May 12th, 2018 has come and gone, but the community that was created, the stories that were shared, and the listening that occurred will only continue to grow.
Here’s a quick summary of how the afternoon unfolded, to entice YOU to be in attendance at the next event, June 9th at Be Yoga Dilworth. First, Grace Millsap and Kelley Carboni-Woods shared the teaching space. Grace is a local rockstar 200hr ERYT and manager at Be Yoga. She is a Self-Care Ambassador and the thought leader of the Ethics in Yoga series. Kelley is the creator of Peace Filled Mama, and her teaching style is best described as “real AF”. Her passionate advocacy for children to be treated as human beings as well as her wellness work is inspiring. The asana and meditation practice was created to open the heart, ears, and soul so we could each receive the messages and narratives of those who were willing to share their perspective on “What is Abuse, on and off the mat?”.
Jasmine Hines, powerhouse creator of The Inspower Agency and Amplify & Activate, started off the panel discussion by inviting the panel to take on being the "expert" from their seat (or point of view). The panel included Linda Simthong (School of Jai founder), Vivian Selles (yoga teacher), Wendy Swanson (yoga studio owner and acupuncturist), Adam Whiting (lead teacher of Charlotte Yoga), and Rodney James (yoga class assistant). Each panel member was given the opportunity to answer the first question, What is abuse?
Harm - physical, mental, cultural, sexual, financial. An intention to manipulate or control. Abuse can also be the treatment of others that can show up as 1. Unacknowledgement 2. Shaming - eye rolling, other signs including language choices.
Everything is nature is in relationship or communication with each other. Abuse is when this relationship turns cancerous in order to gain territory in a nonconsensual or aggressive manner. Vulnerability may place transformation on the teacher, putting them on a pedestal. Boundaries are key in any relationship.
Power dynamic can elevate without their permission. Teachers should be kept in check. Self-study is key. Power can be seductive. Look at the big picture. How will I feel later, not in the moment?
Harming without permission. Assisting is a power, and with great power comes great responsibility. it takes vigilance to respect boundaries of different people with different experiences of what’s “ok”. People, in general, are impure, which can get in the yoga’s way. It’s important to respect the body’s connection to the actual yoga.
Abuse happens when others don’t honor boundaries (bubbles of personal space), relationships, and the spaces to heal.
The follow up question, What abuse have you witnessed and what actions (or inactions) have you taken?
Shaming of victim has been witnessed, which often leads to secrecy, silence and judgements. There is a need to move away from shaming. Listening is key with clear containers.
Moral compass doesn’t always show up in the abusers. Be clear in touches (assists), approach with clear intentions, with some areas of the body being off limits.
Gaslighting of victims, shaming, blaming - coming from abusers and other teachers in the community has been recently witnessed through the lens of social media. Make a point to talk to as many people as possible. Don’t allow your own lack of experience in a situation to negate others’ real experiences. Be open, but don’t defend.
While in the middle of local #metoo storm, packing up and escaping can be enticing as a defense mechanism. The right thing to do isn’t always easy or fast, often it takes commitment, hard work, and community of people (teachers) banding together.
The final question of the afternoon was directed to members of the audience: What makes people complicit when it comes to abuse?
Don’t want to be different or create waves.
Don’t feel that you personally have the tools, or not sure how to use them.
Complicitness has become an epidemic. Wellness people aren’t doing the work and we can’t be aware of own mess without doing the practices we teach.
Often, our unconscious biases may cause harm when we subconsciously judge others based on appearance. These biases may be related to race, body type, or able-ness.
The second in this dynamic dialogue series will allow for more voices to be heard, stories to be shared and connections to be made. Please join us on June 9th at Be Yoga in Dilworth as we discuss “Victimization, Shaming, and Blaming.” This event is free for all to attend, and we will be collecting donations for a local organization. CEU's are available for teachers.
Warmly and Powerfully Together,
Amplify & Activate