Enter to win a tuition-free spot in one of OTM’s Yoga, Purpose, & Action Leadership Intensives in 2018 (a $1300 value)!
Celebrating 10 years of
Off the Mat, Into the World
It’s been our tradition to end each year with our holiday giving campaign—a time when we reaffirm our commitment to making our work accessible to as many people and communities as possible and call on you for support through donations to help us do this.
This year is extra special as we celebrate a milestone. For 10 years now OTM has been building the bridge between yoga, self inquiry, and community action. With a world-class faculty we’ve trained thousands of leaders both online and off in sustainable, conscious, and embodied social change.
All of our offerings are available on a sliding scale and keeping things this way is only possible with the help of our amazing community. Because of your support, we are able to keep our costs low and offer scholarships for every training.
As we look to 2018 we are excited for an incredible line-up of online courses and the roll-out of Yoga, Purpose, and Action 2.0: an evolution to our 5-day leadership intensive. And we know that leaders from diverse backgrounds and communities are vital for creating meaningful change.
If our work has sparked something within you, if you have been moved by our work in any way, please consider paying it forward by making a donation.
Every dollar makes a difference and gives us the opportunity to continue spreading this work off our mats and into the world!
with Seane Corn and OTM founders and faculty
National yoga leaders speak on the role of yoga and mindfulness practices in the age of Trump.
Friday, January 12, 7:30 - 10pm
Santa Monica, CA 90401
What is the role of yoga and mindfulness today? What is the connection between personal practice and social change? How can we use our practice to be part of a movement for change? What’s the connection between yoga and politics?
Join OTM founders and faculty in a panel discussion and community conversation about what our practice is in our current political landscape. This is a time to connect our individual transformation to the collective well-being of all. Explore how mindful practices can foster a deeper care for others and a foundation from which to engage in the world in a grounded and heartfelt way. This conversation is for teachers and practitioners. We want to inspire you to think about how you are contributing in a meaningful way and how your practice can be your guide. Yogis love to say Namaste, “we are one”. Yet this is not how our world operates. If we want to be able to claim oneness, we must be willing to do the difficult work of understanding how we are divided, how we might be complicit in perpetuating this divide and how we might contribute towards healing it.
This is a rare opportunity to have these incredible leaders in one place sharing their hearts and their experience. Please join us for an evening that will be inspirational and provocative.
In June, you can take a 3-session, online course offered by Off the Mat titled "Practical Tools for Talking with Other Whites about Racism" with Beth Berila. It will be a powerful and important class for those of us learning to be effective white allies in the work of dismantling racism. Beth has done incredible work in the field of social justice and we'd love for you to get to know more about her and what she's coming with in June!
OTM: How did you become a part of the Off the Mat community?
BB: I’ve known about OTM for quite some time—seeing advertisements of its trainings and hearing the “buzz” about their valuable work. I have taken a couple OTM online trainings with Hala Khouri, specifically around the trauma of injustice (which I will probably be referencing in my own course). I also have several colleagues in the world of yoga and social justice who are connected with OTM in a variety of ways, including being some of their faculty.
What I admire most about OTM is that it offers the tools for people to create positive change. Many of us want to make the world a better place, but may not know how. We may inadvertently reproduce common missteps if we do so without support. OTM trainings help provide participants with a social justice analysis and tried-and-true practices for creating change that are informed by that analysis. I am so thrilled to be a part of the team!
OTM: We often ask in our leadership trainings: what is something that breaks your heart? And, what unique gifts are you bringing into the world (& this course)?
BB: What breaks my heart? So many things. But one that keeps happening is when vibrant, strong, hopeful people have internalized or experienced injustices for so long that the wounds undermine their empowerment. This happens both individually and collectively. I see this happen in my Women’s Studies college courses. Strong, vibrant, talented feminists will be finding their voices and creating AMAZING community change, and still undermine themselves with toxic messages or become immobilized by the wounds of oppression. It is pervasive and heartbreaking. I, too, have suffered from that in some ways.
That observation is what initially motivated me to delve deeper into yoga and meditation. Those practices are what allowed me to hold my empowerment and my struggles in a more authentic, embodied, and compassionate way. They are also what sparked an exploration into how we can create more socially just ways of being with one another—how we can unlearn deeply oppressive beliefs and practices in order to create more honouring ones.
Doing so, particularly in the context of dismantling the aspects of whiteness that are so deeply harmful, requires sitting with discomfort. There are very common responses people have when white privilege or white supremacy are pointed out. These reactions are defense mechanisms designed to shore up racial injustice. So helping people learn to recognize them as such and sit with the discomfort instead of avoiding it is a critical step. In my online OTM course, we will learn some techniques for doing so. Because only then can we create alternatives that truly honor everyone’s humanity.
What unique gifts am I bringing? My insight into this work is grounded at the intersection of feminism, yoga, and embodied social change. It is informed by social justice activists and theorists. And it is tested in numerous classrooms and community sites.
OTM: What brought this course, Practical Tools for Talking with Other Whites about Racism, into being?
BB: I have been doing social justice and anti-racism work for over twenty years. Mostly, I do it in the Women’s Studies college classroom with students entering into the conversation with various degrees of interest/awareness and from various identities. That experience has honed my ability to meet people where they are in order to transform ways of thinking and being (in this case) about racial identity, whiteness, racism, and white supremacy. I have also worked closely with colleagues, both inside and outside academia, to do antiracist work.
This particular course builds on all that rich experience. I began thinking about it after the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency in November, because I saw (and felt) heightened despair, along with urgent calls to “do something.” Actually, two days after the election I flew to a large mindfulness conference and was struck by 1) people who were desperately hungry to talk about the current state of affairs, and 2) people who avoided the conversation, and 3) people who had no idea where to begin (this third category pervaded both of the previous groups).
Let’s be clear: nothing in “Trump’s America” is new—the oppression that some people are just becoming aware of has existed for centuries. Many people have been around doing the work of trying to survive and dismantle them for years. But there did seem to be a heightened urgency. I also sensed a strong undercurrent of not knowing where to start. Many well-intentioned people wanted to make the world a better place, but did not know where to begin.
I figured one way I could begin was to “gather my people,” so to speak, and help cultivate the tools for whites to talk with other whites about racism. I know many people who want to do so but get stymied when the conversations (inevitably) get hard. My years of teaching students in a variety of places around the conversation, combined with my own (fraught) path (filled with missteps and learning), will provide the foundation for this course.
I am on this path too—I am not the “expert;” I have experiences and knowledge to draw on that I hope will prove useful, but this work is collective work. I envision the course as a collective learning process.
. . .
Beth Berila, Ph.D., 500-hr RYT is the Director of the Women's Studies Program and Professor in the Ethnic and Women's Studies Department at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She is also a 500-hr registered yoga teacher and an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist who completed her 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness. She is the author of the book Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice in Higher Education (Routledge). She served on the leadership team of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition for two years and is now a community partner. She works to make yoga accessible to every body by challenging the lack of diversity in the mainstream Western yoga culture. Her current projects merge yoga and meditation practices with feminism and mindful education to create a form of socially engaged embodied learning. www.bethberila.com
In 2016, Celestine Muhammad (A Peace of Yoga KC) along with her daughter Amanda Muhammad (A Peace of Yoga Dallas) hosted Kansas City's first-ever OTM Yoga in Action/YIA circle! Since Celestine's Leadership in Action with OTM in Minnesota, she had been intent on sharing the experience with her diverse community. She also thanks Kelli Austin and Nancy Bounds of Sunshine Yoga KC for having such confidence in her and for trusting in the YIA process.
Although the circle did not go as initially planned, once Amanda stepped up to the plate and the force of loving and curious community support could be felt, there was no turning back! What blossomed was a powerful and intense weekend with no time to spare.
For a community which is often marginalized, Stine and Amanda know first-hand the depths of keeping it together when everything else is falling apart. With on-going follow-up meetings, their YIA group unanimously voted to serve "Mothers In Charge," a group of moms who lost their children to violence in the streets of Kansas City. To help give back with love and support, the YIA circle decided to host an official Moms Day Off! The moms were brought 50 miles outside of the city to Paola, Kansas for a special retreat at The Motherland. After turning-off their cell phones and electronics, the day was spent in nature with guided walks to the pond, then it was back to the house for pampering with the ritual of foot-washing and facials. Lunch and candlelight dinner were served and pajamas were on before the sun even went down! The day was filled with love and soul.
Going forward, many in this YIA circle have committed to continue supporting Mothers in Charge and are now part of the newly formed "Volunteers in Charge." They offer support in monthly healing and support groups by simply holding space and showing up where needed during on-going street canvassing.
Check out this inspiring interview between OTM co-founder Seane Corn and OTM board & faculty member Teo Drake about compassion, mindfulness, social justice, and how these concepts will be explored and embraced during our upcoming Leadership Training Intensive Retreat in Santa Barbara, CA this Dec 8-11 at beautiful Pacifica Graduate Institute.
"My highest hope for this training is that it can be for folks who are seeing the world as it is right now during this painful time and don't know what to do and want some help to figure out what their piece is and how to do it in collaboration with others and how to do it in a way that doesn't feel paralyzing and soul-crushing. This training is also for folks who have been doing this work for a longtime but need to be in community with others to remember that they're not alone and particularly for folks who are experiencing crushing oppression themselves ." -Teo Drake