Jivana Heyman 0:05
Hello and welcome. This is the yoga Revolution podcast. My name is Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are he and him. This podcast is an exploration of how we can live yoga right now. And how we can apply the yoga teachings in our lives will discuss the intersection of yoga and social justice, as well as how to build a practice that supports our activism. All my guests are contributors to my new book, yoga revolution, building a practice of courage and compassion. Thanks so much for joining me. Let's get started.
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to yoga Revolution Podcast. I'm so excited to have a special guest today, Mark Sutton Breno Hey, Mark. Hey, Jivana How are you? Good. How are you? Thanks for being here.
Marc Settembrino 1:02
My pleasure. I'm submitted final grades. My semester is over. I'm feeling a little bit more space and freedom in my life.
Jivana Heyman 1:11
Awesome. Well, I'm excited to hear more about that actually, about your teaching, but I wanted to introduce you. Let's see you're a fat queer educator, researcher and yoga facilitator based in Hammond Louisiana. Mark envisions a world that celebrates diversity and promotes dignity. In 2018. Mark created fat kid yoga club a supported a supportive yoga community for folks with larger bodies to explore joyful movement and celebrate what is possible in their bodies. One practice at a time. fat kid yoga Club is a truly judgment free zone where folks like Mark who were always picked last or have experienced a lifetime of body shame. Get to reconnect with their bodies and have fun at the same time. And love that. You like hearing that? How
Marc Settembrino 1:56
is it? I love hearing that? I was like, Man, I want to join fat kid yoga. Wait. That's my community?
Jivana Heyman 2:05
Well, you know, often we create what we need. So there you go. Yeah, I appreciate you doing that. Actually, maybe we could start there. I mean, well, I should say what I always have done in this podcast is have you read your contribution. So maybe we could do that. And then we can talk about fat kid yoga club? Yeah. Got it. Okay.
Marc Settembrino 2:24
Got it marked here. So, um, yeah. practicing yoga asana empowered me to make peace with my body and understand that I am worthy of dignity, love and acceptance just as I am. Today, most of my work as a yoga instructor centers on holding space for people in larger bodies to experience joyful movement and celebrate their bodies. Because fat bodies are objectified. In our society, it's important for fat folks like me to reclaim our agency and bodies. We don't have these physical forms for very long. And you can't live fully if you're constantly waging war against your body. yoga was my gateway into the fat liberation movement. So in a lot of ways, my yoga practice both created and sustains my activism.
Jivana Heyman 3:12
Thank you, I love that. Okay, there's so many things in there I want to talk about but like I said, Let's, if you don't mind sharing more about what you created, the community you created, because I think that's so exciting. And that's one of the themes actually, in this section of my book is building community.
Marc Settembrino 3:27
Yeah. And I was rereading that chapter yesterday to kind of prepare for our conversation today. And so, yeah, fat kid yoga club, is really something that I think you already hit on something that I needed to create, kind of for myself, as you know, someone in a larger body to be able to have a space where I could go where I know that my, my body isn't being judged by other people in the room that my body isn't being underestimated that my body isn't being used as like a cautionary tale or as like, inspiration for other people in the room. One of the things that I say in my, my paragraph in the section in the book is that fat bodies are objectified. And I think that that's something that we don't hear enough of right as so like being a fat person in the world. Um, there's an element of being, you know, the, the cautionary tale. So we hear so much about the quote unquote, obesity epidemic and the, the health risks of having a larger body etc. Um, and so, as a fat person, you kind of lose yourself in that you become like this object Other people use to encourage others not to be like you. At the same time, you can be like, this motivation for others, right? So, you know, I've had experiences in fitness wellness spaces where people give me like these unwanted, unasked for, like, encouragement, like you're doing so great. It's, you know, I see you here in the gym, you know, whenever I'm here, and that just makes me want to work harder, because I see you're doing it. And it's like, I'm just, you know, at the gym, or I'm just walking around the park. I'm like, I'm not here for you. Right, right. I'm trying to experience this world for myself.
Jivana Heyman 5:55
And, and wait, so say more about that. So like, their comment is actually, first of all, they're centering themselves. That is what they're doing. Right? It's about them. Yeah. And like you keep saying cautionary tale. I think that's a really interesting phrase, because it's like, you know, don't be like this or something. And it's like, it's objectifying fat people.
Marc Settembrino 6:15
Yeah, it's, it's entirely objectifying. You know, and some of my more recent academic research has been on the experiences of fat people while hiking. And so, I've had experiences where, you know, people say things like, oh, you know, if you, even family, you know, like, being at being around family and hearing someone, say to one of my nephews, oh, you know, don't eat so much. Or you'll be like, you'll be like, Uncle Mark, or something like that, right. And, like, sort of, like, your body becomes this, don't be like that. And it's one thing when it's happening from family, that's a really messed up situation. And then I've also from the people that I've, I've talked to, in my research, people have had experiences where they're out hiking on the trail, and a family will be like, see, if you eat too much pizza, you'll look like now, right? Or, if you eat too much pizza, then you won't be able to, you know, hike as much, because you'll be too big. Um, and so I don't want to get get off on that. Too much. Um, but yeah, there's this sense of, you know, as a fat person, not really having full control over your body, it's always something that is being policed. You know, when you go to the doctor, the first thing they want to do is weigh you, and then you know, usually comment on your, your weight. And so, um, other folks that have spoken a lot about that experience, being fat and, and constantly having to apologize for your body to get out of get out of other people's way to, yeah, really just manage your body to make other people feel more comfortable. And so you, you lose yourself and you lose your, your, your, your body in that process. And so, for me, asana has, like, it made me get back in touch with my body. It wasn't easy. It was really, really a struggle. Um, and now, so much of what I try to do is just hold space for people like me, to just be able to move their body to experience their body in a way that is not attached to shame, that gives them the freedom to move, to be without feeling as if someone is watching them or expecting them to look a certain way. That's what I need. That's what I needed. And so I wanted to create that space.
Jivana Heyman 8:53
Right. And actually, could you talk about the word fat because I think a lot of people have reaction to that even they're just not using that as a descriptive term.
Marc Settembrino 9:02
Yeah, yeah. Um, and it's a it's a challenging word. Even for myself, it's something that I'm still still working on. Um, you know, in our society. The word fat is an insult, right? Like if you call someone fat, it's really rude. You don't want to, but like it's a really negative thing. Um, and so we've created a lot of different euphemisms to describe fatness. But for me using the word fat is is sort of a reclamation project in the same way that I use the word queer of saying that yes, I do have I do have fat on my body and I'm fat is not a moral thing, right? Like there's no moral righteousness or moral wrongness of having fat on your body. It's actually something that we all need to survive. If you didn't have fat on your body, you, you wouldn't be able to survive. And so I happen to have more fat on my body than other people. And it's, it hasn't been easy. You know, the world has has told me for a long time that I should shrink my body that I should hide my body that I should do anything in my power to demonstrate that I'm a good person by making my body smaller. And I'm at a place right now where in my life, I'm not willing to do that anymore. And I'm not, I'm not willing to be insulted by the word fat. And so people in my life, you know, I still get hope, but you're not you're not fat. And I'm like, it's not an insult, right? It's like, Yes, I am. I am fat. Um, and the word makes folks uncomfortable. It makes other people in larger bodies are uncomfortable, right. So there, I'm sure there are people who would love to practice with me, but because of the word fat or because I call my community back in yoga club, they maybe are uncomfortable with that. And so I get that, I hear that and also, you know, I'm, I'm creating a fat liberated space. And so by calling fat kid yoga club, what I call it, um, it sort of signals to folks that this is, this is what's happening here. At least that's my intention. That's what I hope I'm signaling to people that this is perhaps a brave space for people in larger bodies to reconnect.
Jivana Heyman 11:38
Thank you for explaining that. I think that's so helpful. I actually saw I saw an ad actually this morning for like a big yoga ashram offering. They're calling it like, an approach to healthy weight. And I'm like, the yogic approach to healthy weight, and they even use the word like, we'll be doing Accessible Yoga. And I was just like, you know, what, an approach to healthy weight is just like another word for dieting, and I just, I found it really offensive. The way that you know, yoga still embraces diet culture is so scary.
