Kerri Kelly: Yoga For Radical Change
By Autumn Feldmeier
I’ve been hearing the word ‘radical’ a lot recently. I have seen several yoga classes/workshops that are using the word radical for their descriptions and even the theme of Burning Man this year was Radical Ritual. I feel like the word radical is overused and watered down. However, Kerri’s Radical Healing workshop was anything but watered down.
Kerri started on day one by talking about Truth and Reconciliation. We discussed how privileged we were, living in San Francisco, and really in the US and how blessed we were to be able to afford the luxury of wellness. Kerri guided us through a meditation where we looked at how this privilege effects us on a physical and energetic level. We were asked to be brave when leaning into our discomfort around privilege. We were shown how the just the ability to enjoy the physical practice of yoga in a studio and attend workshops, is really quite special.
“Wellbeing for some is wellbeing for none,” said Kerri as she empowered us to be brave as we confronted our own wealth, while also looking acknowledging a wellbeing system that does not always seem fair. Kerri has an amazing ability to read the energy in the room and she recognized our hesitation. She encouraged us to let it be messy and directed us to stay in the discomfort of change. Reminding us that, often, change is slow.
Kerri also talked to us about being active in politics. She said, “There is no ‘not political’ when it comes to taking care of each other. Citizenship is the practice of how we take care of each other."
Day two began with us setting an intention for both ourselves and the world. Kerri then led us through an empowering practice and encouraged us to take back our power. We all discussed our intentions and with a room filled with brave yogis (activists, defense attorneys and women working towards equality for those in the technology sector), the intentions were raw and powerful. Fierce truth telling commenced.
Kerri then lead us through a meditation where we focused on reclaiming our whole selves, acknowledging our history, healing our wounds and finding strength to confront the difficult truth.
The asana got stronger as the message of following our truth got stronger. I found myself using my yogic tools (breath, concentration and non-violence) to assist with what was going on in my body and mind. She encouraged us to breathe into the broken places and continue to stay in the discomfort of change. We held many of the poses for several breaths, which gave us room to grapple with struggle, and then transcend this suffering.
Kerri beautifully wove this radical message into the practice, allowing us to confront our fears, acknowledge uncomfortable truths and cry through our sweat. By the end I felt like our eyes couldn’t cry any more. Then, like any radical woman, she put on some hip hop and had us dance it all out. And when Kerri said, "We are breaking through the linear practice to be disrupted and to DISRUPT,” the whole room of dancing yogis cheered. We ended this workshop feeling centered, grounded, inspired and most of all empowered.
It was in this circle of brave souls that I finally felt some hope.
A glimmer of faith in the knowing that heroic yogis can also be badass lawyers, social workers and tech executives who are using the tools from yoga to empower others. I now have hope that if more of us are willing to look inside, confront and forgive ourselves and others, we can start to work together collectively to create a better world.
To learn more about Kerry Kelly visit: ctznwell.org.
Visit yogatreesf.com to find a yoga class or workshop in the Bay Area!