Anti-Racism & Yoga Michelle JohnsonBONUS: Anti-Racism & Yoga with Michelle Johnson

In light of everything that has been happening in the US and across the world with the Black Lives Matter social justice movement and calls for anti-racism, how does yoga fit in? What can yoga teachers do to hold space for these conversations that need to happen and how do yoga and anti-racism really work together? This special bonus episode is a Live Q&A session with Michelle Johnson to tackle these questions.

Michelle Johnson is a social justice warrior, author, dismantling racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and an intuitive healer. She has over 20 years of experience leading dismantling racism work and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker. With her deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart and her awareness of the world through her own experience as a black woman, she helps others understand how privilege and power operate. Her book Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World was published in 2017 and addresses these specific topics.

As yoga teachers (and studios), how can we move into the realm of social justice? What can we do to create businesses that promote anti-racism, and create inclusive spaces in yoga? Michelle shares her insights about these topics, as well as privilege, dealing with white guilt, and addressing cultural trauma, and so much more.

This rich conversation with Michelle may make you feel uncomfortable, but it is important to sit with our discomfort to learn and grow, and start doing the work in this space.

Special thanks to Offering Tree, for sponsoring this bonus Q&A session.

Key Takeaways:

[1:19] This episode was originally done as a Facebook Live video in The Connected Yoga Teacher Group.

[00:05:23] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Michelle Johnson.

[8:48] Michelle has been doing this work for a long time. What has her experience been like in the past few weeks with so much new interest in her work?

[11:40] How does anti-racism relate to yoga teachers and yoga studios?

“We’re coming to this space with different emotions, feelings, lived experiences that define how we show up in this particular moment.” ~ Michelle Johnson 

[14:08] What are some ways in which we can continue doing this work?

[17:42] Yoga teachers may think they are already doing the work, but it is also a matter of seeing what they couldn’t see before. Michelle shares an example of how capitalism may be showing up in our yoga businesses as a form of oppression.

[21:14] How can we go about creating real inclusion without falling to tokenism? Michelle speaks to the importance of balancing mindfulness and urgency.

“Creating an inclusive space is different than making it look like it’s a space that’s inclusive.” ~ Michelle Johnson

[26:54] What is Michelle’s advice for people who want to do the right thing, but are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing?

[30:56] Some yoga teachers are finding it difficult to hold space for others, and are struggling with dealing with their own white guilt. What are Michelle’s thoughts on that?

“I lead with race as a way to deepen our lens and understand how systems of oppression work, with an awareness that really what I’m talking about is how power works, and that is similar with every other form of oppression.” ~ Michelle Johnson

[36:55] How does yoga specifically address guilt and shame?

[40:26] What can the yoga teacher community offer in terms of speaking to cultural trauma?

“The language shifts, and language when it shifts, is an indication that culture is shifting.” ~ Michelle Johnson

[43:26] A yoga teacher asks about adding a social justice component to her YTT. Is it appropriate for them to do so, or should they invite someone else to facilitate the conversation?

[46:25] Michelle explains the term BIPOC.

[51:09] Michelle shares more about how biracial people who has not felt connected to any community can participate in these conversations about race.

[54:50] Where can yoga teachers begin?

“Black, indigenous and people of color need white people to do their work, and that guilt can get in the way of doing work.” ~ Michelle Johnson

[58:16] What are some beneficiaries you can donate to?

[58:58] Get in touch with Michelle and find out more about her trainings via her website.

[1:00:44] How do you think we can hold space for these conversations that need to happen, and move more into a space of social justice?


Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity