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Yoga and Liberation: A Critical Interrogation with Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa

Season #4

Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa is a scholar and practitioner of Indigenous contemporary dance, North American Hand Talk (Indigenous sign language), martial arts, and yoga. Professor Blu Wakpa has taught a wide range of interdisciplinary and community-engaged courses at public, private, tribal, and carceral institutions. 

In 2020, she was the first Assistant Professor at UCLA to receive a Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Scholars. Professor Blu Wakpa is a co-founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Race and Yoga, the first peer-reviewed journal in the emerging field of Critical Yoga studies. It examines issues surrounding the history, racialization, sex(ualization), and inclusivity (or lack thereof) of the yoga community. The journal features research-based articles, editorials, and reviews of books, films, and art exhibits.

In this episode, Anjali and Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa discuss:

  • Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa's current work as a scholar and practitioner of Indigenous contemporary dance and North American Hand Talk

  • The genesis of Race and Yoga, and how the project has expanded (Follow their Instagram: @raceandyoga)

  • Dr. Wakpa’s thoughts on the state of Yoga today

  • How can we tap into the transformative potential of Yoga and the tension between carceral systems and this liberatory practice

  • Core tenets of Indigenous sign language

  • In the Race and Yoga journal article, Transforming Space: Spatial Implications of Yoga in Prisons and Other Carceral Sites, the author examines the possibilities and limitations of practicing Yoga in prisons. How can we hold the discourse and the movement for abolition along with the practice of Yoga in prisons?

  • Dr. Blu Wakpa’s practices, especially during moments of activation


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