Pearl Walker-Swaney: Expressing Indigenous Love and Intersectional Creativity Through Your Business

October 11, 2021

Description and Show Notes

Pearl is Lakota, Dakota and Anishinaabe. She is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and affiliated with White Earth Nation. She says the following about her work, “I enjoy sharing and connecting with individuals on ways to practice self-care, center love, and reclaim ancestral knowledge and practices through yoga, movement, stillness, and supporting families as a full spectrum birth worker. I believe to heal our past, present and future, the work begins inwards, with ourselves. Showing ourself love first is vital to how we show up for and love others, in relationships, in caregiving, in tending to the earth, and in all of our relations.”

Pearl speaks about her discovery of yoga, her origin story at the 612 Jungle studio in Minneapolis and the impact of her work as a birth worker. Topics include:

  • Advice for people who don't feel an instant, deep connection in breathwork and yoga (when they first start).
  • Holding space people's emotions without being triggering
  • How yoga is so whitewashed, and is so much more than just position on a mat and breathing. It's about relationships and your daily life.
  • Sharing your intersectionality and full identity in what you do and what you create in your business.  
  • And a special guest appearance from her tiny human!

Contact Pearl:

  • Via Instagram: @constantmotionyoga and @constantmotion 
  • Website:
  • Email: info [at] constantmotion [dot] online 

Keep in touch with Rochelle on Instagram or Twitter at @rochellesanch


[00:00:00] Rochelle: Welcome to compassionate side hustle strategy, hosted by Rochelle Sanchez. I'm a business and mindset coach and I help solopreneurs like you quiet your inner drama and build compassionate systems that allow you to show up consistently and authentically in your business. No matter your background status, what you've done or haven't done, you deserve to do what you love for a living.

[00:00:25] It is my honor, this week to introduce you to our guest speaker, Pearl Walker Sweeney. Pearl is Lakota, Dakota, and Anishinaabe. She is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and affiliated with White Earth Nation. She enjoys sharing and connecting with individuals on ways to practice self-care, center love, and reclaim ancestral knowledge and practices through yoga movement, stillness and supporting families as a full spectrum birth worker.

[00:01:02] She believes that to heal our past present and future the work begins inwards showing yourself love first is vital to how we show up for and love others in relationships in caregiving, intending to the earth and in all of our relations. And with that, let's hear from.

[00:01:26] Hi, Pearl. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:28] Pearl: Hi, thank you for having me.

[00:01:30] Rochelle: I'm really excited to, get to know you and, and put your origin story out there so that we can all see what it is that, you've gone through to create your business. And, I'm sure that you have a lot of experiences that we can all relate to, especially if you're making more of like a heart-centered, business.

[00:01:53] So, just to get us started, can you tell me what your side hustle is? Or is it still a side hustle or full-time?

[00:02:00] Pearl: Yeah. No, thank you. it is still a side hustle. Eventually I'd like for it to be my full-time hustle. But so I have a business that is focused around, wellness, and indigenous love and self care.

[00:02:21] And I do that through yoga and also, my birth work. I'm a full spectrum, doula and lactation counselor. So, my business is to center indigenous love, reclaim, those practices and that knowledge, and also give caregivers and other birth workers that are indigenous some self care practices that they can use in their daily lives.

[00:02:54] Um, and so that's kind of what I do for my business. You know, there's a lot to it. I think my journey into yoga started my son was about three years old, so I was three years postpartum. I had never really done yoga before then, even though I was like involved in athletics, I was, pretty active with sports.

[00:03:18] I never got into yoga. And so when I took my first yoga class, it impacted me so much. I realized how much I needed time to myself, especially in the postpartum period. You just are so overwhelmed with new, daily things that you have to do as a caregiver to this, this tiny human, and you're tired and your body is changing and you just transformed.

[00:03:52] So there's just so many new things that, taking time for yourself in such a tender period is really important. And so, yoga is something that made me realize I do need to give myself time for, self care to check in with my feelings, to refresh my energy. and you know, I, I think through the training I did.

