Anu and Laura Gilmartin
On Sunday 7 May Anu led a two-part session of Inclusive Yoga at Dance of Life Centre of Yoga and Healing in Fitzroy. Some of the session’s resources are provided here.
Session one: Standing in your Power.
Anu asked us to recall an intention we are currently have or to create a new one.
They played an audio clip from Joy FM podcast “As I was Saying”, (16:04-17:26) in which Spoken Word Artist Lana Woolf interviewed gender activist Joan Nestle for International Women’s Day 2015. In the clip Nestle discusses how a single moment of political activism can bring about a sense of community and connectedness “that stays with you for the rest of your life”.
Anu offered a quote from Kate Bornstein from her book “Gender Outlaws”: “I think anger and activist mix about as well as drinking and driving. When I am angry I don’t have the judgment to select a correct target to hit out against. I do believe that anger is healthy, that it can lead to a recognition of the need for action, but activism itself is best accomplished by level heads who can help steer others’ anger towards correct targets. A correct target is the group that has both the will and the power to oppress you wherever you go.”
Anu asked us to move into Tadasana (mountain pose) and recall a time we were active, encouraging us to be proud of this moment. We considered a time we had come across authority and had to stand our ground strong and tall, and hold power in our own space. We spent some time in this position, noticing how the heart can beat fast but the breath can be calm at the same time.
We then completed a Virabhadrasana (warrior) sequence consisting of strong poses. Anu described how the myth behind them is of fighting and destruction, and asked us to think of a system we would like to destroy (they suggested that patriarchy might be a good one!).
Anu read a quote from Nelson Mandela which linked up with Kate Bornstein’s quote at the beginning: “I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.”
We revisited the idea that anger can fuel the need for action but the action needs to take place with a clear head.
Anu then took us through a guided relaxation, recalling our intention and listening to the Sam Cooke song “A Change is Gonna Come”.
The session finished with a quote from Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”.
Session two: Bringing your attention to an intention
The second session was a 75-minute guided movement meditation focusing on the energy centres in the body – the physical location, the emotional meaning and the corresponding sound that vibrates in that area to help regulate it. It was a very internal practice, gentle and meditative resulting in a space of silence, awareness, spaciousness, peace and relaxation. The gentle use of sound invoked the parasympathetic nervous system. The collective intention of the class was to focus on the breath, the mantra on inhale/exhale (so/hum or I am/here) and the felt sensation in the physical body. We then set our intention for final meditation.
Thank you Anu for an amazing afternoon of strength, breathwork and meditation that left Melbourne activists feeling centered and empowered!
Anu teaches regular QTI Queer and Trans Inclusive Yoga classes at Dance of Life. Like the Facebook page to keep up to date on the class schedule.