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Building Social Justice Culture

A truly trauma-informed approach to Yoga and mindfulness practices.

Isn’t Living Yoga primarily a Yoga organization? Why are you speaking about Social Justice?

Living Yoga is committed to using trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practices to support healing trauma and building resilience.

A trauma-informed approach requires being informed about trauma. All forms of trauma.

Trauma, personal and systemic, secondary and vicarious, must be acknowledged to create a safe(r) foundation for healing and to effectively interrupt re-traumatization.

At Living Yoga we believe that a primary historical and ongoing cause of trauma is racial inequity resulting from structural White Supremacy.

Specifically, we are referring to the colonization, land theft, and genocide of American indigenous peoples, and to the enslavement of Black Africans. White Supremacy, both structural and personal, creates trauma in all bodies and must be investigated somatically (through the body) if we are to be truly trauma-informed and support each other in community.

A trauma-informed approach to yoga and mindfulness practices then requires us to learn about our racialized identity, how it traumatizes our self and others, and compassionately unpack this in loving community. 

A trauma-informed approach to yoga and mindfulness practices requires us to check in, not out. To sit with discomfort intentionally. To admit that “love and light” alone is not enough because we live in a world where currently the color of your skin, or your ethnic heritage, still prevents you from equal access to that “love and light.” And furthermore, if you have the heritage, body, and/or class status to be accessing that “love and light,” how love and light is it really? Even for you? If others lack due to your gain.

Ok, so how are you Building Social Justice Culture? And how can I be involved?

We are providing research materials, discussion prompts, and suggestions for ways to engage in this work that we have found minimize re-traumatization and promote individual growth. It is our experience that individual growth creates a ripple effect that brings along family, friends, students, colleagues, and eventually communities.

We are choosing to promote a racial affinity model approach to this work. This means working in spaces with others who share our racialized identity. Ie. White people do the work to support each other in understanding how Whiteness shows up in their lives. Black people do the same for themselves, Latinx people, etc, etc.

We are choosing to promote an individual or small group approach to racial affinity space. This means finding a group of 2-4 people who share elements of your identity, background, and lived experience, and your interest in investigating Self as Social Justice, and supporting each other using the resources we provide. If you’d prefer to work alone, please do, we all have different paths to walk.

Once a month we will provide:

  1. An Inspiration Item.

    • Article

    • Quote

    • Book selection / chapter

    • Podcast

    • Image

    • Song

  2. A Discussion Prompt.

    • How has this shown up in your life?

    • How did taking in this information show up in your body and/or breath?

    • A prompt specific to the content of the shared item.

  3. Facilitation / Resiliency Tips

    • Rotate Facilitator responsibilities.

    • Incorporate mindfulness or body based practices such as meditation and yoga poses.

    • Acknowledge discomfort.

    • Welcome and repair shame and resistance.

3-4 times a year we will gather in larger community.

Rather than gather to process trauma in large group settings we will come together simply to bond and build relationships. These events will be loosely organized by Living Yoga in potluck style.

Group processing often overburdens and potentially re-traumatizes those who experience more direct cultural oppressions. This might show up like the expectation, often subtle or even subconscious, that a Black woman must speak on behalf of all Black people, or a Transgender individual for all Trans folx, or that White people are supposed to listen only, not contribute.

We believe we all have learning to do, and action to take. We also believe we will make mistakes in this process. Making these mistakes in small, racial affinity groups, allows us to come together in larger community trusting that we are all dedicated to doing the work while minimizing the potential for re-traumatization.

Ongoing support can be found here on this webpage.

We will keep a record of the resources provided, as well as list any and all resources found to be of benefit in our community.

Where to I sign up?

You can start right away using any of the resources provided on your own.

If you’d like to be a part of a White bodied R.A.G. please email christopher@living-yoga.org

If you’d like to be a part of a B.I.P.O.C. bodied R.A.G please email jessica

At this time, the B.I.P.O.C. individuals involved in our Social Justice Culture initiative are choosing to meet in one larger group to better understand how Racial Affinity Groups work for them. As Living Yoga staff is currently all White bodied, we are working to facilitate our own White bodied groups and supporting the B.I.P.O.C. group working in the way they choose.

If you don’t know where you belong, or experience being identified as white (sometimes called white-passing) please email joshua / angelina

October 2019

email christopher@living-yoga.org to join a group

White Bodied Inspiration Item and Prompts

October 2019

email jessica to join a group

B.I.P.O.C. Group Inspiration Item and Prompts

Inspiration Item: What is a Racial Affinity Group?

Link to definition by Ruth King.

Short Quote:

In a RAG, we put ourselves in intentional spaces with people of our same race, where we can be safe enough to be vulnerable, challenged, and unedited; to examine the stories we have been told and the stories we tell ourselves; to lean toward what is unfamiliar and away from what is habitual; and to understand what is difficult to acknowledge, feel, and attend to within us and among us as a racial group.”

Discussion Prompts

  • How does processing the definition or potential of such a group land in my body?

  • Do I feel I would benefit from processing in a Racial Affinity Group? If yes, how specific to my identity would I like that group to be?

Resource List

  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin