re:birth_a healing space: Meet Mitzi Melaine Wilson PistonOctober 30, 2019
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to building conscious community and highlighting the work that inspiring yogis are doing in their local communities and beyond. We’re pleased to introduce you to Mitzi Melaine Wilson Piston.
Yoga is mindbody union – For me, yoga is a practice that integrates breath, movement, and meditation to still the mind. I practice to come back to me. To hear my breath. To feel into my body.
How did yoga find you?
I have practiced yoga for over ten years and officially became a student of the practice seven years ago. I came to yoga as a tool to respond to and heal grief after losing my father to illness. As I continued my practice, I discovered a deeper well of healing tools. As a black woman, I tapped into an inner space of embodied belonging that sent me on a journey of learning and discovery. I learned to move from a mindset framed around enduring, to one of resilience, joy and flourishing.
How do you share the healing tools of yoga?
Through re:birth_a healing space, I create space for others to discover a sense of union and belonging. I help people connect back with themselves, their ancestors, and community. This leads to acceptance and ease in everyday life. It is a practice of curiosity, compassion, and commitment to come back and explore wherever you are, how you are (on and off the mat). It is a practice to help us dissolve the patterning that keeps us from our true selves. I teach physical yoga, breathing, and mediation through group classes and private sessions. I have also infused yoga and mindfulness into organizational and systems change work, which I do through a separate offering – EMERGE/FLOURISH. Through EMERGE/FLOURISH, I have conducted staff retreats to resolve trauma resulting from racism and sexism in institutional settings. I have also moderated dialogues on the health disparities impacting women of color within community and hospital settings.
Who inspires you?
Many teachers have inspired me (Linda Sama Karl, Michelle Cassandra Johnson, Brea Johnson, Kat Boehm, Hala Khouri, adrienne maree brown, Prentis Hemphill, and Melanie Klein) some directly and some through their shared works. What is key for me is the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our practice. This includes in our movement practice, our education, and our surroundings. In nature, no seed is exactly the same. Those seeds adapt and evolve. To the eye, the plant may look similar, but there is uniqueness in each. Just like people; we are uniquely born. I think it is within our design to integrate our experience as we spread and share fruit and seeds.
What continues to inspire you to share the practice of yoga?
Western culture would have us believe in sameness, assimilation, and accommodation. It would have us fear, doubt, and be ashamed of those things that make us different. I would say that difference/diversity is the magic of this universe. I have come to a deeper level of knowing what is unique to me to embody and share with others. For me, sharing the practice of yoga is a political response.
As a Womanist, the practice I share is healing-centered and co-liberative to respond to the “pain point” of stress, anxiety, and trauma resulting from systemic oppression, colonization, and industrialization. (While my commitment is to communities of color, we are all impacted and all suffer.) I prepare spaces for us to be nourished and cared for in doing the important work of tapping into our unique and inherent worth and transforming our social condition. It is reported that before Harriet Tubman passed, she said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Those words have deep resonance with me and inspire the practice I share.
In sum: My yoga is about UNION + BELONGING. Through the integrative practice, I support people in illuminating the WHOLENESS WITHIN to NOURISH the SPARK for SOCIAL CHANGE.
Header and Headshot photo credit: Casey and Her Camera
Mitzi is a self-described mystic. She loves observing life and all the magic that the universe holds. The practices she shares are inspired by her own personal growth and healing experiences. Her goal is to be a healer by helping people and communities reconcile psyche and soul.
Through yoga and her growing understanding of yoga, Ayurved, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Reiki, she helps a person “garden their spirit.” Mitzi aspires to be a conduit for peace, love, and curiosity about existence. She has a specific interest in offering healing-centered practices for communities of color to heal generational trauma.
Mitzi works full-time as a consultant in the nonprofit field. She has served in leadership roles in behavioral health, community development, criminal justice, and youth and young adult development. She lives in the Midwest with her partner and their two dogs and dreams of mountain and ocean settings.