Dear White Yoga and Wellness Teachers,
I am one of you. I have been studying and teaching the art of yoga and self-awareness for over a decade now. I have believed wholeheartedly in the words and methodology that we all likely have said in one class or another; “Be The Change”, “Breathe into the Discomfort”, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”...and other phraseology of that nature. It feels good to say it and it feels even better when a student afterwards comes up to me and says how much my words landed and were needed in a moment when they were struggling. But the yoga studio is a safe space and both the practice and the teaching can only go so far without further action.
As Yoga Teachers, one of our most powerful tools is our voice. For the most part, our students are asked to “take drishti”, either inner or outer, focus on their breathing and use their listening both for themselves and the instructions we are giving. Our voice is the thing that guides them through their practice whether we are giving physical cues or speaking beyond the pose. Our voice matters. Words matter. They always have and they always will in any capacity, but most especially in our Yoga Teaching.
Right now, that tool is vastly being underused. I am seeing a lot of Yogis speak about “listening” and “learning”. And that’s great. There is always a place for that. But you also need to be SPEAKING, especially if you are a white Yoga Teacher who serves a mostly white community. It’s time that we speak up and not need to have all the answers, to risk being imperfect but to utter the words that we are afraid to say, that have probably seemed to you as if they do not belong in the yoga studio. These words are: Black Lives Matter. Racism. White Supremacy. White Privilege. Implicit Bias. Systemic. Institutionalized. I am sure that there are more that I am forgetting and I welcome a calling out and feedback. It’s how I am personally learning. Yes through listening, but also through actively speaking these words aloud. Calling them out within myself and then publicly stating them because it matters that my students and my colleagues hear me say it. It matters that I make a public declaration against neutrality at this moment. Being neutral is dangerous and a privilege. It matters if we are even going to have a hope of changing the blatant whiteness that is our wellness world, we must speak them. To ourselves, to each other. It must become our new mantra so that every act of service we put forth from here on out, is in recognition of these important truths. So that we can no longer take the path that is much easier and more comfortable, that has continually led to a hard life...not for us...but for our fellow BIPOC humans.
If you cannot say these words aloud, then it never really mattered that you said “Be The Change” or “If not now, when. If not who, me.”. It never mattered because when the time came to take action and you chose only listening over calling yourself out and doing the hard work, you didn’t really mean it. This is the moment to actually put your yoga practice into ACTION. Your voice is a choice and an action. So is your silence. Please do not spiritually bypass it off as “listening” when really it’s the fear of speaking up and getting into the uncomfortable work. White Yoga Teachers, Studio Owners, Wellness Advocates and more, if you have not yet publicly stated that Black Lives Matter, know that we hear you loud and clear.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.