Decolonising yoga workshop

21st & 22nd March 2020 • 10am - 5pm each day

Yoga Torquay • Park Lane • Torquay • Torbay • Devon • TQ1 2AU

Price: £95 early bird till January 2020. £110 thereafter


“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” - Arundhati Roy.


Everywhere we look, we see Yoga as part of our consumer palate: we can choose our gentrified studios, the fashionable brands, the luxury retreat. More styles, more classes, more training's and yet yoga teachers are actually struggling to maintain an income based on their skills.

Along with the erasure of South Asian ethics, praxis and voices, it is not coincidental that yoga is now reduced to a fitness, a new age gimmick or hipster trend. Medical research ‘discovers’ yogic breathing techniques, re defining a generations old practice on new terms, Co-opted by the wellness industry, the yoga industrial complex plays into insecurities, readjusting us to the status quo

In India, yoga is currently being used to bolster the face of ethno-nationalism. During the colonial period, internalised violence and authoritarianism fuelled dynamics of abuse that have now rotted the guru-shishya system to its core. Yoga retreats are traps for tourists lured in by the saviour complex or an ideal of Indian romanticism

We are all part of this system and we are all harmed by it. yet how do we liberate ourselves from collusion and step into accountability together?

This workshop is open to yoga teachers, therapists, activists and caring professionals ready to challenge and transform norms and practices
This includes embracing new skills to support us to work consciously with yoga as a sophisticated psycho-spiritual tool.

This weekend stands as an introduction to those interested in training in the Sattva Gaia yoga therapy program.

How can we decolonise yoga?

Yoga wisdom gives us the means to elicit our discerning mind (buddhi) to use righteous action to reduce harm (ahimsa).

As teachers/ facilitators, we start with ourselves and our unconscious use of teaching practices that have Victorian roots and obstruct people’s sense of agency, reinforcing objectification & dissociation. This increases more so when privilege and power is not understood or observed.

We can also consider ‘skilling up’ to challenge the watering down of yoga. In Indian tradition, teachers were more akin to wise elders, counsellors or healers. Through more understanding of relational and social dynamics, we can begin to reach and work with communities and individuals currently marginalised by the yoga industrial complex.

Over the weekend, we will open our eyes to key neo- colonial powerdynamics and explore how we can actively challenge them in our work.

Cherry picking: Taking the good leaving the bad, this includes but is not limited to the exotification of yoga or Indian aesthetics. Cultural appropriation leaves out acknowledging the racist realities and the historical -cultural trauma faced by the South Asian (diaspora) community and other communities of colour who currently do not frequent UK yoga spaces.

Cultural Erasure: The ‘secularization’ of yoga traditions or making yoga more palatable; as observed by certain corporate yoga or trauma sensitive yoga programmes. This involves stripping out terminology, mythology, metaphors, symbolism, and family practices, where yoga is almost unrecognisable and can be presented as beer, gin, nude or metal yoga. In India, secularization stems from such factors as internalised shame due to yoga's superstitious past.

 Privilege based bypassing: Yoga classes can unwittingly sell a desired outcome, so that students/clients buy into TLC, or the means to release pent up tension . An addiction to catharsis and purging only re adjusts us to suffering and enduring harsh systems. It also reinforces able bodied privilege and individualism

Monological teaching
Utilising rational and objective principles, we can do more. e.g maintain large class sizes. Yet by virtue of a reductionist, bio mechanical approach, emotions, feelings or energy gets disqualified. It gives us very little space and time to work with personal complexity or depth. Differences are not seen.

 how to amplify key decolonial Yoga principles:

Somatic resonance
How might we teach with an embodied, relational attunement, to be in true service to another and to create safer, non judgemental spaces,
This involves meeting people where they are at, validating them, hearing their dilemmas and respectfully entering into their hearts.

Conscious positionality
How does it help to understand one’s own bias and social cultural reference point. There is a virtue and truth that comes from acting in alignement with one’s social power and considering the impact it has on our decisions and actions.

Power with, rather than power over
How can we use our authority (as a guide, facilitator and wise counsel) to hold and create liminal space (free and protected) without interfering, rescuing or controlling.

How could we support agency through slowing down and choice as well as being with states of not knowing. Can we give freedom to express vulnerability, grief or anger and make space for people’s real experiences, suffering and pain.

How might we foster an invitational and non judgemental environment for body  soul healing wisdom to come forth. How might we create the circumstances for Atman to wake up within the internal pranic system.

This workshop will be facilitated by Sophia, through a process of storytelling, sharing, creativity, mudras, breathwork and a decolonial asana practice (re imagined through Indian classical dance & Ayurvedic embodied wisdom). It is open and accessible to persons of any body shape, size, colour, gender, age and ability.

The Sattva of Conscious teaching Inclusion, access and anti-oppressive teaching in yoga.

2nd & 3rd of February, 2019. The Signalbox Centre, Cambridge, CB2 8DB.

Have you ever wondered about who is not coming to your yoga class? Do your yoga classes represent people of different race, culture, faith, gender, age, ability & body shape? Are you working in therapeutic settings or with vulnerable people? Would you like your yoga teaching to touch into the hearts of people and help them feel validated and seen? Would you like to understand how certain teaching practices can be experienced as oppressive?

