Jivana Heyman 14:53:42
Hi everyone, its Jivana I just want to come on for a moment and thank our sponsor, Offering Tree. They're an all in one easy to use community back business that saves you time, energy and money as a Yoga teacher. Offering Tree allows you to create a website in less than 30 minutes. Plus you get a discount through Accessible Yoga. Just go to offeringtree.com/accessibleyoga to get your discount today. Okay, here's your episode.
Anjali Rao 14:54:12
Welcome to The Love of Yoga Podcast. I'm your host, Anjali Rao. This podcast explores the teachings of Yoga for self and collective transformation. We dive into how spirituality and philosophy can ignite social change. I share conversations with folks who are on the front lines of justice and liberatory movements, thought leaders, change makers and healers.
Hello, and welcome to The Love of Yoga Podcast. I'm your host Anjali Rao. And it's so good to be here with one of one of the people who are in the frontlines of several liberatory movements, Tina Strawn. Tina Strawn is a joy and liberation advocate, racial and social justice activist, author of Are We Free Yet: The Black Queer Guide to Divorcing America. Tina is also the owner and host of the Speaking of Racism Podcast, and she's the co founder of Here 4 the Kids and abolitionist movement to ban guns and fossil fuels. The heart of Tinos work is founding and leading legacy trips and immersive 3 day antiracism weekends where participants visit historical locations such as Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, and utilize spiritual practices, and other mindfulness based resources as tools to affect personal and collective change. Tina has three adult children, an ex husband, an ex wife, and an ex country. She has been a full time minimalist nomad since February 2020. And currently lives in Costa Rica. She now travels the globe speaking, writing, teaching and exploring where on the planet she can feel safe and free in a Queer Black woman identifying body. Welcome, Tina.
Tina Strawn 14:56:30
Thank you, Anjali. I'm glad to be here.
Anjali Rao 14:56:32
I'm so glad to have you in this space, what an introduction. I love so many pieces of it. And I want to like dive right into what you do and who you are in this present moment. But first, I want to also acknowledge that we are living in some really turbulent times given what what is happening and what we are witnessing in Gaza. So how is your heart today, Tina?
Tina Strawn 14:57:01
my heart today is heavy. I am like you sadly watching and hearing the reports about the continued violent attacks by the Israeli government against the people in Gaza. And it is horrifying to just see the way that Palestinians and the Palestinian children in particular are being affected by this, this this genocide, this ethnic cleansing. And so it's, you know, honestly, I don't I don't it's a very strange place to be, you know, you and I are in California right now. And, you know, our reality is very far removed from what the people of Gaza are experiencing and the terror that they are under as a result of the Israeli government and the United States government right now in this moment. So it's just it's a difficult thing to hold that we are living in a time where this is taking place. And it's it's horrifying. And so it just it feels heavy.
Anjali Rao 14:58:29
Thank you for sharing that and I'm with you. I honestly don't know sometimes, I don't have the words to describe what what what what we are witnessing and it's just inhumane what what is happening. I want to like to share some of the things that you do, which are, you know, in response to what you have experienced as a Black Queer Yoga practitioner? What was some of those experiences like what, what brought you to Yoga, what made you do what you do right now?
