362: Yoga in Times of War & Violence with Molly Nixon

Over 110 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. As yoga teachers, we might be seeing people who are refugees in our yoga classes — and we need to know how we can support them, even if we don’t know their status. Molly Nixon shares her perspective and experience about how yoga can support us in times of war & violence.

Molly Nixon is the Director and Trainer for Yoga Mandala Project, a grassroots initiative cultivating a community of care among refugees and those serving them around the world while providing tools to support mental-health through yoga and other embodied modalities. As a trauma-informed yoga teacher and teacher trainer, Molly believes yoga is an effective way to support the well-being of refugee communities, and can help to foster dignity, compassion and a sense of a shared humanity. She has spent the past eight years weaving together her passions for yoga, travel and service in the heart of the humanitarian sector while co-creating sustainable projects in Greece, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

In this episode, Molly shares her experience of losing her closest friend to violence in the Middle East and how yoga not only supported her in dealing with the grief and trauma in that moment, but also moved her to bring the healing tools of yoga to refugees, genocide survivors, and aid workers. She explains how supporting refugee communities is part of yoga and how we can help, even if we don’t have plans to move to a refugee community and start teaching yoga. Tune in to find out how you can support the work of the Yoga Mandala Project and more.

Key Takeaways:

[0:07] This episode goes beyond just teaching yoga in refugee communities.

[4:54] Shannon introduces herself and gives a shout out to sponsors, OfferingTree and Pelvic Health Professionals.

[7:32] Kathleen Pratt shares about the upcoming yoga series in Pelvic Health Professionals: Nourish Your Nervous System

[8:50] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Molly Nixon.

[10:45] What does Molly do and who does she do it for?

“For me, it really comes down to looking at the intentions of yoga and offering that and making it accessible to people experiencing stress and other impacts of trauma.” ~ Molly Nixon

[12:12] What does it look like when Molly goes to a refugee camp?

“There’s all sorts of ways to make a difference even if you can’t be on the ground in a refugee camp.” ~ Molly Nixon

[14:11] Molly shares a little about how she started doing this work.

“The intention behind our work is to create … community and a culture of care among those experiencing war and violence.” ~ Molly Nixon

[16:09] Yoga supported Molly through the grief and trauma of losing her friend to violence in Syria.

[16:58] How did Molly deal with people in her life who were discouraging her from doing this work?

[18:42] Molly provides some context about how yoga teachers partner with the Yoga Mandala Project.

[23:20] Connections can be really powerful. Molly shares a little about why connection is a part of the mission of Yoga Mandala Project.

[26:44] In light of what is happening in Gaza, Palestine, what is Molly’s response to people who are saying that we should be focusing more on the hostages instead of what the people of Gaza are experiencing?

[30:50] How is all of this related to yoga?

[33:30] Shannon pops in with a quick message about OfferingTree – especially if you dread updating or working on your website!

[34:53] How can you sign up for a trauma-informed training? How relevant is it to yoga teachers?

[39:08] Shannon and Molly discuss what people who are menstruating in Gaza are going through now with no access to menstruation products.

[41:15] What would Molly say to someone who says all this information about Gaza is triggering?

“I think connection is the only way forward for humanity.” ~ Molly Nixon

[46:39] What was one thing from yoga that helped Molly in the aftermath of her friend being taken?

[50:42] Connect with Molly via the Yoga Mandala Project website or email.

[52:45] Shannon shares her biggest takeaways from this conversation with Molly.

“Yoga is not about gymnastics on the yoga mat. It’s about living these, living the Yamas and the Niyamas.” ~ Molly Nixon

[54:58] Come hang out in real time in the Pelvic Health Professionals membership!


Gratitude to our Sponsors, OfferingTree and Pelvic Health Professionals.

OfferingTree all-in-one software

Pelvic Health Professionals