EP294: A Conversation About Diversity In Western Yoga Asana Practice and Spaces with Susanna Barkataki
Today’s guest is Susanna Barkataki and her big truth was about how intimately interconnected wellness, healing, and social justice are.
We talked about dominant culture, how whiteness is upheld in yoga and wellness spaces, power dynamics and structures, people’s capacity for discomfort and navigating the big emotions that come up doing this kind of work: sadness, grief, and anger.
Susanna provided a thorough examination of violence and nonviolence in three levels – self, interpersonal and institutional – which helped me deepen my learning a lot and I really hope it does for you also.
We also talked about how to dismantle and build at the same time, decolonizing our own minds, internalized oppression, trauma-informed yoga and the nature of privilege.
A few notes on the summit Susanna is hosting that we mentioned in the interview which I am a guest for:
I haven’t said yes to an online summit in years, but when Susanna invited me to be part of her summit, I made an exception because the topic is super important to me. Even so, as I do not have the time to personally vet each speaker or listen to the other 20+ interviews, please be aware that my participation in this summit is not an endorsement for every speaker in the lineup and it’s likely that not all views are in alignment with my own. I do recommend that you use your own discernment if you choose to sign up for the summit and be aware that you will receive several emails once you do and be invited to a Facebook group for discussion, which you do not have to join if you don’t want to.
As well, as clear communication is a high value for me, I want to add that based on some of the messaging around it, it seems the summit, though titled Honor Don’t Appropriate Yoga is largely focused on diversifying western yoga asana practice spaces, just as much, if not moreso than addressing cultural appropriation within the western yoga world.
About Susanna Barkataki:
Hi, I’m Susanna Barkataki – A teacher, inclusivity promoter, and yoga culture advocate. I see a world where yoga unites us all and excludes no one… But that wasn’t always my understanding.
I’ve been practicing yoga for as long as I can remember. Rooted in my Indian and British background, it has helped me understand the world around me and how to live happily.
One day, while in child’s pose, clarity struck! I had the insight that yoga is here for us to cultivate power and transcend our limitations, personally and socially. The way we do yoga often continues to create competition and separation with ourselves and others. Instead, original yoga exists as a way to connect us all – dissolving separation within and without.
I quickly decided that my passion was to help others bridge the gap between yoga as an exercise and yoga as a lifestyle… Because true yoga is more than just the poses. It’s an age-old practice that serves us all!
Today, I work to showcase yoga in action, spread the message of diversity and inclusion, and help people connect through yoga to live a happy, fulfilling life. And I’d love for you to join me in this mission!
We can lean on each other to use authentic yoga culture as a vessel for shaping change now. Together, I know we can live a more fulfilling life – physically and spiritually!
Connect with Susanna:
What You’ll Hear:
7:20 How intimately connected yoga + social justice are
10:18 The connection between the collective work to be done + our personal responsibility
13:10 Why “being sweet” is something that gets you more invitations
19:24 The three levels of violence + non-violence
26:29 How to dismantle + rebuild the system at the same time
32:03 Decolonizing our own minds by exploring our roots
41:56 How we can get people to increase their capacity for discomfort
50:16 Why trauma-informed yoga must be inclusive
53:14 Responding to trauma responses in appropriate ways
1:00 The age of rising accountability
Click here to watch/listen or scroll upward to listen only:
“If we’re not connecting the dots of these practices that can help us stay well and help us heal, with material conditions like survival for people who need it, then we’re missing something.” – Susanna Barkataki
“This is not for bliss, this is life or death.” – Susanna Barkataki
“It’s really apparent to me lately how I’m just so not alone and how interconnected I am.” – Susanna Barkataki
“Because of that imbalance of power, sometimes it’s hard when someone who hasn’t had the power challenges those who have the power.” – Susanna Barkataki
“Part of what I feel like my job is to help people get more comfortable, to extend their boundaries of comfort, and sometimes that’s by gentles means and sometimes that’s like blowing it open.” – Susanna Barkataki
“Institutional violence is violence that happens when a power structure has systems, laws, economic policies, practices, cultural norms, that are in place to give power to and privilege to a certain segment of the population and actively underprivilege and underresource and underpower another.” – Susanna Barkataki
“Nothing will change sustainably and for real unless the system changes.” – Elizabeth DiAlto
“Every single one of us actually has the ability to impact systemic change.” – Susanna Barkataki
“There’s a complexity here because I’m both colonizer and colonized.” – Susanna Barkataki
“We can’t say, ‘oh, it’s not my responsibility.’ It is. It’s on us.” – Susanna Barkataki
“Race is a social construct.” – Susanna Barkataki
“It’s so joyful. It’s so fun. It’s so rich when we are actually uncovering these layers that just allow us to actually be in more alignment.” – Susanna Barakataki
“It’s the nature of privilege to be blind to what we can’t see.” – Susanna Barakataki
“There’s a difference between tone policing and abuse.” – Elizabeth DiAlto
“I will have compassion for all the things that have created that trauma, but I won’t interpersonally allow it to then diminsh me.” – Susanna Barakataki
You May Also Like:
How was this episode for you?
Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below!