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. We'll 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, everyone. Thanks for joining me again. I'm so excited to be here today with my friend Amber Karnes. Hey, Amber.
Hey, how's it going?
Good. It's funny, because I feel like interviewing you is like, interviewing my sister or something.
Anyway, in a non interview context, and it's like,
kind of funny, though, I want to be like, yeah, like, I'm the interviewer now. So. So actually, I wanted to really introduce you for reals for real. So Amber Karnes, is a yoga teacher trainer ruckus maker, the founder of body positive yoga, and a lifelong student of her body. Amber trains, yoga teachers and movement educators how to create accessible and equitable spaces for liberation and belonging. She also creates community for folks who want to build unshakable confidence, and learn to live without shame or apology in the bodies they have today. Amber is a co creator of the Accessible Yoga training school, and yoga for all teacher training, with Dianne Bondy, Accessible Yoga Association Board President and a sought after contributor on the topics of accessibility, authentic marketing, culture shifting, and community building. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband, Jimmy, hey, you can find her bodypositiveyoga.com. Well, we can talk about that later. But that felt very formal and funny with you. But I just thought it might be nice. To give you a formal welcome to my podcast.
I know. It's so exciting. Now we got this whole other place that we can talk.
Right? Because basically, if people don't know, like, we're, you know, co hosts of the Accessible Yoga podcast. And you've basically taught me everything I know about podcasting. So this feels kind of funny to me to have you here, but you inspired me actually to admit to make this podcast about the book, you know, to use that as like a launching pad to have these conversations with all these amazing contributors. Thank you.
How are you today? How you doing?
I'm good. You know, I'm, it's like an overcast day. It's like a good day to work. So I'm excited to have this conversations kind of like a punk shoe a way to punctuate the day. So like, it's a meeting, but it's not really a meeting because it's like,
we get to have fun calm. So
yeah. Talk about you get to talk. So what I've been trying to do in these conversations is to expand on the contribution that people made in the book. So in the book, so people probably haven't seen the book yet. It doesn't come out till November. But we're launching these beforehand. And so what I do in the book is about, I don't know, I have about a page dedicated to each contributor, there's a photo, and then there's a paragraph quote, and I've been asking the contributors to read there's would you read your quote from the book?
Yeah, definitely. Okay. So he says, dominant culture conditions us to forget our own humanity and function is every man for himself. My yoga practice helps me to remember that I'm not separate from my humanity or from other people in this world. The yoga teachings speak to our interconnectedness and remind me that my actions have a ripple effect on others. And so my yoga practice is a journey of liberation of my own heart, mind, body, and spirit. This yogic journey of turning attention inward isn't about becoming self obsessed, but rather remembering my own humanity so that I may see the same and others and then be of service to our liberation and justice.
Yay, that is so good.
That's a pretty good quote. I was like, I spent a long time since I wrote that but reading it back. I'm just like, yeah, that's what it's all about. Oh,
I know. So I just have to say, like, I had that experience with my book. Like, I got a an advanced review, hardcopy of my book just last week, and I was looking at it. I was like, Oh, that's pretty good. Like, I can't read this book. And I was just like,
thanks, pass geven
it's so funny, you know, to read your own writing later. I don't know. I just forget, you know, but yeah, you did a good job. There. I thought maybe we could talk about it. So also mentioned that the placement of your contribution in the book is actually in my favorite chapter, I think in the whole book, which I call rainbow mind enlightenment today. And actually, this was meant to be the title of the book, this was the working title. For the first year when I was writing, it was rainbow mind. And I was really interested in this idea of, I don't know, kind of describing a different goal for our practice, than the ones that I think we currently have. Which, you know, to me, like, the goal that I hear about is like, oh, enlightenment, like, it's this idea of like, some like Yogi sitting in a cave meditating forever, or something like transcending your life altogether, leaving the world in some way. And I was thinking about, is there a goal? Like, is there another goal for me? Like, is there a way that I want to, like, what do I want to achieve through my practice? And it's not only my finding joy in my life and fulfillment for myself, but actually, service to my community? And that's what I, that's what I was trying to get out. It's like, what is it? How could we kind of identify that as a goal of our practice? You know what I mean? I do. Yeah, well, actually, you said it. You said it. Right. Yeah. I
