Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Do Not Circulate Graphic Videos of Police Brutality

Black man seated with hands clasped in front of mouth,
Just above a sign saying Black Lives Matter

Re-Post: Anti-Racism Daily, 
May 25, 2021

by Nicole Cardoza

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the newsletter. This was never meant to be a newsletter that lasted a year. I was in a lot of pain when I started this project. It felt like the whole world woke up to the violence that white supremacy has wielded for generations. I pledged to send one email each day because we know that this work isn't solved with one action. This world won't change from reactions, but a collective, persistent investment today, tomorrow, and the day after, too. Today is a reflection on the ongoing conversations on the role of graphic videos in public discourse.


· Join the George Floyd Remembrance Virtual Day of Action by participating in any of the action items listed on the campaign page.

· Donate to Yes 4 Minneapolis, a Black-led campaign to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

· Use the resources created by the Witness Media Lab when considering posting or sharing videos of police brutality.

· If you feel resourced, reflect on what you’ve learned – and unlearned – about the fight for racial equity over the past year. How can you continue to advocate for change? Use this article for guidance on identifying your role in your community.


By Nicole Cardoza (she/her)

One year ago, George Floyd was murdered by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. A video of his death, recorded by then 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, generated tens of millions of views in the following days and has been shared repeatedly across this past year, reigniting the everlasting fight for racial equity (NowThis). It’s undeniable that the video, and the conversation that sparked from it, fundamentally shifted society. It’s also re-ignited discussions on the role of violent videos available for public consumption, particularly regarding their impact on communities of color.

Note: this is different than advocating for the release of bodycam videos to the public. Bodycam footage, designed to hold police officers accountable while on the job, should never be withheld from a victim’s family and community.

But violence against Black people has also been used as a commodity, bartered and sold throughout time. I can’t help but think about how, just decades ago, lynchings were treated as a public attraction. Crowds would gather to partake in festivities surrounding the unjust killing, posing for photographs and taking home pieces of the person’s corpse as “souvenirs.” Postcards would be created and distributed as lasting memories. Learn more in a previous newsletter. Videos taken by police bodycams and shared widely have a similar feeling; digital souvenirs of violence protected by social and political norms.

But user-generated videos, like the one recorded by Frazier, have a different intent. Although still difficult to watch, they’re the recordings of what an everyday person was forced to bear witness to, individuals rendered helpless in the face of violence. Recording a conflict can be a form of bystander intervention when other options are limited. And social movements across time have been sparked by marginalized communities leveraging whatever channel they can to ensure their voices are heard. In this case, user-generated videos are journalism, a testament to the stories that define generations.

Author and professor Allissa Richardson, who advocates for citizen journalism and encourages everyone to consider their role in documenting the world around them, refers to it as sousveillance. This is the opposite of surveillance, created by body cameras, security cameras, and other public, often state-sanctioned forms of recordings. Sousveillance is people capturing stories with their own devices (usually smartphones) that will likely counter or disprove the facts presented by those with more power and privilege (Nieman Lab).

It’s no surprise that journalism leaders are calling for Darnella Frazier to receive the Pulitzer Prizes in Public Service for the video she recorded that changed the world, undoubtedly exemplifying content that “roots out corruption and contributes to the public good” (Nieman Lab).

Regardless of their intention, though, these assets need to be shared with sensitivity, as they exacerbate the trauma that people of color experience regularly. A study found that 20% of Black people who watch a video are “significantly affected” by it, experiencing lasting effects, including stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, or vicarious PTSD (Yahoo). These only elevate the race-based trauma that people of color experience in their daily lives (PBS). In an article written by Arionne Nettles, Alfiee Breland-Noble, the founder and director of mental health organization AAKOMA Project, notes how Black adolescents deal with vicarious trauma from watching the videos (ZORA).

Instead, cellphone videos of vigilante violence and fatal police encounters should be viewed like lynching photographs — with solemn reserve and careful circulation.

Allissa Richardson, assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, 2021 fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and author of Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the New Protest Journalism, for Nieman Labs.