[00:04:31] I graduated from yoga teacher training in December, this past year. So in 2020 through the 612 Jungle hip-hop yoga studio in Minneapolis. Shout out to my teachers, Lindsay and Gabrielle. All right. And yes, it was such an amazing experience to go through a training and learn more about the practice and how much there's overlap with the eight limbs of yoga and indigenous worldviews.

[00:05:06] Rochelle: Oh, I bet! Can you, can you kind of break down what it was like? Cause I know that let me, I mean like, there's so much to that where you have like this, this child at home and then you take your first yoga class and it, it changes things in you, right? Like you, it sounds like you became more aware of, you know, how you could better take care of yourself.

[00:05:27] Was it like an instant kind of thing where you're like, "Oh, this is, this is something." Or did you have to take like a bunch of classes yourself to let the message come in?

[00:05:38] Pearl: Yeah. I, what I remember is it was kind of instant. It was immediate self-awareness that, especially in, in, you know, the final resting pose and you're just laying there and you get to just breathe for a few minutes and that's all you do is just lay there and breathe. I remember crying and, as they close out the practice or your yoga flow, they kind of do like a gratitude or, it's called Metta. So the practice of, happy people, loving kindness, and it's such an energetic, feeling, you just feel it in your body that makes you, it makes you smile.

[00:06:29] It makes you feel good. and I believe that's the power of our breath that we can move energy within our body and we can move it out of our body, you know, the stagnant air, the stagnant energy. And that's really where we can tap into, you know, the scientific part is like our central nervous system.

[00:06:53] The vagas nerve. And clearing out our thoughts, but energetically and spiritually, connecting with our, our higher selves, that spiritual part of our core and our mind, and really becoming self-aware of our thoughts, how we feel, the energy we carry and the energy around us. And so. No.

[00:07:20] Rochelle: That's amazing.

[00:07:21] That's just like, so much power in just breathing.

[00:07:24] And I think that it's, I don't know, maybe, maybe you can speak to this because I know some people that are like, you know, focusing on my breath does nothing or I, it just doesn't hit me the same way that, it hits other people. Like maybe they don't, they don't feel that deep connection, just yet. And so I'm like, you know, how do you go from being brand new to yoga and then having this, you know, incredible instant message, you know, and this learning. And then like, you know, of course now this is what you do, right? So like how do you get into it?

[00:08:03] Pearl: Yeah. I, I think that's such a, unique experience to some of my background being in athletics and knowing some of those benefits. Like, I mean, I, I heard of them the benefits of breathing and mindfulness and, you know, doing yoga and I never fully understood it. but I think blending that with my, upbringing and my practice around my culture, my, our ceremonies, and singing, learning some songs in their language in our mother tongue.

[00:08:46] And the way our air moves in those dances, in those songs, the way our air moves when we're, you know, moving our body, I think it was a blend of those that gave me this insight to, wow, this breathing is really doing something to me.

[00:09:05] Rochelle: I can totally see that.

[00:09:08] Pearl: Yeah, it was so eyeopening. and I that's what I... what I do in my classes, my yoga classes, they teaches, I share, those, you know, my intersectionality. My, my identity as a birth worker and that passion and my identity as a yoga instructor and what I've learned from that and bring them together and share about. You know, our breath is sacred. Your breath is sacred and you yourself have the power to remove stagnant energies or, you know, using your talking to, oh, Hey, Bubba.

[00:09:54] This is, oh, this is my, my tiny human, um, this is that...

[00:10:03] Rochelle: We have a special guest. That's so cool.

[00:10:05] Yes, this is Bubba. He was kind of shy. Awesome. I'm honored to have his voice on the podcast. Yes. Can you, can you talk, can you talk about, for anyone who's not familiar, what is your culture?

[00:10:23] Pearl:

[00:10:23] He's wild.

[00:10:26] Rochelle: He sounds awesome.

[00:10:28] Pearl: Yes. He's he's pretty fun. yeah, so it, my culture, my background is I'm Lakota, Dakota and Anishinaabe. And so there's some similarities across, my, my backgrounds, but my.

