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Blog Fat Kid Yoga Club Sociology

Confronting White Supremacy through Self-Reflection

The goal of yoga is liberation – escaping limiting thoughts and discovering your true self. The path to liberation isn’t easy. In fact, my path has been quite messy. When I began practicing yoga asana, I felt ashamed and discouraged because my body didn’t move like other people’s bodies. That shame often showed up as anger and negative self-talk when I encountered challenging postures. As I continued to practice, I learned to silence the inner critic and began to meet my Self on the mat.

Svadhayaya has been an important component of my yoga practice. Svadhyaya is the fourth niyama which is translated as self-study or self-reflection. For some practitioners, this means a self-guided study of yoga and sacred texts. For myself and many others, svadhyaya is a continual process of self-reflection and discernment – a process of unraveling the real and the unreal. Today, I invite you to practice svadhyaya as a means of resisting white supremacy.

Since 2013, I have taught courses on Race and Ethnic Relations at Southeastern Louisiana University. My students are often White criminal justice majors with conservative political beliefs. As you can imagine, they tend to resist learning about white supremacy and racial oppression. In 2016, I began to incorporate contemplative practices to help students develop first-person experiences learning about race and racism and soften their resistance. One such practice is reflective journaling (svadhyaya) through which students center their personal biography knowledge. Journaling has been very popular among my students, and in assessments of the practice students have shared:

“journaling has really opened my mind to think a different way. It allows you to stop and really give thought to things that are going on around you, things you might have never given thought to, otherwise.”

“I question [the] principles I was taught. I actively remember things I have forgotten.”

“It’s an outlet for personal thoughts that you aren’t comfortable to say in class”

I share this with you, not to toot my own horn, but to demonstrate the power of svadhyaya as a tool for examining and hopefully overcoming white supremacy.

If yoga means union, anything that causes separation is the antithesis of yoga. White supremacy is a system of oppression that has organized our society so that it’s normal, everyday functioning works to benefit White people and disadvantage non-whites. The ideology of white supremacy is dominant throughout the globe, but in particular, anyone who lives in a White-dominated society is socialized into white supremacist thinking. Ultimately, white supremacists developed the concept of race to divide and dehumanize people. As yoga practitioners, it’s our responsibility to challenge and overcome this ideology.

Therefore, I offer you the following journal prompts as an invitation to self-reflection. They are the same prompts I use in my classroom [modified slightly] and are intended to help you explore the ways in which your life and/or consciousness has been shaped by white supremacy. I often use these prompts in conjunction with active listening exercises to help students learn to talk and listen to one another to find mutual understanding. In that sense, it may be valuable for you to do the same.

  1. What do you know about race relations in the United States today? How did you learn about race relations in the U.S.? How did it come to be like this?
  2. What does it mean to be “White”? Who gets to be White? What does it mean to be “American”? Who gets to be American? How are Whiteness and “American-ness” related? What are the consequences of the link between whiteness and American-ness?
  3. When did you first learn about race? Write about one of your earliest memories about race. What happened? How did you feel? How has that experience affected you?
  4. How has segregation and integration affected you? Specifically, how has segregation and integration affected your relationships with others? How have they potentially limited or expanded the experiences and/or relationships you have in your life? (Note: I’m using “relationship” in the broadest sense, don’t assume I mean “romantic” relationship)
  5. How has white supremacy affected your friendships and relationships? How have your friends and/or family members’ attitudes about race affected your friendships and romantic relationships? Where do you think their attitudes about race come from? How do you think your family’s racial or ethnic background influences other family members’ views about race?
  6. How is white supremacy present in the media that you consume? Who is included or excluded? How are Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) people portrayed? How do you think this influences your attitudes about race?
  7. What is your relationship to the criminal punishment system? How has this criminal justice system affected your life directly or indirectly? How do you think your race has influenced your relationship with the criminal punishment system?
  8. Where do we go from here? What is the future of race relations in the United States? Globally? What are have you learned about yourself from this process? If you are a White person what is something you are willing to do to challenge white supremacy in your life? What is something you are willing to give up?

