The Mentor Sessions

103: The Yoga Teachings Are Inherently Political with Jacoby Ballard

I know that questioning whether the practices of yoga have a political aspect to them is a popular conversation, even controversy. But from my reading and study of the yogic and Buddhist teachings, there is no way to see dharma as separate from the world we live in, and with the world we live in being so full of injustice, that makes the teachings inherently political. 

If the intention of the teachings is to help us be stronger, more self aware, more compassionate and more awake to the nature of our world, in my view that is a strong and specific viewpoint. If in our practice we intend to send care and safety to all beings, and all beings are not well or safe because of the structures of oppression that are woven through our culture, that sets our work on a clear path to make the world a safer and more just place.

And for this reason I am so incredibly excited to introduce you to my friend Jacoby Ballard. Jacoby Ballard (he/they) is a social justice educator and yoga teacher who leads workshops and trainings around the country on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a yoga teacher with 20 years of experience, he leads workshops, retreats, teacher trainings and teaches at conferences. Since 2006, Jacoby has taught Queer and Trans Yoga, a space for queer folks to unfurl and cultivate resilience and received Yoga Journal's Game Changer Award in 2014 and Good Karma Award in 2016. 

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • why Jacoby experiences both his identity and teaching as political
  • the relationship between the Brahma Viharas and social justice, and how to make it actionable
  • a new insight into the First Noble Truth of Buddhism and why it was so powerful for me personally
  • how we as practitioners and teachers can reconcile the idea of contentment with our desire to make the world a better place
  • the effect that late stage capitalism has on the way the yoga teachings are shared in the US today
  • how the teachings of yoga and Buddishm can play a part in the necessary reallocation of resources and power
  • all about the Trans and Queer yoga classes Jacoby teaches!

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