[00:10:47] My most of my upbringing is around Anishinaabi ceremonies. I'm mostly connected to, I'm connected to both of, our renewal ceremonies or our new years, which occur in the summertime. And so my Anishinaabe culture is includes like a C a sacred society, but also a secret society there. And my daily, when I'm a medicine people, and it's very similar to, the sun dance for Lakota and Dakota people.

[00:11:28] And it's, our annual new year where we bring renew our spirit. Um,

[00:11:35] So those are, those are some of my, you know, background and cultures. And when I speak about my culture, my, my experience and exposure to those, and how I understood that breathwork was changing my energy and changing my self-awareness, that's this place it's coming from is, you know, these very spiritual um, experiences are that are tied to who I am and how I live my life. And our teachings around the ceremonies of sun dance and, and our, my day lodge are lifelong. It's not just during that time that you practice, being a good relative or taking care of yourself. It's, it's always. Every day to live Wolakota or [native langauge] to live a good life.

[00:12:37] And I believe there, that's why there's so much cross, crossover or similarities between the eight limbs of yoga birth work and, our indigenous values and how we, how we live, because. What I learned through the yoga teacher training is that there is so much more to yoga than the physical practice.

[00:13:06] Than the breathing, than the mindfulness. It's also in your actions, your behaviors, the relationships, how you think of yourself and how you talk to other people. How you treat other people and not just people, but living beings, such as the plants, the animals though, the winged ones, the ones that fly, the rivers, the waters. The land beneath you.

[00:13:40] Rochelle: I love that way of, explaining it because that's, that's essentially what we're all experiencing, like all the time, right? There's no like, clocking in and, and being aware of this stuff and then clocking out and then not being aware of it. And I think that, that, that adds to why your message is so profound, is that like you bring it all together. Like all of this is important. And, and it seems like it's, it would be, such a help to have someone like you who's, who's well-versed, you know, well, like knowledgeable and, and you can, you can be that guide, you know, for people who aren't as aware of all of this as others.

[00:14:28] Pearl: Yes. Thank you for that. Yes. And that's, you know, that's what I've gotten from blending my, my identities and, you know, my experiences, my lived experiences. And that's what I share. That, in my classes. And I think that people have, that have come to my classes, like it resonates with them because that's, also similar to their own experience that, blending of like their spiritual, practices or cultural practices and teachings and understanding it deeper from the practice of yoga.

[00:15:13] Rochelle: So can I ask like, oh, how do you, how do you move those? Put those, put it all together. Like, what is, what is it like for you and how did you yeah. How do you do it?

[00:15:25] Pearl: Yeah. so something that I started. You know, just as I was starting to teach classes on my own outside of yoga teacher training, like after graduating, something that our yoga teacher, Gabrielle really, talked about was, you know, putting your spin on it and making it yours, making it you, when you teach no matter what type of a style of yoga asana or yoga, physical practice, you're teaching, make it you.

[00:16:06] And so for me, I was like, okay. I, I love to make playlists. I love music. I love movement. And I also love birth work. I love to share with people, that you were once a star and that's part of our birth story. We were all stars at one point. And when you came earth side and you took your first breath, you became sacred and your breath became sacred. There, you know, therefore you, yourself, your body in this very moment, you are sacred and remembering that is, can be so healing. And when you're moving, reminding people that your breath is something that helps you connect to your sacredness, to your own spirit, making yourself aware so that you can be more compassionate to yourself and how you think in how you're talking, and how you relate to other people, especially in how you relate to yourself.

[00:17:14] When we make time to be self aware, we really increase and improve the relationship we have to ourself and that in turn transcends and radiates to the people around us. So, you know, that's kind of, you know, how I put these, these classes together as you know, what I've gotten from, from the practice and thinking about, you know, how it feels in my body.

[00:17:48] So what I do is. I have an idea of like a theme I want to talk about for a class. So I kind of pick some songs that maybe feel like they fit with the theme. Or the, the vibe of the song just like makes you feel good. And so I move and see how it feels in my own body. And that's how I kind of do my classes, how it feels in my own body and how it resonates with me.

[00:18:22] So that's really where, you know, I can sometimes feel emotional and if I can evoke an emotion for myself, I know I can evoke emotion for other people and hold space for them. And that's healing, when we allow our emotions to flow, whether that's through laughing or crying, you know, allowing tears to come through or feeling angry or, you know, whatever these emotions are, letting them move through you is so healing.

