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Transform your yoga practice into a force for creating social change with this concise, eloquent manual of social justice tools and skills.
Skill in Action asks you to explore the deeply transformational practice of yoga as a way to become an agent of social change and work toward a just world. Through yoga practices and philosophy, this book explores liberation for ourselves and others, while asking us to engage in our own agency—whether that manifests as activism, volunteer work, or changing our relationships with others and ourselves. To provide a strong foundation to begin this work, Michelle Cassandra Johnson clearly defines power and privilege, oppression, liberation, and suffering, and invites you to make changes in your life that promote equality and freedom for all. This revised and expanded edition offers journaling practices and prompts in each chapter; includes more material on how power and privilege inform the yoga industry; explains how to integrate justice into teaching the eight limbs of yoga; and offers ways to support people as they move through their resistance and discomfort in the face of injustice. This edition also offers a fuller look at how the yamas and niyamas—the ethical precepts of yoga—can be studied in order to create a more just world, and it offers more support for yoga teachers seeking to radicalize their yoga.
About the Author
MICHELLE CASSANDRA JOHNSON is a social justice warrior, author, dismantling racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and an intuitive healer. With over 20 years of experience leading dismantling racism work and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker, Johnson has a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart. She has led Dismantling Racism Trainings with large corporations, small nonprofits, and community groups, including the ACLU-WA, Duke University, Google, This American Life, The Center for Equity and Inclusion, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Church, Lululemon, and many others. She teaches workshops nationwide.
“Michelle Johnson is a deeply trusted yoga teacher and a skilled race equity trainer, and she has been an absolute game changer in the spirituality and wellness communities. Her book, Skill in Action, is the go-to resource for any student interested in understanding the intersection of spiritual context in the framework of social justice. Michelle’s powerful writing brilliantly provides the reader with a holistic understanding of race and its implications in American culture. She also offers practical tools and the necessary skills to confront and navigate white supremacy and oppressive behaviors—both within society and in ourselves. Michelle is not only fierce in her commitment to teach all of us how to embody a practice of equity both on and off the mat but also compassionate in her ability to meet each student where they are. I am immensely grateful for the many ways Michelle’s teachings have impacted the communities of yoga and beyond and how she has informed and matured my own justice work in the world.”—Seane Corn, author of Revolution of the Soul
“The promise of yoga is freedom. Freedom is both an individual and collective journey. Our liberation is tied to one another and so is our yoga practice. Skill in Action is a freedom guide—and it also asks questions that demand answers. What is information if it is not heeded? What is knowledge if it is not activated? What good does it do us to stand on our heads if we can’t stand on our own two feet or stand up for each other? Can there be ‘love and light’ without acknowledging and contending with our personal and societal darkness? Within Skill in Action, Michelle C. Johnson calls us out, in, and together and teaches us what it means to live our yoga, greater purpose, and activate our power for the greater good off the mat. This is a book for all time and especially right now.”—Octavia Raheem, author of Gather and Pause, Rest, Be
“Michelle Cassandra Johnson has brilliantly and lovingly exposed the heart of yoga in the midst of a world struggling with racism, separation, and suffering. Her masterful book represents a sea change in the contemporary interpretation and practice of the ancient yoga teachings.”—Jivana Heyman, author of Yoga Revolution and Accessible Yoga
“The tools and wisdom in this book will ripple far and wide for a long time to come. Skill in Action is an incredible blend of wisdom and education, patience and urgency, and inward reflection and outward action.”—Carrington Jackson, Off the Mat, Into the World/Yoga In Action coordinator and mentor
“This book set my entire soul ablaze. Michelle Cassandra Johnson has an authentic and clear way of breaking down the construct of white supremacy and the work we must do to dismantle it on individual and collective levels. This approach to liberation and transformation through yoga gives me hope and fuel in the fight to create a new experience for myself, my children, my community, and the world.”—Kelley Nicole Palmer, author of Manifest
“A perfect text to counter the cultural image of the thin, privileged white women who practice yoga, Johnson’s book is meant to explore how to use the practice as a radical tool of change. It’s meant to help find liberation for all bodies and gives space for people to find whatever that means for them within their own lives, marrying the tools of change with the deeply radical roots of yoga. Yoga isn’t a practice of complacency. It’s one of being and living change—that’s right there in the Sutras, and Johnson’s book is a refreshing reminder of how yoga isn’t just what you do on the mat. It’s what you do off it.”—Book Riot
“Skill in Action is a primer on the skills needed to radicalize your yoga practice to create a just world, inspire you to connect with your dharma, and explore the intersection of social justice and yoga.”—Integral Yoga Magazine