Marc Settembrino 12:11
Yeah, um, you know, and and it's not surprising, I suppose since, you know, so much of American yoga, I think that's a good way to describe it, right, like American yoga has been influenced by gym culture. Right. And this idea of, you know, maintaining a healthy body, whatever that is, and I think Jivana, you speak to that question quite a bit, right. In terms of like, if our goal is health, then we all fail in the end, right? Like, it's, it's, it's in and so it's like health ism is is tied to anti fatness is tied to ableism. Right is tied to ageism. And so and, and all of it gets tied back to white supremacy in the
Jivana Heyman 13:04
infinite. So healthism is like the idea that health is the most important thing, right it's an obsession with that
Marc Settembrino 13:09
that health is the most important thing, right. And so I just got an email the other day that my university is starting this new faculty wellness initiative in the spring semester, and part of it is that we're going to learn how to develop healthy eating habits and learn how to cultivate mindfulness and wellness so that we'll be less stressed and better able to do our jobs. And it's like, Well, honestly, if you really want to know how to like, give people better health and well being it's like, for this is across the board. I'm a sociologist to, like, well, who have who have money, who have stable housing and who have access to health care. Yeah, have better health outcomes, like, like those, those are the things that we know. And so like, how do we, how do we, if you truly want a healthy society, it's not about demonizing fat people, right? It's about making sure that people have money, making sure that people have housing, making sure that people can go to the doctor when they need to. Right. And also like, providing people with the food that they need, right. And so there's, it's more than just saying, Don't be fat. And, yeah, capitalism wants us to be afraid.
Jivana Heyman 14:31
Yes. And also, I think one of the ways capitalism works that is really insidious is that it creates a problem. It creates a lack of resources for some people, like you explained, and then somehow puts the responsibility back on the individual to repair or fix that scenario. So often, mindfulness is being used, like you said, for like personal self care, and so you're a better worker, but really, that's there's issues that are community wide. That means be addressed. And
Marc Settembrino 15:01
yeah, I'm trying to think where I read it. Um, it might have been in the head, I can't think of the author. There's a book called Mcmindfulness that came out in the last week or so that's Ronald Purser. Yeah, I think in there, he's got this great quote about how mindfulness has become the religion of capitalism, right? It's kind of an interesting argument. Yeah.
Jivana Heyman 15:26
Well, this is a kind of a parallel process that I've been reflecting on is with environmental degradation and the climate disaster that we're finding ourselves in is, there's research that says that the gas and oil companies knew what was happening. I mean, they really knew what was going to happen and what they were creating. But rather than taking the blame, they actually shifted the blame to individual responsibility. And made people think like, you can make little changes in your life to make this go away, right to repair it, climate change. But actually, it's so much bigger than that, like, it's really it has to be happening on the level of these giant organization, this corporations actually, and governments, they're the ones who can make the change.
Marc Settembrino 16:08
Now, I hate to go to too deep in sociological theory on you. But one of the things that I've been thinking about lately is, and it's not a sociologist, and some, some of the listeners may be familiar with the work of Mark Huza. He was a critical theorist, and he gives us this theory of the one dimensional man. And so his critique of capitalism is that it sort of creates this one dimensional nests in our experience of the world where we are compelled to work, right. So under capitalism, everything that we need to survive, it exists, there's enough food and housing and everything, there's enough resources for everybody to have what we need, right. But capitalists need us to work. And so they hold that from us. And the only way we can get it is if we work. And so we work for the things that we need to survive food, housing, medicine, shelter, those things. Um, but that's not enough for the capitalists, right? And so they convince us that we also need to consume. And so they create what are called false needs. These things that we think that we need, in order to be happy, right. Um, and it's interesting to see how that's happened sort of within what we might even describe as like, the sustainability industry, right? Where there's a lot of things that like, we're told as individuals, like if we consume in a certain way, if you have, you know, the, the reusable water bottle, right, like, yeah, and then it becomes a thing of like, how many reusable water bottles do you end up buying? Right? And then, like, how many people are like putting their brand on the reusable water bottle. And so like, it's really interesting to see how this capitalist system compels us to consume to get our identities. And that's something I've been thinking about really in, in relationship to my yoga practice and how much I've consumed. Mm hmm. To practice yoga to become a yoga teacher, like when I and so one of the things that I've been doing this, as an aside, I apologize, as I've been like, inventory, all the things that I've purchased, that are yoga related, interesting, which are really none of them are yoga related, if we think about it, right, right. Um, but yeah, I've got, I've spent a lot of money in my life,
Jivana Heyman 18:52
writing, and trainings and stuff, training,
Marc Settembrino 18:56
their trainings, I'm leaving trainings off the list. But I'm thinking like these material goods that I have to demonstrate that I'm a yoga teacher, or that or two that I believed would support my practice in some way. But right, maybe,
Jivana Heyman 19:11
I mean, I love that idea that we're going back to capitalism, though, about how we've been trained to think this way. And that that's a lot of what my book is based on, actually, this kind of, when I, the title yoga revolution mean, refers to that exact concept that yoga is a completely different philosophy than that. It's the reverse, saying that we actually have everything we need inside, you know, we have what we're seeking, that we are full. And I think capitalism begins with the premise that we're empty, or that we're needing. And so I think if yoga is practiced, in alignment with the traditional teachings that can't be revolutionary, and that, you know, helping people have find that power the resources within them. And also, it's not only that yoga and capitalism are opposed but also So the way yoga is being taught in the West is more with a capitalist, you know sensibility rather than with like, rather than alignment with these actual teachings, right, which say that, because the whole idea of like someone else holding power over you like a teacher, is that abuses you, or manipulates you in some way, is not in alignment with yoga teaching. So I think yoga celebrity that too, that's been, you know, that's how we do in the West. It's like the yoga gurus in the west or the yoga celebrities. And that's misaligned. So I feel like, we need to go back to what yoga is any spirituality really should be about giving people connection to their source to their power. And I think that's just so important, right? For all of us.
Marc Settembrino 20:45
Absolutely. Especially for people who are told that they are somehow wrong. And so I think that's where there's a lot of opportunity for marginalized people to experience themselves in a way that we've never experienced ourselves before. Right. And so like, as a fat queer person, when I'm on my mat practicing, or when I'm seated in meditation, which my practice these days looks more like meditation than anything on a mat. Um, it gives me a chance to just kind of be right, and then that's, that's the goal, right? Like, that's what we're working towards. Yeah. Um, and I think that that's been extremely important for me, and I really just want to hold space for other people to be able to do that. And, you know, capitalism makes it hard. In that, it's like, well, how do we even get to do that? Right? Like, I? Yeah, part of this thing of, like, looking at all of the money that I've I've spent, has even been like, you know, the pandemic happened. And then suddenly, I had a Zoom account. And, um, I had to, I built a new website platform to be able to host fat kid yoga club on and, and that's, um, you know, so I could store videos of practices that we had, I needed to, like, pay now for additional storage and all of this stuff, right. And it's my holding on to, um, you know, this practice is so ephemeral. Right, um, does it need to be recorded and put on a website forever?
Jivana Heyman 22:37
I don't know. Um, I like that. I love the way your question these things. I think that's awesome. I mean, I get upset about the way that yoga mats in particular are equated with practice. You know, that's incredibly frustrating to me. Yeah, I mean, the yoga mat is a relatively new invention. And, you know, it's basically a piece of plastic. And it's like, that makes you into a yoga practitioner, if you carry that around, or you have it in your house. And, I mean, there's, it's a tool, like, there's many tools in yoga that we can use, and it's, it's a good, it's a prop that you might need sometimes, but other times might not. And I remember working with people, I had a student who used a wheelchair, and she wanted to use yoga mat, and have her mat on the chair, but it was so impossible, because her the way the rubber wheels of her wheelchair would stick to the mat and just create this, like, impossible situation that was dangerous, actually. So I mean, sometimes it's not helpful. I guess that's what I'm saying. And it doesn't mean your yoga practitioner not.
Marc Settembrino 23:45
Now, and there's probably a lot of people with yoga mats in their closets that they haven't touched. Yours, right? Um, and yeah, that's okay. Right. Like, they may or may not be a yoga practitioner, depending on where the mat does not make you a yoga practitioner. And that's important too. And, you know, thinking about yoga mats, right. So, yoga mats are a problem for people in larger bodies. Um, my body does not fit on a traditional yoga mat. Right? And so because of that, I and this brings us back to consumption, I have to buy an extra wide yoga mat, then charged more for, right, um, and I can't just go into a they're not available in a store, so I have to order it from somewhere else. Um, and so you know, it's it. Yeah. It the mat. The mat is, is really problematic and a lot of ways. Yeah.
