Yoga means “union”: Yoga teachers join the BLM movement worldwide
Yogis across the U.S. and world have found their own unique ways to support Black lives.
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The practice of yoga has become increasingly popular in the last decade. According to a survey conducted by Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, the number of people practicing yoga in America grew from 20.4 million to 36 million between the years 2012 and 2016.
The word yoga means “union,” and the first “Yama” or yogic set of ethics, is known as Ahimsa, and translates to “non-violence” in Sanskrit. If a yogi follows this, then social justice matters should be paramount in their daily lives.
Of late, many yoga practitioners, teachers and studios have been stepping up and joining the fight for Black lives. One great example of Ahimsa brought to life is actress and yoga teacher, Ashley Platz.
Ashley posted on her Instagram page a “white privilege checklist” to educate her followers on how herself and other white people benefit from their whiteness.
In the caption, she tells her fellow yoga teachers that they can’t “meditate” away the deep seated systemic racism within them. She explains that it takes work, and it often will be uncomfortable, but we have to sit with that discomfort and go deeper.
“If we study yoga for 500+ hours, we can take thirty minutes a day and investigate where we fall into privilege and where we can be better anti-racist Americans,” she wrote to end the post.
Platz is now holding special Zoom classes on Saturday mornings and accepting donations that are given to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Showing Up For Racial Justice, and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
8 Limbs Yoga in Seattle, Washington has been contributing to racial justice for years. They hold bi-weekly classes called “Yoga for People of Color,” and offer partial scholarships for people of color in all of their teacher training programs.
They also have a series called “Unpacking Whiteness,” where white people learn about the creation of “whiteness” and America’s unjust treatment of BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color.)
Yoga District in Washington D.C, also made a statement on their blog, announcing their support for Black Lives Matter. They have raised $1,000 for the Southern Poverty Law Center and $1,000 for Campaign Zero.
They also plan to award 10 full scholarships for their yoga teacher training program to BLM activists.
Rebecca Warfield, founder of the Dharma Drops Podcast, created an episode that focuses on activism for yogis, and made a donation to Black Teachers Yoga Alliance. She writes on her website that “no matter how we see ourselves as activists, yoga cultivates skill in action, self-reflection and selfless service.”
Yoga teacher Rachel Baylor, is devoting every Sunday class from now until September 27 to raising money for different organizations like the Black Voters Matter Fund, Campaign Zero, Color of Change, and National Black Justice Coalition.
On the event page, she writes that although there is no quick solution to systemic racism, everybody can tune into the present moment, listen to their inner voice and attempt to be the change they want to see.
“This duty belongs to ALL OF US and we owe it to our country. By taking an hour of your day to dedicate to your self care via yoga, you are preserving yourself, an act of political warfare,” wrote Baylor.
All 50 states and 18 countries have joined in protests for Black Lives Matter, making it the largest civil rights movement in history. With the yogi community joining in and practicing their Ahimsa, it will only grow larger.
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