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Yoga practices are designed to disrupt us. They do so by creating clear changes in how our mental, spiritual, and physical energies flow. These interruptions help us see and transform ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. I live in a transgender body of color, and my identity is one reason why I’m interested in awakening practices and how to use them to create personal and collective change.
As we’ve continued to wake up as a society, it’s become apparent that practicing yoga in the West is an act of privilege. Here, our yoga spaces are powerfully informed by social frameworks such as whiteness, heteronormativity, able-bodiedness, and class. Thanks to the truthfulness of many leaders, there are yoga movements currently working to create more inclusivity. We have a lot of ground to cover, but we are starting to discuss who has access to healing practices and why—and how those who feel represented in yoga spaces actually apply the practices outside of the classroom. If we want equity, we must first disrupt our personal and collective conditioning of inequity. I call this process embodiment, and I believe it starts with how we relate to—or don’t relate to—our bodies.
I invite movers in yoga classes to encounter and express energy in a way that disrupts patterns and changes momentum. Research shows that 47 percent of the time, we’re thinking about something we’re not currently doing. The thoughts that have kept us safe and helped us to repeat pleasurable experiences become pathways of low resistance. When we get stuck in repetitive thought, we cannot see what our bodies and minds have habituated, notice our privilege, or heal our traumas. When we focus on being aware of our present-moment bodies, we open up to new ways of experiencing ourselves and others. This moment of disruption is the beginning of change.
To get out of your head and into your body—and possibly create profound changes—try this practice. Instead of focusing on alignment, you’ll use your somatic intelligence and intuitive playfulness to flow. You’ll use organic patterns, or kriyas (action), that will help guide you intuitively into the next posture or transition, like a dance. Do the sequence once at the suggested pace—and then again as breath-to-breath movements. Cool down with happy Baby Pose, and finish with Savasana (Corpse Pose). Play with the experience and have fun.
Practice with Jordan
About our author
Jordan Smiley is an E-RYT 500 teacher whose work and practice celebrate indigenous and nonconventional wisdom. He is known for his intuitive yogic choreography, innovative and inclusive teaching techniques, and heart-centered connection. Jordan is the founder of the In Body Meant Project, an initiative to embolden yogis of color, those with abundant bodies, trans and queer yogis, and other noncentralized identities. Connect with him at @jordan.e.smiley or theinbodymeantproject.com.