Jivana Heyman 24:47
Yeah. I think someone should write about that. Maybe you should. Yeah, I think the yoga mat really represents the problem of Western yoga in like, assigning this specific amount of space, right? Like, here is your space and it's On the floor. So like, I love what you're saying about the size of your body, it has to like fit within this space. But also it has to be on the floor. And so like I said, someone uses a wheelchair, someone practicing in a chair, it's like, well, I'm not really a yoga practitioner unless I have a mat. Also, like in bed yoga, I tried to find ways to incorporate mats to make people feel like they were doing yoga, but it's like, not necessary at all. Yeah.
Marc Settembrino 25:23
You know, and speaking to the floor as well, there's like, I felt before in in yoga spaces that there was some sort of like, moralism around the ability to sit on the floor. Yeah, and be able to sit on the floor comfortably for a long period of time. So I can think back to, you know, trainings or workshops that I've been in, where everybody is sitting on the floor, and there's this expectation that that's what you should be able to do. And I'm that that's not your your dignity as a human being is not tied to your ability to sit on the floor. Right? No, um, and we shouldn't be creating spaces that even imply that that's the case. Yeah.
Jivana Heyman 26:12
Right. I mean, why is sitting on the floor better than sitting in a chair? Like, what is the you know, it's really, it's a problem. And a lot of yoga places really demand that they meant not only that you sit on the floor, but that you're able to get up and down from the floor, readily. And it excludes a tremendously large number of people from the practice for no reason at all. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I love Jerry, Jerry, yoga, honestly, just because I think it's much more. It's much more accessible and democratic, to practice in a place that people can access.
Marc Settembrino 26:44
Yeah, that's actually been one of the great things about teaching online, on Zoom, is that I went from a studio where there may be chairs available. And occasionally I would like say, we're all starting in a chair, right. And I would get some grimaces from people and folks would tell me after practice, like, Oh, I really didn't want to start sitting in the chair didn't really feel like yoga. Um, but now like practicing at live on Zoom, a lot of people are in their living room, or they're in a space where there is somewhere else to sit. And so it gives me a lot of opportunity to like, just gently cue, you could do this sitting on your couch as well. Or it might be nice, like, if you want to rest and take a seat. And I see people choosing that option, because they're in a space where perhaps they feel more comfortable. It's their house, they maybe don't feel like they're being judged by others in the room, right? Um, because even I find myself sometimes when I'm in a in a studio class, I'll push myself a little bit more wondering who am I pushing myself?
Jivana Heyman 27:59
It's human nature. It's human nature. And I think that's the really the downside to group classes in person classes. Right? Is competition. I mean, there, it can be a fun, inspirational part of competition, but there's a really dangerous side. Yeah. Which is not listening to yourself. I love online yoga, I think it's more accessible. And I feel like, first of all, first of all, you don't have to get over the whole thing of like walking into or going into a yoga studio that might feel like an unsafe space, you know, that's not designed for you.
Marc Settembrino 28:29
Yeah, and that that is a reality. Right? I've, I've talked about that. And written about that before, where, you know, I almost shamed myself out of the room. Right. When I first started practicing yoga was usually the largest person in the room and, and I had a lot of baggage around that. And, yeah, you know, like, I don't belong here, like, and I actually would test. I would like, message a studio and be like, Hey, this is who I am. You know, would it be? Would it be good for me to take a class? What do you recommend? Right, like, I had to do this extra work?
Jivana Heyman 29:05
Yeah, um, to see if you would be safe. Like, is this going to be a safe space for? Um,
Marc Settembrino 29:11
yeah. And that's, um, that's, that's really sad. That's unfortunate. Right? It makes me sad. I think back on on having to have done that.
