Embodying Reverent Relationship with Marika Heinrichs
What a pleasure to speak with Marika Heinrichs of Wildbody.ca about somatics, lineages, respect and repair – and what a delight to have such a rich and tender conversation in Rumi’s field that sits outside of any rigid and fixed ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing.
I hope you enjoy this important conversation.
Marika Heinrichs is the granddaughter of German Mennonite, British, and Irish settlers to the part of Turtle Island colonially know as Canada. She is a queer, femme, somatics practitioner and facilitator whose work focuses on the recovery of ancestral wisdom through body-based ways of knowing, and challenging the appropriation and erasure of Indigenous knowledge in the field of somatics. Marika resides on Attawandaron, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe territory (a.k.a. Guelph, Ontario). She is grateful for the nourishment and support of her peers, mentors, and more-than-human kin.
Here is a link to a beautiful and important piece written by Marika which I referred to in our conversation – On White People Building Belonging Together in our Movements for Liberation.
Some powerful quotes from Marika’s writings and teachings:
“I believe that building healing communities is just as important as having access to individualized healing supports such as therapy.
Divesting from appropriation is about both surrendering entitlement and feeling into the truth of our own peoples. I believe we are all capable of appropriation, and as a white bodied person I don’t feel it’s my work to tell Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour how to engage with their practices. I can share from what I know through my own journey into these questions, which includes feeling how intimately connected extraction, violence, and severance from the natural world are to the projects of white supremacy and Christian hegemony.
Lack of acknowledgment and consent, spiritual bypassing, claiming ownership and superiority, prohibitive costs, lack of access for the descendants of the very peoples from whom practices emerged, no sense of connection or accountability to our own peoples, normalizing cis, straight, thin, white, able bodies… the list goes on.
I want to envision a methodology of somatics that is invested in liberation right down to the roots of the lineages and histories of our practices. If we are not tending to the ways that this field has been shaped by supremacy, we are missing a core component of embodied liberation.
Practices emerge from culture, they are shaped by time, place, and cosmology. All of our peoples had practices and ways of working with the body towards healing. Even if we engage in the most consent-based, ethical, values-driven protocols with practices from outside our own cultures, we miss the crucial work of facing into the grief and joy of our own lineages and peoples. I believe that the unwillingness to do this is one way that the field of somatics can perpetuate white supremacy, and I envision new/old practices that reconnect us with our ancestors and carry us through mourning, accountability, and repair as white people. As practitioners, we hold power around shaping these conversations in our field, and in supporting these conditions with these we serve.
All those years practicing yoga are part of what shaped me and helped me to grow the capacity to release it for a practice that feels more aligned, more liberatory. It’s not for me to decide who should or shouldn’t practice yoga, or whether or not something is appropriation. Those questions can serve as distractions, virtue signalling that keeps us from the work of divesting from the roots of whiteness that lead to appropriation in the first place. I do know that the space that was left when I quit yoga made room for a new kind of connection to emerge that feels much more rooted in my values, and my lineage. I am not sure how we can approach practices such as yoga as white people without having something to share in return. A practice entails a relationship, if we don’t know who we are or where we come from, how can we really engage in mutual connection?”