A look back at history reveals how horrific, large scale atrocities can offer moments for pause, questioning, and empathy. The current, collective response to the Black Lives Matter movement is long overdue, and yet quite promising. Thanks to technology, smart phones and social media have made it easier to incriminate perpetrators of police violence to bring about greater awareness, both locally and globally.
As Yoga practitioners and teachers, how do we progressively move forward given all that we face today? Do we try to resume a previous state of normalcy and pick up where we left off ? That seems impossible. Yoga is about holding our attention in the present moment, and this new normal looks drastically different than before.
Posting on social media about Yoga, nutritious food, retreats and trainings still don’t seem appropriate these days, and in fact, are topics saturated with privilege. It implies that you have the means to travel, the privilege to choose what you eat, to buy organic, that you have time to exercise, etc.
Taking care of our mental, physical and spiritual health is everyone’s birthright, not just a feel good privilege for the select few. As one fellow (White female) yoga teacher unapologetically suggests in her post on how to “decolonize” yoga:
“Change the image of yoga. Do you use yoga photos that reflect the depth of what you believe is possible through your practice? How do you convey that? How do you show that yoga is beyond a recreational hobby for wealthy white women?
Break away from the ‘Wellness and Health Industry.’ We are aiming at real individual and collective integration right? Not just to feel good about ourselves so we can go on spinning the hamster wheel.”
These days I’m taking everything in: reading, watching, conversing and expanding my level of understanding so that I can continue to be a part of this great movement where equal opportunities are established and no lives feel threatened. In many ways, we are blessed to be living at such a pivotal time. With great despair and tragedy come a level of consciousness that inspires determination, action and change. This is history in the making.
Samdhana Yoga stands behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement and all the nonviolent protests working towards peaceful change. Speaking out and posting about it once is not enough. We will continue to speak out in favor of racial equality.
Our Samdhana Yoga courses and retreats (both virtual and in-person) are offering partial and full scholarships to African Americans needing financial assistance. We want to make our Yoga teachings more accessible to the African American population, and we appreciate your support in spreading the word so that we can help be the change that we want to see in the world. Furthermore, 2% of our net profits will go towards support of the Black Lives Matter, NAACP and the ACLU organizations. We are fully on board to fight the good fight in all the ways we are capable.
It’s one thing to bow and say “namaste” at the end of class (what some critics consider as an example of cultural appropriation and being performative). It’s something else to feel it within your heart and in your bones, and to live it through daily action with everyone, not just the people you like or who are like you.
Yoga teachers are afforded myriad opportunities to change lives through our teachings, not just of the physical body, but of human connection, community and equality. How do you choose to be a part of great change? Do you vote, donate your time, educate your children, contribute monetarily? Are you willing to address difficult conversations (especially if you’re White) in an effort to raise consciousness? For some it feels like a lot of finger pointing and blaming, but without these necessary conversations how can we ever affect change? This is not about blame, but about cultivating understanding, compassion and skillful action. Sounds a lot like Yoga.
How we choose to truly stand in solidarity is a great reflection of our relationship to these extremely defining moments of 2020. It’s also a reflection of how we practice Yoga.
#AllLivesMatter once #BlackLivesMatter #bethechange #blacklivesmatter #fightforequality