yoga & antiracism series, PART 1 OF 8
Commit to self-awareness and being honest with yourself in recognizing your abilities and honoring your limits. As in any Yoga class, some suggestions may feel good to you and may feel easy to complete. Other suggestions may pose a challenge--you may feel resistance, discomfort, or difficulty, but you may be surprised how you feel afterward whether you achieve the suggestion in its fullest expression, or you have a new experience in making the effort and taking a step in progress. Other suggestions may not be accessible, or an attempt to complete the instruction may pose a risk or be counterproductive to your wellbeing in this moment. As always in Yoga, we must bring awareness to where we are in this moment, what helpful and beneficial practices we should pursue, and what risky or counterproductive practices we should avoid. We need to bring awareness to what resistance and discomfort we feel, and observe our process in being present with these feelings and striving to stretch ourselves in facing them. We need to be open to how our distinctions may differ on a given day or in a given moment as we assess what’s accessible and desirable, and what’s risky or counterproductive, and we can witness how these may evolve or change drastically as we continue our journey and our experiences shift and transform. Recognizing our abilities and honoring our limits with honesty and sincerity are acts of self-love; they are not selfish, but in fact, are expressions of love for others. Consider your capacities and limits and write down an expression of your commitment.
Consider how Yoga and Social Justice intersect. What initial thoughts come to mind? Do you have a clear answer, or is this question something new? Write down your initial ideas and perceptions.
With which of the 8 limbs of Yoga are you familiar? Are the Yamas and the Niyamas a part of your practice? If you are unfamiliar with the Yamas and Niyamas, take some time to look them up and familiarize yourself with these tenets of Yogic practice. Once you have familiarized yourself with them, consider how they relate to Social Justice. I’ll be reflecting and writing more on these in the coming days and weeks; I’d love for you to be part of the conversation. What are your initial thoughts or questions connecting the Yamas and Niyamas with Social Justice?
Watch Michelle Cassandra Johnson’s TEDx talk There is No Neutral (17 minutes). What resonates with you in how she speaks about Yoga and the breath in relationship to racism and white supremacy? How do you feel in your body listening to her presentation? What initial thoughts or questions come up for you?
Visit Pranamaya.com and download Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World. Listen and engage with the audiobook and practices. The regular price is $16.95, but it is on sale now for $13.56. You do not need any special app to listen to the book; you will receive an email to access the book and listen through your internet browser either on your phone or computer. The book includes 3 chapters on Skill in Action (2 hours and 12 minutes) and 5 practices: Where I’m From (2 minutes), My Heart’s Desire (4 minutes), Uniquely Positioned (6 minutes), Justice in the Body, Justice in the World (5 minutes), Multiple Truths (4 minutes). The monetary investment and time investment to complete this step are comparable to two yoga asana classes in local studios here in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.
Read over what you have written and take time to reflect. Share some of your thoughts in the comments below. If you do not feel comfortable or called to share your responses, consider why. Are you feeling resistance and discomfort, or would it be risky or counterproductive to share?
Take time to connect with your heart and your breath. Lean into your feelings without any judgement around what you should be feeling or how many of the suggestions you were able to complete. Simply notice where you are and how you feel. Honor your feelings and your experience and thank yourself for taking time to engage with this practice. Allow this sense of gratitude to grow within you as you consider all the blessings you enjoy in this life, and all the blessings on the horizon already on their way to coming into being.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. Namaste.
Thank you Michelle Johnson for your years of dedicated work around yoga and anti-racism, your guidance and call to radicalize practice, and the invitation to come into better alignment.
Yoga & Anti-Racism Series
Part 1: How Yoga & Social Justice Intersect: A Contemplative Practice
..... Part 1.1 A Personal Commitment to Social Justice Practice
Part 2: Setting the Stage for Contemplative Practice: A Personal Reflection
Part 3: Social Justice & The Purpose of Yoga: Invoking Satya & Santosha
Part 4: Karma Yoga & The Paradox of All-One: Invoking Brahmacharya & Svadhyaya
..... Part 4.1 Bonding Brahmacharya & Svadhyaya with Satya & Santosha
Part 5: Dharma, Divisiveness & Sustaining Activism: Invoking Aparigraha & Tapas
..... Part 5.1 Bonding Aparigraha & Tapas with Brahmacharya & Svadhyaya
Part 6: Appropriation & Holding Space: Invoking Asteya & Saucha
..... Part 6.1 Integrity Review
Part 7: Surrender to Activism: Invoking Ahimsa & Ishwara Pranidhana
Part 8: The Yamas & Niyamas Activism Model