Tina Strawn 14:59:05
I am a retired fitness professional. So for about 15 years, I held regional and national roles for a few very large fitness corporations and large gyms. And so I guess 2010 is when I received my 200 hour Yoga teacher training from Life Power Yoga, which is the brand of Lifetime Fitness, and Jonny Kest. And the reason that I even went through that initial certification and what got me involved is because I was a regional manager, I was over several different markets for Lifetime Fitness, Houston, and Dallas and Oklahoma, and then eventually, Georgia and Alabama. And so a part of my roles were I was responsible for the Yoga programs of a variety of a number of of gyms. And because that because Lifetime Fitness has their own brand of Yoga that they have that they call it, I was responsible for the hiring and the training and the everything involved with the Yoga managers and Yoga teachers and things like that. So as a, someone who had been teaching group fitness and cycle classes for many years, Yoga was new to me, this is again back in 2010. And so, since I had this position, my with my job where I was responsible for making hiring decisions, for the Yoga teachers that were coming into the studios, I figured I needed to get trained on what is Yoga. And so that is what originally got me into the Yoga space is going through that 200 hour. And I'll be honest with you, Anjali, initially it was to check that box on my resume so that I could say I have a 200 hour Yoga teacher certification. And that qualifies me to walk into any space and teach a Yoga class. That qualifies me to walk into any space and evaluate the Yoga teacher and the experience that the whole class was having. And that's what I did for several years. And I was very much detached from Yoga as the ancient practice that it is but not at all connected to the roots of Yoga, right, I had this, this a certain level of head knowledge, a certain level of, of, of studying the materials that were presented to me as colonised as they were, that's that's what I had. And it had it had, it did not become a spiritual practice for me and did not become a part of my life until six years later, in 2016. When July when I would accidentally watch the videos of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two Black men, one in Minnesota and one in Louisiana, being killed by police. And those two murders and watching those and seeing that, that broke me. I remember that I was at the time teaching in very wealthy of fluent, predominantly white cis body, able bodied folks in the Atlanta area. I was teaching Yoga in those spaces and managing those Yoga coordinators and those Yoga teachers. And I just remember going into the Yoga studio as a teacher, one and inviting folks to come to their breath and to come into a place of you know, let's begin our practice. But I felt so broken. And I felt so unseen. And I felt like there was a disconnect between this practice that I knew should be and should feel liberatory but it was it felt very empty in those spaces where it was all a focus about the body, it was all a focus on putting together the most badass sequence of postures. And you know, who had the best like Yoga music in their class like it had to do with all these superficial things. And I was suffering. I was, I was needing to be able to go into, I needed to grieve, to be honest that that, that that experience started me on my journey of racial awakening. And that was the beginning, that was the first time that I said, you know, even though I've been leading people in these Yoga spaces for these several years, I have not experienced the type of, of liberation that I know or I think that Yoga has to offer. So let me take time to get into my own practice. And let me develop my own Yoga practice. And that honestly, led me down the path of number one, starting my own meditation practice. But number two, I began to very intentionally seek out South Asian Yoga teachers who were in the space. And talking about honoring the practice of Yoga, that was when I found Black and brown women, Yoga teachers, I found Susanna Barkataki, first, I want to say, and then I found Michelle, Cassandra Johnson. And those, those women were instrumental, and transformative as it relates to what would then happen to my Yoga practice and how I would begin to decolonize my Yoga practice. And so that's kind of where it started for me. And that's, that brings me a little bit to where I am today.
Anjali Rao 15:05:26
Wonderful, I love that you took that moment to actually recognize that, that you are that the suffering is related to and can be transformed in some way. And Yoga is a way of transforming, or an understanding one's own suffering Dukkha that is the entire practice that Yoga revolves. And so appreciate you sharing that. And I And interestingly enough, that is one of the ways in which I got into Yoga too. And one of my first jobs was to teach in a gym. And I broke a lot of rules, because I would chant and I did all kinds of things. But that that was that was back then. But what was it like teaching this as a liberatory practice? And you mentioned meditation. Do you still practice meditation and how much is that a part of your sort of, you know, quote, unquote, toolkit for dealing with the times that we live in, and the work that you do, which we are going to get into?
Tina Strawn 15:06:29
Absolutely, yeah, that my absolutely, I do still have a meditation practice. And it has become, it is a central part of my life, like, meditation has saved my life. Being able to learn stillness, learning to come to my breath, learning, you know, Pratyahara, and turning inward. Learning about the the eight limbs and how to apply them to my everyday life. That is, those are the, the, it's still it's the foundation of the way that I that I live, and then I operate. So Asana is no longer a daily part of my life. But absolutely, when I think of the other limbs that is absolutely that that is what holds me and allows me to still claim that Yoga is a spiritual practice that saves my life every day.
Anjali Rao 15:07:27
Absolutely. You know, when, when back in the day before I started studying philosophy, and history and all of that, and I was just teaching Yoga and and then I would go out and do my other things like I would be, you know, activist or challenging for or advocating for universal health care. Like, that's how I got into my space. I always used to struggle with creating, like joining the dots between the work that I do off the mat and the work that I do, like on the mat, or a meditation cushion or whatever. So how do you join those dots for yourself? And what prompted you to start the this legacy trips, that is a big part of your work? And I would love for you to share that with with the listeners.
