Chara Caruthers and Maria Kirsten173: Social Justice, Politics & Yoga with Chara Caruthers and Maria Kirsten

What is the role that yoga plays in social justice and politics? As yoga teachers, we may shy away from such divisive and sensitive topics, but given the current global situation, we need to be engaged. Shannon shares the interview she did for the Live Like You Love Yourself Podcast, hosted by Chara Caruthers and Maria Kirsten, discussing how yoga is interwoven into social justice and politics.

Chara is a registered yoga teacher and certified yoga therapist who has been practicing yoga since 1993. She is also an Ayurveda practitioner and the founder of Bliss Body & Soul, where she offers Ayurveda Courses, workshops, and an Ayurvedic living Community. Maria has been teaching accessible yoga to grownups and beginners since 2000. She is the founder of Yoga for Grownups and is committed to principles of inclusion and to making yoga safe and accessible for everyone. Together, Chara and Maria host the Live Like You Love Yourself Podcast, where they discuss how to live, age, parent, and “grow up” in a way that feels balanced and authentic.

 This was a very open and vulnerable conversation about the connection between yoga and politics and social justice, as well as the challenge of knowing how to support communities of colour and ALL communities through these challenging times. Shannon, Chara and Maria dig into what it means to hold “brave space” for the difficult conversation we are having, the role of the yoga community at this time, and how we can “do the work” necessary to be a part of the antiracism movement.

It’s time to do better.

Key Takeaways:

[1:19] Shannon introduces Chara Caruthers and Maria Kirsten, hosts of the Live Like You Love Yourself Podcast, where this episode was first aired.

[7:33] Chara shares a little about the current climate that is creating a lot of discomfort, and how yoga prepares us to deal with it.

[8:27] Chara introduces Shannon and the content they will be discussing in the interview.

[12:06] How did Shannon decide to create a community for yoga teachers?

[15:50] What has Shannon observed about the conversations in The Connected Yoga Teacher Facebook group through the pandemic situation?

[20:46] How has Shannon felt about holding “brave space” for the difficult conversations that need to be happening now?

[23:07] Talking about politics is always scary because of the divided opinions everyone holds.

[26:22] Maria and Chara discuss who should be responsible for the learning and education around these issues.

“It’s very easy when you’re in a position of privilege to think that everyone has an equal chance.” ~ Chara

[29:07] Shannon reflects on some of her key takeaways from a training she attended.

[34:08] Shannon shares some of her struggles of wanting to showcase more diversity on her podcast but not wanting to be accused of tokenism.

“You have to do your inner work, and I think it should be uncomfortable, and we should lean into the discomfort.” ~ Maria

[39:00] What are some ways in which we can all work to share the work of people of colour who might not otherwise be heard or seen?

“If no one is willing to step a toe outside of their comfort zone, then we’ll never get to a place where we can start to even understand each other.” ~ Chara

[43:22] What is the role of the yoga community right now?

[50:09] Shannon decided not to promote her launch during this period. Chara and Shannon discuss what “doing the work” as a part of the antiracism movement and as an ally means.

“Don’t be defensive, just do better.” ~ Shannon

[55:40] What is equal parts powerful and dangerous about social media that it requires very little time or involvement to share a post. Maria highlights why that isn’t the real work of yoga, and what is.

[1:02:58] How are we approaching conversations with our children about this topic?

[1:07:59] How do yoga and politics fit together?

“Really what we’re all doing is trying to offer space for healing, and it looks a lot of different ways.” ~ Chara

[1:15:39] Chara sums up the conversation calling attention to the importance of having a safe community and holding brave space to tackle the issues we face today.

“If we’re moving towards a society that is more fair, that is more unbiased, then we do have to be willing to hear and process and integrate all of these different voices.” ~ Chara

[1:18:50] Chara and Maria will be sharing more about yoga and politics with The Connected Yoga Teacher community soon.

[1:21:03] What are your thoughts about this interview and the issues raised? Share them with Shannon.


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