3/22/15 Spring SEYN Meeting Tackles Yoga, Activism, & Privilege

The Socially Engaged Yoga Network held its spring meeting to address the questions of how yoga can influence and engage social change and how yoga can build bridges and promote justice and liberation in our social environment. Participants gathered in an interactive discussion and activities led by a panel of experts, including Beth Catlett, a women's and gender studies university professor at DePaul University; Martin Xavi Macias, a community organizer, writer, and activist; and Tameka Lawson, one of Chicago’s key yoga community leaders and Executive Director of I Grow Chicago


The engaging presentations provoked the audience in real conversations about personal bias and privilege with the goal of learning how to avoid harming students and communities by any possible unexplored bias, shadows, or savior complex. The presenters fostered a sense of building community through a shared understanding of oppression and helped explore how identities, race, class, and privilege interact consciously and unconsciously. The group left with lessons learned and shared to take forth into yoga work in a variety of community settings.  

Tameka Lawson
Executive Director
I Grow Chicago
Tameka is a long time activist for social change, including at  I Grow Chicago, an organization that works to provide healing and resources to children and families that are impacted by violence and trauma in the community of Englewood as they open their first urban farm and Peace House this Spring. Tameka is also a trauma-informed yoga teacher where her vinyasa flow classes challenge students to state their intentions as they journey toward inner healing and empowerment. Tameka's community work has been featured in over 20 media publications including People Magazine and the Doctors TV Show. She is a recent United Nations Delegate. However, she is most proud of her title as mommy to her three children Christopher Jr., Joshua, and Ziya-Angelin.

Martin Xavi Macias
Writer, Activist, Facilitator
Martin Xavi Macias is a writer, activist and facilitator. He has been a part of social movements in Chicago and around the world for the last 8 years. His interests in social change include: international solidarity, anti-racist movements, collective liberation work, feminist urbanism and transformative media production. He has facilitated discussions, workshops, retreats and mediation sessions for educational institutions, nonprofits, community organizations and conferences. He believes that anti-oppression work is critical to social change because it provides a space to challenge ourselves, transform each other and alter our relation to the systems we want to dismantle. 

Beth Catlett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor/Chair, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies
DePaul University
Beth is also the co-founder and Director of the Beck Research Initiative for Women, Gender, and Community. Her scholarly interests include community development, community-based participatory action research, violence in intimate relationships, feminist research methodologies and the uses of contemplative practices to inspire social justice.  Beth specializes in community-based research involving gendered violence, adolescent relationships, and social movements to create community change. Her research has been published in several journals and has a book chapter in press. Beth has been a dedicated practitioner of ashtanga yoga for over a decade, practicing the traditional Mysore method.