Leon Ford, who was shot and paralyzed by a police officer during a traffic stop in 2012, also urges us to consider the individuals and families of the victims. “These people have children. These people have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, who can’t live a normal life...even though I don't watch those videos, I can feel that energy. When I see somebody posting, I scroll past it. It still sticks to me” (Yahoo).

Some will argue that it’s necessary to share because we will never be able to fight for justice without them. But what does it say about us that justice can only be pursued for the most atrocious cases, and only if they were captured on video and circulated broadly enough to create public outcry? Why is justice only justified when the crime is warranted worthy of national attention? Most urgently, when will we take action not to share, but change the social conditions to ensure that these instances never happen again?

That will take us changing our behavior. We must channel immediate outrage into a persistent commitment to long-term change. Media platforms are taking note; more have chosen not to post the videos on their social media feeds and create multiple news articles highlighting the event – one including the video footage, one without. And as individuals, we can do the same. Instead of sharing to elicit strong emotions like shock or disgust, consider sharing the information sans video. More importantly, we recommend sharing proactive ways your community can address policing and public safety issues, like upcoming city council meetings or alternatives to calling the police. It’s action – not awareness – that will prevent these videos in the future.


· The U.S. has a long history of distributing assets depicting violence on marginalized bodies

· The circulation of police violence videos often exacerbate stress, anxiety, vicarious trauma and PTSD in the Black community

· We need to evolve beyond sharing for shock and awe and take action for solidarity

This article was originally posted by Nicole Cardoza in the Anti-Racism Daily on 5/24/21.

Nicole Cardoza
is passionate about the reclamation of wellness. She’s the founder and Executive Director of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga and mindfulness resources for the classroom. She’s also the founder of Reclamation Ventures, a venture fund investing in underestimated entrepreneurs making wellness more accessible. Nicole’s work has been featured in Forbes, Yoga Journal, Wanderlust, Family Circle Magazine, SELF Magazine, Paper Magazine, Mind Body Green, and Well + Good. She’s a seasoned speaker, consultant, teacher and coach.

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

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° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Bridge Between Grief and Hope: Putting Ourselves Back Together as a Community

A Free Community Conversation with Amina Naru, Michelle Cassandra Johnson, Lakshmi Nair, Colin Lieu, and Dr. Terry Harris

Wednesday, May 26, from 3:00-5:00pm PT/6:00-8:00 pm ET

We will offer a community gathering of practice, candlelight vigil, affinity spaces, and conversations to process grief to make way for more hope; as we put ourselves back together again with the salve of our collective love for right action and social justice.


This is a live online event shared via Zoom.
Free to attend. Captions available.
Replay will be available for those who cannot attend live.


Last year, on May 25th, the world began to turn in a different way. All over the globe, people turned their attention towards a police officer, Derek Chauvin, taking the life out of George Floyd by placing his knee on George’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. We watched another heinous and horrific act of police violence against a Black man and the community that witnessed their brother be murdered. George was murdered on the heels of Breonna Taylor being shot while in her bed asleep and Ahumaud Arbery being murdered by two white supremacists while out for a jog. The landscape behind the continual murders of Black people was Covid-19, which had already shaken us all to our core. We were experiencing a global pandemic as it coincided with the ongoing pandemic of white supremacy.

White-bodied people began to awaken in a new way, reaching for resources, uplifting Black people on social media, gathering with white people in affinity spaces, protesting, and supporting the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black people called for accountability, grieved out loud in the streets, protested, and fought for Black Lives to matter. Schools and roads were being renamed and confederate statues were being torn down. The entire world was on fire calling out George Floyd’s name around the globe.

White supremacy continued to ravage communities of color and many of us didn’t have time or space to grieve and care for ourselves. Racial trauma is the cumulative effect of racism on the heart, spirit, mind, body, and nervous system. Many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are constantly in a hypervigilant state due to how persistent and consistent white supremacy is. When our trauma goes unattended and we do not have space to grieve this makes us sick, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We need a space to pause and heal our trauma. We need a space to grieve together, in community. We need space to process the different ways we experience living in a white supremacy culture as white-bodied people and BIPOC people.

