Racial Justice and Yoga

Hi,
I am new to this site and organization, but am excited to be taking the “ongoing intermediate” program. I am from the US and thus have been living with both the Coronavirus and the uprising for Black lives. Many organizations in the US (most I interact with, at least) have put out statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am concerned that this does not appear on your website, though I understand you are a Canadian organization which may mean that you are not experiencing the same norms that I have been. Either way, the absence is notable right now and I think a statement about racial justice, and a deep exploration about yoga’s interaction with white supremacy and, colonization, cultural appropriation, commodification/extraction, anti-Black racism and racism more broadly is probably a worthy goal. I believe that your mission of creating a more sustainable world and making yoga equitably available to people is very interrelated with doing this racial justice work in a deep and serious way. I want to make clear that as someone new on this site, it is possible that I have missed something (the only mention I saw of diversity at all was in this message board thread: More diversity would make this site more welcoming) and so far I am honestly impressed with the diversity in age and body type of the teachers. I also am so far very impressed with the content and layout of the site overall. I hope that you can develop some deep and meaningful content and outreach to better support racial justice. Thanks for listening.

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Hello there.

I appreciate the message - thank you for sharing.

This issue is very important to us. We’ve been considering putting together a statement that expresses our support for this movement and your message is prompting me now to move forward with this. I don’t believe our hesitation has anything to do with us being Canadian - I believe this is a global issue and the more support the better. We are simply a small team and I guess we sometimes undervalue our impact.

You’ve made me think more deeply about this, so thank you. We’ll take a look at what we can do.

Take care,

David
DoYogaWithMe Founder

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Thanks - I appreciate your reply a lot and I’m glad I could help. If you need any help with thinking through how to write a statement that is compassionate, thorough, acknowledged your position in a way you all feel supportive of, and integrates the complicated history of yoga, I’d be happy to help. I am definitely not an expert at all - but might be able to help support the process by thinking through how you all could make a big impact in he yoga community in general, etc. I do think you have impact - the Cut listed you as the best online yoga site for people who want to go beyond beginner yoga. That’s great! And so far I love the content.
Thanks! And hope to hear from you,
Emily

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@murpheis Thank you so much for bringing this up. I’ve been practicing yoga with DYWM off and on since 2013, and I am always impressed with the quality of the site, the classes, the teachers, and the community. But, you are absolutely correct: the absence of any statement supporting Black Lives Matter is quite notable. I was just reading the mission statement and noticed that the site has “250,000 registered users, an average of eight people signing up every 10 minutes” - so a statement in support of the BLM movement, and ongoing dialogue and commitments to further the cause of racial justice in the yoga community would certainly have an impact!

It seems that the yoga community has a lot of work to do with regards to racial justice. Lately, I’ve been particularly concerned about the relationship between the yoga community and cultural appropriation. Is yoga cultural appropriation? It certainly seems to be, and yet there also seem to be ways to practice that are culturally sensitive and respectful. As a white woman from the US, I know I have a particular responsibility to push this community to change - to reallllllly look long and hard at how white people have been practicing yoga. What does my yoga community look like? Mostly other white people? Yeah. That’s a problem. Has the yoga I’ve practiced been inclusive? Have I properly educated myself on the history of yoga? Have I supported companies that profit off cultural appropriation (e.g. “Namaste home” shirts - maybe cute, but also possibly offensive?) I don’t have any immediate answers, but these are necessary conversations that the yoga community needs to have.

@doyogawithme I really appreciate you response to @murpheis! And I really look forward to reading a statement as well as more material and discussions on these subjects in the future.

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Thank you, @murpheis and @tessera.cordalia. Your feedback means a lot. This has given us a lot to think about.

Emily, thanks for the offer. Would you be willing me an email directly at david (at) doyogawithme.com?

Take care,

David

If it is of any interest, I have two friends who are Black and are certified Yoga instructors. One of them posted a notice to this group on her FB page a while back - it might be a way to locate and invite in to DYWM more diverse instructors… https://www.union.fit/events/david-vendetti-yoga-yoga-liberation-front-200-hour-online-teacher-training/performances/yjjbb8rl?fbclid=IwAR0arhyvP4SYOjDclTPMvFHZ3pcRPNUM1R5gpM9g2iNZNfUuJF46OWPpI3o

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Thank you so much! I appreciate the guidance. Where do they live?

So my connections are through Calia Marshall, who is also a dance teacher in the NY Public School System, and Candace Cheatham who lives in Boston.

I don’t know where the organizers of this meeting are…