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The Branches' Speaker Series

Centering Social Justice & Mental Health in the Yoga Industry

Learn from leaders and activists working to transform the yoga and wellness industry. Each session includes an experiential movement/embodiment practice, lecture and time for Q&A. These workshops are great for yoga/movement teachers, wellness professionals or interested practitioners.

Yoga is more than exercise. The opening and closing of asana classes hold much more meaning, especially if you're using mantras like Om and Namaste. Do you know the wisdom they hold and how its been warped? This workshop is an opportunity to reflect and open a conversation. Learn about the roots and uses of these two words, and the issues and concerns about their use in Yoga and wellness spaces. Explore chanting Om, learn alternative phrases to share what you really mean and ideate your own authentic messages.

Virtual workshop, 2 week replay available.

What skills do we need to lead in Western wellness spaces? How can we minimize the harm of bias, prejudice, white supremacy, capitalism and toxic positivity? How do we work to rebalance the scales of access and representation? This workshop is a dive into our embodiment and beliefs as leaders. Practice interrogating your own biases with courageous humility. Get used to paradox and the necessity of apology to work towards accountability. Leave feeling empowered to do your part in transforming yoga and movement spaces.

Virtual workshop, 2 week replay available.

Trauma has a profound effect on how we experience our bodies, and certain methodologies of Yoga can help trauma survivors regain a sense of agency and empowerment. Learn about how trauma is stored in the body, and how we might start to move through that trauma with the work of embodiment. You will be led through an experience of TCTSY (Trauma Centre Trauma-Sensitive Yoga) and get a peek into the theory behind its evidence-based methodology. Learn simple trauma-aware teaching techniques that can be incorporated into any movement modality.

Virtual workshop, 2 week replay available.

We know there is a great deal of evidence linking yoga and exercise with benefits to mental health.  Yet the mechanisms by which those improvements happen are not as straightforward as one might think.  This workshop will help teachers and students consider how yoga improves mental health - situating a movement practice in the larger context of one's life (and taking some of the pressure of being the perfect teacher or knowing 'the five best poses for anxiety').   Participants will gain a practical understanding of mental health as well as an appreciation for how a biopsychosocial (and spiritual) perspective can make you a more present, confident and compassionate movement teacher.

Virtual workshop, 2 week replay available.

Yoga and wellness spaces can exacerbate internal and systemic racial and oppression-based trauma, and learning to recognize these as a yoga teacher or practitioner is vital for community care and accountability. Join us in a space for self-care, self-reflection and social justice, and discover individual and collective embodiment practices to stabilize, regulate, and heal in both restorative and transformative ways. Understand how experiences of racism and oppression manifest in the body and try on embodiment practices to promote a deeper, felt sense of dignity, integrity and accountability. Finally, explore how to teach and practice yoga through a culturally-responsive lens. 

Virtual workshop, 2 week replay available.

Meet our passionate and informed educators

Tejal Patel

Hi! My name is Tejal (she/her/hers) - I’m a first-generation Indian American yoga teacher, writer, podcaster, and community organizer. I advocate for yoga through a social justice lens and educate and empower individuals and groups around the world to do the same. I accomplish this by offering people various yoga practices to incorporate into their daily life.

At Tejal Yoga, our virtual yoga & meditation classes are led by South Asian teachers who honor and embody the authentic roots of yoga

At Yoga is Dead, we bring critical conversations about race, power, privilege, body politics, harassment, fair pay, veganism, ahimsa, and gatekeeping to the forefront through our podcast and signature training on cultural appropriation: Act Against Appropropriation, and now through our e-book out now The Original Godmothers of Yoga

At abcdyogi, our inclusive community facilitates healing and connection through storytelling, conversation, performance, art, song, dance, writing, and retreat led by South Asian community offered to a global audience.

Nicole Brown Faulknor

Nicole is a Registered Psychotherapist, a yoga teacher, and a Child and Youth Counsellor. She is a member of both the Colleges of Registered Psychotherapists in Ontario and the Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy.

Nicole has over 18 years of professional experience working with marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed communities, individuals, families, and children. Nicole's yoga teaching draws on the methodology of Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY). Her approaches as a yoga teacher and a psychotherapist recognize the intimate relationship between the physical body and the psychological well-being of a person. This approach holds the view that the body is a resource for self-discovery and psychological healing. Learn more about Nicole at Wounds2Wings.

Robin Lacambra

As founder of GOODBODYFEEL Movement Studio, a for-profit small business prioritizing progressive values; host of the Empowered Embodiment Podcast; somatic coach; and social justice advocate, Robin believes that there is always an intersection worth exploring and sharing. She works to create and strengthen bridges between various industries and social causes, and in doing so, has developed the Sharing Privilege Online Course, as well as a 200 hour Teacher Training Program, focused on radical inclusivity and accessibility.

No matter the project, Robin’s work always comes back to the community: empowering people to believe in the importance of creating a culture filled with compassion so, in turn, it can fuel an environment of belonging for each and every body.

Carla Beharry (she/her)

Carla is an intercultural Guyanese-British-Canadian, whose work is  rooted in the layers of her multi-ethnic and bi-racial identity. 

Carla is a racial justice and somatic health equity educator. She specializes in healing  racial and oppression-based trauma through embodied movement and practice. 

Carla works with wellness professionals, educators and agencies to build antiracist  and equitable healthcare practices and educational opportunities for under-served  and under-represented racialized individuals who have been historically over exploited, excluded, and pushed out of health, wellness and educational systems. She  works alongside agencies in anti-oppression training and in restorative and  transformative mediation to build equitable spaces of belonging.  

Carla has lived and worked around the globe in many communities, including  Guyana, Belize, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago educating on HIV and sexual health  education, teaching yoga and mindfulness and promoting mental health advocacy.

Christopher Bourke

Christopher Bourke is a movement instructor and mental health professional. He has worked in the field of mental health and addictions for over a decade and roots his teaching in that experience – placing a strong emphasis on practices that respect, support, and encourage an individual’s innate resilience.

Christopher teaches with the hope of helping people rebuild a connection to their bodies, expand their range of (e)motion, and enhance their capacity to handle tough life events. He’s passionate about building spaces that promote a sense of courage, safety, and self-compassion.