Panel Discussion | Evolution of Yoga Summit and Blueprint, Part 2: Equity and Racism

March 29, 2021

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About This Event

Discussion continues on the Evolution of Yoga Summit and Blueprint.

While whiteness is positioned to have access to practices that are healing and liberating, we know many BIPOC are suffering with disproportionate rates of hypertension, heart disease, racial trauma, and the impacts of being made invisible by culture. When we leave race out of a conversation about yoga, we reinforce the idea that some are meant to suffer while others are meant to be healed and liberated. A focus on race allows us to deepen our understanding of the intersection of capitalism and the industry of yoga, and to consider how we can truly move beyond inclusion and create a liberatory space where those marginalized based on race can practice self-determination and create conditions for themselves to thrive.

About the Presenters

Amina Naru is the co-founder of Retreat to Spirit, owner of Posh Yoga LLC in Wilmington, DE, and immediate past co-executive director of the national non-profit Yoga Service Council. Amina served three terms as secretary for the YSC Board of Directors and is a contributing author to the books Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans (YSC/Omega, 2016) and Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System (YSC/Omega, 2017). She also served as the project manager for Yoga and Resilience: Empowering Practices for Survivors of Sexual Trauma (YSC/Omega), published by Handspring May 2020. She was also the project manager for Best Practices for Yoga with People in Addictions and Recovery. Amina has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Therapy Today, and on the J. Brown and Yoga Alliance podcasts. She served as Executive Director of the nonprofit Empowered Community and is the first black woman to implement curriculum-based yoga and mindfulness programs for juvenile detention centers in the state of Delaware.

Having been steeped in yoga and Ayurveda's stories and philosophy from a young age, Lakshmi Nair formally studied yoga at Vivekananda Yoga Kendra and Kaivalyadhama Ashram in India in 2002. She also attended four years of graduate study in South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, where she studied Sanskrit, Tamil, and contemporary South Asian literature. She has been teaching yoga in Denver since 2005, focusing primarily on gentle, prenatal, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, and teacher training. She has taught trauma-sensitive yoga for Center for Trauma and Resilience and currently teaches at 3 Little Birds Counseling in Littleton and was a lead instructor for Littleton Yoga Center’s 200-hour teacher training program. She is also an adjunct instructor for various 300-hour teacher training programs in the Denver metro area. In 2014, Lakshmi started Satya Yoga Immersion for People of Color, the country’s first and perhaps only yoga immersion and teacher training programs exclusively for people of color. Since 2014, Satya Yoga Immersion has grown into Satya Yoga Cooperative, the first POC-owned and operated co-op on the country. In 2016, Lakshmi was a panelist at the 3rd annual Race and Yoga Conference at Mills College in Oakland, California. She writes about her experiences as a South Asian American yoga teacher and about her journey to POC yoga in the Yoga and Body Coalition’s new book Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body, edited by Melanie Klein, available via Llewelyn Worldwide. She was a guest expert in Season 2 of Susanna Barkataki’s Honor Don't Appropriate Yoga Summit and will be guest-editing the 2020 issue of Race and Yoga, an e-scholarship journal, along with Arushi Singh.

Colin is a nurturer who works with young people to help them better connect with themselves and block out the noise in order to realize their full potential. Colin founded Multitasking Yogi in 2017 as a platform to bring the tools of mindfulness and self-care to vastly diverse spaces and populations: teaching in public schools; leading educator professional development workshops; servicing community events; self-publishing the picture book Phoenix’s First: An Introduction to Mindful Breathing; and presenting at conferences. His launch of Multitasking Yogi School (MY School) is an innovative way to nurture the next generation of wellness leaders. High school juniors and seniors already taking Colin’s classes have the opportunity to be placed on a specialized and supplementary mentorship and support track to complete a 95-hr Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher certification (certified by Yoga Alliance). This ensures wellness grows from a grassroots level and empowers young people to graduate high school and immediately have access to employment opportunities and help spread the important message of mindfulness and self-care in their communities.

Michelle Cassandra Johnson is an author, yoga teacher, social justice activist, licensed clinical social worker, and Dismantling Racism trainer. She approaches her life and work from a place of empowerment, embodiment, and integration. With a deep understanding of trauma and its impact on the mind, body, spirit, and heart; much of her work focuses on helping people better understand how power and privilege operate in their lives. She explores how privilege, power, and oppression affect the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and energy body. Michelle is the creator of Skill in Action, a 200-hour teacher training program focused on the intersection of yoga and social justice.

Dr. Terry Harris is a transformative educational leader specializing in educational equity and justice, racial trauma, emotional liberation, restorative justice, and healing practices in public education. As a yoga and mindfulness practitioner, Dr. Harris seeks ways to explore the intersectionality between ancient healing practices and our current educational systems to help young people and adults to “BE on Purpose.” Dr. Harris is the co-founder of THE COLLECTIVE STL, a vibrant group of Black yoga and wellness instructors fully committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Black communities in St. Louis. Our nonprofit studio intentionally creates a healthy and safe experience catered to Black people by offering compassionate wisdom that helps heal the mind, body, and spirit through yoga, mindfulness, and culturally relevant self-care strategies. Our approach is to offer donation-based yoga classes, mindfulness trainings, and self-care workshops to the community.

Jivana Heyman (E-RYT 500, C-IAYT) is the founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. Accessible Yoga offers Conferences, Community Forums, and a popular Ambassador program. He’s the co-founder of the Accessible Yoga Training School, and the author of Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body (Shambhala Publications), as well as the forthcoming book, Yoga Revolution: Bringing Your Practice into the World to Serve with Courage and Compassion (Nov. 2021). Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities. Out of this work, the Accessible Yoga organization was created to support education, training, and advocacy with the mission of shifting the public perception of yoga. More info at

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