[00:19:02] And I think that's also a part of what makes, you know, my classes that I offer for yoga, unique or different. Because I'm blending all of these things and it's resonating with the people that come.

[00:19:20] Rochelle: Yeah. It sounds like it's, it's really a profound experience for them. Once they realize that this, you know, you call it yoga, but it's, it's really something special and unique. And it's unlike anything I've ever heard, described, you know, in using your words,

[00:19:39] What would you, what would you say to someone who is, you know, maybe they're not really familiar with yoga, but your message is like right now with like feeling emotions and moving things, through your body, like, what would you say to them if they feel like, you know, maybe they need this. You know, what are some signs that this would be the right thing for them right now?

[00:20:09] Pearl: Yeah. I like this question and I often think, I bring it, you know, Usually bring to the forefront is that yoga is so much more than a physical practice. It's so much more than what you do on a yoga mat or how you're breathing it's in your relationships, it's in your daily life. And, you know, sometimes I will mention like our values, indigenous values and specific ones. Or like talk about how

[00:20:48] um, we strive to live a good life, [native language]. And those are ways that the people that come to me and are not sure about yoga, they, they kind of get it because yoga has been so whitewashed. And when we think of yoga immediately, we think the yoga pants, the, the two piece suit, or, you know, the, you know, the high-end yoga mat, sweaty, flexible, like all these, all these things that are out there, the positions and the, you know, yeah. Yeah. And so, I mindful of that and, and knowing, there's a great podcast out there by some, two Desi yoga instructors, you know, where the practice comes from and it's called the Yoga is Dead Podcast and they talk about white women killed yoga and it's very much a whitewashed and they're doing a lot of work alongside other Desi and Indian yoga instructors to revitalize the sacredness of the practice. And so, you know, I, I think again, bringing you back to yoga is more than those things. It is so much deeper. It's actually a sacred practice, just as we are sacred beings, you know, living out a sacred life.

[00:22:33] Um, no matter where we are in our journey in our life, it's still sacred. And so that usually gets people kind of a little more called or a little more open to thinking about, "I think I might be interested in doing a yoga class." Or you know, the physical practice of it because, on my social media, for example, I don't just do the yoga poses or, those things.

[00:23:01] I, I try to tap into all those eight limbs of yoga and, and what it, what it looks like and feels like, to give people that kind of knowledge that, you know, isn't really out there. because it's been so whitewashed. yeah, it's almost like, in just practicing it in this way is, is revolutionary in itself because you're participating in a more, you know, in a way that honors the practice and, and the, the people behind it.

[00:23:39] Rochelle: I love how you described. can you break down, the eight limbs of yoga? I'm not familiar with that.

[00:23:46] Pearl: Oh yeah. so there's, it's called the eight limbs of yoga. and. So there's, a tree and that's kind of how you, you learn about these, these eight limbs. There's eight limbs to the tree and it starts with the roots and those are the yamas and niyamas, those are like the foundational values, having, compassion.

[00:24:21] And, and to do no harm to yourself and others and other people, other living beings, you know, there's, being honest and truthful, telling the truth and being a truthful person, there, you know, and I think there's, that's where I really started to see a lot. Similarities with how it's so much like our own indigenous values that we have in our, ceremonies and the way we live our lives.

[00:25:05] Um, and so those are kind of the first two, pieces are, are those values, those foundational values, and there's 10 of them. There's five yamas and five niyama. and then there's pranayama, which is the movement of, of your breath, or how the breath moves. And, you know, I've, I've already talked about how powerful that is, is, the movement of your breath.

[00:25:40] But as you, as you kind of go from the foundation, of, of that. Yamas and niyamas, there's also, asana, the physical practice or the postures, and that symbolizes, or is meant to, to teach that things are always moving. Things are always shifting and we are to be flexible and move with with life. life isn't stagnant, it's always moving.

[00:26:19] And so that's why our bodies always have to, you know, also have to move, not always moving, but also have to move. and that pranayama is something that helps us do that. and that is the, our life force energy. Or the leaves and the asana are the branches. and then there's protea Hora, or like withdrawing from the senses and looking inward.

