277: Yoga and Land Acknowledgement with Jessica Barudin & Emmy Chahal277: Yoga and Land Acknowledgement with Jessica Barudin & Emmy Chahal

What are land acknowledgements? Who needs to do them, and why? How is it relevant to yoga, and how does this fit into the larger context of deepening our connection to the lands we occupy? Jessica Barudin and Emmy Chahal answer these questions and more in this episode.

Jessica Barudin (she/her) is Kwakwaka’wakw, a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation living in Alert Bay, BC. She is a proud mother, Sundancer, yoga student, and trauma-informed yoga teacher. Jessica is the co-founder of Cedar and Gold, and collaborates with Nations and organizations across Turtle Island. Additionally, she is completing her doctoral studies focusing on developing a culturally-rooted, trauma-informed yoga for First Nations women and two-spirit folks. Jessica’s classes weave in Indigenous embodied practices and teachings as well as honors Yoga’s roots through sound, mudra, and a variety of forms made accessible for all bodies.

Emmy Chahal is a trauma-informed yoga teacher, bodyworker/energy healer and workshop facilitator based on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Territory (in the place now known as Vancouver). Emmy works at the crossroads of business, social justice, and spirituality. Emmy has experience of more than 19 years of steady yoga and meditation practice, and over 10 years of teaching. She integrates her educational background in Cultural Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies to offer tailored workshops for workplaces around wellness topics, cultural education for yoga teachers and practitioners on topics like cultural awareness, ancestral healing, and uncolonizing yoga, as well as intuitive healing sessions. Emmy also offers mentorship for yoga teachers and semi-private or family yoga classes. 

Land acknowledgment is just a tiny but important step within a much larger journey. Emmy and Jessica share why emotions like pain, guilt, fear, and anger are high for everyone with this topic and how we can deal with them. They also explain why deepening our connections to the land we inhabit is important and how we can learn about and honor different traditions, including yoga and indigenous healing traditions.

Key Takeaways:

[3:14] Shannon introduces her guests for this episode – Jessica Barudin and Emmy Chahal

[11:26] What do Jessica and Emmy do?

[15:07] Shannon shares why she was nervous about approaching the topic of land acknowledgements.

[17:12] Why is it important to share land acknowledgements and who needs to be doing it?

“Land Acknowledgments – I feel like it’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s one tiny tiny gesture that is an invitation for people to really look at their complacency, complicity in colonialism.” ~ Emmy Chahal

[23:23] Many people may start to feel defensive when talking about land acknowledgements. Why is that, and what can we do instead?

“Emotions are always part of this conversation and I think it’s really important to be gentle with yourself and forgiving and to sit with the complexity and the pain and the guilt and all of that.” ~ Emmy Chahal

[29:20] Jessica highlights the importance of continuing these conversations even as we may feel hesitant or uncomfortable about them, and how we can move forward from there.

“When we acknowledge the land, is it just a token gesture or is it something that we’re deepening our relationships with where we are and what time in history.”  ~ Jessica Barudin

[32:54] How can we strengthen this practice of giving land acknowledgements beyond just paying lip service? Where can we start with this, especially if it may feel uncomfortable?

“It has to be heartfelt and it has to be honest and it has to point towards deeper action.” ~ Emmy Chahal

[37:38] Shannon shares a clip of a short conversation she had with a yoga teacher about OfferingTree.

[43:13] Jessica shares some insights about her particular geographical location and the history and connection she has to the land.

[50:38] There may be no easy way to wrap up land acknowledgement and lineage acknowledgment into one or two sentences that encompass the entire history.

“When people tell me they’re nervous or they’re scared or hesitant to say the wrong thing, I always take that as a good sign. That means that you care, and have the courage to make mistakes and try and try again. I think that’s really important.” ~ Emmy Chahal

[54:36] One key thing Emmy would like to see is people of European descent remembering their ancestors and going back to their earth-based embodiment and spiritual practices.

[56:44] How has yoga helped indigenous communities? There is a lot of cross cultural learning, rather than blending or merging traditions and systems.

[65:02] Jessica and Emmy share more about how you can work with and learn from them.

[70:46] Shannon shares her reflections and takeaways from this discussion with Jessica and Emmy.


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