anti-racism

047 | Yoga & Social Justice with Michelle Johnson

 
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The truth is racism still exists. It exists in our subconscious - as a memory in our bodies from our ancestry. It exists from past traumas of our ancestors still yearning to be healed. It exists in our conditioning, our society and how many of us were raised...

Many people have been in denial of its existence, but with Trump taking office, what has seemed to be under the surface for many has only become more and more real. People of color have seen and experienced it all along, and thankfully, more and more of us have been waking up to this truth.

Not long after I set the intention to further educate myself about white privilege and racism, I received an email out of the blue from a friend I haven't talked to in years ...connecting me to Michelle and her work.

So what can we do? I sat down to talk with Michelle Johnson to learn more about privilege, oppression and racism and her unique approach of integrating the teachings of yoga with social justice. I am so grateful to share her wisdom with you all today.  

“Racism is not just impacting people of color. The system of oppression is not just harming people of color, it's harming all of us because we are connected. We’re just not conditioned to see that connection.”

In this episode we discussed:

  • Michelle's story: What it was like growing up and feeling different and not fitting in
  • Michelle's definitions of privilege and oppression
  • How Michelle integrates healing and embodiment into anti-racism trainings
  • How to approach the discomfort, fear and emotional charge of race conversations
  • About Michelle's new book, Skill in Action
  • Actual steps we can take to create change in our world and way of being
  • The role of speaking up on behalf of everyone even when we ourselves are not the oppressed
  • Michelle's vision of hope and how she stays motivated in a world where there is still so much suffering and injustice

“One must be connected with their breath to feel their body. A connection to the body allows one to feel their heart. A connection with the heart allows one to become clear about their values so that they may connect with their humanity. When one sees their own humanity and realizes that others are suffering around them they have the opportunity to connect with the oneness of all beings and our shared humanity. From the breath, body, heart and awareness of humanity, one must take action. No one can exist without taking action. Skill in Action.”

~ from Michelle's Book, Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World

Links in this episode:


From Michelle:

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I have a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit and heart. My awareness of the world through my experience as a black woman allows me to know, first hand how privilege and power operate. I understand the toll that oppression can take on individuals and the collective physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I am a social justice warrior, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner and an intuitive healer. Whether in an anti-oppression training, yoga space, individual or group intuitive healing session, healing and wholeness are at the center of how I approach all of my work in the world. I've spent many years on the front lines of justice movements craving a space for healing through ritual, ceremony and sacred practice. While working in many non-profits with missions focused on justice I didn't find a space that centered healing as a tool to create justice. So, I created my own space and way of working.

I create healing spaces in many different ways working with individuals and groups. I lead anti-racism trainings, yoga workshops focused on the intersection of justice and yoga and I offer intuitive healing sessions to support social justice workers, healers and activists who are on the front lines and struggling with how to sustain themselves as they do their good work in the world.

I have a background as a licensed clinical social worker and I have been teaching yoga for ten years. I began my own teacher training in 2014 and recently wrote a book about yoga and justice, Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World. I inspire change that allows people to stand in their humanity and wholeness in a world that fragments most of us. There are myriad of ways to work with me. I hope to support you on your healing journey and path towards wholeness in whatever capacity allows you to live your fullest life.