Jivana Heyman 29:21
Yeah. So I, I follow you, you know, for a long time, also, and I see how I mean, I see your activism and how clear you are about what's happening, but what's going wrong in yoga, and I just want to like, ask about that, like how it feels to be in like an activist in the yoga community if you feel I don't know if it gets tiring if you feel. Yeah, I don't know what your feelings are about that. And I guess I would, I would frame it in the context of kind of spiritual bypassing and the way that like Western yoga kind of makes everything our own fault. You know, like we talked about earlier?
Marc Settembrino 30:02
Yeah. Oh, gosh. Um, you know, I will say, and I've mentioned this in a few other places lately, and I've been like, kind of absent from Instagram lately. Um, yeah, it's cuz I'm, I think I'm not, I don't think I am feeling a little bit of burnout. Because, you know, the the world has been on fire. I mean, the world has been on fire for a long time. But the last, you know, two years, we've really been in a real state of like, constant crisis. The state that I live in, and Louisiana politics here are wild enough. Last year, we had four hurricanes this year, we had hurricane ida, which really just has been really difficult and hard for a lot of people. Um, and then on top of it, you know, it's like, yoga, for me, sometimes was like, an escape, right. And I think a lot of people in the in the US use yoga as an escape. And for me, especially, you know, when life is really stressful, it's nice to have a place where you can find that quiet. Um, and then when, like, my activism started bleeding into yoga land, there was like, more to be frustrated with, and more to point out, and I think on Instagram as well, there's even like, because of the the speed that in that social media moves with, yeah, it feels like there's a constant like, having to keep up with, right. And if you're not on the latest, um, collective, you know, movement, then you're behind, um, kind of, like, if you're taking a group class, right, like, you know, so I'm, I guess I'm taking my child's pose right now with Instagram and trying to figure out who I fit in all of this. Right? And what do I have the capacity for? Um, and so it's been interesting, um, you know, being someone who can identify and articulate some of the problems in yoga land. And also, and I'm sure others perhaps, maybe feel this way it can get tiring of being, you know, the person that is doing that. Right. Like, to just be able to practice yoga, not have it be problematic. And, yeah,
Jivana Heyman 32:42
yeah. Well, I like that, that comparison to social media is like a group yoga class. And I think, yeah, it's like, you can also just have your home practice that's not public, and not about that, right. You can have your own internal practices. We need that, you know, we need that internal practice. And it social media is exhausting. It's, it's draining. I mean, I actually tried to limit my exposure on there, in a way, like in terms of how much I share, I mean, I'm doing more now, but I really, I don't say this much, but I'll say that I don't feel like I'm sharing all of myself there. You know what I mean? It's like, just like, when I'm teaching a class, you know, I've learned when I'm a teacher, like, there's some things that I need to share, and some things I don't share, and when I'm teaching that are just like, my personal stuff is not the right environment for that. So I think of social media for me is like a teaching platform.
Marc Settembrino 33:38
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And that, that has been my approach as well. And also it it, you know, I tried to be vulnerable and authentic and, like, you know, you see some accounts that are very clearly like, there's someone behind the scenes managing everything that's happening. Yeah. And that's not me at all, you know, I will, I will definitely share what I'm thinking, share what I'm feeling, um, and be open. Um, but after a while, I've just, like, gotten to this place of, you know, what am I? What am I? And this is the question I've been asking myself, literally, all week long. It's like, you know, who am I? And what am I doing? Right. And, and, you know, I think that's a question that, you know, I think all of us struggle with at some point. Nah,
Jivana Heyman 34:37
I mean, that's, that's the best question. That's, that's the, that's yoga. To me. That's like actually yoga more than anything else to ask yourself that question is the heart of this print all
Marc Settembrino 34:48
day long. And it has been a struggle for me kind of balancing you mentioned I've mentioned that I'm a university professor as well. It's been hard for me to balance those two. Because I've felt like I can't, I can't share my yoga with the university and vice versa in really strange ways because of different rules and policies. And so it's like, I've had to create, like, Mark, the yoga instructor and Mark, the sociology professor and having that bifurcation really is not, I don't think healthy for any.
Jivana Heyman 35:39
Well, I'm a Gemini, so I don't mind that kind of thing. But, but I just want to say that ice, I don't know if it's healthy or not. But I would just say what I see you doing, though, is bringing some of that awareness through your sociology, work and research and kind of like a different consciousness to yoga. And I think that's really important. So I'm grateful for what you do. And I hope you'll stick with that and continue to combine them. I think that's a it's a beautiful combination. Actually, I think to me, yeah.
