Episode 38

53 mins

Mei Lai Swan - Yoga for Humankind

November 11, 2018

Mei Lai Swan is a yoga teacher, musician, former social worker, and the creator of Yoga for Humankind, a Yoga School and Social Enterprise dedicated to bringing the benefits of yoga, mindfulness and movement therapies to communities all over the world.

Mei Lai is a wonderful teacher and an inspiration. Her work and how she lives her life provides a practical example of how the yoga philosophies taught in many yoga teacher trainings can be applied to life, so we were really excited to get the chance to speak with her while she was in Melbourne recently.

In this episode we learn about Mei Lai's background, growing up in inner-city Melbourne. We learn how she discovered yoga and meditation and how she moved into social work. We learn how a love of music developed into a powerful sharing of Nada Yoga and Kirtan.

Finally, we hear about Mei Lai's work with Aboriginal Communities and how this work has influenced her trauma-informed approach to Yoga.


Yoga for Humankind: https://yogaforhumankind.org/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yogaforhumankind/
Mei Lai on Instagram: http://instagram.com/meilaiswanyoga


Click on a timecode to play from that time in the recording.

1:23 Mei Lai Swan’s background, growing up in inner city Melbourne
2:17 How did Mei Lai discover yoga?
3:35 What drew Mei Lai to meditation?
4:45 Was it the compassion aspect of Buddhism that brought Mei Lai to social work?
5:52 Mei Lai’s working with Aboriginal communities, and how it lead to what she does now
10:31 Nada Yoga and Mei Lai’s background as a musician.
14:41 How Mei Lai likes to demystify kirtan and it’s tradition.
15:29 Mei Lai’s experience travelling and teaching yoga.
17:43 How did Yoga for Humankind form?
20:50 On offering scholarships in their teacher trainings to local Balinese.
23:42 On weaving together the social work and the yoga. Celebrating our diversity and our sameness.
27:26 A short break
28:27 Jo talks about how yoga can be a very equalising/non-hierarchical social activity, even in a corporate space.
30:35 Jo talks about teaching a community class.
32:28 How the environment of a class can affect peoples perception of the behaviour around it / How the studio model is changing.
33:51 Does Mei Lai’s have strategies for social media?
35:51 “What type of culture do I want to be part of and part of creating?”
36:20 How does Mei Lai use social media in a way that incorporates self-expression, but without basing it on a more aesthetic attitude to yoga.
38:24 Mei Lai talks about their trauma-informed teacher trainings.
39:02 The roots of Mei Lai’s approach to trauma-informed Yoga.
42:40 The importance of resilience as a trauma-informed teacher.
44:26 The shift towards invitational language
45:50 How do you maintain the intricacies and nuances in a class within a framework that is perhaps more bound by constraints?
46:04 What is the difference between trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive?
50:24 Does Mei Lai have a vision for Yoga for Humankind or is it something that is unfolding organically?
52:08 The core of Mei Lai’s teachings and what she wants to share with the world.

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