Tina Strawn 15:08:18
Sure. So during over the next several years, I kind of started with, you know, 2016 is when I was broken open and my life changed and I began to see myself in a racialized sense in a way that I had not seen previously. And I started to become, get get socially and politically activated, and so as I started kind of going down this path of, of listening to Black and Brown voices in the Yoga space, I remember listening to Tejal and Jesal's podcast, Yoga is Dead. You know, this is I feel like I was about to say back in the day like, this is so long ago, but, but it is, you know, you, you think about this was this is pre you know, 2020 and then racial uprisings, you know, and so, several of us and you, you know, this, we've been having these types of conversations for a while about really identifying the ways in which Yoga has been westernized, bastardized, colonized and capitalized. And we've all well, I can't say all of us, but I know myself had to really interrogate and look at the ways in which I was participating in upholding this harmful narrative and presentation of Yoga. And so that that was and I'll say even still is an ongoing process. And so what would then happen over the next couple of years, and we're talking now 2017 and 2018, is that as I was growing in my racial awakening and awareness and becoming spirit, politically, and socially active as well. I had started volunteering on some political campaigns. So for example, Stacey Abrams for governor when she ran back in 2018. And what and so I was, I started to do things like host voter registration drives at the Yoga studios, where I was teaching at the cycle studios. So what started to happen for me is that my teaching in the studios started to bleed into my activism and my activism began to bleed into my teaching. And I came across a book called Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. And Bryan Stevenson is a Black author, civil rights attorney, and social and racial justice activist and advocate. And he tells and he's the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which is an organization that is designed to provide aid and assistance and resources to people who have been sentenced to life in prison sentenced to death row, children who have been sentenced all across the south primarily. So lots of folks who have been wrongfully sentenced or charged or over punished, right? You talk about children in the United States who have been held as adult are tried as adults and you know, things like this. So because I read that book, and realized that the United States Legal System is operating in a very racist way. I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to help people have conversations and really invite people into the conversation to be like, Do you know what is happening? Do you know how many the percentage of of Black folks are in prisons and why they're there and what happens when, you know, when there's a, you know, just there were just a variety of things that came to light through reading Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy, and really wanting to talk about it. At that time, the Equal Justice Initiative came up with and built two spaces that now exist in Montgomery, those two spaces are the Lynching Memorial, and the official name of that is The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. And the other space is The Legacy Museum, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. And when I heard about these spaces, I knew I wanted to go and visit them. And after I did, that is when I really realized and felt the call that I wanted to bring, first of all, I feel like all Americans should go to those spaces and walk through those spaces. To learn more about the truth of our nation's history, the truth of our nation's anti Black terror and violence, that has never ended, right? The truth about, as the museum name states, drawing the connection to the fact that slavery never ended, it simply evolved into what we have today as mass incarceration as the prison industrial complex. And because Yoga had been something that I had been practicing for many years and because I had experienced so much personal liberation through my Yoga practice at that point, I said, well, let me see if anybody wants to go to Alabama and visit the Lynching Memorial and Legacy Museum and then come back and do some Yoga and let's talk about racism. And that's how that's how the trip started. And that was our first trip was in December of 2018. And we've been doing this ever since.
Anjali Rao 15:14:08
That's just so wonderful and powerful and so much needed. What, what are some of the memories? Or is there one outstanding memory that stands in your, in your mind about when when you go there, like with people, any any revelations, any breakthroughs, because I can imagine how heart opening and, you know, really illuminating it could be for people, and to have that led by you, I would, I would assume would be, you know, just an amazing thing to experience in so many different levels. So anything that stands out to you.
