8 Limbs, by design and by mission, is an inclusive and non-competitive place of learning and support. Inclusiveness is a practice we actively stand behind, both in regards to types of yoga practice and teachings and to the people who practice it. We want to actively include anyone who wants to practice yoga and give them many paths to choose from on their journey. But just saying that we are inclusive and welcoming does not necessarily make that true in our studios. We know that we have a long way to go to create an environment where people of color can feel truly welcome and at home. We also are acutely aware of the power of yoga to heal pain and trauma, given a safe and supportive environment. Sometimes safe and supportive environments are inherently both exclusive and inclusive. They are both welcoming and restrictive.
Last week a local yoga studio was pilloried by members of the local and national media for offering a yoga class for people of color and respectfully asking white allies in their community to not attend. This class had been offered for five years with no public promotion. Through collaborative promotions with Rainier Beach Yoga, where the classes were to be held, a supportive post on social media caught the attention of reporters, who called the teacher––and Rainier Beach Yoga––exclusive for not welcoming white people to the class. This in a city where yoga classes full of white people can be found on every corner.
When we heard about the subsequent threats and verbal attacks on Laura Humpf, founder of Rainier Beach Yoga and Teresa Wang, of POC (People of Color) Yoga, we were shocked and saddened. Here these dedicated women chose to create a class where not only would people of color feel welcome, but they could also be in the majority, in a town where they are clearly in the minority, in an activity where they are clearly in the minority. They were attacked so fervently that Laura chose to close the studio temporarily, and POC Yoga decided to discontinue offering classes. Fortunately both women also received a groundswell of compassion and loving kindness from their community. Rainier Beach Yoga reopened yesterday. May they continue to serve marginalized populations and offer a healing and safe space for practitioners of all races, sizes, sexual identification and self-expression preference.
We at 8 Limbs whole-heartedly support Laura, Teresa, POC Yoga, and Rainier Beach Yoga in their efforts to hold a safe and supportive space for people of color. We also fully stand behind classes, studios, and teachers that create a nurturing and enriching environment for people of color and other groups of people who are discriminated against in our culture. We believe that compassion and loving kindness are elements that can provide healing in situations such as this, rather than reaction and vitriol. A part of practicing these codes of respect is growing one’s ability to sit with discomfort, which could be as simple as sitting in a crowded yoga class when you’d prefer to have more personal space. Our country is actively engaging in a national conversation about race and marginalization, and it’s not going to be comfortable. But it’s time.
We recognize and believe that creating special classes for those who are marginalized and/or discriminated against is an important part of creating an inclusive culture on a larger scale. And we are ready to be part of the solution.
Read more about this situation and some powerful responses in the links below:
Posted by: 8 Limbs