In my experience, students from all racial/ethnic backgrounds have benefitted from this process, but White folks and non-white folks will likely have different responses to this exercise. As always, I encourage you to practice self-care and to be aware of your edge and mindful not to fall over. Remember, the path to liberation isn’t easy and it’s often quite messy. In my opinion, it’s better to be messy on paper or in your own head. Hopefully, this practice helps you to find your own humanity and to begin to recognize the humanity in others.

Marc

May all beings be happy and free.
And may my thoughts, words, and actions contribute to the happiness and freedom of all beings.

Learn more about the niyamas here:  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-philosophy-basics-the-5-niyamas

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Fat Kid Yoga Club

Bed Yoga: Handstand Practice – Accessible Yoga Training Homework

Bed yoga is for EVERY body. But, practicing yoga in bed can be a great way for folks to get some extra support or reduce the risk of injury from falls or exertion. 

In this practice, we explore how bed yoga can be both gentle and strengthening. Just because you’re laying in bed, doesn’t mean it has to be easy!  You may want to have some extra pillows available to support your head or knees, but this is really for personal preference. Also, I recommend having a yoga block or something sturdy you can place between your thighs. 

As with most Fat Kid Yoga Club practices, we begin with sensing the body and bringing our awareness within. Then, we add gentle movements to warm up the body and add some supine sun salutations. Although we won’t go upside down, this practice will help to build core strength and upper body strength as well as offer the energizing feeling for practicing and handstand!

If you enjoyed this practice, I’ll be offering a FREE  chair and mat practice for FKYC members on Wednesday, June 17 at 7:00pm Central Time. Check Patreon for the Zoom link.

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Fat Kid Yoga Club

AY Homework: Chair Practice

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Fat Kid Yoga Club

Accessible Yoga Training – Homework Group

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Fat Kid Yoga Club

June 2020 Livestream Discount Code

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Fat Kid Yoga Club

Community Chats: Thursday at 6:30pm US Central Time

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Blog Fat Kid Yoga Club Yoga

Equity Pricing for Livestream Practices

I believe that everyone deserves to access the benefits of yoga, regardless of their ability to pay for it. To eliminate financial barriers to community participation in yoga, equity pricing models ask those who can afford to pay more to offset costs for those experiencing economic hardship. Beginning June 1, 2020, I will reorient live stream class prices towards equity. 

Equity Price = $10 – Equity membership is intended for BIPOC, trans/queer people, people living with disabilities, and those experiencing economic hardship. 

Standard Price = $15 – Standard price is intended for folks who can afford to pay the full price.

Supporter Price = $20 – Supporter price is for folks who have the ability to “pay it forward” and create opportunities for those who are experiencing hardships. 

Ultimately, this is an honor system approach. I ask that you pay what you can, when you can, no questions asked.

Fat Kid Yoga Club members receive a discount code for $5 off each class, which can be applied to any price level.

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Blog Fat Kid Yoga Club Yoga

Fat Kid Yoga Club is Turning One

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Last year, I launched Fat Kid Yoga Club via Patreon to supplement my face-to-face teaching in New Orleans and offer some continuity while I was out of town. I’m truly humbled by how quickly it took off and how many people have joined!

One year later, I’ve got a better idea about what I want to offer to the world, and for better or for worse, Miss Rona seems to be giving me the time and space to do it. In that sense, I’m excited to share with you some changes that are coming to Fat Kid Yoga Club.

Equity Pricing – I believe that everyone deserves to access the benefits of yoga, regardless of their ability to pay for. This is why originally set basic membership at $1 and have encouraged folks to pay what you can. However, I offered additional perks to folks who could pay more. That approach only reifies class stratification contributes to the marginalization of BIPOC, trans/queer folks, and people living with disabilities (to name a few) who could not access these perks due to historical and contemporary economic violence. Therefore, beginning May 30, 2020 I will reorient the current membership tiers towards equity. 

The new membership tiers are:

Equity Membership = $1 – Equity membership is intended for marginalized people and those experiencing economic hardship. 

Standard Membership = $10 – Standard membership is intended for folks who can afford to pay the suggested monthly contribution. (This is currently the “Sustainer” level and helps to cover the costs of running a virtual yoga community)

Equity Supporter Membership = $19+ – Supporter membership is for folks who have the ability to “pay it forward” and offset equity memberships. 

The following benefits are available to ALL tiers:

  • Access to the Facebook Group
  • On-Demand Streaming of pre-recorded practice videos (one new practice added each month)
  • Invitation to Weekly Community chats (more on this later)
  • Discounts on FKYC Merchandise
  • Discounts on LIVE classes and workshops offered via Zoom

Ultimately, I continue to ask that you “pay what you can” to help keep this community thriving.

Equity pricing will also be implement for all LIVE classes.

Fostering Community – Isolation has reminded of the importance of community. I’m disappointed in myself for not doing more of the last twelve months to hold space for the Fat Kid Yoga Club community. Personally, I’m not a fan of Facebook and I haven’t done much to cultivate the Facebook group. I also know that many folks are limiting social media consumption these days. Therefore, I will begin hosting weekly community chats via Zoom. The day and time are TBD – please keep an eye out for an upcoming poll to help select the best time for most of us. Community chats will be informal and will mostly be a chance for me to see and connect with YOU the amazing humans who make Fat Kid Yoga Club possible.

Member Spotlights  – We have some really badass members of our crew: stay-at-home parents, programmers and artists, plus-size beauty gurus, body love coaches, podcasters, and accessible yoga teachers from around the world. I want to start highlighting the incredible work that you do. So keep an eye out for your opportunity to share your work with the rest of the club.

More Opportunities to Practice with me Live – I’ve decided that I won’t be offering in-person instruction for the foreseeable future. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that I will lose the income from two studios I used to teach at. I’ve got a full-time job that meets my survival needs, but the money I make from teaching yoga allows me to take additional trainings (which aren’t cheap) which empower me to be a better instructor and continue to enhance my presence in the yoga world. The opportunity is that since I’m not teaching in studios, I’ll have more time to offer live online instruction

As of now, I plan to continue to offer Fat Kid Yoga Club practices on Saturday mornings at 10:00 am US Central Time, and Big Fat Queer Dude* Yoga practices on Sundays at 10:00 am US Central Time. 

I’ll be adding additional practice times/days based on interests – if there’s something you want, don’t be shy! As always, thank you for your continued support. I am so glad that you are here and that you continue to trust me to be part of your yoga practice.

<3 Marc

PS – If you haven’t already joined Fat Kid Yoga Club, you can do so here.

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Fat Kid Yoga Club Yoga Yoga for Big Dudes

Yoga for Big Fat Queer Dudes?

*Y’all – I had to get real with myself on the name*
Over the last few years, I’ve heard for many fat (mostly gay/queer) men who are interested in starting a yoga practice but don’t know where to start. I’ve also heard from a lot of dudes who are glad to see another fat (outwardly appearing) gay guy, living their best life: fat and happy.

So long story short, I’m offering Big Fat Queer Dude* Yoga classes as a way to bring us together to enjoy the benefits of yoga.

I can’t stress enough that I’m using “dude” in the most inclusive way possible. If you identify or experience the world in any way as a fat man, guy, dude, demi-boy, etc. you are invited to participate!

Classes being Sunday, May 24 at 10:00am US Central Time. More dates/times will be added based on interest visit marcsettembrino.com/shop to purchase your class pass now.

Wondering What to Expect?

It’s only natural! Big Fat Queer Dude* Yoga is intended to be accessible to everyone regardless of your level of experience with yoga. Generally, we’ll begin each session with a brief “hello” and check-in with each other (community is important!). Then we’ll begin the practice. Typically, my classes begin with a few moments of meditation or body scanning (laying down or seated). Most practices will be a flow style which includes movement with the breath and includes instruction on how to use props and adapt postures for YOUR body. We will end our practice with a traditional savasana (at least 5 minutes of rest) and then you’ll have some time to ask questions or chat with one another.

Classes are offered via Zoom but will not be recorded.

If you have any questions feel free to send me an e-mail using the form below.

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Blog Fat Kid Yoga Club Yoga

Grounding Meditation (with Cosmo)

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