Marc Settembrino 36:12
Yeah. Behind the scenes, I feel it and I see it, and I can be like, this is how these fits perfectly complement one another. I just haven't figured out how to. Yeah. How to feel comfortable doing it publicly yet, you know, and I think that's, that's the challenge, right? Like, so that's what I why I'm asking myself, well, who are you? And what are you doing? Right? Yeah. What is it that you're you're offering the world? And how is it helpful? How is it? How is it going to be beneficial?
Jivana Heyman 36:47
For you said today is helpful. This idea of this kind of a sociological analysis of the yoga world is incredibly helpful. And it makes me think of Melanie Klein, I don't know if you know her, well. Yeah, yoga body image collection, which really comes out of sociology, I think, as well. And I think the work she's done is like that is just to kind of shine a light on this in a way that I think sociology does really well, like, how do we interact with each other and the cultures that we create, and the way that yoga has manifested in the West, and maybe more than manifested.
Marc Settembrino 37:18
And I'm not the first person to be connecting these dots. Right. Kimberly Dark is also doing Yes, Kimberly. Right. And so it's, it's like, um, yeah, it's, it's, it's fun to ponder.
Jivana Heyman 37:34
Yeah. Well, I appreciate that about you. You know, I just, I wonder if I'm, I don't know if this is fair, but part of what I see I see some righteous anger in your work. And that is something I just was curious if you could talk about that. I feel like I see you getting sharing frustration. With yoga. I just wonder how do you respond to that, because I try to address that a little bit in the book. And it's a hard one, I think people have such a reaction to anger as not yoga. And I think that to become integrated, which is where I hear you, when I hear you talking about like, becoming an integrated, spiritual human, you know, is to embrace all parts of ourselves. And I just curious what you feel about that about anger?
Marc Settembrino 38:25
Yeah. Anger is a, you know, really powerful emotion and I think culturally, we're afraid of, of anger. Um, and, you know, with my my sociologist hat, I can probably say that it's probably tied into, you know, white supremacy and wanting to control people. And so anger is something to be feared anger is something to be dismissed. And, you know, angry people, you know, are taken less seriously. In our society, you know, there's this idea of like, well, you should be able to control your emotions and, um, you know, yeah, it's, it's, it's hard to exist as a person, um, and constantly being told that you're wrong. Yeah.
Jivana Heyman 39:35
But especially in spiritual communities. Like I feel like it's even worse.
Marc Settembrino 39:39
Yeah. Well, I mean, goodness isn't like, I hope I don't offend anyone with this. I'm like, when I think of like, evangelical Christianity. There's so much emphasis Unlike controlling one's emotions and not being angry, and so to some degree, I wonder like how much that bleeds, you know, the the evangelical ness of, of the United States, how much that bleeds into spiritual community yoga communities? Um, I think that there's something there that we haven't really acknowledged yet.
Jivana Heyman 40:31
Yeah, well, because I think if, to me part of yoga, like the key practice of yoga is Ahimsa non harm, which is more than non harm, it's actually not wanting others people to suffer. I mean, it's like, you know, wanting to there to be less suffering in the world, to me is an aspect of ahimsa. And I know that I have a quote, actually, I don't think of it here from Gandhi, that I share in the book. I mean, Gandhi is slightly problematic figure. But I think he also does represent this movement of spiritual practices, especially yoga being used for political transformation and revolution. He says, let's say use your anger for good anger to people is like gas to the automobile, it fuels you to move forward and to get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It's an energy that compels us to define what is just an unjust,
Marc Settembrino 41:21
wow. Yeah. I love that. And I think for me, a big part of it is figuring out, you know, how do I let that anger motivate me in a way that is going to be beneficial, right, in a way that is going to improve my circumstances or the circumstances of other people around me? Right. Um, and so that can be, that can be a challenge, right? And I guess that's, that's part of the big practice as well, right, as the things are gonna happen. That do make you angry. And so how do you respond to that anger? Um, for me, it's always been, you know, I, I find a way to express it and communicate it. But that's usually where I go right with my anger is, is how do I express what has happened and why it's wrong? And how we can not have this problem happen again.