mean, for me, you know, it's, I feel like the Yes, yoga is this journey of like, turning your attention inward, and kind of, like, you know, remembering who you really are, and becoming more self aware, and all of that stuff. But I think if we stop there, you know, if we stop in the sort of place of like, Oh, well, you know, I have this practice that really helps me to, like manage my stress, or I have this practice that's really helped me to, like, accept my body, so I can move through the world more confidently, or whatever, like, those are all worthy goals. But I think if we just stopped with the self, we really missed the boat, you know, we missed the we kind of missed the point of the teachings themselves, which, you know, is not just about like, solving my own problem, or feeling individually happy or enlightened, whatever that means, right? Like I can, like you said, leave the world and sort of transcend, transcend what it means to like, have this messy human experience, I think that's sort of the the promise of enlightenment that we we think sometimes are like, this nebulous concept of like, Oh, well, when I reach that destination, then I'm never gonna have another negative thought about myself, I'm never gonna feel pain, I'm not going to suffer, I'll be happy all the time. And like, to me, it's not even close to that. I think it's really more about that, like, when you know, when our practice is very effective and powerful. And I think when our practice sort of goes toward the heart of the teachings, it's less about, like, this isolation, where you're, you know, above it all and more about really like digging down into those aspects of humanity that, I think I don't want to say like the dark side, but maybe like, it's been sort of positioned that way, right? That it's like, if you're a good Yogi, and if your practices real dialed in, then you won't be Oh, you won't have pain, you won't be unhappy, you know, like, and if you have those things, somehow you're doing it wrong. And I think actually, that really denies like, the fullness of the human experience, which is like, no one is like the yoga teachings or, you know, the universe, God, whoever, like, isn't guaranteed anyone that like, happiness is the way there's going to be 100% of the time, even any more than we'd expect, you know, every day to be like, a spring day, you know what I mean? Well, maybe if you live in California, but you know, that that, like, I feel like, you know that, if we only use this practice to self soothe, or to, you know, reach greater levels of self awareness, or whatever it is, and we don't then take that information, that insight, and sort of turn that lens outward and say, like, How can I be of service? How can I, you know, share the parts of this practice that have been so such a game changer for me, you know, how can I look at these pieces of myself that I've been able to come to terms with the practice or like, you know, things like, I can work through difficult emotions, or I can learn how to, you know, meet pain in my body? If that's something that I have going on, you know, the things that we learn in the practice, how can I use that sort of, to, towards service in my community? How can I use that to have more empathy toward difficult people in my life? How can I, you know, use this technology of the practice to build capacity in myself to withstand difficult circumstances or have difficult conversations or do those things that are required of us when we you know, I think well activism, the things that activism requires the things that if we're going to really turn our lens way from only ourselves and look at like, Okay, well, how are my neighbors doing? You know, how is the community around me doing? Where can I fit in to try to, you know, be in service toward toward other people that are, you know, on the same?
Yeah, no, that's, I love that I can actually in the quote that you read from the book. The last part you say, the yogic journey of turning attention inward isn't about becoming self obsessed, but rather, remembering my own humanity so that I may see the same and others and then be of service toward liberation, and justice. And I think that's so important, like you said, like, it's, it's not the way that I normally hear about enlightenment being discussed in in yoga, where it's like a completely personal thing. And I think you said it so beautifully. It's like, how does it impact? How do my actions? How, actually, how does my practice helped me and support me in dealing with the struggles in my life, reduce my suffering, but also, how can it reduce the suffering of others. And it reminded me of something I just want to mention, there was this research, there's been a couple of different research papers about this topic is around mindfulness. And there was a really recent one that happened that came out of University of Buffalo that talked about how mindfulness can make people more self centered. But right, what they found was that it dependent on your, what you were like beforehand, like if you tend to, if you were, your tendency was towards being self centered already, and you practice mindfulness, it would actually exacerbate that. But if you tended to be very social and like, you know, concerned about other people, then mindfulness would actually increase that. So it was so interesting to me how mindfulness increased whatever was already there within your mind, you know what I mean? Like it seemed to the powers that you have? Yeah, I don't know, if you have thoughts about that.