Join the contributors of the Evolution of Yoga Summit’s Race and Equity Track on Wednesday, May 26, from 3:00-5:00pm PT/6:00-8:00 pm ET for A Bridge Between Grief and Hope; Putting Ourselves Back Together as a Community. The Summit was a collaborative event between Yoga Alliance, Yoga Service Council, and Accessible Yoga. This event is free. Please join us and come exactly as you are.

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° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Not Making Things Worse

Woman's hands hold heart-shaped sewn ornament
 "Love" stitched in front
Photo: Rustam Mussabekov
by Elaine Jackson

January 2021 was so tough, for so many reasons. It felt like there were fires burning everywhere. If you’re like me, the temptation is always to withdraw into the safe shell of home, family, and entertainment and to focus on what’s good for me and mine. But that translates into turning my back on people in need, and that’s an age-old problem.

I think all religions and many philosophers ask us to decide: Do you live just for your own sake or for the sake of all. In Yoga and Buddhism, the answer was one that changed over geography and time. The early Buddhists focused on personal liberation, but as the teaching of interconnectedness became more central, a new type of Buddhism, named the Mahayana, the “greater vehicle,” shifted the focus from self-liberation to the liberation of all beings. And if we zoom out from our individual lives to the multitude of systems that we are immersed in, we can begin to see that our happiness is tied to and enmeshed in the happiness of all. For example, it’s impossible to enjoy a delicious coffee on a park bench if the person sitting next to us is shivering and hungry. Most of us will give up on the pleasure of the park and walk away when confronted with the real experience of a homeless person who’s suffering.

Do we stand against people who are hurting others, threatening others, spreading lies and misinformation, or do we keep our mouths shut and our noses clean. As one of my teachers pointed out, not doing anything is also an action. The concept of karma, in some Buddhist contexts means that our actions determine our future and the futures of those we care about.

In this age of social media and misinformation, we’ve created a new capacity for delusional thinking and conspiracy theories that I couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago. And although my first impulse is always to try to fight back with facts, what is extremely clear from all of the research is that once these beliefs take hold, facts are useless against them. The definition of delusion is a false, fixed belief that conflicts with reality. A person in the grasp of a delusion can’t let go of their convictions even if there are mountains of evidence to the contrary.

In my neighborhood we have a family that has insisted that Covid is a hoax since the beginning of the pandemic. They drove around with "Covid=hoax" signs on their cars all summer, and now they have “No more lockdown” signs on their lawn. Meanwhile, I have friends who have been keeping me apprised of the number of people on ventilators in the local hospitals, other friends who work in long-term care, and others who need to go to hospital regularly for treatments that mean they have compromised immunity. My pre-yoga life was spent in healthcare and I value the opinions of scientists and epidemiologists. So my blood boils every time I have to pass those signs, which is frequently.

Last year I listened to an interview with a reformed Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist. He explained that the only thing that got through to him was being forced to interact with Black people who refused to hate him back. In the face of their compassion, he was forced to reconsider the truth of what he’d been told.

The energy of anger, hatred, and conspiracy theories can be motivating. It can provide a sense of purpose and belonging. It also shores up our sense of being an individual which is highly prized in our culture. And blaming others for our misfortunes absolves us of taking responsibility for our actions, our ignorance, or our inability to impact systemic problems. We all complain, for example, about how big corporations have put so many good Mom and Pop stores out of business, and then we hop in our cars and drive to Walmart. We put those stores out of business because of the choices we collectively made.

We’re all attached to pleasure and averse to pain. It’s wired into us. But we also have the capacity to see beyond our own lives, to have empathy for other people and other species. We also take for granted that democracies can withstand attacks from within, when historically we’ve seen time and time again how quickly they can fall. If January 2021 has shown us anything is that we need to wake up.

The goal of Yoga, Buddhism, and most health-oriented activities is to decrease our suffering. When the Buddha explained his enlightenment experience he said:

This Dharma [path/experience/reality] that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.