[00:26:51] And that's really that, that self-awareness where it can be ignited. and that's the bark, or protection from outer elements if you will. Yeah. And then there is, The internal energy carrier or Dharana, and that's a deeper concentration that prepares you for meditation. and that's where you can really bloom and grow.

[00:27:22] Um, and that's, I think where a lot of transformation happens because you're really tapping into your higher self and then the final is, some it, and that is. similar, like to, in Dakota we say [native language], we are all related and [native language] is, you know, in the Desi language, it roughly translates to like the realization that you are connected to everything, everything, everything. From yourself beyond yourself to the ground beneath you, the waters that run along the land, the plants, the trees, the animals, other people, the sky, the stars, the winged ones, the cosmos, like beyond yourself. And so when you've gotten to a point of really looking in to your higher self and tapping into that, you now kind of can come to this place of remembering that you really are connected to so much more than, than just yourself and that that's where the practice, I think also, because um, deeply spiritual.

[00:28:57] Rochelle: Yeah. Yes I can. I mean, everything that you just said, that's way better than like yoga pants and lululemon, you know? Like, gosh, like, are you kidding me? These are these even in the same world,

[00:29:16] Give me this stuff!

[00:29:19] Pearl: Yes.

[00:29:21] Rochelle: Wow. Oh my gosh. I am. I love that you, just the way that you talk about it and even like the, how you show up and how, you know, how you present, how you present it. Like, I feel very welcomed and, you know, like welcomed and honored and like curious too, because I'm like, oh, this is like, you know, deep! And, and so like, you know, that deepness it's, it's enticing. It's I dunno. It's just all very wonderful. It's just wanted to tell you that.

[00:29:55] Pearl: Thank you. Thank you so much. And you know, I, I put a lot of intention when I create flows for people, or my, my classes, because I that's what I know I need from the practice. And that's what helps me, also stay grounded and yeah.

[00:30:13] You know, practice my self awareness and it is a practice. It's something that, I do a daily and, it definitely helps me, you know, hold true to my values and, you know, really, really striving to live the, a good life or Wolakota. And so. yeah, I, I really appreciate that. Cause it is, something that comes from my heart space, but it's also, it's kind of a little bit of work cause I have to, you know, I put so much intention into it.

[00:30:55] I want to be mindful of people in their journeys and always be cautious of how I, I guess maybe self-aware is a better word aware of how I'm speaking so that I don't, in unintentionally like trigger somebody. And so, there's moments where I was in my yoga teacher trading and I'm like, yeah, I don't know if I would say it that way that might trigger. That triggered me. I might trigger someone if I'm speaking that way. Yes. Thank you so much for that.

[00:31:31] Rochelle: No, thank you. And like, just the way that you explained that just now, you know, I feel like a lot of people who have businesses, especially if you're in like a service-based business, we, we do need to be aware of that stuff.

[00:31:44] Like we're... yeah, we, we're all human and we're all going through things. But when you really get down into it, like, am I saying, you know, what words am I actually using? Am I making this a safe space for them potentially. How do I, how do I make sure that I'm, you know, expressing what the work that we're doing in a, in a way that honors, where they are in their own journey. And I just love how, how you have that awareness and you make that very, you make that very clear.

[00:32:16] Pearl: Yes. And I think, you know, that kind of goes to one of my core values for my, my business, is centering indigenous love. And, and that very much to me as being compassionate and understanding my own healing journey, and decolonizing and, and re re parenting and all of those things.

[00:32:43] I, you know, I'm also empathic, so I feel very deeply, and I know how it feels when people don't hold space for you, or I know how it feels when people, say things that trigger you in, you know, think that it's a pro your, your problem versus like slowing down to, to ask what's going on. I know, you know, the opposite of what I'm providing and so I'm very cautious and aware and mindful.

[00:33:17] Of how I hold space and create space for people to be in my, yoga classes and also in my birth work. Being very gentle and compassionate with the folks that I'm tending to and curing for because they're in such a beautiful, sacred time. No matter if that is, pregnant or postpartum or an, a miscarriage, you know, they're, they're such an attender time and so connected to the sky world, and to, the cosmos and, you know, all of the, all of the spiritual beings that, it just reminds me that I need to also remember to have compassion for.

