World Unity Week

Sunday June 21st, 2:00-3:00 PDT
Yoga, Healing & Spirituality Room

To join the session on Zoom, click the room link at the session time. You can also join by going to, and scrolling down to find the room.

Breathing in the New Moon: Gentle Yoga and Guided Meditation

Session Co-Presenters / Facilitators: Benny Drescher & Michelle Merrill, Ph.D.


This session of yoga and meditation is accessible to almost all levels of mobility and experience. We begin with an introduction to a simple yogic breath and movement practice, guided by Benny, to help us reintegrate and attune to our bodies. Then Michelle will lead us deeper into meditation, gently focusing our consciousness on planetary wellness, healing human communities and the more than human world. 

Practices like these can help us build appreciation, gratitude, compassion and wonder. They are even more important for keeping up our well-being, strength and resilience as we respond to environmental and social disruptions.

Hatha yoga, as taught by T.K.V. Desikachar and Mark Whitwell, focuses the spirit and centers the heart in the joy and awe of our existence, and can give rise to meditation naturally. Expect some introductory words followed by a guidance of the gentle ujjayi breath and some simple arm and torso asanas (postures) that will take us from standing (or seated) to laying on our backs. Be sure to be positioned/seated such that you can arc your arms sideways up to above your head, and that you can get to and from a lying position with ease (if you find discomfort in getting down to the floor, consider standing or seating yourself at the edge of a bed). 

After this brief but centering yoga practice, you will be invited even deeper into contemplation through a guided meditation. Our visualization and intention will be on gratitude, wonder and loving-kindness toward all people and all life on Earth. We will welcome the New Moon as an opportunity to focus on what we would like to be emerging now, and the pull of a better future for all.

All bodies of any age and health welcome!

Presenter Bios:

Benny shares Hatha yoga to inspire all to participate in the abundant nurturing and ineffable awe of Mother Earth and the cosmos. He received Hatha yoga from Owen Saundergeld and Mark Whitwell, and Mark Whitwell received Hatha yoga from T.K.V. Desikachar and Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. 

As a student of many teachers, Benny has received a B.Sc. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is a trained ecologist, having worked with over half a dozen ecological research and restoration agencies in California. As a changemaker, Benny chaired the Isla Vista Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, through which he established the Isla Vista Compost Collective. He later co-founded the Extinction Rebellion group of Santa Barbara. He is inspired by the global movements to protect and uplift indigenous rights, to cease anthropogenic biosphere crisis, and to transform human relationships. 

Dr. Michelle Merrill is the founder of Novasutras. Michelle began her career as an evolutionary anthropologist. She studied the social behavior of wild bonobos in the rainforests of Congo and orangutans in Indonesia in the late 1990s. Her research watching these apes confirmed the importance of social affiliation (a step toward loving-kindness and community) in the capacity for cultural learning. What she experienced in her research in the tropical rainforests of Africa and Asia catalyzed her commitment to work for global transformation. After seeing the effects of deforestation in the tropics and looking for the underlying causes of that crisis, she began to study systems thinking and work on global Education for Sustainability – especially on transforming teaching in colleges and universities around the world. She later turned her full focus to activism and community organizing. She developed the Novasutras movement’s core ideas and online presence, recording guided meditations, and leading online and local events near her home in Santa Cruz, California. She also facilitates Pachamama Alliance programs, and was actively involved in the 2019 Global Climate Strike Coalition in Santa Cruz.