Jivana Heyman 42:32
Awesome. Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. And I wonder if there's anything else you wanted to share?
Marc Settembrino 42:43
Yeah, I think one of the things that I've also been been kind of sitting with lately is that, you know, it can be and this is kind of informed by a dear friend of mine, Zell, who they were talking about how, you know, activism, being an activist, is, Can in and of itself, be exhausting. Um, and it implies that we're sort of constantly going to be on this treadmill. In some ways, that implies that we're, we're going to be delayed gratitude, or on a lot of things, right, that we're not, we're not going to get that gratification, not gratitude, you know, that there's, there's something that we're struggling for, and, and being in this, this fight is righteous and what we need to be in, and that that can begin to pull us away, right. And it can, can cause harm to ourselves. It can cause harm to other people around us. And so it's, it's something that I'm really trying to figure out for myself. And I've been a little bit more internal, I've been a little bit more in a place of, of wanting to reflect. And while I'm doing that, I've also been feeling maybe a little bit like I'm not enough, because I'm seeing other people around me who are still fighting, still pushing forward in their activism. And so I think it's it's important to name that it's it's okay to take take breaks and take time to rest and to care for yourself. Because, you know, burnout is burnout is real burnout is real among activists. There are a lot of activists that talk about you know how that burnout creeps up on you and take care of yourself and and it's not a race. It's an Got a competition like, you know, ask your ask yourself is this time for, for you to, to go within and sort of think about what it looks like to emerge? New. I think that's
Jivana Heyman 45:16
I love that. I mean, the whole concept of self care was created by black women activists in like during the Civil Rights Movement, to care to care for themselves to have energy for the fight. And I think self care has been commodified and appropriated. So I do try to talk about that in the book that it's like, to me there's a, there's a, there's a spectrum between self care and service. And it's like, if you have, if you feel exhausted, if you have trauma, if you have a marginalized identity of any kind, like you just can spend all the time you want, like caring for yourself. But if you have privilege and power, then you have a responsibility to use that for good to actually serve others. And so I feel like it contains every day, obviously, where you are in that spectrum. But you know what I mean? Like, I think self care is just service to yourself. And so yoga is just like that, to me, it's like looking at where can I put my energy today?
Marc Settembrino 46:11
Yeah, I think that's, that's a big question that we all deserve to ask ourselves. And it would be amazing if we lived in a society that allowed us to ask that question. Right? Like, where, where do I? Where do I want or need to put my energy today? What's going to make me feel like a fulfilled human being? I think there's just this Arsis Yes, suffering exists. But and this goes back to the idea of like, spiritual bypassing, right, is that, like, so much of the suffering that exists in our society is external, it's things that we as human beings created, to dominate and control other people. And so if you are feeling tired, burnt out stressed, it's understandable there's there's literally nothing wrong with you in that moment. Um, and yeah, it's it's hard to sit with that knowing that we live in this, this brutal, it's not broken, living in this really alienating, dehumanizing system. And so I just a lot of time trying to think of how do we change it? What does? What does this? What would it look like to live in a society that provided for everyone as they needed, and allows each of us to have our agency to be able to go about asking that question, you know, where do I want to put my energy today? How do I want to do that? That world is
Jivana Heyman 47:54
possible. That's beautiful. I mean, I love that. And I think it's, it's essential that we all spend time reflecting on that. So thanks for that. That's, uh, maybe we could end on that note. That's awesome. Awesome, great. Thank you so much, Mark. Thanks for talking with me and for sharing with all of us.
Marc Settembrino 48:13
Thank you for having me. Thank you for putting together yoga revolution. It's been it's just such an amazing constellation of humans doing amazing work. And it's, yeah, it's it's a beautiful contribution. So thank you, chica.
Jivana Heyman 48:30
Thank you. All right, take care. Thanks so much for listening and joining the conversation. yoga is truly a revolutionary practice. Thanks for being here. If you haven't already, I would love for you to read my book, yoga revolution, building a practice of courage and compassion. It's available wherever books are sold. Also, you can check out my website JivanaHeyman.com. There's some free classes on there and a meditation and you can find out more about my upcoming trainings and other programs. Hope to see you next time. Thanks. Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai