“When we practice Restorative Yoga, we are teaching our nervous system how to release contraction and to feel safe coming into deep states of rest that support repair, rejuvenation, and resilience. We are developing a nervous system with a buffer, while strengthening our psychological immune system. When we learn to experience our emotional pain and discomfort without contracting around it and reacting to it, and instead just let it move through us, our nervous system becomes regulated and we become emotionally regulated.”
-Gail Parker, Ph.D., C-IAYT, E-RYT 500
This week on the blog, I am highlighting a text that I believe should undoubtedly be a part of the yogic canon. Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-based Stress and Trauma is a case study, workbook, masterclass, and an invitation to consider how you have experienced or perpetuated race and ethnicity-based stress and trauma in your own life. It guides the reader on how to process these traumas and how to move forward using restorative yoga. One of the guidances this book provides is to normalize these discussions and use yoga and mindfulness to provide an entry point into these conversations.
Author Dr. Gail Parker is a psychologist and a certified yoga therapist. She is a world-renowned media personality, educator, author, thought leader, and the president of Black Yoga Teachers Alliance. She has been a pioneer and leading authority in integrating yoga and traditional therapy for many years.
One of The Kaivalya Yoga Method’s teaching goals, and a goal the entire online yoga community strives to achieve, is to prepare students to become excellent yoga teachers and spiritual leaders. I’ve been lucky enough to engage with Alanna Kaivalya and many yoga teachers to discuss what it means to be a spiritual leader. While there aren’t any textbook “must-have” criteria regarding what spiritual leadership must always include, awareness of stress and trauma, significantly race-based, is certainly one area that I prioritize in my practice.
These kinds of conversations and practices aren’t usually easy and can often feel intimidating. In my experience, many are reluctant to engage in highly emotional conversations around race in yoga. They either “don’t want to say the wrong thing and offend someone,” or they don’t know what to say or offer, or believe that there’s no place for these conversions because “we’re all one” in yoga. This book provides practical and accessible guidance for folks who may have found themselves resonating with one of those three beliefs. Dr. Parker expertly blends her professional and academic knowledge of people and psychology with meditation, restorative yoga practices, and reflection questions to help practitioners and spiritual leaders “do the work.” By engaging in these self-studies, one can begin to heal, grow, and serve.
My favorite chapter in the book is chapter 6: Communities of Care. In this chapter, Parker invites us to envision what caring communities look like by rooting readers in Ubuntu’s African philosophical ideal (I am because we are) and the Yamas and Niyamas as guideposts for creating community. This chapter explores how stress and trauma impact communities. It invites readers to open their minds and hearts, look beyond political correctness, and instead prioritize connecting with your community.
Overall, if you’re looking for a text that will challenge you to go inside while inviting you to take rest and care for yourself as you journey, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a resource to help you step up your spiritual leadership and consider how to create meaningful and healing connections with others, this is the book for you. If you’re looking to challenge your personal beliefs with the practice of yoga, this is the book for you.
Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-based stress and trauma is available online and on kindle on Dr. Parker’s website, Empowered by Yoga