Yeah, you know, I think that, um, I think one of the interesting things about this practice is that, yes, it is this, like individual pursuit, but most of the time, we do it in a collective sort of way, right? Whether you're going to like a yoga class, or jumping on zoom with other people or whatever, you know, maybe you're listening to a guided meditation, even when it's sort of a one on one like that, oftentimes, like the practices with other people. And I think that is a really powerful thing that happens with or a powerful opportunity for folks when we do this, like very personal thing, but in a group. And Yoga is not the only place, you know, that you can have these types of community experiences for certain. But I think that I think that it can be an interesting opportunity to, like, see what that brings up for us, you know, what I mean? Like, oftentimes, I think other people are kind of a mirror. So if by which I mean, like, Okay, if I'm, you know, irritated by something somebody's doing, like, I kind of need to look a little deeper and be like, Well, why does that bug me? You know, what about that brings up something in me, you know, it's usually like our own stuff. And I think that sometimes, you know, community is a place where we can not only kind of work through those types of things together, but also really can sort of, I think, give people a sense of possibility of things that they might not see in themselves, when they see it happen in community, you know, what I mean? I think about the way that like, that I like to do body image kind of work. And it is really similar to the yoga practice where, you know, it's, it's a very individual thing that's based on your own experience, and your thoughts and feelings and all the conditioning that you have. But when we come together, then we can share insights, we can see other people, you know, maybe show us a different way to be or to live, that we couldn't have really sets on our own. And so I think it's interesting what you said about like, the mindfulness thing, and like, if I think it maybe, would be interesting to know, like, okay, the people they studied, you know, were they practicing by themselves? Or were they in community? And would that change those results or something? You know, because I think that, well, when we talk about mindfulness, you know, oftentimes it is attached to some kind of spiritual tradition, but it's a cognitive exercise, right? So like, if our brain already has a bias toward one thing or another toward, you know, selfishness or you know, other mindedness or however we want to say that, then we're probably just going to go in the direction of our our own bias or like the way we do the world, but I I think one of the ways that community community can like really be powerful is that we can see other ways of being we can see like other options for, oh, this person is in this kind of body and they show up without, you know, regret and shame or, you know, this person. Do you know what I mean? That, like, it's easier to imagine a possibility for yourself, if you see someone else do it first. So,
yeah, well, that's the benefit of community too, is that can people can be models for you? Good or bad, actually, you know, in terms of right want to do or what you don't want to do. But I was gonna, I was wondering if you could share, like, what are some of the actual practices that you find most useful in those settings? Like, so you talk about community a lot, but like to you? Is it? I don't know. Is it the socializing part? Is it the actual like doing yoga in a group? Like, what is there some particular piece that you emphasize, like, when you lead a retreat or something? When you know, in person?
Yeah, I used to do it in person, and now a little more nebulous, but I hope to be back in person again, soon. When it's time. I think for me, there's a couple of things that sort of our, the, I don't know, the special sauce, or like the magic that shows up when, with community. One is, well, I'll just back up and say that, like, when I'm curating a space, a community space, like a, I sort of try to go back to like, what were the times that I felt really, like, seen or held or Understood? And what were the times that, you know, I felt like I didn't belong, and both of those things definitely inform the way that I construct space for Community Learning. And so I really try to spend a lot of time not only thinking about the physical space, like, you know, is it accessible to everyone? Do I have seating that fits all kinds of bodies, you know, do I have, if I'm going to, you know, teach in some way do I have like slides and a handout, or, you know, like, I try to think about, like ways to just make it accessible generally, but then, depending on the type of, you know, experience that I'm trying to curate, or create, like, that might mean that there's a restriction on who's allowed to come to the space, right. So for instance, I've taught intensives, about like, body image and diet culture and things like that, and have specified that like, this is taught by and for fat women, right, because like the lived experience of a certain group of people, it can be really powerful to be in a space where there's this