Yoga as a Practice of Restorative Justice

By Christa Brown
June 23, 2018

[with pdf]

[Note: "Yoga as a Practice of Restorative Justice" appeared as a chapter in Restorative Justice in Practice, edited by Sheila M. Murphy and Michael P. Seng, Vandeplas Publishing, 2015. ]

"A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives." - Desmond Tutu

We began the class lying on our backs, one hand on the belly and one on the chest. Our teacher, Laura, gently directed our focus inward and talked us toward becoming aware of our breath and of its movement in our bodies. She asked us to follow the cycle of our breath as our bellies rose with each inhale, as our breath filled our lungs' upper lobes, and as our chests and bellies then fell in sequence with each exhale.

As we continued in this pattern, and as Laura continued to draw our focus inward, she suggested that we think about what our bodies needed from us today. "Where might there be some place that needs extra attention?" she asked. "Keep feeling your breath and just try to listen to your body as you breathe."

"What is your body saying to you today?"

That was when I laughed out loud. My body was chewing me out big time. And though I quickly squelched my startled guffaw -- it seemed so un-yoga­ like -- I continued to imagine the pissed-off voice of my body as though it were in some profanity-laden cartoon bubble: "%!@?!"

Who knew that a body could be so angry? Or that it could somehow make its angry voice so loud in my mind?


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