But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment…[which makes] conditionality and dependent co-arising hard to see. (From the Ariyapariyesana Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

My teacher, Michael, used to translate that second statement in more contemporary terms: “But people love their views, are excited by their views, enjoy their views—and this makes our interconnectedness hard to see.”

Now I will be the first to admit that I have many views that I love. I wouldn’t be teaching yoga if I felt that it didn’t have wisdom to offer. But what the Buddha is saying is that the path out of suffering means seeing beyond what we’re personally attached to, beyond the lens of our individual experience. He is not saying that all truths are relative, that truth depends on your individual viewpoint. That kind of thinking is part of what got us into this mess in the first place.

Although conspiracy theories might be insane by the standards of logic or evidence, the suffering they are emanating from is real. Globalization has impacted our economy in ways that have increased the disparity between the Haves and the Have-Not's, technology and automation have eliminated countless jobs, and the climate emergency is wreaking havoc with many of our traditional means of supporting ourselves. So while the conspiracy theories may be baseless, the fear and anger that propel them are not. And fear and anger that’s targeted and blaming someone (the media, the politicians, feminists, immigrants) is psychologically easier to manage than an overwhelming and pervasive anxiety that has no clear source and no easy resolution.

According to the articles and books I’ve been reading, I’m told the best thing is to try to find the points of agreement, of common humanity. To be kind even when you feel like lashing out. In my case it’s been a practice in not engaging, not vandalizing the Covid=hoax signs, and not starting arguments. I’m trying to remember that the lockdowns have caused a great deal of suffering and that suffering has disproportionately affected the young, the poor, and some segments of the economy more than others. Holding my tongue has been a practice, and I’ve been leaning heavily on my yoga tool kit (asana, breathing, meditating…all the things). I’m not sure that I can make things any better, but I’m doing my best not to make things worse.

Elaine Jackson
began working in healthcare as a teenager and was a licensed Occupational Therapist for 29 years. She completed her 775-hour yoga teacher training (Scaravelli Method) in 2003-2004 at Esther Myers Yoga in Toronto. She has been teaching and learning about yoga ever since. In November 2020 she published Enough Already: 7 Yoga-Inspired Steps Toward Calm Amid Chaos. She can be found online at or about ten minutes by car outside of the rural village of Mount Albert, Ontario.

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Accessible Yoga Community Celebration


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Is a 75-Minute Yoga Class Really Accessible?

Indoor yoga class with short-haired Black woman standing, hands on hips,
blonde woman with ponytail sitting on knees to her right, others in background
Photo by Bruce Mars/Unsplash
by Kenya Stump

I just completed an eight-week intensive Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) series based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's work Full Catastrophe Living. The full effects of that are still settling into my life and teachings, but a couple are already clear and relevant to this topic of accessibility and time itself.

The first are the seven attitudes of MBSR: non-judging, non-striving, patience, trust, acceptance, letting go, and the beginner's mind. The last one I have been thinking about a lot in terms of how I bring yoga to others in this world. Beginner’s mind is bringing the perspective of a beginner to our present moment. With the beginner’s mind there are possibilities; with an expert mind, the possibilities are few.

Looking back to when I first started practicing yoga, a beginner's mind perspective helps inform possibilities of how to make yoga accessible for all. I was in my teens, living in a small rural town in Kentucky with no access to a studio or gym and no public transportation. There was no social media at that time because the internet was just beginning and mobile phones were just phones with no apps. I found yoga on Kentucky Educational Television, Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and I would record TV yoga classes on video tapes. I practiced in my room, alone.

Today, it's quite a different story but some things remain the same. Broadband access is still a real issue in rural America if yoga on the internet is going to reach people. Take a look at the FCC Mapping Broadband Health in America and sit with that for a while, shocking to say the least. The same issues of lack of infrastructure and support arise for public transportation in small towns and not to mention lack of sufficient funding for public broadcasting systems. But we aren't here to talk about broadband or public transportation today even though it's part of the larger conversation.