understanding, and sort of a shared not lived collective knowledge around, like, what it's like to grow up in a fat body, or what it's like to, you know, if I think of, like, you know, my friends, that lead retreats for women of color, like, there's a very specific lived experience to being a woman of color in America, and like, if you get together with a group of people, that's, that doesn't have that experience, it's hard to get to, I think the heart of issues or really feel like you can share in an open way, when there might be people there, like trying to talk you out of your feelings, or be like, really wasn't that bad. You know, like, those types of things that I think all marginalized folks have had to deal with sort of the like, you know, downplaying or questioning or, you know, wasn't really that bad, sort of, you know, things and I feel like, when we're in these groups, where we can sometimes like the space is curated to be specific for a population or for a group of people, it can be very powerful a, only to be able to feel like you can openly share and people will have some idea about what you're talking about, you know, in a real like, embodied way, but also in the fact of representation, because I feel like you know, if you have marginalized identity, if you've grown up in a body that is like the opposite of what society says is good or desirable or hot, or like worthy or whatever, right, depending on your, your identities,
you know, then that means you probably throughout your life, have not seen a lot of positive representation like hot, happy, healthy people who look like you, you know, what I'm saying are like people who are shown as success objects, you know, I'm, I'm a fat woman. I've been fat since my teenage years. And growing up, like the representation that I would see of people that look like me on media and stories and movies and books, magazine ads, all that stuff was either like I was completely missing, right? Like I could, you know, as a teenager flip through 17 magazine and not see one single person that looked like me, but everyone in the magazine was like, you know, thin with perfect teeth and, you know, whatever, blah, blah, blah. Like that implies something right? And then also when I did see representation of fat people, it was usually you know, they're the butt of a joke. There. chasing a partner that doesn't want them they're stupid or lazy or what right. And so all that stuff, you know, all that conditioning, I think goes into how we approach the world, how we see ourselves, the possibilities and chances that we might take for ourselves because of what we think we deserve, or what we're think we're allowed to do. And so when we get together with a group of people that have a shared lived experience like that, I think the representation of just like being in the room with a bunch of other people who look like you who you know, have grown up, like you who have the same background, like that is powerful to see, oh, my gosh, like, here are a bunch of people who are, you know, living their lives, and, and see in a positive way that like, it is not, what society is conditioned you to believe like, doesn't have to be true. And so, I think that's a very, that's something that a lot of people have commented to me, in the past about these types of experiences, that it's just like to be surrounded by other people. And like, like I said, like community is a mirror, you know, that kind of like says, like, this can be you to like, I remember the first time that I, you know, back in the day, when live journal was a thing, I get some, I'll date myself a little with that in the internet era. But, um, that was like the first place, I encountered fat activism on the internet. And I remember like, being in these, like fashion communities on live journal and seeing, like, people who were, like, way fatter than me, and like, wearing stuff that like and looking confident, and like, you know, like being in relationships and doing all the things and it was kind of like, oh, wow, I just, I guess, whoa, it broke my brain a little bit, you know, to see that. And so I think, you know, representation is definitely something that I'm really passionate about. And I've been really encouraged to see the huge shift in representation just in the past few years with yoga. And I think social media has actually, you know, democratized that to a little degree, I think, because there are so many, you know, brilliant people out there, like creating content and, and showing up on unapologetically the way they are. And so, anyway, I don't know, we might have gotten off a little off topic.
That's what I was interested in. I wanted to hear about that, like about how you create that space? How do you? How do you bring people together in the name of yoga? And I don't know, maybe you could, could you talk about why a little bit more about why it doesn't happen? Like, I'm just curious about the culture that exists within yoga? Like you said, it's been getting better, but it still feels like, yeah, there's a lot of misunderstanding a lot of obstacles about what the practice is for. I just wonder if you have thoughts about that, like, what is it that we're not seeing? Like, what do you think?
