What Does Yoga Have to do with Social Justice?

Have you met Dr. Beth Berila?  She is the director of the Women’s Studies program here on campus, she teaches many Women’s Studies courses, and she is a certified yoga instructor!  (We would also contend that she is a pretty awesome individual!)

Dr. Berila has a website called The Mindful Semester, where she inspires and challenges students to become more mindful of their college experience.  She has graciously offered for us to post from her site, and today we are pleased to bring you some of her ideas!

The Feminism and Mindfulness Series

Yoga saturates U.S. culture. Yoga studios are as pervasive as Starbucks franchises and often as commercial.  For those who understand the roots of yoga, the question of yoga’s connection to social justice is an obvious one.

But here in the U.S., when people bring social justice awareness into yoga realms, we are often dubbed “social justice warriors” (as though this is a bad thing. I, for one, would proudly reclaim that title). Yoga, this perspective claims, should be a place away from all the “real world” issues. Can’t we just all get along and find nirvana?

Here’s the thing. There is no space away from the “real world” issues. The oppressive conditions that shape U.S. culture inevitably find their way into yoga studios. The very form yoga has so often taken in the West is practically a poster child for inequality.  There are far too many components to this issue to address in one blog post, so I will focus on one aspect here.

It is risky, if not impossible, to do the deep self-study of yoga in oppressive spaces.

Read the rest of the article here!

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