Back to beginner's mind, as someone who was new to yoga, going to a group class for 75 to 90 minutes, if I could find one, was intimidating and anxiety inducing. Granted I had some internal work that I needed to do to be comfortable but ironically the one thing (yoga) that could bring me some therapeutic benefits I couldn't get to or tolerate in that particular group setting. The crowded spaces and mirrors never made me feel safe. I would later come to realize that those classes were not trauma-informed and I could finally make sense of my experiences.

So, the setting and environment of a yoga class as well as the length of time may not lend themselves to being accessible. For some, group classes are intolerable and for some maybe a long class with no breaks or personal time is intolerable. All of these things can be overcome if we, as teachers, come to teaching with a beginner's mind and rethink "traditional" class settings, structure, and delivery methods. Also, who even knows what "traditional" means any more in a COVID-19 world––so let's acknowledge that as well but I am speaking from my history and story.

And then there is the issue of time itself. We've often heard the saying "having the luxury of time." Merriam-Webster defines luxury as "a condition of abundance or an indulgence in something." From this perspective of time, having excess time or abundance of time to physically go to a 75-minute yoga class could be a privilege for some individuals. I began to see that even an online class, assuming internet access, may not be accessible if time is a luxury that some people don't have due to life circumstances and priorities of their lives.

If we consider yoga a form of self-care, that brings up the topic of choosing to carve out time for self-care and that we still have work to do to establish self-care as not being an indulgence. If some individuals are struggling to meet the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, one psychological theory for consideration in this context, then do we as teachers need to become curious as to how can yoga become accessible to those who do not have the luxury of time? What about those people who spend all of their time on just meeting physiological or safety needs in their lives? How can we begin to bring yoga to people in ways that encourage comfort, are not seen as an indulgence, and enable choices for a lifelong practice.

I recently began offering five-minute chair yoga practices online to people who I knew were interested in yoga but were never making it to my online classes. I received great feedback that these were "doable" and were leading to more self-inquiry, more comfort with the idea of attending a longer class. So, were my online classes longer than five minutes not "doable?

Maybe it was the time of day or day itself, or maybe it was the idea that they couldn’t sustain a practice that long that caused them to feel the five-minute class was doable? This beginner's mind was starting to work. I also began to offer written printed practices recognizing some people may learn better via reading rather than teacher-led online experiences and for other people maybe it's an audio podcast. I think blogs are important too in order to expand yoga beyond just asana.

All of this brought up the second lesson from MBSR that there are both formal and informal practices and they are both equally important. Time is essential for establishing a formal practice (you have to choose to make time to practice in order to create a regular, repeated practice), and some group studio classes have appeared to be focused on formal practicing only––which as we have seen may not be accessible to all people. But you can choose to practice yoga informally, spontaneously, without any regularity every day and in all types of ways: reading, breathing, listening, and the list goes on and on. I have seen this change in studios in my area recently. It's refreshing but there's more room to grow if we are going to be accessible.

In the end, as yoga teachers, maybe we become curious with a beginner's mind as to how we cultivate environments and teachings that enable informal everyday practicing leading to the development of formal practices. Maybe we begin to meet people where they are rather than expecting them to meet us where we are, maybe we help with broadband access and transportation, maybe we help people find time in creative ways to practice?

Could yoga involve book clubs at the local public library, could it involve working with organizations like Radio Eye to broadcast audio yoga to those who have vision impairments, maybe it means looking at new structures for studio classes like smaller sizes or semi-private with scheduled breaks for those of us who feel safer knowing an agenda and set timed experiences.

I don't offer anything here other than further questions and ponderings but sometimes the greatest thing we can do is to sit with questions and notice what emerges. I'd love to hear your comments and how all of this resonates with you.

Kenya Stump
is founder of Root Rise Yoga. Kenya is a public servant by day who has been practicing yoga for 30 years. She lives in central Kentucky and received her 200-hr. yoga training from the Lexington Healing Arts Center in 2016. She completed her Trauma Informed Yoga training in 2019 and began her 300-hr. training in 2020 at the Essence of Yoga Center with Amanda McMaine. She teaches privately and writes on yoga experiences and topics.

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

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