I'm a black girl, driving across the country with her sweet pup and a car packed full of plants, blankets, a harmonium and so many clothes in a racist country with racist people and might I add completely delusional people and it's not safe. (I mean the delusion that comes from white supremacy which causes dissociation and a disconnect from reality, which could be considered a mental illness.)Read More
Intent and Impact: There is a difference
Intentions are great and fine and most people have positive conscious and even unconscious intentions most of the time. But it is important to remember that we do not have control over how our good intentions are experienced by others. In other words, intent does not translate into impact. Meaning well does not translate to not taking personal responsibility.
Mantra: My good intentions are not enough.
The words, "Yoga is Skill in Action" resonated deeply in my spirit and felt like the antidote to the commodification and cultural appropriation of yoga in this U.S. The words felt like an answer to various inquiries I'd been pondering focused on how yoga was being practiced in this country absent of spirituality, married to capitalism and as an exclusive practice designed to serve those that dominant culture deems deserving of health and wholeness. The words aligned with my social justice roots, so much so that I created a teacher training focused on Skill in Action, a 200hr teacher training on yoga and social justice. The idea of yoga being skill in action coupled with my experience of spiritual bypassing in many yogic communities called me into writing a book about what it actually means to be skillful as we create justice in the world.
These are trying times and we need spaces to truth tell, grieve, learn, heal and build skills. Our spiritual communities cannot afford to disregard the collective responsibility we have in creating a just world. We must take action and we will offer tools on how to do just that.Read More
Recently, I was interviewed by Meredith Rom on her Rising Women Leaders podcast. I spoke about race, power, privilege, the breath and liberation.Read More
It is indeed an interesting time to be alive. It is a challenging time to be alive and for so many yogis, the yoga mat has been a saving grace. It has been for me. These times require self-care and radical action. I've spent the last year putting together my first book, designed to teach yoga teachers and studios how to create inclusive spaces. Skill in Action, Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World explores the intersection of social justice and yoga while calling yogis into action. During these unpredictable and sometimes scary times, we need tools, we need action, we need to lead with our hearts and integrate justice into the practice of yoga.Read More
Michelle Johnson is a woman of color therapist, yoga teacher, and anti-oppression trainer. She is a beloved colleague from whom I learn so much literally every time I share space with her, and with whom I am privileged to work. This past weekend we were co-facilitating a weekend long exploration of (cultural) trauma, social justice, and yoga. In last-minute preparation conversations, we were discussing the ways we would need to shift the agenda to hold space for what folks were holding in the wake of the (s)election of Donald Trump as president of the US last Tuesday.Read More
CHAPEL HILL - Local law enforcement agencies are talking about racial bias and working toward better community relations, but it’s not enough, members of a panel said Monday.
“I think it’s really nice how we’re talking, but it’s not reality,” said Delores Bailey, executive director of Empowerment Inc.Read More
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a part of an anti-racist yoga convergence, led by two social justice advocates, yogis, and powerful women: Michelle Johnson and Patty Adams. The two hours began by each instructor sharing their Dharma talk with us – an emotional and moving grounding on why this work matters and how yoga provides a place to practice skills critical to movement building in the efforts to eradicate white supremacy.Read More
The definition and purpose of fear has been greatly misunderstood in the yoga community for some time. With quotes like, “Once you become fearless, you become limitless,” we are sending the message that fear should be shamed and beaten out of us. But that’s just not true. Like anger, fear can be useful and it must be safely expressed when it is felt, or it will become repressed and eventually come out somewhere else in some ugly way.Read More
The Africa Yoga Project mission is to educate, empower, elevate and employ youth from Africa using the transformational practice of yoga. Our vision is to create opportunities for youth to step into their greatness, become self-sustaining and leaders in their communities. Below is an interview with Michelle Johnson, yoga instructor and fundraiser, supporter, and Seva Safari leader for the Africa Yoga Project.Read More
Several years ago, I interviewed my grandmother, Dorothy, for National Listening Day. I heard about the program on NPR. The instructions were to interview someone the day after Thanksgiving to learn more about his or her life story.
I called my grandmother and asked permission.
“Of course,” she said. “I’ve been interviewed before for an oral history project about Glen Allen, Virginia, and I’ve been interviewed for a publication that the church put out a while back.”
She sounded thrilled to have another person, let alone her granddaughter, ask her to talk about her 90 years of life.Read More
As you may know, Liquido has partnered with Africa Yoga Project to create an exclusive legging to support the organization and its outreach programs in Africa. Today, we have guest blogger and Africa Yoga Project volunteer and champion, Michelle Johnson, explaining her inspiring experiences in Nairobi with AYP.Read More
Michelle Johnson takes her yoga practice to a new level by linking social justice to yoga practice as an ambassdor in the Africa Yoga Project. She took a few moments during her travels to Kenya to help build schools, bring food and practice yoga, to also connect with nature. Learn more about what ambassadors do in the Africa Yoga Project.Read More
As a yoga teacher I have been trained to talk about the link of the breath with the various postures or movements we make with our bodies.
Students come into my classes, roll out their mats, set up and then find a comfortable seat. The first instruction I give after they have found their seat is to ask them to let go of their day, to let go of anticipation and to start to find their breath.
Often I say, “Perhaps, this is the first time you have noticed that you are breathing today,” and ask, “What does it mean to actually feel the breath, the inhale and exhale?”Read More
The NAACP in North Carolina started the Moral Monday Movement last year in response to the legislature and the redistricting that caused our legislature to be dominated by republicans. The NAACP knew what the policy impacts might be as a result of that. They started organizing people to respond to the policies that the legislators were proposing and putting into law.Read More
Last Friday night I sat in a circle of women gathered together for a weekend workshop on yoga and activism. One by one, we introduced ourselves. My first words into the group space were tearful, tentative, and jumbled (crying on day one of anything is good, right?). My forays into activism in the past, while impassioned and honest, had been isolating and unsustainable.Read More
CHAPEL HILL — A Carrboro alderwoman hopes five Orange County officials’ arrests at the General Assembly this week encourages other local government leaders to take a stand.
“I would love for other elected officials across the state to be inspired to speak out about how business is being run in Raleigh and about some of the bills that have been put forward,” Alderwoman Michelle Johnson said Tuesday.Read More