Community-based Learning: Yoga and Energy Justice

By Dominic J. Bednar

To me yoga means to love and honor my unique needs. To explore beyond my reach. To discover my vulnerabilities within.

To me, yoga unites the mind and body. It means openly accepting the challenge – competing with only myself. To listen to my body and not take shortcuts.

To me, yoga means healing – honoring my past, embracing the present, and telegraphing the future. It means choosing to lift and lengthen despite noticing difference and discomfort.

My practice reminds me that I can use my breath to equalize noise both internal and external to my energetic body.

My practice reminds me to settle in MY flow. To let abundance come with effortless ease. To savor the moment and to notice that now is all we have.

My yoga practice gently reminds me to always be my most authentic self. To show up and engage in MY practice as needed and on demand.

My practice recommits the embodiment of grace and gratitude daily both on and off the mat.

Yoga means to love myself and those around me–exchanging my energy and light with one another in community.

~

Over the past two years, my yoga practice has been a safe haven for me to pause, reflect, and tend to my energetic body within our hyperactive world. It has enabled me to bridge my creative endeavors with my public scholarship work.

Fundamentally, energy cannot be created nor destroyed–only transformed from one type to another. Similarly, my teaching embodies this transformation through engagement. I believe that community-based learning pedagogy provides a vehicle to foster mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge and resources. This teaching methodology empowers both students and community members with the knowledge and praxis required for transformative energy solutions explored in the classroom and beyond. My dream is for students to embrace the centrality of energy; to understand that energy is interdependent; and to explore the inherent dimensions and nuances of equity and justice embedded within those interdependencies. The myriad forms of energy represent an exchange of experiences: they are shared and transferred across time and space. Specifically, my teaching, both academically and in yoga prepares students to engage with energy in three interrelated ways: as exchanges, as empowerment, and as transformation.

Learning and teaching reflects energy transfer itself. In yoga, this transfer is manifested through everyday exchanges with mind, body, and community. In the academy, public scholarship embodies these same exchanges through mutually beneficial, collaborative, and authentic partnerships. To me, yoga and public scholarship must be practiced. They each require patience and consistency.

Particularly in a pandemic, I choose to share my yoga practice with others because I recognize that my personal journey towards liberation is intrinsically connected to the liberation of others. I understand that each day I may have to unlearn practices that detrimentally aid the misalignment of the body. Similarly, community-engaged learning asks us to unlearn, to suspend our judgements, and to deeply engage with ourselves and others in community towards more liberated and abundant futures.

Featured Image: University of Michigan Botanical Gardens
Artist: Ty Byrd Photography


2 responses to “Community-based Learning: Yoga and Energy Justice”

  1. Keitlyn Alcantara says:

    Beautiful! I also love yoga in the mornings, to remind me that I exist first and foremost in my body. My body is my safe space, and I control that, if nothing else. Thank you for your words!

  2. Tyrell Byrd says:

    So inspirational! I use yoga as a way to discipline and challenge myself. I feel I discover new things about my mind and body with each practice that aids in the development of my spirit and foundation. Please continue to impact your community in such a positive and influential way.

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