Yeah, I think that, you know, there are a lot of, you know, I talk a lot about barriers to this practice for people, you know, and I, I think that no matter what marginalized identity you might hold, you've probably encountered them in any fitness or wellness context, let's just say, I'm here in the West. And so I think that the way, you know, it's the fact that the dynamics, the power dynamics, and the norms from dominant culture, right, from our wider world, capitalism, and patriarchy, and racism, and like white supremacy, the way all that stuff shows up, in the bigger world and in society, like trickles down to our institutions, right, our yoga studios, or gyms, our churches, or schools, and into our individual dynamics, too, right. So, you know, while you know, those of us who are yoga teachers, or community builders, like the people that create the space, you know, might be completely invested in like, including everyone, we still have, you know, biases and conditioning that has trickled down from dominant culture. And I think that, you know, it's a tall order to not only sort of, like, think about all the little details about how I make my class accessible, and like, you know, is the, is the place wheelchair accessible? And what about childcare and like, all the different aspects of accessibility that I feel like we, you know, need to think about but also some of the biggest work for us that want to curate space is really addressing like our own biases and our own conditioning and and being mindful enough to see when that comes up, to notice it and to be able to react appropriately to it. Um, by which I mean, and I just want to pause here and say that I want to shout out Kimberly Dark and her work around this. She curates a lot of different spaces where people can Learn about an encounter and work through internalized an implicit bias around those types of people with those types of bodies, and you can, you know, fill in whatever blank there. And so Kimberly's work, I think really helps people to, like get to the core of of those types of issues. So I just want to shout her out and say, like, look her up, she's got some great workshops and opportunities, I've been to a retreat with her around this topic, and really valuable, but I think that the, you know, it's hard work, it's hard work to, hey, notice that stuff when it comes up in you, right, and I'm talking about stuff like, you know, a racist thought, or a fat phobic thought or and ablest thought or whatever, right, or coming up against an assumption about a student that you might have in a class, right? Like, let's say, a student comes in with a certain kind of body that you assume isn't going to be strong or flexible, or able to do whatever. And then that person does it. And then now you're stuck with this, like, oh, wow, what do I do with that information? Right? Like, when that stuff happens, it's uncomfortable, right? We don't want to think about ourselves as someone who's biased or bigoted or whatever. And so I think that moment, the moment when we like, are made aware of it is a really big opportunity to either like, avoid uncomfortable feelings that are gonna come up and justify and say, you know, oh, well, I'm not racist, because XYZ and then you trot out, you're like, good person resume, or, you know, to argue with the person or whatever, or just to ignore, you know, maybe if we don't have the information we need. But I think that really rich opportunity is to like, notice that discomfort and kind of lean into it a little bit, like, Okay, I'm having a reaction to this person, I can tell that there's something about them that is, you know, is bringing up this resistance in me whether that's like, okay, I've been taught that this body type is really unhealthy. Or I've been, you know, this person seems angry to me, and so I'm going to react to that. Right? And so maybe, maybe what's coming up is actually this conditioning that you have? That is like you've been through?
Oh, yeah, an example like, cuz for me, my, I think it was maybe the first class or the second yoga class I ever taught. And I had an older woman come into the class who had a cast on her whole leg. And she, you know, and I was really young when I was a long time ago. And even though my grandmother taught me yoga, you know, when I was a small child, I still had been trained a certain way. And that part of it also is the ability to question your teachers, you know, in question, yeah, taught. But I thought, Oh, my gosh, what am I gonna do, I was overwhelmed by the idea of teaching. And then here, here, she had walked in with crutches into the class. I don't know how to help her. And, and then like, the minute we started, I saw Oh, well, she knows what she's doing. Like, she was like, very advanced student, in my mind, and that she had, you could just tell, she was very confident, you had to take care of herself knew how to practice and was like, beyond me, you know what I mean? It was like, she didn't need me to be doing anything. And I just thought, Wow, that was really an incorrect assumption that I made there.