Tina Strawn 15:14:48
I think the thing that stands out, is the fact that when I started my legacy trips, first of all the the original name of my trips were Satya Yoga trips. And for your audience, they probably know that Satya is Sanskrit for truthfulness and for truth. And I remember it was, it would only be I think a year later, as I had gone a little bit further in my own decolonizing of my Yoga practice, where I decided that because I do not have a relationship with the Sanskrit language, this is not something that I feel I should include in my as a part of my naming strategy. So I changed the name to Legacy Trips. But what's also interesting is I started these trips, making the assumption that the folks that would come on these trips with with me would be my Yoga students and be the students who spent time with me coming to my Pilates classes and my cycle classes and my kickboxing classes and my Yoga sculpt classes, I thought those would be the people that would be like, yes, I want to go with you to Alabama, and go through these spaces that you've told us about and talk about racism and and utilize Yoga, the philosophy and the practice of Yoga as tools to dismantle our own internalized racism and white supremacy. That's who I thought was going to be coming. My Yoga students were not the ones who would come they were not they were never the ones. And as a matter of fact, what became quickly apparent to me is that my Yoga students, in the spaces where I was, again, primarily wealthy, white, affluent, able bodied spaces in the suburbs, you know, they, they were wanting to have Yoga butts. They weren't wanting to use their Yoga practice to change themselves and change the world. So what wound up happening is that it, folks were coming on my trips and saying, but I don't do Yoga, is it okay, if I go on this trip, or I've never done Yoga before, or I can't, you know, that people made assumptions about what the trip would be like, because they hear they heard the word Yoga, so they weren't afraid of coming and talking about racism and white supremacy, they were afraid of coming and not being able to do Yoga, which that was a whole other, you know, layer of educating people about Yoga doesn't mean that we all just stand on our heads, I've never done a headstand in my life. And that does not mean that I am not a Yoga student or not a Yoga practitioner. So that was very interesting. And I think that has been a beautiful thing. And a memorable thing for me as I have now, we just completed our 19th yoga, I'm sorry, Legacy Trip over these past five years. And we no longer incorporate Yoga asana practice, because the trips are no longer just facilitated by me. A few years ago, I invited other facilitators in the racial and social justice space to to join me and partner with me and facilitate these trips. And they you know, I can't think of anyone that's done a trip that has a Yoga teaching background and so they utilize other spiritual practices, but when I get to go and facilitate, I live out of the country now as you referenced in the in my intro, so I did facilitate and lead this one, so I do get to incorporate breathwork and meditation and so I think I think that's probably just something that's really memorable is how disappointed I was in the beginning, that people who were used to spending hours of their week with me on the Yoga mat, were unwilling, and who and were not the ones who wanted to come with me to Alabama, to learn about the the elements in the parts of Black history and American history that, that were challenging and confronting and would cause them to have to place themselves in the position of examining their own complicity in their own privilege and their own in the ways that they uphold these harmful and oppressive systems.
Jivana Heyman 15:19:23
Hi, everyone, I just want to pop in here really quick, and remind you about our sponsor, Offering Tree. As Yoga teachers, we are our own business managers, website, designers and producers, it's a lot. And Offering Tree offers an all in one platform that makes it easy to succeed while we're doing all the things. And I just like to say that through this partnership with The Love of Yoga Podcast, Offering Tree has shown that it's committed to supporting accessibility and equity in the Yoga world. Offering Tree is a public benefit corporation. And they're driven by a mission of wellness accessibility, which we share with them that Accessible Yoga. As an Offering Tree user, you'll get to join a supportive educational community. And you'll also get free webinars with top experts in wellness and entrepreneurship. And of course, you get a discount. So go to offeringtree.com/accessibleyoga to learn more, and to get your discount. Okay, let's go back to the episode.
Anjali Rao 15:20:24
That is interesting. And that is not very surprising. Also, given I think, the layers of you know, white supremacy and the dominant culture is so embedded and so entrenched in, in the psyche, the cultural psyche, the individual psyche, and it's very hard to divest, and especially for those who benefit from those systems. Which brings me to the next question about abolition. And because it is about, you know, divesting from a harmful system, can you speak more about Here 4 the Kids action and the work that you do, and, again, I think it's so much needed, what, what brought this on and where you are at with it.
