Our number one goal at LifeForce Yoga is to support everyone in achieving optimum mental health – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, nationality, ability, class, etc. We do our best to make sure that our tools and techniques are accessible and inclusive, and we know that there is always room for growth. This is why we offer free tools, so that all may have access to the beauty that is yoga.
In light of recent events, we are visibly making a stand and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. It is time to end the inherent institution of racism and subjugation of non-whites. No one should have to die because of their skin color and blacks are disproportionately targeted in the United States for unequal treatment, poverty, violence, and death. As a business, we have remained silent so as not to offend those with different beliefs. When those beliefs are morally reprehensible and counter to the words of our forefathers set forth in the Declaration of Independence, it is necessary to take a stand. We now understand that our silence has been complicit, and we will do so no more.
We also know that publicly taking this stand might offend some of you. To you we say, that is fine. We would prefer not to have customers that support racism, fascism, sexism, homophobia, violence, injustice, and more.
Change is hard. It is difficult to look our behaviors and think/hear/know that they might be harmful to others. But this is the core of yoga. It asks us to make the invisible patterns in the mind (vasanas) visible so that we can eradicate them. Yoga teaches us that these invisible patterns are based on previous experiences – events, thoughts, images, teachings, words, television shows, neighborhoods, schooling, interactions, etc. We all have prejudices (judgements without knowing the truth) and we all act on them. When someone tells us that our prejudices, behaviors, or actions are hurtful, that is their experience, it is true for them, and we have no right to tell them otherwise (we call denying someone’s personal experience gaslighting). Instead, we are called to learn more and change our behaviors. To cling to our previous self-imposed limitations is NOT yoga, it is denial and shutting down. At it’s core it is violence.
What about ahimsa (non-violence), the first tenant of moral behavior according to the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali? Ahimsa means that we should do no harm in our thoughts, words, and actions. Yet this discussion brings up harm within people. The harm that comes from this discussion is self-inflicted because of clinging to constrictive thoughts, words, and actions. It is clinging to what is false.
Yoga teaches that the only true perception is love. When we are in this perception of love, ALL beings, EVERYWHERE, know peace, love, and connection. If someone say that they have been harmed and they are hurting because of actions that we can see (in person, from reputable sources, and documented again, and again), it is our duty to correct that harm; the same way that you would correct a pain within yourself. We celebrate the different names and forms of love, understanding that they bring us closer to Supreme Love. If one of those forms of love is in pain, we listen, honor, and take right action to correct their suffering. Anything else is not yoga and contributes to separation and pain.
Many of us ascribe to beliefs without understanding why, or based on an emotional reaction. However, our emotions are often based on those invisible patterns of reaction. In essence, they are not true, nor do they account for the full picture. It is okay to have an erroneous belief, what is not okay is to cling to that belief because we do not want to learn more. We challenge you to learn more. Read about the origination of the term Black Lives Matter from the people who are using that term. Read about the term White Privilege and how it is NOT a put down. Listen to the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color) on podcasts and videos to understand their experience. Learn about the history of BIPOC in your country; the history taught in schools is written by the victor and those in power, which excludes ALL of the marginalized people in a given society.
- Let’s Talk About Race 5 day course https://cyp.podia.com/lets-talk-about-race
- Check your Privilege book https://amzn.to/30pFwHV
- Co-Conspirators Lounge https://cyp.podia.com/cclounge
- Peggy Macintosh White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo https://amzn.to/30oOIvZ
- This List of Books, Films, and Podcasts about Racism is a Start, Not a Panacea