Yeah, and so like, you know, in that moment, right, you have the opportunity to do a couple of things. One, you could, you know, ignore the student or, you know, take out your frustration at being wrong on the student by not serving her or you know, whatever, or you can decide to like, okay, notice and learn from that. And I think, like, getting better at that moment of, Okay, what can I learn about myself in this moment? And how can I untangle you know, some of those messages from dominant culture that we know not to be true, but to really be in service to like, maintaining the status quo, where like, the people with the most privilege get to keep the power? And so like, when we question that stuff, when we disentangle, you know, lived experience from like, what we've been told and what quote unquote, everybody knows about those kinds of people. You know, I think we give power back to our students, I think we bring personal power back to ourselves, because then we're not just beholden to whatever conditioning we grew up with, but we can really lean into, like, I think this bigger question about like, you know, honoring the full humanity of all of our students, and honoring, you know, even and especially people with a lived experience that's different than mine. Because I think we get taught a lot of sort of, I don't know math equations about bodies, right? Like, if you eat right and exercise, then you'll never get disease and you'll be you know, the healthiest you can be and like that not, right, like we're taught these sort of really oversimplified things that like, well, inputs matter, but also there's all these social determines sense of health and so like, it's not actually under our control, right? So I think that when we can start to kind of realize like through these experiences, like what you describe when you encounter the student, and you know, you probably had some ablest conditioning about, like what this person was going to be able to do. They defied that expectation. And now we get to like unlearn that and be like, okay, not all those experiences are equal. And so I guess I'm just saying that like, that work is really worth doing. And it's especially worth doing if you're going to be someone that curates community and spaces for people to do this type of personal growth and transformation that I think we're asking them to do with yoga practice, right? Because there's a very big difference between teaching a class that's essentially like a fitness class where you do some yoga poses, right words, like, it's focused on, I guess, like exercise or whatnot, and actually asking people to do this practice of yoga, which, by the way, you know, includes a lot of really demanding things like, sitting with your own thoughts and noticing the uncomfortable sensations in your body. And, you know, trying to keep yourself focused on your practice, like, right, all these things that we're maybe not taught to do at all. So we're beginners at them. And also, they're really difficult and demanding, cognitively, physically, all of that. So, to me, it's like, we can't even be asking people to like dig deep into a spiritual practice, if we're not able to create a space where they feel safe enough to actually like, relax enough to do that. Does that make sense? what I'm saying?
Yes. And I was thinking for, for practitioners as well. Like, I think that there's another and it goes another direction as well, which is like, if you are struggling, to find a community to find a sense of belonging within, you know, a spiritual practice or wellness. I always I like to ask myself, like, who is benefiting from my oppression? Like, who's benefiting from my lack of being welcome? Like, what why is that there is not simply it's not by mistake, you know, there is a system and it's not like maybe one person that designed it, but it's like, there's a system in place that keeps us down. And I think that's part of our work is not just as teachers, but also as students and practitioners to look at, you know, why, why do I feel that and maybe, to lead that, you know, what I mean, to not give that person your money, like, if you're going to go into a studio, where you feel kind of like, iffy about it? Like maybe I don't really feel welcome here. I always feel a little insecure, maybe don't give them your money, go somewhere else, or speak up and ask them or tell them you know, I don't really feel welcome here because you do this and that, you know, not it can be hard to speak up, but I'm saying to look at not always blaming yourself to you, but looking at the system.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Wow, well, that was incredibly helpful. I have one other angle that I want to ask you about because so in this chapter where I have your contribution, I I kind of look at what is what are some essential yoga philosophy concepts that support this idea of yoga as service and social justice. And as the goal of the practice I was in particular, I look at Ahimsa and say, you know, what is it him so really mean? And so I guess that I have that question for you. I can tell you what I say in the book, but I also just curious what you think because I really looked at like, what does it mean? What is non violence mean? And what does that mean? If you really live that teaching? Like what does that look like?