Speaker 3 15:21:14
I will so Here 4 the Kids. I founded this movement, co founded along with my friend, Saira Rao, when, at the end of March, we had just seen the Covenant School shooting in Tennessee. And Saira I have as friends, we've been friends for a while. And we have been in regular conversations, both of us mothers, her children are younger, my children are adults. But just having these conversations around school shootings and how they just we just they've just we're getting worse. And then learning about the fact that guns are the number one killer of kids and teenagers in the United States. And so Saira came up with this idea, let's have white women show up and demand of the of our elected officials to ban guns and buy them back. And that was how Here 4 the Kids got started. And that original action of June 5, and our call to 25,000 white women to show up to Denver, Colorado to demand that that Colorado Governor Jared Polis ban guns and buy them back. And it was all centered around abolition, and then we would then move, you know, after we had that action on June 5, and we kind of stepped back and said, Okay, what is there to do next. And we realized that that in addition to there being the national crisis of children and teenagers being killed by guns at a rate of 50% more over a two year period, like we just were, the numbers that we're seeing are really just tremendous and remarkably devastating, especially at a time where we have more gun legislation than ever before. The numbers you would think would be coming down, but that's not what was happening. The numbers were are going they're still going up. And so in addition to wanting to address the national crisis of gun violence culture in America with that because that is an exclusive problem to the United States. Other countries do not deal with the mass death of everyday citizens having guns the way that we deal with it in the United States. But we also acknowledge that there is another existential crisis that threatens the lives of our children and our future, and our planet, which is fossil fuel. So then we added to our demand, not only a ban on guns, but a ban on fossil fuel. And, and this all being about something that Saira says is you can't legislate inhumanity, we have to understand and acknowledge that what guns and fossil fuel are doing to our children, our future, our species, our planet, is not something that we can legislate our way out of, or legislate our way through, right? They need to be banned completely if we want, and have a hope of saving future generations. And so, you know, I, what I am incredibly proud of, is that we, that as Saira and I have looked around, we have not seen anyone else talking about abolition. So that has been tremendously it's been a shift in the conversation. And that is what we set out to do, so I'm incredibly proud of that. And I think that is something that is is really necessary for people to wrap their minds around is normalizing the conversation around abolition. And so what I'll share just really briefly with you, since we're having this conversation, is that I think by the time this airs, we will have made the public announcement that there will not be a action that we were wanting to have and that we were hoping to have of Here 4 the Kids in Washington DC on March 9. We have just recognized that the place that we have arrived in, in this particular time in our history, especially you know, you and I are having this conversation. While there is currently an onslaught of terror and violence happening against Palestinian people in Gaza by the hands of the Israeli government and the United States government. I just try to make it a point to always include the US's responsibility when we talk about Israel, and what they are that the war crimes that that they are guilty of, as well as the United States, the the crimes against humanity, we have to always ground ourselves in that. And now I'm going into the talking about the war just because of course it comes up in like in everything, I don't know how to even have conversations about anything anymore without referencing that the people, the Palestinian people deserve liberation, and that we need to be calling for de escalation immediately, we need to be demanding an end to the attacks. But we have decided that Here 4 the Kids is not going to any longer be have this this action, you know, in DC, but there will be a shift and that shift that is happening is to an abolition education, platform and resource because we have identified how unusual and unfamiliar with the term and with the concept of abolition, that it is for folks, you know, I think it's that's one of the biggest things that we learned after June 5, and our action in Denver is a lot of the reason that people were so activated by what we were doing is because it was something they had not heard of before. It was not it was not something that people were it was very much outside of everyone's comfort zone. We weren't just saying, let's create more laws around protecting the guns, let's raise the minimum age requirement to purchase a gun. Let's have a longer, you know, waiting period before you can, you know, get your license, all of these things when it had not been introduced in a national way conversation to just ban the guns because everyone was so focused on protecting the Second Amendment. And no one wanted to have the conversation around, well the Second Amendment needs to be repealed. And it can't, that can happen, right? And so you know, as we, you know, started to just spread this message more. That is really sadly where we came in realizing that before we, you know, set an action and ask a quarter of a million people to show up in DC to demand a ban on guns and fossil fuel, we have to acknowledge that people don't have a foundational understanding about abolition. And so that's where we're going to begin.
Anjali Rao 15:29:05
I think it's so important, because there is so much of misinformation and actually no information about abolition in our education systems for reasons we all know. And as well, there's also a fear that what is abolition really mean? Are we going to ban everything? Is there going to be anarchy? Is it going to be like, you know, who's going to be the one controlling unlawfulness or whatever that's called? So there's so much of misinformation. So I think it's important for for there to be education, and I'm glad that that shift is occurring. Which brings me to another question about,, you know, you I love the title of your book, Are We Free Yet: A Queer Black Guide to Divorcing America. Can you share a little bit about the book? How was it writing it? How was experiencing that and that decision to say, You know what, I'm divorcing you, America, I'm out of here. And I know that there are more and more Black people especially are leaving the United States for so many obvious reasons. But could you please share something for our listeners?
