The year was 2000, and Lisa Grunwald—who now goes by the name Gullveig—was facing her first year of college in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The stress of the transition from high school kid to university student was weighing heavily on her, and her normal anxiety had suddenly escalated to a whole new level. Some days, it got so bad that she would have dozens of panic attacks a day. To top it off, she suddenly developed lockjaw, a frightening condition which keeps the mouth from opening and functioning properly…
Enter holistic wellness modalities!
Gullveig began taking yoga classes to deal with the stress, and through this physical practice, she noticed a sharp reduction in the number of panic attacks; when coupled with breathing techniques, she was also able to reduce the severity of those attacks.
Eventually, Gullveig’s yoga teacher introduced her to a form of meditation involved deep relaxation and mental rest—which she would later discover was Yoga Nidra! “I practiced the breathing and Nidra technique every day,” she recalls, “and even though I didn’t do it perfectly, I noticed one day that it had been several days since I had had a panic attack. Eventually, they went away completely. It has now been 13 years without an attack!”
To address the lockjaw, Gullveig turned to a friend who did reiki. Although she had no idea what reiki was, she was in so much pain that she was open to trying anything. After an hour-long session with her friend, Gullveig climbed off the table to discover that her lockjaw was gone… and, much like her anxiety attacks, it did not return!
“I was intrigued,” Gullveig confides. “I wanted to know how she did it, and so I decided to get my Master Reiki Training from Elizabeth Titelle in Minneapolis, which I completed in 2004. The combination of yoga, meditation, and reiki started to give me a whole new perspective on life and the Universe at large. I started to learn about chakras, meridians, and the like, and I realized that there were whole ancient systems in place that explained why and how we are not just physical bodies with electrical circuitry… rather, we are vessels of consciousness.”
A Goddess Reborn, A Name Refashioned
“We were singing ‘Om Namah Shivaya, Namaha,’ which is a chant associated with Shiva. I had a spontaneous out-of-body experience where I stood up out of my body. I looked down and saw myself, and I could see the waves of energy filling and swirling in the room as everyone chanted. I turned around and saw Shiva, standing about 15 to 20 feet tall, his arms crossed. He was smiling. I was surprised that he was actually blue! Shocked by seeing him, I instantly went back into my body.
“After that, I started to meditate with the intention to astral travel. I have gained many insights and knowledge on that plane of existence, and I can do energy healing in that realm as well. One of the pieces of information that I received was that my name is Gullveig.
“I didn't know what a Gullveig was, and I had never heard the name before, yet my guides started to call me this. When I looked it up, sure enough, it was the name of a Norse goddess who was burned three times and rose again each time unscathed. After the third time, her name changed from Gullveig (meaning ‘gold thirst’) to Heidr (meaning ‘the bright one’). Scholars often put her in a negative light, yet it is my experience that she was teaching alchemy by using the process of transformation, which is why before the process she was thirsting for the gold of enlightenment and, once attained, was now the bright one.
From that point onward, Lisa decided to refer to herself as her true name, Gullveig, to embrace her most empowered self:
“As Gullveig, I represent the journey toward enlightenment. It is my passion to use ancient models of knowledge to awaken and bring to consciousness the awareness of what we are as human beings, which is divine consciousness having a physical experience. With this awareness, we become powerful manifestors of our own experience, and yoga gives us a system for this.
“Just knowing this is only the beginning. The more we can trust our intuition, the more we can trust ourselves and the guidance that is always there for us. As we hone our skills, the more we can feel our connection to the whole Universe and gain resources and answers to what our place is within it. My passion is fueled by seeing these break-through ‘ah-ha’ moments where a student both understands mentally and has an experience where every cell is ‘lit up’ with this conscious reconnection to their vital essence. As they go out into the world, they shine a bit brighter, making the world a bit brighter as well… It only takes one candle to light up a dark room!”
Stepping into the Teacher’s Shoes
So, given her fascinating history and experience with holistic modalities, how exactly did Gullveig wind up teaching 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, Energetic Anatomy for Advanced Yoga Teach Training, and the 100-hour Certificate in Intuitive Guidance at SWIHA, as well as Nidra Chakra Balancing and Restorative Yoga at Spirit of Yoga?
“When I moved into my first apartment in Arizona in 2010, I kept getting SWIHA class calendars addressed to the person who lived there before me,” Gullveig shares. “I had thought about Yoga Teacher Training, yet I had the belief that I needed to be able to do a handstand before I was physically able to enroll in such a program. I look back and laugh at this silly notion now, yet this belief held me back from being a yoga teacher for nearly 10 years!”
Eventually, Gullveig decided to just “go for it.” After an unhappy attempt at seeking her training through a different studio, she wound up at SWIHA, where she enrolled as a full-time student in the 800-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training program and began work as an Admissions Coach. “I worked in that department for two years and finished my training,” Gullveig reflects. “Shortly after I graduated, it became evident that it was time to transition from being a part-time teacher and a full-time Admissions Coach to being a teacher full-time; I could feel the pull of my calling. I told KC Miller, the founder of SWIHA, how I felt, and little by little, I made this transition.”
When Gullveig first started teaching, she was unsure about whether or not she should share her personal story of transformation with her students. Over time, she realized that they were searching for a reflection of their own stories within her. “Healers often come from a background that involves a lot of pain,” Gullveig says. “It is from these painful challenges that life is giving us the specific type of fire to walk through that will enable us to hold out our hands to another who is going through something similar. In order for me to take my teaching to the next level, I had to be willing to reveal my mess. When I started to share parts of my story, I started to make stronger connections to my students. The feedback I received from them reflected that the courage it took to be vulnerable was totally worth it; it was a more fulfilling experience for both me and them.”
Outside of teaching at SWIHA and Spirit of Yoga, Gullveig serves as the founder of the Amber Serpent, through which she offers private yoga coaching, shamanic runic reiki treatments, and spiritual coaching. “Through this organization, I share ancient knowledge on things like energy healing, sacred geometry, goddess myth and lore, and the runes of the Elder Ruthark,” she discloses. Gullveig is also a talented artist who creates crystal-quartz infused paintings of sacred geometry and infused them with reiki. Because crystal quartz is excellent for holding information and energy, it is capable of acting as a “reiki radiator” in the space in which it is placed; it can even be recharged using long-distance reiki! Gullveig believes that each person who owns one of these creations is a guardian of a crystal grid that will grow larger with each guardian and eventually serve as a global crystal grid.
Making Magic Every Day
All in all, Gullveig feels deep joy at how it all turned out:
“Teaching at SWIHA is like no other place! We often make a joke that SWIHA is like a real-life Hogwarts, and there is some truth to this. We may not be flying broomsticks, yet I feel like I witness magic happening every day! I get to have the honor to create a space where a student can feel unconditionally accepted and understand their shadows and their light. Within this space, new opportunities to unconditionally love and empower themselves emerge. Perspectives change; students learn how to have a dialogue with their mind, body, and spirit. They reclaim and love parts of themselves that at one point felt unlovable. The whole mechanism of the microcosm that is each person's experience becomes a mechanism for exploration to deepen their experience as a human being... If this isn't magic, then I don't know what is!”