8 Limbs is an unabashed fan of our Capitol Hill neighbors, Gay City. Our respect for the work they do has inspired numerous benefit classes and Pride month fundraisers over the years.
This year we have been posing a monthly question that helps us get in touch with not just why we practice yoga, but why we really practice yoga. June’s question – How do you show your Pride? – came to us with the help of our neighbors.
A couple of months ago, Samantha Fisher (8 Limbs Communications Coordinator) and I invited author and activist Tobi Hill-Meyer (Gay City Communications Director) and Kathy Ulrich (Gay City Development Director) over to the offices at 8 Limbs. What was planned as a meeting to coordinate promotional strategies evolved into a heartfelt conversation about the meaning of Pride and what practicing yoga can offer.
“As a trans person,” Tobi shared, “my body has been under so much scrutiny that it can be really vulnerable and difficult to do anything with my body in a public setting. I really appreciate having a space for focusing on my own body, feeling an intense stretch or trembling muscles, and building strength and flexibility. It means so much to have my body not just be something that’s a liability or an excuse for people to mistreat me but something that I appreciate and that makes me feel strong.”
A Gay City staff member added, “PRIDE is both a celebration and a call to action. Similarly, doing yoga makes me grateful for my abilities and motivated to, ahem, stretch myself and achieve more. It’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come and to take pride in overcoming some of our struggles. At the same time, there’s still much to be done, both locally and globally.”
By cultivating compassionate insight, we become stronger in our connections with others and in our capacity to positively contribute to our communities. Pride is about honoring what it means to both cherish all the steps one takes to tend to oneself, in mind, body and spirit in this world, to one’s inherent strength and beauty.
This notion of pride can be difficult, if not impossible, to grow in isolation. Part of being human is being part of a shared humanity. Recognizing and resourcing our shared humanity is key, and it’s one of the reasons we love Gay City. As they put it, Gay City “provides a space for people to be who they are as well as the opportunity for people to interact with other members of the LGBTQ community in ways that may challenge them, and help them become their whole selves.”
We can relate to that. Underneath all those sun salutations, yoga is committed to helping each of us tap into our whole selves, our innately beautiful human selves. This doesn’t come only from moving our bodies on our mats or sitting in lotus position on a cushion. In practice, this also arises from actively taking part in shared human experiences – breathing together, allowing our bodies to be supported by shared floor space, taking delight in our bodies’ capacities, being humbled and challenged by our bodies in the midst of others experiencing the same… That is, being willing to be witnessed in our vulnerability and strength.
In this spirit, we invite you to nurture your capacity to befriend yourself and support others in doing the same. We invite you to recognize that practice is not limited to time spent on the mat. And, if financially feasible, we encourage you to extend your practice to your pocketbook by making a donation to Gay City or another organization that helps magnify pride and compassion. And let us know on Instagram how you take care of yourself during Pride week. Tag it with #8limbsPRIDE and 8 Limbs Yoga will donate $3 for every tag (one per person) to Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, and you’ll be entered to win a free 5-class pass.
Please feel free to share with me how you show your Pride by dropping me a line at email@example.com.
Posted by: Ashley Dahl, 8 Limbs Executive Director