Tina Strawn 15:30:13
Yeah, I will. I, let me see where do I start? I will, I have to start with the fact that I am, as I mentioned, a mother of three. But also, also I have an ex husband and I have an ex wife. And so while COVID arrived on the scene in, you know, spring of 2020, a few months after COVID got here, my wife left me, which was devastating, it was surprising and shocking. And I was, you know, forced not to not only be dealing with some, we were dealing with the the COVID pandemic, take at the very beginning of the pandemic, right. And we didn't know what was going to happen and how long it would last. And we just had no idea. And then in addition to that, we were experiencing an onslaught of Black lives being lost due to the police state, and due to white supremacy, of course, in May of 2020, and George Floyd being murdered, and what that would then do to not just the nation but the world as as the world started to and many folks began to say Black Lives Matter for the first time. And we saw the racial uprisings in the streets, right in the summer of 2020. So we're dealing with a global pandemic, a racial uprising that stemmed from Breonna Taylor also being killed by police, right, all of the Black folks that had been killed Ahmaud Arbery was also killed that year. Earlier that year, just people were beginning to take to the streets to speak out against the violence against Black and brown bodies. And then what I was experiencing personally is a heartbreak. So I was dealing with all of these really very, very big things. And I was I started seeing a therapist, going through my own grief process. And then I began to write and I thought that my writing was about grieving my marriage to my wife, this unexpected divorce that I now found myself in. But as I began to write and go deeper into and sat with myself more, I recognize that that that really Oh, also at this time, I we had become nomads together. So we were planning on leaving the country and moving out of the out of the United States. I'll pause and just kind of give a little bit of that. Because you're absolutely right. Black Americans leaving the United States and moving to other countries is a it's it's not new. But what we are seeing is a resurgence of this phenomenon. And it actually has a name, it's called Blackxit. And that is those that's the words Black and exit put together. And that term, it describes the resurgence of Black Americans who leave the United States and move to other countries, either primarily or partially due to the systemic racism and anti Black violence and terror that we are experiencing right now in the 21st century. And, and Anjali, we are leaving by the 1000s and the 1000s and 1000s. And so if if your listeners have not heard that term blacks it before they are going to start hearing about it. I'm going to say they're going to start hearing about it a lot more, especially as we go into this election season and this election year. But they probably people are starting to hear more, and it is starting to become more mainstream this concept of Black Americans leaving the United States that's there starting to be more articles. And just more attention on this because it is it is it is increasing. I reference it as it's like the new Underground Railroad because it because it had not, you know, we this is something that Black Americans in in, in this space have been talking about for several years. Again, since, you know, 2020, we saw a large number, a larger number of Black Americans leaving, because what would happen in 2020, is that when COVID shut the world down, and people began to work from home, a lot of Black Americans started saying, Well, if I have can work from home, can I work from home from anywhere. And so, you know, so basically, while I was going through those experiences, it's COVID, it's the racial uprisings of the summer of 2020, I'm going through a heartbreak and divorcing, my wife is divorcing me. And I begin to write and realize that this divorce story is actually not about my marriage, coming to an end, it's actually about the grief that I hold, as a Black American as a Queer, Black American woman, in all of the ways that this relationship with the United States has been a toxic and abusive relationship. And so very much what we are seeing right now in the behavior of the United States and their, again, not just complicity, but their responsibility in sending in, in the terror of and the genocide of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government. That is happening because of American tax dollars like that is that that is, and we have to also pay attention to the fact that it is not just the Republicans that are doing these things. We this is Joe Biden just did this. This is so this is Republicans and Democrats alike. And so the book, Are We Free Yet is an invitation for people to examine what does it mean to be American? And in what ways are you aware of the ways that we are participating and complicit in upholding the oppressive systems of the institution that is the United States of America? And just really coming to terms with the realities of if you are Black in America, you do you understand what that how complex that relationship is? And do you feel that freedom, the freedoms that that Americans claim, does that apply to us as Black Americans? I think if we were to ask Breonna Taylor about her freedoms, she would have something different to say, right? And that's, that's what the book is about. It's it's the Black Queer Guide to Divorcing America. Obviously, I do use that parallel of being in a relationship and then getting to that point where you say, I, it's, it's actually, it's not me, it's you, and I'm not staying anymore. And I'm not a tree and I can move and I choose, you know, I choose to no longer live in this toxicity. And, you know, what is it like to flee and to leave, and to go to a place and find a country where I might be able to have some peace, I might be able to walk around and not be terrorized and criminalized just because of my skin.
