Embodied Resilience through Yoga
Embodied Resilience through Yoga: 30 Mindful Essays about Finding Empowerment after Addiction, Trauma, Grief, and Loss is a collection of personal essays about finding resilience through yoga.
The book offers profound wisdom on how your practice can help you carry on during challenging times. It shares unique perspectives on trauma related to gender, identity, and body image and uplifting messages on recovery, awakening and belonging.
Among the contributors to the anthology are many well-known practitioners and teachers of yoga. I wouldn’t say I was well-known but I’m grateful to be in such good company with my contribution “Sober Living, Sex, And Surrender: What Yoga Taught Me.”
I was invited to contribute to this important book by Melanie C. Klein, one of the editors along with Kat Heagberg, Kathryn Ashworth and Toni Wells.
In early 2019, I interviewed Melanie about a previous book she was involved with, Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories by Yoga Renegades for Every Body (2018) and her work with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition (YBIC). Melanie’s example inspired me to become a member of the YBIC.
Yoga and Body Image Coalition
The YBIC is a community platform devoted to aggregating and amplifying the increasing number of activists, yoga and meditation practitioners and teachers doing deep and meaningful work around the world, often in isolation and with little community support or solidarity.
It is an activist organization, meant, in Melanie’s words, “to disrupt the dominant representation of the ‘yoga body,’ yoga practice, accessibility and the homogenous status quo as well as create community and shine a light on those not landing on the covers of yoga magazines.”
Embodied Resilience is the only the latest manifestation of Melanie’s commitment to sharing her truth without shame or guilt as well as “the tender, dark, beautiful yet sometimes painful journeys of others who’d healed their wounds and overcome the limited expectations projected onto them.”
To gather the voices and experiences, Melanie and her co-editors “tapped educators and leaders known for their trauma-informed work as well as other writers we came into contact with through a snowball effect.”
I was one of those writers, as were Dorian Christian Baucum and Jennifer Kreatsoulas who told me how they came to be included in Embodied Resilience.
Contributors Share Vulnerable Stories
Dorian’s heartfelt contribution, “My Own Hero: Healing My Inner Gay Black Child,” tells the story of his journey growing up as a gay closeted black kid in a working-class neighborhood during the 80s and 90s in Washington, DC. He recounts his journey into healing and wholeness through creative expression and yoga.
Melanie first became aware of Dorian because of his musical collaborations with body-positive yoga teacher Christina Wherry of Thick Girl Yoga LA and De Jur Jones, a trauma informed yoga teacher who leads classes in prison. Christina and De Jur are members of the YBIC.
After Melanie read Dorian’s inspirational social media posts about his journey as a black gay man, she asked him to contribute to the book.
YBIC member and founder of Yoga for Eating Disorders, Jennifer Kreatsoulas’ contribution “Revising the Role of Eating Disorder Recovery” came about when she was invited by Melanie to share her story of yoga and recovery in Embodied Resilience. She describes it as “an incredible gift and honor.”
Like Jennifer, I feel that being invited by Melanie to contribute to Embodied Resilience is a gift. For two reasons.
Finding the Truth on the Mat
I was obliged to revisit my earliest days in yoga shalas as a recovering alcoholic grieving after the death of my partner. This was around 12 years ago so I had the benefit of hindsight. But I also had a commitment to tell the raw, unvarnished truth. And I needed to find the story that would give my contribution coherence.
The key to my contribution is revealed when I write about the women I practiced with, the “swans” as I call them. (When I first started practicing, I was often the only man in the class.) I write, “As I got to know them, I discovered that some of the people I thought lived lives as graceful as their practice were dealing with trauma that was at the very least the equal of my own loss.”
Yoga gave me the realization that we are unique but the same. We’re all human and trying to live as best we can. In this life, we’re all a consciousness in a body.
Being part of Embodied Resilience amplifies this fundamental realization for me, this gift.
Reading the moving, often heartbreaking but always inspiring stories in the collection reminds me that I’m not alone. I have received the gift that yoga has the power to give us all.
I have also been given the gift of being able to share my story with the audience that the tireless work of Melanie, her co-editors and all the yoga teachers, practitioners, experts, educators, activists, writers, artists, non-profit organizations and advocates are creating.
Readers of this necessary book will be given the gift of realizing that they are not alone.
Embodied Resilience is available from all good online and brick and mortar booksellers. You can find out more about the work of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and buy the previous two books on: ybicoalition.com.
David Holzer teaches yoga for writers and writing for yogis.