Nobody is talking about the common theme in all yoga studios. The one that brings us in the door, the one that makes us feel oh so comfortable, the one that allows us to meet our friends there, the one that makes it a safe space for us; the white one. Yoga studios by and large are filled with middle to upper class white females. Prancing around touting equality. There’s a lot of talk about being a better person and what you need to do to get there but is anyone really doing it? And if you walked in the door as a large black man would you feel the same open door policy? What is the whitey society we have created and are we living in a pool of our own illusions?
“You do yoga, I do yoga” has become a catch phrase amongst whiteys. It’s trendy, the cool thing to do. It makes you look like you’re compassionate but not crunchy. Keeps you somewhat fit which is part of what we’re all looking for in there; another unspoken dirty secret. It also screams that you’re open minded but are we? Is open mindedness going to a place where you meet with your own kind in a space of extreme comfort to offer services to others of your own kind? How many African Americans, Jews, and Muslims do you see there? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking we’re good people so we don’t actually have to do the work? You know the work . . .taking the difficult steps of inclusion. The work of putting our fun plans of going to another party or event this weekend to help others in need. The work of trying to see another person’s point of view who is absolutely nothing like you.
Recently Heineken made a retaliation commercial to the Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner purporting that if you bring a Pepsi to the front lines of a protest all would be right with the world. For as much as Heineken made a valiant attempt at putting reality into motion it still fell short. It held the tenets of this all too brief interaction with people who would normally hate each other and want no contact with the other. It glossed it over, gave them a beer to drink, and gave them the decision to sit and get to know each other or not. Truth be told most people when they leave that scenario will never speak again. Why? It’s difficult to have friends and family who act in a way or believe what you are adamantly against. When you bring it into your everyday life it doesn’t work. Think about the parent who we all know to be pretty liberal finding out that their child is gay and losing their shit; we’ve all seen it happen. We want to believe two things about ourselves. One that we are good people and the second that we are right; the two don’t go together.
So we create all these illusions around melding those two things in order for us to keep the dream alive. There isn’t a person in this world, even Hitler if he were alive, who if you asked them if they were a bad person would say yes. Each and every one of us believes we have a valid reason for doing and saying the things we do.
Back to the yoga studio we go. This white sisterhood that has formed in studios needs to be broken. It’s formed and maintained not only by the color of our skin but our actions as well. There is an inherent belief system that we are responsible for whatever good or bad happens in our lives. The memes saying that if you act in a certain way only good will come to you. If in fact you don’t do the “right” thing you will pay the price; bad karma/good karma. Sounds a bit like old Christianity that we once knew and loved doesn’t it? Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell. Aren’t we “evolved”?
Essentially, it’s a bunch or white chicks running around in cute clothes who want to feel good about themselves. Yoga pants are upwards of $90 a pair, capitalism at its finest. It’s this feel good mentality that nobody is addressing that lies beneath the surface. Even in yoga, which is meant through somatic movement, to unearth the not so pleasant feelings that we seek to anesthetize. Perhaps we can expand rather than narrow our lenses into some kind of hegemonic joy-mongering in which any deviation from positive affirmation is deemed “low vibration”?
If we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that racism and classism doesn’t exist here we’re missing the reality of what we’ve turned yoga into in the West. Subsets of groups will appear everywhere, it’s normal to be attracted to people who you’re inherently comfortable with. Yet, the sound bite that is now yoga has turned an ancient medicine into a salacious three ring circus. Step right up folks for you can go your entire life without ever questioning reality, all with other people who will tell you it’s alright.
Written by Kristen Carla Acupuncture Physician/Blogger www.facebook.com/kristencarla
Kodawari Studios 3965 S. Henderson Blvd., Suite C, Tampa, Fl 33629