If you thought Dr. Strange was just a fictional character, think again.
Dray Gardner is a superhero in his own right. Having healed himself after a life-threatening car crash through the power of yoga and meditation, Dray uses his journey as a beacon of resilience, discipline, balance, and hope.
Today, Dray is one of the most coveted yoga instructors on the West Coast. His “No take two” mentality and unconventional approach have earned him partnerships with globally-recognized brands like Nike, EDC, Lululemon, and more.
Despite his prestige, Dray remains loyal to his Las Vegas community. As a resident for over 30 years, he’s laid his roots and continues to flourish, having built a city-wide support network. Though he’s most well-known for his expertise in yoga, Dray is also a prolific advocate for cannabis reform and uses plant medicine as an extension of his practice.
Dray Gardner was born in South Central Los Angeles. He spent his early days there before moving to Santa Ana at the age of 8. Athletic by nature, his teenage years were spent participating in jiu-jitsu, wrestling, football, or any combat-related sport. Life in Santa Ana. wasn’t easy and street fights were a regular occurrence for Dray. Looking back on this time in his life, Dray recalls himself as “confrontational” and having a short fuse.
Eventually, he decided he had enough. At 23, Dray sought to reinvent himself and moved his life from California to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though this change of environment suited him well, his time in California took a toll on him that couldn’t be escaped. The abuse his body took over the years, whether it was from sports-related injuries or various fights that led to broken bones, created severe back pain. These incidents eventually caught up to him and reached a breaking point in 2006 when his back gave out at age 37.
His doctors insisted on back surgery, but Dray was reluctant. He knew of people who had back surgery, and they were still in pain, on a number of medications, and crippled by the procedure.
Instead, he sought out a holistic approach.
After researching on his own and hearing a friend’s doctor recommend hot yoga to treat their hypertension and type 2 diabetes, Dray signed up for a 30-day yoga challenge. Little did he expect those 4 weeks to change his entire life.
Walking into that Brikham yoga studio on the first day, Dray knew nothing. There were no expectations, no doubts, no preconceived notions. His only hope was that maybe his back pain could be slightly eased.
But by Day 17, the cane he had been using was no longer needed. After the full 30-days were complete, he felt entirely renewed – so much so that he immediately signed up for another 30-day challenge.
“It changed my life,” said Gardner.
The profundity of his experience wasn’t limited to physical gains, either. On a mental level, yoga opened his mind and allowed him to see areas within himself that needed change too.
“Yoga taught me accountability, no more finger-pointing,” he said. “I used to be a combative person and yoga showed me that my mind has to be stronger than my emotions.”
Shortly after, Dray decided to dedicate his life to yoga and began his instructor training. Yet the obstacles he’d face on his journey were far from over.
Two years into his training, Dray needed a spinal procedure. He was told he would likely never walk again. During this time, he had also experienced multiple Grand Mal seizures, with each seizure resetting his progress back to zero.
What would mentally destroy many in his same position only inspired Dray to work harder. In his mind, he always knew his way back home.
“I always have a tool to help me get back,” said Gardner. “Every time I have a health hiccup, I don’t go to physical therapy, I go back to my yoga mat.”
These health hurdles were only one of the obstacles he’d face. After nearly 6 years of practicing Bikram, Dray wanted to put his own flavor into his teaching. However, this is forbidden in that style of yoga, meaning in order for him to follow his heart, Dray would have to walk away from it.
“I thought yoga was freedom,” said Gardner. “But I got 86’d from all the Bikram studios in Las Vegas because of that.”
Dray’s journey is best symbolized by the ouroboros, the serpent eating his tail – a constant cycle of destruction and rebirth. Through his experiences, Dray has been able to master the art of renewal, and today shares that knowledge with his mat-to-mat-filled classes.
Pulling from his experiences in California, Dray’s straight-to-the-point verbiage is one that resonates with many. That, coupled with his desire to provide truly unique experiences for his students, led him to create Silent Savasana.
What started as a 20 people class in the middle of a park grew to at it’s largest 870 attendees. However, due to the pandemic, Dray had to sell the company – once again proving his prowess for rebuilding.
But no matter what path he ventures on, his message remains the same: self-love.
“The most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves. If it’s subpar at best, everything else will be subpar,” said Gardner. “If you don’t take time for your health, at some point, you’ll be forced to take time for your illness and disease.”
Before yoga, Dray used another method of medicine, cannabis. Today, he still regularly uses it as a way to improve focus, reduce pain and inflammation, and help recover from his seizures.
“I’ve done more healing with plants than any other pharmaceutical in my life,” said Garner.
Dray Gardner is a proud ambassador of Green Cannabis Co. and has been since the beginning.
“It’s the best dispensary for locals, hands down.”
Experience one of Dray’s truly exceptional classes at AREA 15, available on select Tuesdays and Saturdays. You can also follow Dray Gardner on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know about his upcoming events.
Want to learn more? Check out our post on The History of Cannabis Use & Yoga or our post on Cannabis and Meditation.