Mmm, oof! Thank you, thank you for sharing that. And I highly recommend that book for everybody. Get your copy and read and connect with Tina. Before we leave Tina, what are some of the practices that you you do every day? Or is there something that you do every day to keep you in a space of receptivity? Because it is so easy to kind of like just say, I'm done with this. I'm just gonna take care of myself right now. And that's it. And that's itself itself is quite an ordeal, especially for those of us and you living in a Black body. What are some of the things that you do every day to kind of keep yourself grounded or receptive? Open?
I love this question. I'm going to give you three things that I do every day. One is my meditation practice, coming to stillness every day, coming to my breath, and turning inward. The second thing is moving my body making sure that I'm getting in some type of physical activity. My my favorite in this moment and have and really for the past several years is just walking, being out outside, that connection to nature and feeling the sun on my skin and the wind and the air and like being outside and walking, and just taking in this, this this beautiful world that we have that sadly, we are destroying that we are participating in actively destroying it, right? And what does it look like to see the the regenerance of this planet that we inhabit that continues to give us life and give us beauty, despite the horrific things that we're doing to the planet? That's the second thing. And the third thing. And this, I think is the biggest component because I get asked, you know, why would you, why are you still doing Legacy Trips? And why would you start Here 4 the Kids? Didn't you leave the United States? Aren't you done? Well, the third component that that that I am attached to and will always forever be attached to is community. It's it's my community. It's the people that I love that live in the United States. That includes of course, not only my children, but my friends. And I think that there is a lot of complexity being a Black American who lives in another country. I currently I've been living in Costa Rica for almost two years now. And I have to hold some difficult truths and realities. My blue passport affords me privileges that folks from other countries do not have, that is a reality, that is a fact. The US Dollar that I use that I, you know, the money that I make, and that I that I use, and hopefully in ways that are equitable and putting money back into the Costa Rican community, in the local community in the local town where I live, right, but just the presence of the US dollar, and it's the harm that it represents, as well. Right? When again, we're talking about who's funding currently, this, you know, the Israeli government's brutal, inexcusable attacks against Gaza, I like it, that's us money, right. And so I will always be I will always hold inside of me. And I, I cannot take credit for this terminology that I'm about to use. But I think in so many ways, we have to look at and tell the truth about the ways in which we hold both the oppressor as well as the oppressed identities inside of us, right, that we don't just get to so easily divorce ourselves from. So like, that's another layer to it, I do still have my community and a large part of the community that I love and care about, and that I speak up on behalf of and speak for, and that I hold myself accountable to my community. So that every day looks like caring for the people that I love, and making sure that we stay in contact and communication, and we're checking in with each other. And we're seeing and what needs we can in what ways we can be taking care of each other's needs, and what ways can we be supporting each other, making sure that we're seeing one another? And how can we fight against all of the oppression that exists everywhere and injustice everywhere. We've got to do it in community, we have to do it together. And and so I would say it's those things that I practice every day, that I believe are a part of my Yoga practice as an ongoing student and practitioner of this beautiful ancient practice.
Anjali Rao 15:42:25
So lovely and beautiful and powerful. I'm so you know, grateful for you to share your wisdom, your truth telling, your spirit with us tonight. I wish you all the best. And I look forward to supporting and uplifting your work in any way that I can in the future too. So thank you for joining us.
Tina Strawn 15:42:46
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. It's been wonderful being here with you. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you.
Anjali Rao 15:42:59
Thank you for listening to The Love of Yoga Podcast, and offering from Accessible Yoga Association. Please support our work by becoming an Ambassador or by visiting our online studio at accessibleyoga.org
Transcribed by https://otter.ai