Yoga Unity Activist, Speaker and Teacher
Hi, I’m Susanna Barkataki – A teacher, inclusivity promoter, and yoga culture advocate. I see a world where yoga unites us all and excludes no one… But that wasn’t always my understanding. I’ve been practicing yoga for as long as I can remember. Rooted in my Indian and British background, it has helped me understand the world around me and how to live happily. One day, while in child’s pose, clarity struck! I had the insight that yoga is here for us to cultivate power and transcend our limitations, personally and socially. The way we do yoga often continues to create competition and separation with ourselves and others. Instead, original yoga exists as a way to connect us all – dissolving separation within and without.
I quickly decided that my passion was to help others bridge the gap between yoga as an exercise and yoga as a lifestyle… Because true yoga is more than just the poses. It’s an age-old practice that serves us all! Today, I work to showcase yoga in action, spread the message of diversity and inclusion, and help people connect through yoga to live a happy, fulfilling life. And I’d love for you to join me in this mission! We can lean on each other to use authentic yoga culture as a vessel for shaping change now. Together, I know we can live a more fulfilling life – physically and spiritually!
As a mixed Indian-British woman from Assam, living in the U.S. I’ve often felt excluded in many of our yoga spaces. Yet I know this exclusion is the opposite of what yoga is meant to be. Yoga is unity. It is meant to be inclusive and transformative for all, but that isn’t what happens. I am a yoga diversity, equity and culture educator and activist. I know it is past time for the practice of my indigenous wisdom to get the authenticity and diversity it deserves. I speak for my ancestors and say we are no longer here to allow this corruption and lack of diversity of the healing path of yoga today. We all lose.
Instead, we can lean back to yoga’s original aims while practicing forward to a future that includes everyone. I use my unique experiences and voice to help do this through writing, teaching and speaking.
I love asking people, “does what you are doing cause more separation, or more unity?” Yoga helps us see that anything other than union is just illusion. And gives us the tools to heal division and separation and get to union with self, with others, with the world.
I am a natural teacher. I have many ayurvedic practitioners, educators who have paved the way before me. On both sides of my family, my ancestors are teachers. It feels only right that one of the things I do best is facilitate a learning experience in which participants are empowered to realize the knowledge they have within, see the world in a new way and get transformed. It’s truly my favorite thing to do!
I am curious! Oh, so curious! That has gotten me far. I also care deeply and work hard.
I’m a mama of an amazing 6 year old. Sometimes, things get stressful and when he stops and reminds me to breathe I often feel “my job is done!”
You got this!
Mahatma Gandhi. Arundhati Roy. Vandana Shiva. Satish Kumar. A.T. Ariyaratne. Patrisse Cullors. These are all changemakers I admire, love and learn from continually.
I love to be out in nature, walking, hiking, relaxing. Anywhere there is sun and a breeze, I’m happy!
I love my journal and a pen! And a yoga mat to lay on, write or practice!
I’m really excited about writing my book. I’m a bit of an instigator, so I’m also excited to be a disruptor in the yoga field and push the boundaries of where we are as a culture with asking provocative questions or offering inciting and thought-provoking content.
My Pics of the Day:
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been in the yoga industry since birth! Born as a British-Indian child of colonization, my family shared yoga practices with me even when I was a child. Of course, this wasn’t an industry, but a practice. I kept practicing, and as I went through college and decided I was going to become a teacher, it was natural to keep practicing and then sharing, the essence of what had helped me so much throughout my life.
Any emerging industry trends?
Yoga and wellness is embracing diversity and inclusion! For better or worse, these are a lot more trendy now than they’ve ever been. However, we have to be careful to not just pay lip service to these ideas, but to truly explore them deeply and fully. To ask ourselves the hard questions, make changes, and go deep. Otherwise, the trend won’t stick. Or to say this another way, these concepts need to move beyond trends and become deep practice.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
A huge opportunity in our industry of yoga and wellness is to learn how to align one’s business practices with one’s values. To do this sounds easy, but it actually can involve quite a process.
Sometimes, we can’t see what we can’t see. And a trained coach or facilitator can help business owners and teachers first, get clear on their values, and second, align their values with their practices in business.
What’s next for the Business in the near future?
I know that what we are creating together is bigger than ourselves. And that all people deserve the quality of life that yoga has to share. So we’ve begun a non-profit, called Ignite Unity, focused on sharing yoga, mindfulness and wellness tools where they are needed the most. I’m also, in my spare time, working on my book on how we can honor rather than appropriate yoga and it should be out in the next year.
Learn more and get 15 ways to Honor Yoga in your free Yoga Manifesto PDF gift at www.susannabarkataki.com.
Question for reflection:
Is what I am doing causing more separation or more unity?