Yoga and racismJune 9, 2020
Your yoga practice doesn’t happen in a vacuum. How you “be” on the mat moves into the world. Whatever you’re experiencing off the mat impacts your practice on the mat. And the bulk of your practice actually happens off the mat. Yoga is more than asana and breath.
Like many of you I have been saddened as I learn more about the racism that is such an ingrained part of our country. Of course I knew that racism existed. I grew up in rural Indiana with only two black students in my class of 365. As an adult I thought I was a good ally. Now I’m seeing that I have more to learn and to do.
Attending Salem’s local march with 2000 people in attendance was uplifting and encouraging. But I also know this is only a start for the real change that needs to happen to bring equality to our country.
While I’m turning to trusted sources for information like this https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR29xdWzzYUpcDUx3ShKh-ntnb12qKsZrQA7HZAgyo_K6tfSuRBO63pax2w
I’m also turning to yoga for guidance.
Yoga has eight limbs and In class we focus on limb three, asana or postures, and limb four, breathe work or pranayama. I bet you’re wondering what limb one and two are, right?
Yama, limb one, is about staying away from unhealthy behaviors, words, and thoughts. It’s about returning to our true nature. That true nature is wholeness and love. We live in a broken world which often negates our wholeness rather than connecting us with it. In order to see that true nature in others we have to find it in ourselves. Limb two is Niyama which helps us in our aim toward harmony.
There are five Yamas and all can help guide us during rough times. I wanted to focus on the first Yama, ahimsa, often translated as non-harming. Think reverence, love, and compassion for all.
My way to approach ahimsa is to first look inward. How am I being loving to myself? How can I show myself more compassion?
These are tough times. You may be triggered by the racism that is being filmed, discussed, and shared. You may be triggered by what you find inside as you look at how you may have been unknowingly contributed or been an unhelpful bystander. I am personally taking a hard look at myself, what I value and how those values show up.
A friend shared this tool with me
I’ve found it to be helpful to look at where I live around the issue of racism. I aspire to circle 7 and I have work to do. When checking out the article be sure and check out her questions in the beginning. Great coaching questions and a way to bring in self-compassion during the discovery process. We can’t share what we don’t have. As you deepen your self-love and reverence, you can find more for others. And right now our world needs that.
How that shows up for you will be your unique blend. I encourage you to step into a more active role for equality. Refer to the list of above if you’re not sure where to begin. Be sure to season this work with love for yourself as you imperfectly move forward as well as love for those you encounter on this journey.
I’d love to hear your rescues in the comments.