Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Yoga and Inclusivity - A Plea to Studio Owners from a Black Yogini

1.  Know that Race Matters and Racism Exists. Saying you don’t see color is not helpful and is another form of racism and white privilege.   Get everyone who works in the studio trained in Anti-Racism and Decolonization so that the entire studio is culturally competent and aware of their racism, biases, and blind spots

2.  Offer scholarships and Donation Based Classes.   If it’s decolonized anti-racist yoga there need to be enough classes on the schedule that someone can establish a practice no matter what their income level.  That doesn’t mean everything on the schedule has to be free.  I would suggest at the minimum  3 classes a week be donation based.

3.  Open up studio space for BIPOC-only classes (or teacher trainings). BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) need safe spaces where we can work on our own healing in community.

4.  Make alliances with BIPOC teachers, owned studios, businesses, and other complementary wellness spaces.  Build relationships. Find out what they need. From those conversations see what you can do together.

5.  Invite BIPOC into positions of leadership. Let them speak for themselves and ask them what they want and need.

6.  Get out of the studio and into the world. Hold classes in other places than the studio. Broaden your reach - enlarge who you are bringing yoga to.  Consider Zoom, Youtube, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, parks, beaches, community centers, schools, fairs, and farmers' markets.

7.  Hire more BIPOC teachers. Many BIPOC practitioners want to practice in a place where there are BIPOC teachers and other BIPOC practitioners.  If you can’t find any - train some through the networks you are establishing.

8.  Use I statements.  Always speak from your own perspective and don't speak for others. Especially don’t speak for BIPOC.

9.  Your money counts.  Buy your studio merchandise, software, etc.  from BIPOC owned and social justice conscious businesses. Research who your vendors are and if their policies don’t align with yours, replace them.

10.  Teach the Yamas and Niyamas. Being an anti-racist means not tolerating racism.  Let people know racism is not welcome in the studio.  Take your talking points from the Yamas and Niyamas.

11.  Do your own work.  Be open to conversations about race and at the same time respect others’ boundaries. Don’t ask BIPOC to explain racism to you. Undoing your white privilege is your own work.

12.  When marketing chose images that reflect all colors and body types -  when advertising classes - posting on social media - making flyers.  Look at how the studio is representing itself.  Are the images you use all white thin bodies?

13.  Words matter. Offer your gender pronouns when starting a conversation and ask the other person how they would like to be addressed.

14.  Place matters. Consider making an indigenous land declaration when referring to the location of the studio to show honor and respect to indigenous peoples.

15.  Keep Educating yourself. 

These are my opinions on how we can make the studio a safe place for all.  I welcome your ideas and conversation.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

May the entire world know love and peace and may my thoughts, words, and actions contribute to the love and peace known by the entire world.

Nya Patrinos, MFA, C-IAYT, ERYT500

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