[00:34:09] Uh, them as much as I have compassion for myself. and, and that's also what I strive to do daily in living my life. you know, as a human being and also as a parent, is centering indigenous love. And I recognize when I'm getting crispy or burning. It's hard to, you know, it's hard to do that. and so that's, those are in those moments.

[00:34:40] *I can catch myself, I can take a couple deep breaths and be like, chill out, Pearl. Egotistic Pearl, chill out. You know, you're crispy, you're burnt out. You know, this isn't a big deal. *

[00:34:55] Rochelle: That's a good way to put it. Crispy. I like it. No, it's already done like, this is... You've gone. You've gone too far, right?

[00:35:10] Pearl: Yes.

[00:35:12] Rochelle: So as we close up today, I wanted to ask you what advice, you know, along these lines that you're just you're talking about right now. Like what advice or encouragement would you give people, who are also building a side hustle that is like very impactful, like literally changes lives. But they're also trying to, to celebrate their own culture through the work that they're doing.

[00:35:37] Pearl: Yes. I loved. I love this question. I love envisioning like other people doing this. That just makes me so happy. But I would say that, you know, there's a things, some few, maybe lots of things that I've learned from doing this and also has still having a full-time job is, you know, take, *take the time that is needed to build what you want to build.*

[00:36:09] *Allow yourself to make some mistakes along the way, allow yourself to feel supported, give yourself permission to reach out to people and ask for help.* I think sometimes we can get so caught up in, visioning how we want it to be and not ask for help along the way. And so those are kind of the top things that come to mind when I'm thinking about what I've done and what I've learned from doing this side business.

[00:36:48] Um, and I would not be able to do this, I would not have been able to do the yoga teacher training or any of my birth work trainings, or host yoga classes or meditation classes without my lifelong partner, who watches our son while I'm doing those things. Or just goes ahead and, you know, supports me doing all of my business stuff, and trainings and workshops and, and reflections. *You know, it's important to build yourself a community of support even if that's like one to two people or your family or several people, it's important to. Have a community that's going to root for you and be there for you when you make mistakes, either for you to hold you when you need yourself, some of that compassion and tender, loving care. And so those are kind of my wishes for those also doing this type of work.*

[00:38:03] Rochelle: I love it. *Shout out to supporters. Like, we've got like lots of helpers helping and changing the world and then also supporters of those helpers. **We need all of us.*

[00:38:16] Pearl: Yes, that's right.

[00:38:19] Rochelle: Awesome. Well, it was such an honor to hear your story and to and to just chat with you today. Honestly, this is, this conversation has meant a lot to me, especially in my own journey as an entrepreneur.

[00:38:34] So thank you for that. Is there anything... where can we, where can we find out more about you? Like how, how can we keep in touch with you?

[00:38:45] Pearl: Oh, yes. I'm glad you asked. I'm on social media, mostly on Instagram. My handles are @constantmotionyoga and @constantmotionwoman. My website is constant motion and, actually it's And so you can find me on any of those. I'm also on Facebook. I have a Facebook group, or page Constant Motion Yoga. And my email is I respond to all of those and I eventually am going to merge, my Instagram accounts into one. so I have just one to manage instead of two.

[00:39:37] Rochelle: Yeah.

[00:39:38] Pearl: But yes, as I build, I'll be working on that. But that can be something to be expected and, and, by the end of the year in 2021 here.

[00:39:50] Rochelle: Wonderful. Well, thank you again, Pearl for all of your knowledge here. And, please let me know how I can continue supporting you and, you know, if you ever have any launches or anything like that, you know, I'm totally rooting for you.

[00:40:06] Consider me one of your supporters and, hopefully we can keep in touch.

[00:40:12] Pearl: Awesome! Thank you so much, Rochelle. I absolutely loved this conversation and, I appreciate your support.

[00:40:22] Rochelle: All right, well, bye for now. Okay.

[00:40:24] Pearl: Yes, take care.

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