Yoga is popular and widespread, yet it is under serving and not reaching out to everyone. It is also becoming increasingly commodified and privileged. This CPD workshop is for teachers wishing to put ethics first and re-define yoga spaces and practices as inclusive. It is for teachers who are interested in holding space for our differences and who seek to empower others by understanding and addressing the lived realities of oppression based trauma.  Teaching inclusively begins with acknowledging how the body is political; shaped by socialisation and the environment. Empathic awareness for one’s own experiences as well of that of others stimulates us to reflect more sensitively on how we can use language, time, space, boundaries and touch in our teaching. Raising awareness of the socio-economic historical context supports us to recognise how our privilege and bias fixes us into non conscious ways of teaching 

Over 2 days we will draw upon social justice theory, ayurveda, liberation psychology and decolonial thinking to open our eyes and heart to vital anti oppressive issues around relating to people. Your attention will be drawn to the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ of your teaching, to the importance of process and embodiment, rather than technique and form.  This approach to teaching yoga is sattvic; based on centering ourselves in balance, clarity and virtuousness. The extent, to which we can listen, relate and respond to our own selves in ease, is the extent to which we can generate empowering experiences of coherency, agency and integration for others ​ ​

TESTIMONIAL “Yoga teacher friends, I highly recommend working with Sophia if you get a chance. Her depth of knowledge and insight is matched by her depth of warmth and compassion. This work is so important on many levels, particularly in light of the unhealthy power dynamics present in the yoga world.” Louise Thorndycraft, Yoga teacher, trauma sensitive yoga teacher at, Blueskyoga, Wales.  ​ FEE £175 payable on booking. ​ BURSARY AWARDS We aim to reduce financial barriers to further training wherever possible and bursary awards are available on this workshop. Please use this link to complete a short and confidential application form. We aim to respond within 7 days. ​ CANCELLATIONS/REFUNDS A full refund less £75 administration fee will be available for cancellations made before 1 December 2018, Cancellations made after 1 December 2018 will only be refunded less £75 administration fee on the condition that your place can be filled from a waiting list. Fees are not transferable to other courses or workshops. For more info contact sophia on  To book a place see


A 2 day CPD & ethical exploration of power, self-agency and embodiment in yoga

India and Britain share a colonial history, something that is not taught in schools or in Yoga teacher trainings. Yet it should not be over looked that yoga arrived in the UK at a time when India was experiencing violence and revolt.  Ayurveda was suppressed and Yoga became re invented as strong, masculine and postural to regenerate India's moral and physical mettle.

As Yoga becomes increasingly popular and more widespread, it has been re named, re shaped and sold off in products and styles in addition to being propagated at  ‘exotic’ retreats and gentrified yoga studios.  

How does the colonial legacy and psyche influence these happenings? Who is harvesting the benefits and profits of yoga? Why has yoga been stripped of its deeper psychological and spiritual value? Why are marginalised groups and communities of colour so absent in UK yoga spaces. 

 How can yoga teachers address collusion/contention with a commodifying agenda and step into a deeper accountability and action together?

This CPD will provide a space for dialogue, bravery and reflection.  It is an invitation to disgruntled and satisfied yoga teachers who see the value in decolonising their yoga teaching and practice as a way to generate meaningful change.

Decolonising our yoga essentially involves examining outdated pedagogies and practices that unwittingly reinforce oppressive dynamics and obstruct people’s sense of agency and embodiment

Over the 2 days, we will draw upon embodied social justice thinking, liberation theory and decolonial narratives to amplify yoga as both a liberatory and Ayurvedic practice that fosters social- self awareness, care of prakritti and radical seva.

We will pay particular attention to the workings of power and consider the ethical complexities intrinsic in the process of teaching, in the recognition that making changes at an embodied- relational level can affect positive change at the macro level.

Some important themes that the group can explore:

How does spiritual by passing reinforce social oppression?

 How might the rescuer -saviour complex impact boundaries between teachers and students?

How do monological teaching methods inanimate and objectify ; disconnecting self from body.

How can we teach with resonance, attunement and curiosity rather than rigidity of technique to support viveka  ( clear discernment)  

How can we teach from a conscious subjectivity and positionality? embodiment is not neutral or objective. How does it help to understand one’s own context and social cultural reference point.

 How can dialogue and relationship contribute to a living ethic and social responsibility in which otherness and differences can be articulated and nurtured.

 How can teachers use their authority (embodied power) to hold and create liminal space (free and protected) without interfering, intruding or controlling.

How can we support agency, slowing down and choice as well as states of vulnerability and not knowing ( i.e. a reality pregnant with possibility)

 I will be sharing and teaching from my own professional experience of teaching yoga for 16 years.  I will  be utilising my skills to facilitate creatively; guided by the needs of the group and animating in such a way to support power -within and power- with so that participants can generate their own questions and insights. There will be a balance between yoga practice, group dialogue and seminar presentation.

Dates: 13th & 14th of October 2018

Price: £95. Timings: 10-4.00 p.m

Location: The Crescent Centre, Meanwhile house, Curran Embankment, Cardiff

Spaces limited to 8

To book your space, or for more info please contact Sophia on

or telephone/text: 07922 835 263


© Copyright SattvaGaia