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Description:

This daylong workshop explores the principles of yoga and the principles of justice to inspire you to harness self-study and contemplation in your work turning towards others and creating positive change in the world. Through sharing and conversation, we will explore power and privilege, oppression and identity, suffering and liberation and loving kindness. Through the practice of yoga, we can experience personal transformation that allows us to approach one another with honesty, skill and awareness and connect us with our inner fire, agni, to gain clarity about our actions and their alignment with our higher purpose all in service of collective humanity. We will use asana (postures), pranayama (breath work), meditation, teachings from the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras, and mantra work to sharpen our goals and visions for our work to change the world. You will leave this workshop with a deeper connection to self, your community and all beings, and create concrete plans to put your goals into action. This workshop is appropriate for all levels.

Trainer:

Michelle Johnson, LCSW, 500hr E-RYT is an activist, race equity trainer, author, yogi, healer and social change influencer. She has an understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit and heart. Her awareness of the world through her experience as a black woman allows her to know firsthand how privilege and power operate. She understands the toll that oppression can take on individuals and the collective physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Whether in an anti-oppression training, yoga space, individual or group intuitive healing session, healing and wholeness are at the center of how she approaches all of her work. Michelle has spent many years on the front lines of justice movements craving a space for healing through ritual, ceremony and sacred practice. A yoga teacher for over ten years, she has sat in many spiritual spaces and yoga communities whom lacked an awareness of justice and activism. She is interested in spiritual spaces that center activism and social change spaces that center spiritual practice. In 2013, Michelle created Skill in Action, a training program, focused on the intersection of social justice and yoga. Michelle is the author of Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World. Michelle inspires change that allows people to stand in their humanity and wholeness.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:
1. Identify and explain at least 1 way in which white supremacy and oppression can become internalized and how we, in turn, embody and perpetuate oppression.
2. Identify and explain at least 2 ways that yoga practices can support social justice work.
3. Name and describe at least 1 practice derived from yoga that can increase our interpersonal effectiveness.
4. Describe and practice the use of chanting and mantra work to sharpen goals in therapeutic and social justice work.
5. Describe and practice with pranayama (breath work) to decrease arousal and increase focus.
6. Explain at least 1 characteristic of the interrelationship between personal transformation and therapeutic and advocacy work.

References

  • Bannerman, A. (2017). Resisting oppression: Body psychotherapy techniques to empower women. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 12(3), 185-194. doi:10.1080/17432979.2017.1347107
  • Berila, B. (2016). Mindfulness as a healing, liberatory practice in queer anti-oppression pedagogy. Social Alternatives, 35(3), 5-10.
  • Berila, B., Klein, M., & Roberts, C. J. (2016). Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis. London, UK: Lexington Books.
  • Chen, C. W., & Gorski, P. C. (2015). Burnout in social justice and human rights activists: Symptoms, causes and implications. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 7(3), 366-390. doi:10.1093/jhuman/huv011
  • Crowder, R. (2016). Mindfulness based feminist therapy: The intermingling edges of self-compassion and social justice. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work, 35(1-2), 24-40. doi:10.1080/15426432.2015.1080605
  • Garcia, M., Košutić, I., & McDowell, T. (2015). Peace on Earth/War at home: The role of emotion regulation in social justice work. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 27(1), 1-20. doi:10.1080/08952833.2015.1005945
  • Gorski, P. C. (2015). Relieving burnout and the “martyr syndrome” among social justice education activists: The implications and effects of mindfulness. Urban Review: Issues and Ideas in Public Education, 47(4), 696. doi:10.1007/s11256-015-0330-0
  • Gorski, P. C. (2019;2018;). Fighting racism, battling burnout: Causes of activist burnout in US racial justice activists. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42(5), 667-21. doi:10.1080/01419870.2018.1439981
  • Gorski, P. C. (2019;2018;). Racial battle fatigue and activist burnout in racial justice activists of color at predominately white colleges and universities. Race Ethnicity and Education, 22(1), 1-20. doi:10.1080/13613324.2018.1497966
  • Gorski, P. C., & Chen, C. (2015). “frayed all over:” the causes and consequences of activist burnout among social justice education activists. Educational Studies, 51(5), 385-405. doi:10.1080/00131946.2015.1075989
  • Johnson, M. C. (2017). Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World. Portland, Oregon: Radical Transformation Media.
  • Magee, R. V. (2016). Justice begins with a breath: A life’s worth of experiences combine with cognitive science to deepen the case for mindfulness in the law. ABA Journal, 102(1), 24.
  • Polinska, W. (2018). Mindfulness meditation as a remedy to “white ignorance” and its consequences. Buddhist-Christian Studies, 38(1), 325-341. doi:10.1353/bcs.2018.0026

Clinical Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

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