Is yoga for you?
Is yoga for you?
We are hurt and horrified.
We are devastated and demoralized.
We are reeling and raging.
Of course we are.
And we have a right to be. We have a right to all of our feelings. We have a right to hold space in whatever ways we need, to honor the latest in a long line of assaults on all our bodies and hearts and souls.
We will fight back, yes.
We will rise up, Yes.
We will stay in the struggle. YES. YES. YES.
But right now, we also need spaces for grief. For being seen in our fullness, in the depths of our despair. For being together — if we want or need to — in this moment.
You are invited to a healing circle. This will be a trauma-informed space for folks needing community and connection. This space is for survivors, and is open to folks of all identities.
The design is emerging, but it may include simple and approachable ways of connecting with the body and breath, as well as space for reflection and mutual care.
Your space-holders are Maggie MacLeod and Patty Adams, two queer-identified, white women healers drawing on body-based approaches to healing including yoga and movement therapies, as well as traditional talk therapy and mindfulness approaches.
Wednesday 10/10 from 7:30 – 9pm
906 Broad St, Durham
By Donation: Suggested $0-25
Space is limited.
Please complete the simple RSVP process to help us prepare and to ensure we have space for everyone.
Go here to make a stand-alone donation to support this event, even if you cannot make it.
Weekly Class Schedule
Wednesdays, 5:45 – 7:05pm
Yoga for Queers and Misfits / InQlusive Yoga
Donation-based, inclusive, all-levels yoga centering Queer and Trans folks
Current Location: Health Associates, 906 Broad St, Durham
Potential Venue change coming in Fall 2018 – Please stay tuned
Community-based yoga means sometimes our venue isn’t available. Sooooo…this is the last week of classes until August.
While part of me feels guilty and gutted about leaving my post during these harrowing times, another part of me is more sure than ever that we’re in a marathon, a decathalon…heck, we’re in a multi-sport, endurance-building-and-mettle-testing event the likes of which we’ve never known.
Our fight has not been short, nor will it be. All of us are needed in the fight, all of us are called to be doing the work that is ours to do, in order to keep our hearts open and our hands ready to work for collective liberation, true healing and transformative justice.
I will see you in the streets. And in the meantime, we’ll be together in our hearts.
As we build towards Summer Solstice, each day we are being gifted more light and energy with which to pursue the desires of our hearts and the dharma of our souls.
In honor of summer, I’m adding a special Saturday series for June. Join me Saturday mornings, June 2 – 30th from 10-11:20am for an extra chance each week to explore community-centered and inclusive yoga for all. More here.
This year is also a time of renewed commitment for me to the work of community-based and collective practices of healing. So I’m redoubling my efforts to get the skills and tools I need to take my own dharma to the next level.
In this year, I am exploring training in two different approaches to yoga for trauma, along with a public health model for teaching trauma resilience, and embarking on a three-year (or more!) certification program in body-based trauma healing.
So I’m reaching out to ask for your help with a small experiment. For nearly 8 years, I have centered my yoga offerings around a model I call “community-centered yoga.” And I’m hoping we can take that to the next level with Community-Supported Yoga. Similar to a Community-Supported Agriculture model, this approach asks you all – my community and my base – to support this work by paying for your yoga in advance.
I’m offering a few Unlimited Options for June, for those who have the capacity and interest. These are only good for classes in June 2018, but I am offering 10 classes this month! And it’s the easiest way to support yourself and me – you get the motivation to do a bunch of yoga, I get the up-front financial support I need to fund my training efforts.
I’m also offering multi-class passes priced at a sustainer model. All my classes are donation-based, and folks are still welcome to drop-in and pay on the sliding scale. These up-front class purchases, available in multiple increments and price points, are just another way for you to front-load your support for me while incentivizing your own participation in the life-giving practice of yoga.
Finally, you can also just make a straight-up donation to support my efforts without expecting anything in return. This would, quite frankly, be amazing.
If you’re interested, hop on over to my Square store!
