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Exploring yoga, psychology and social justice with Bo Forbes


Guest teacher Bo Forbes is coming to triyoga Camden from Friday 3 August to Sunday 5 August 2018, presenting her workshop on yoga, science, psychology + social justice: creating individual + collective well-being. Yogamatters was interested to find out more about Bo Forbes and her work ahead of this event. Bo Forbes is a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor, mindfulness teacher, and movement educator. As founder of Embodied Awareness, she integrates the fields of yoga, mindfulness, science, psychology, movement studies, contemplative practice, and social justice. She’s also the founder of The One Body Collective, a non-profit initiative which collaborates and creates new pedagogy in somatics, contemplative practice, and social justice.

I’m passionate about embodiment as a tool for transformation. What began as a melding of psychotherapy and yoga has evolved into a synergy of yoga, mindfulness, integrative psychology, and movement studies. I’m thrilled to share these practices with you, and my moment-to-moment discoveries, both on the mat and online!  Bo Forbes

In her conversation with triyoga’s Genny Wilkinson Priest in the triyoga talks series, Bo describes her path through life as always ‘stepping into the unknown.’

I’m grateful because in many ways I think, yoga has helped me, and also the disparate experiences I’ve had in my past, to be able to step into that place where I’m not certain.

In a contemporary world in which our understanding in so many fields is shifting and changing and deepening, Bo believes that we can all see ourselves as pioneers – which involves living with uncertainty.

In the interview, Genny is keen to discover why yoga and psychotherapy appear to be such a natural fit. Bo observes that early on, the trend was for psychologists to train in yoga, but now it appears to be going the opposite way, with yoga teachers training in psychotherapy.

Certainly, if you delve into yoga philosophy – the sutras, the Gita, a lot of the texts, have embedded within them almost a kind of manual for emotional healing in many ways and so to me, psychology and yoga are very complementary…and today, if you teach yoga in any respect, you’re really going to be teaching classes in which, you know, people, the majority of people, are struggling with emotional wellbeing and systemic oppression and trauma…

For Bo, it’s about working toward wellness together with an integrative approach, seeing the individual as a whole, opening the discussion about different fields and approaches to wellbeing.

Bo Forbes, as a self-confessed ‘disrupter’, wants to take this one step further however. She sees both psychotherapy and yoga as addressing the wellbeing of an individual in an individual context without taking into account social context. She’s looking to other communities around the world that are already practising yoga with an inherent understanding of community and the importance of community. It’s time to be looking at a larger context and how that is tied together with our social responsibilities.

Treating the individual is not enough…something that the Dalai Lama has asked is ‘How does this impact collective human flourishing?’

This question challenges our modern cultural focus on the individual. Bo believes that liberation does not occur for her as an individual unless it is occurring for everybody. Samadhi is about collective wellbeing and flourishing.

Which leads on to this question from Genny Wilkinson Priest : How can yoga be used as a tool for social justice and why should it?

Bo Forbes is told on a regular basis that yoga should not be about politics. Yoga should stay away from all that. It’s a pervasive view. Bo questions how we can take human rights and call it politics. Seeing yoga as an individual pursuit and talking about unity a little bit is not enough. Simply being aware of what is happening in the world is not enough. Bo describes this as ‘resting in privilege’. ‘What are you willing to risk?’ ‘What are you willing to give up?’ These are the questions Bo Forbes is asking herself and asking yogis everywhere.

As Bo goes on to unpack trauma, she stays with the theme of the individual and the collective.

We might want to look at trauma less as something that happens to individuals, but more as a system, and that system makes decisions about how power’s experienced and held, who is entitled to body ownership…body agency…

Genny Wilkinson Priest and Bo Forbes go deep in this interview. This article has served to introduce the themes, but do have a listen to the whole podcast in the triyoga talks series if you are interested to find out more.

If you’re fascinated by Bo Forbes and her work, then do sign up for her workshop at triyoga Camden.

Yogamatters readers can receive 10% off of triyoga’s upcoming workshop with Bo Forbes when using code ‘forbes10’ upon booking. 


The post Exploring yoga, psychology and social justice with Bo Forbes appeared first on Yogamatters Blog.

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