the process – every step in the food and life cycle, down to the stinky broccoli stalks decomposing in the compost heap and the sticky jam cleanup. Because in each step – in the interplay of weather, human handiwork, and millions of micro-organisms – was real magic.
Each day, I sank gratefully into the mystery of our delicately balanced (yet incredibly robust) system of seasons and cycles. I felt awed, rooted, and strong in myself – body, mind and heart. I smelled the shift in the air as we transitioned from delicate June nights into thick August ones. I watched weather roll from one corner of the wide prairie sky to the other. I felt the sting of nettles in the potato patch and the impossibly soft skin of ripe Garden Peachtomatoes. My senses were full – in the most nourishing, stimulating, soul-sustaining way.
I loved the farm, and hated to leave after the last produce left the vines. But knew I wasn’t a farmer – or, more precisely, I wasn’t meant to nurture vegetables and marshal chickens exclusively. Even as future gardens simmered in my imagination, I ached to bear witness to the transformations that happen in each stage of human living, too – the planting, weeding, and composting cycles of our life stories.
I’d felt first-hand the glories of delicious exhaustion by sensory smorgasbord and physical toil – I believe we all know this experience as children, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to re-learn as adults. Could it be that only those with a tract of land and the under-ten contingent have full access to the body-mind-balance club? Impossible!
I left the farm with a full heart and a full-grown determination to honor my inner rhythm and help others come home to theirs, regardless of circumstances. All I needed was an avenue – a means for making contact with those who need a hand in getting reacquainted with balance, and some tools to clear the way.
Enter: occupational therapy. A profession born when observant folks realized that sick people heal more quickly with purpose in their days and a rhythm to their routines. With its whole-person, whole-life philosophy, it was perfect.
I jumped into grad school and first jobs with abandon, all engines and energies full power, only to be knocked back on my caboose. Somewhere, perhaps in my four hundredth online posting to grad school web classes, or maybe as I dashed to my desk for a drink of water between back-to-back patients, I lost heart. I couldn’t imagine feeling less rooted, less balanced, less connected to a rhythmic way of living. It felt ludicrous to spend ten hours a day enabling others’ life balance, only to drag myself home, totally spent, and eat takeout while watching a gaggle of women fight over a live Ken doll on network t.v. This was my reality, and it stunk.
When I surfaced enough to take note of what had unfolded, I felt terribly lonesome for a sense of my inner body, for the rhythm of the seasons, and for a sense of enough. I couldn’t fathom abandoning my beloved and hard-earned new career, but I felt equally averse to dragging myself through each day.
For years, I had nurtured an on-again, off-again relationship with an internet-yoga-in-the-basement practice. I’d dig out my mat, set up the computer on a folding chair, and have at it until (no more than fifteen minutes later) I found myself crouching in front of said computer checking emails. My focus was lacking, to put it mildly.
A new yoga studio opened in our neighborhood, and I gathered up the courage to invest in a class package. I successfully made it through entire classes now (in the company of other humans, my pride prevented me from running to the studio lobby to check my phone). Each asana (movement) practice became a breadcrumb in the trail back to my body and balance, ultimately leading me to a stellar yoga teacher training program. It was love at first pose.
In the company of my fellow yoga teacher trainees, my body relaxed, and my heart gratefully cracked open time and again, releasing stored sadnesses and making room for the start of a kinder, gentler internal dialogue. I felt fluid, joyful, and strong again – and yet, outside the sacred space of the studio, the nagging not enough clung like a squash bug to the vine. Particularly at work.
I started to blend yoga into my clients’ occupational therapy sessions more regularly. Sometimes it was a movement sequence for strength, stamina or coordination: forward fold, plank, down dog, warrior. Other times, I’d find myself half-aware of my breath, or grounding my feet on the floor during a meeting. The blessedly tenacious tendrils of yoga worked their way into every available crevice in my OT and home life.
An oh-so-gradual seismic life shift was in process. I lived the same life externally, but the pixels in my lifework picture were slowly coming into focus and nudging me firmly to my next phase. I heeded the nudge and learned to adapt yoga for all bodies with Mind Body Solutions. My training course took place on sacred ground, in the presence of safe and loving teachers, and I found that in such a setting, I no longer cared to listen to the “not enough” voice; I knew, in my bones, that this lifelong journey was for me.
Soon, I made the transition from the clinic to more sustainable outside OT work. With room to breathe and a gentler life pace, I found the space in my heart, head and days to give flight to Gray Bird Yoga & OT.
I’m delighted to offer personalized individual and small group yoga sessions in your home or at a community location, in traditional style or adapted to your needs.
I’m also available for individual occupational therapy consults & I welcome opportunities to speak to groups of all shapes and sizes. I’m delighted to create customized workshops and series on yoga, OT, and the ways their wisdom can take us home to ourselves and help us inhabit our bodies with joy, grace and strength.
I believe each of us can dwell in a state of groundedness and hope in our bodies, regardless of circumstance – sometimes we just need a hand. I’m delighted to offer you mine.