Yeah, you know, I think a lot about Ahimsa and I you know, when I when I was teaching yoga philosophy to the 200 hour training that I was running right before the pandemic started. One of the things that we would always say was like, when we look at these other things like Satya, you know, the other Yama niyama like one thing we always said was like check against Ahimsa. Like that's the way to know if you're kind of in the right direction and so I think it is one of those kind of like foundational things for me because it speaks to so many other parts of you have a philosophy so if we're talking about you know, non violence or non harm, I don't know the the the Yama is the niyama sometimes like sound a little funny like they're telling us not to do something so I like to look at the other side of it and say like, Okay, so what are we supposed to be doing? If we're not supposed to be harming what's the flip side of that? And so you know, for me, Ahimsa is really about I think, I think love would be the word but love is such a, I don't know it means so many things. I think it's the type of of love that is like, proactively non harming. Right? So to me, that speaks to things like, non attachment. Right? Like, if I really love someone, or you know, want the best for them, right? If I want the opposite of harm to come to them, which is like, right, all the good things in life or whatever, Then am I, you know, am I loving them in a conditional way? Or am I really just accepting who they are as a person, and, you know, moving from that place. And I think, for me non attachment, you know, a lot of times I think non attachment is taught, sort of as, like, you know, attachment to like, having a big fancy house or being successful at a job or whatever. But for me, I'm finally always comes up with thinking about outcomes, you know, like, Am I attached to, like this relationship looking a certain way? Or can I actually just let this person exist as they are and want the best for them, and, you know, have shared goals or whatever, but let them you know, kind of like, do the world in their way without trying to control and all that kind of stuff. I think that, you know, Ahimsa also is about not only love for other people, but love for yourself, which to me speaks about, like, having inappropriate boundaries. Yeah. Um, you know, because having boundaries isn't about controlling other people's behavior, it's really about deciding what is acceptable, out of love and respect for yourself, right, and what is what is allowed in your life or not. And so, anyway, I don't know, it brings up these other sort of areas for me, and I think that, you know, one kind of powerful way to think about this is breaking it up by like, thoughts, and words and deeds, you know, for me, sometimes it helps to kind of get into the different areas of it. And and I think that points a lot to like, how, how our minds show up in this practice with like, Okay, if I'm thinking about Ahimsa, non harming, I could go to something like, I can zoom in to something like, I don't know, body image, right? Like, when I stand in front of a mirror, what are my thoughts about my body? Are they harming? are they helping? Are they coming from a place that, you know, feels aligned to, to this concept of Ahimsa? Or are they, you know, gonna be damaging, because they're unfairly asking something of a body that, you know, like conform to society's, you know, norms or whatever? And then, you know, how am I speaking about my own body? How am I speaking about it to myself? How am I speaking about it to others? How am I speaking about others bodies that look like mine? You know, these are all things, I think, to bring awareness to. And so, yeah, maybe I'll just pause there for a second,
I want to I totally agree with what you're saying. That's, that's what I talked about in the book. And I, I thought I could read a quote that I have here, actually, by of all people, Matthew Remski, because, you know, Matthew wrote it early translation of the yoga sutras that I find very interesting. He says, so he's talking specifically about how we've talked, how we address him in yoga culture, especially our translations and commentary about the sutras. And he says, if we're going to continue using this text and contemporary yoga culture, we must acknowledge the vacuum of love. in whatever way we use the term today at its center, at its center, and recognize that we have voices where Patanjali is silent. Perhaps we can start by reversing the purpose of his ethical discussion, so that our intention behind treating others kindly is not about internal equanimity, but about the exploration of empathy as a path to self and other growth. I like that. Yeah, which feels like really connected to well, then I have your quote actually right after that, but it feels really connected to what you always talk about and the way that I feel like you and I both are trying to share the yoga teachings in a more community oriented way, you know, not simply about you individually, but also your role in the world and how are you impacting other people? How can you create that space? If you're a holder of space, how can you you know, make people welcome but also, how can you find your way you know, as a practitioner, and to help kind of redefine with some of these ideas mean like Ahimsa, why do we think of it like not harming when, like you said, it's really about loving, I mean, isn't loving The opposite of harming.
So anyway, thanks for that anything else you want to share about? And I know that you probably don't want to talk about this, but I'm just curious if you have any thoughts about the future of your work?
I know. It's a weird topic. So I really miss building community in person. I'm not sure when the right time to do that is it? You know, I know people are having vaccinate only events. And I think that's great. And I don't know, I'm just not there yet. But I'm hoping in 2022, that I'll be running retreats again, I hope to be doing some in person teaching. Again, I don't think that I'm going to be as intensely traveling as I used to be, even if you know, a resolution comes to this pandemic, I think that I've really enjoyed being a little closer to home. And so, I don't know, you know, I've been daydreaming a little bit lately, and trying to decide, like, how do I want to engage with yoga land, and I think it's, it's probably gonna look something like, a combination of some online teaching, you know, I have my course with Dianne, and I teach with you in the training, Accessible Yoga training and all of that stuff. But I'm thinking that I'm going to start running some workshops, or maybe some teacher mentoring type of situations online, and then I'm thinking more local, for the events that I plan to host and sort of like some fun, you know, one off pop up things