And I hope to see you on the mat. Class schedule here.
I was moved as always by adrienne maree brown’s post last week about “canceling people,” and likewise by the the number of people reposting it. (Granted, I tend to follow pretty progressive people and folks who I look to for orientation and inspiration, so my social media feeds are definitely skewed waaaaaay left.)
But, it strikes me as extremely important just how much the ideas she puts forth are resonating with folks.
I am holding her ideas alongside many others, including what is still percolating within me from the first Somatic Experiencing (SE) training I completed about a week ago.
SE is all about metabolizing and processing trauma in the body, on the level of the nervous system (see a few of my recent Instagram posts from the last two weeks for more on the nervous system). It’s about recognizing the physiological needs that human animals have to discharge and reset, in a seemingly endless pulsation of activation and settling. (Think of a sine wave, rise and fall, ebb and flow.)
But some experiences stretch us beyond our natural capacity to settle and discharge. And even when we do have access to that capacity, so much of our social and cultural constructs prevent us from tapping into it for fear of retribution, shaming, othering, and violence.
To name a few.
Part of what makes SE work is the approach to healing that recognizes this natural pulsation (sine wave), and seeks to work with it, to shape the healing process in a way that syncs up with our natural tendency to engage and disengage (what SE calls pendulation). And which recognizes that we all get overwhelmed, and when that happens, will we shut down and/or lash out.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this pulsation of activation/discharge, along with lashing out /protective / defensive behaviors, in the context of healing from the trauma of racism and white supremacy. Specifically, about the ways in which, when we find ourselves stretched or thrust beyond our innate capacities to self-regulate and settle, it feels threatening to us. **By definition and design, in those moments we are perceiving that we’re in some sort of a danger zone in which our sense of safety and stability are threatened. Thus, we react instinctively to protect ourselves.**
This type of reaction can take many forms, and is a natural and sometimes instinctive / unconscious response to the conditions we perceive as threatening.
I am thinking about white folk who have been engaging in racial justice work for awhile, myself included, and the ways that we are often very quick to “cancel” – to other, distance ourselves from, call out, shame, or otherwise isolate ourselves from white folks who are aren’t as “woke,” who haven’t been in the work for as long, who do and say things which are 1000 percent a function of their/our whiteness and privilege, and which often leave us (me) shaking our heads.
We expect those newly politicized white folks to immediately “get it,” to show up with a level of humility and awareness that are themselves the very antithesis of whiteness, and that only come – in my experience – from doing the personal work in real and excruciating and ongoing ways. (Again, that self-work being in direct contrast to the conditioning of whiteness which seeks to make itself invisible and us unconscious.)
We leap at the first opportunity to overwhelm folks with citations and critique, to pile on facts and fear, to inundate with stats and shame. We feel powerful for having done so. We feel righteous and like “good white people” when we know our shit and try to collect our people.
And we wonder why folks retreat.
Withdraw. Disengage. Succumb and get stuck in white guilt.
Or worse (?).
Folks get defensive. Last out. Push back.
From a Nervous System perspective, this makes perfect sense. How could it be any other way?
Combining these ideas with those of adrienne maree brown, in the context of racial justice work, I think that “cancelling us” – acting out, rejecting, isolating from, punishing – as well as the resulting withdraw or pushback – are forms of self-protection. This makes sense on the physiological level. For everyone.
For those of us who are doing the “collecting” and/or “cancelling” of folks, it is a form of discharge for us. It is both self-protection and self-regulation. We (understandably) feel at our limit when it comes to navigating whiteness in all its violent entitlement and willful ignorance. We have given enough of ourselves to toxic whiteness and white supremacy, centered it enough, oriented ourselves around it for our whole lives (as we have to orient ourselves around any predatory and threatening force).
But if we are to believe that our capacity for survival and thrival lies in tapping into more than just our animal instincts, we’ve got to give ourselves a chance to allow more of our other skills and tools to “come online.” We’ve got to give ourselves a chance to breath deeply, to assess just how much threat we are truly in in this moment, and to draw on our capacity for resilience, for clear seeing and creativity.
For those who are newer to the work and who shut down and retreat or lash back when called out (or called in but in no less intense ways), it is also a form of self-protection and self-regulation. An attempt to handle what is overwhelming and deeply threatening and which is – for many – totally new information, a paradigm shift. Literally life threatening in the sense that it threatens the very foundations of their/our lives and identities. Earth (and illusion) shattering.
We can have feelings and judgments about why it is that folks are just now waking up to shit. We can have rage and reactions to what took folks so long. We definitely can. We have a right to that. [Folks of Color, in particular, have a right to that and more.]
But if we take all our pent up intensity, our rage at the System and how it harms us, our burning desires to be free…and unleash all that on white folks who are just waking up, just coming to, freshly unplugged from the Matrix and using their eyes for the first time…we will overwhelm them. They will shut down and act out of the threatened place that they are in. The human animal instinct for self-preservation will kick in. We are hard-wired for it.
I am not suggesting that we white folks should be coddled or protected from the intensity of the world, nor provided the shielding and titrated exposure that no one else gets under the grisly grip of supremacy systems. I am not here to tell us all to be nice and sweeter and kinder to well-intentioned white folks who are just now coming to consciousness.
But, I am saying that we cannot apply the same “logic” of trauma to try and undermine the systems of trauma we’re all suffering within. If trauma is too much too fast, trauma healing can be slower and more intentional (while still being rigorous). If trauma is what we didn’t choose, something we didn’t ask for, them trauma healing can be that which we are supremely choiceful about, that which we deeply desire and move towards of our own volition, feeling resourced and supported as we do so.
I’m not totally sure of the implications of all of this, but I think I am “saying it out loud” as a way to ground myself in this reminder. I am trying to both breath life into and hold myself accountable to a mandate that expects me to do my part in working to undermine white supremacy culture within myself and my relationships.
These are incomplete and unpolished thoughts. But I am still working on not letting perfect be the enemy of good. If I wait for perfection to shape these jumbled and trauma-influenced ideas, I might never share this publicly. So I’m doing it, despite my fear and doubts. I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to comment on my IG feed @liberate2heal.
[Caption: an image with a quilted border and a piece of paper with the quote, “My core belief: in order to be ‘trauma-informed,’ yoga must include analysis and reflection around structural oppression.”]
Some of us might think this is obvious, but I can say from both recent and distant experience, that this is NOT a universal value.
Given that the history of yoga — and this country, and really most systems — is fraught with issues of colonization and co-optation, appropriation and assimilation, power and privilege…I firmly believe that to authentically and transparently offer “trauma-informed” or “trauma-sensitive” yoga, we must include some attention to the larger and varied contexts in which this work is happening.
And we must be willing to name that those contexts include genocide, annihilation, assimilation, and oppression – both historically AND in the present.
I am still working out all my thoughts on this, but for now I wanted to share this idea. The reality is this: there is not only a yoga-industrial complex, there is also a trauma-industrial complex. (I do hope that the idea of a “_____-industrial complex” is not a new one for you. But if so, look up what Eisenhower had to say about the military back in the early 60s, and what INCITE has to say more recently about the non-profit version.)
Yes, there are people making loads of money not only off of yoga but off of the idea and reality of trauma. Not everyone who is moving in these worlds is willing or able to face the reality that the conditions which propagate trauma are not incidental but utterly intentional. Trauma is more than a car accident or a “natural disaster.” The trauma of poverty and neglect, the trauma of racism and ableism, of Islamophobia and transphobia, these are but a few of the long litany of realities which cause, catalyze, and compound trauma.
From one trauma steward to another: if you are looking to offer yourself in the role of a trauma steward, you have a responsibility to do your work to acknowledge and grapple with this. And for those of us seeking learning and leadership around these issues, let us be vigilant in who we give our time, money and resources to.