like I don't know, a silent disco in the park and things that maybe can be a little bit lower risk for folks. COVID wise, and also sort of scratch that itch for community. And so until it's, you know, an appropriate time to have something like a retreat where we have shared accommodations, because like, it's a little more complicated, you know, logistical wise, but I've been, you know, thinking about those types of things. And, and I really, I love working with teachers, and so I don't know exactly what it's gonna look like yet, but I'm hoping in 2022, to have some kind of, you know, longer term engagement for teachers, whether that's, you know, some kind of mentoring circle, or an advanced training or something. So, yeah, there's things in the works, my brain is brewing, I've had a lot of like, stressful life situations, stuff happening with, you know, injury and family stuff, and, you know, all kinds of just like, you know, circumstances that have kept me pretty busy. But I'm, I'm, I'm hoping that soon, I will be able to dig more deeply into teaching, because I really have missed, I've missed doing more of it. And so just know that like, going forward, my you know, the, the topics that I am always passionate about are going to still be part of my work, body acceptance, creating community spaces that feel equitable and welcoming for everybody. accessibility. I don't know, exploring this topic of like, what it means to belong, like, is really is really a big one for me. And I think, I think, you know, I've been thinking a lot more about community building, especially in the past 18 months, when I haven't been able to really do that in the same way that I have for the whole rest of my life. Where we get together in person, and we do this like, individual thing in a group, whether that's, you know, riding bikes, or hiking or practicing yoga, you know, doing body image work, or whatever, I think is forced me to think a little bit more creatively about what that looks like. And so, yeah, you know, I've been thinking about, like, how do you teach people to do that like to really create a space that that feels good to everybody that's accessible. And so I'm hoping to dig a little bit more deeply into that I've, I've, I've done it a ton throughout my life and in a bunch of different contexts. But I haven't really taught a lot about that. And so I think it's time to, you know, to try to pass some of that on because I feel like you know, you even asked me questions today about it that I'm like, Oh, yeah, I've never made me really articulated this to anyone but they're, you know, I think there's a lot of value in being able to create a space where not only you know, I want to be real clear, just movies are like wrapping this up that like, for me creating a space where people feel like they belong is not about like, Oh, well you don't want to hurt anyone's fee fees. You know, it's not like some politically correct thing to do and I don't think and I think it's way more powerful then then folks thing sometimes we're like, Okay, cool. You have a name tag with pronouns on it big deal, but it is a big deal. And I'll tell you why. Like, when you can show up in a space and not feel Like you have to, like, leave a part of yourself outside the door to belong, which if you have marginalized identity, you know what I'm talking about.
I think that when you come into a space like that, and you can relax your defenses a little bit, you can let the, you know, 1/3 of your brain that would have been tied up in the prot in the project of like, am I okay, is everyone checking me out is you know, can I relax? Can I, like if you can just reclaim that energy back, then you're in and then you're in a space where you really you are, it is conducive to learning, it is conducive to growth and to transformation is conducive to greater level of self awareness, all the things that we want from our yoga practice, and that like, I think it's such a big deal to help folks get to that place where they feel like they belong, so that whatever you're there to do can actually happen, you know. So, I'm excited about talking more about that with folks. And
you're so good at it. And and I'm excited that you're plotting for the future. Right, I just want to, I also want to thank you for all the work you're doing for Accessible Yoga Association, the nonprofit as the board president, which is I know, a lot of work and it's just, you know, an amazing offering that you're that you're sharing with all of us. people probably don't know about all that. But I really appreciate it and just you know, all the ways I get to work with you. I'm very grateful for so thanks for this today. And people can find you I know they can find you like on Instagram, but also bodypositiveyoga.com. Is that right? Any Anything else?
Yeah, go to my website, which is very 2017 me, but I think needs to be updated. But if you drop your email, you'll get on my mailing list. And like any important stuff that I do is going to go out through there. And I hang out on Instagram and Facebook, sporadically these days, while I'm sort of incubating and figuring out what's next. But those are good places to follow me too. But email list, you'll definitely hear from me, because then it's not beholden to an algorithm or whatever. So if you want to keep in touch, just go to my website and drop your email. And you can find me other places on YouTube, stuff like that, but that's the best place. And then please subscribe to the Accessible Yoga podcast. You can find that I don't know through Accessible Yoga links, or Google Accessible Yoga Podcast and you can hear me and Jivana run our mouth some more on this topic if you are interested to do so.
Yes, please join us over there as well. Accessible Yoga podcast. Yeah, wherever you can find your podcasts. Probably wherever you're found this one. You'll find that one too. Alright. Thanks, Amber. Thanks so much for joining me today. Talk to you
soon. All right, thanks again.
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
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