Yoga and Black Lives Matter: Reflections, Resources and Yoga
I am writing this at the end of a week that has turned my world upside down. Maybe it has turned yours too. Actually, I hope it has because the effect of the Black Lives Matter movement and the acceleration in awareness that has been achieved this week should be turning everything on its head.
I have invested a lot of time and energy in creating safe spaces in my yoga classes. But I turned my gaze away, couldn’t quite look at, the issue of race, of colonialisation, of white privilege in yoga.
I knew it was there, I knew the articles I needed to read, the books I needed to sit down with. But I didn’t do the work. I didn’t think I was racist, so that was enough, right? No. No it’s not.
So I want to say sorry. I am sorry for not doing this before. Of not fully facing the truth of the matter and the fact that my work, as a white yoga teacher I needed to address the issue of white privilege, and for this learning to inform all that I do. It isn’t enough to not be racist, we must be actively anti-racist.
Lucyoga is an activist yoga business. I am here to create change. And change can only come from individuals working on themselves, which is why yoga is such a crucial tool in changing the world.
I am creating a reading and watching list for myself, and I will share where I am with that below, and keep it updated on my website. If you would like to add to this, then do get in touch.
I’m starting with The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays by black, Asian and minority ethnic people sharing their stories of what it means to be ‘other’ and live in the UK. Importantly this book starts with a tale of the misuse of the word ‘namaste’ and the chanting of ‘aum’ in yoga classes. Like I said, I have a lot to read, to learn, and to accept.
I want to share this journey with you because supporting Black Lives Matter isn’t just about posting a black square on social media, it’s a lifelong mission to face social injustice and to make real and persistent change.
That is what yoga is. Real and persistent change.
I have, alongside being angry, tearful and humbled beyond measure, also been teaching this week, and recording new videos for you on my YouTube. I have been addressing these issues and how important self-care is for any activist, whether you are exhausted from years of injustice, or from facing some painful truths.
You can practice your yoga this week using the recording of my class which is dedicated to Black Lives Matter, up until Saturday 13 June: Buy here
If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading. I hope you will stay with me, and this conversation, for a long time to come.
In peace, love and compassion
“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?
What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow.A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber.A year we finally accept the need for change.
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of
pushing each other further apart.
2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather
the most important year of them all.”
– Leslie Dwight
Resources: Read, watch, listen, donate
- Nine Books About Racism and Black Lives that White People Should be Reading Right Now, from The Gay Times: See the list
- Understanding White Privilege, a quick graphical guide: See here
- If Your Yoga Isn’t Political It’s Not Yoga by Nadia Gilani: Read here
- Yoga, Spirituality … and White Supremacy: Read here
- 10 Documentaries To Watch About Race Instead Of Asking A Person Of Colour To Explain Things For You: See the list
- A mixed-race family’s experience in the UK. An interview with fitness instructor (and my friend) Project HB and her husband: Watch here
- White Women Killed Yoga – Yoga is Dead Podcast: Listen here
- Dianne Bondy on challenging racism + spiritual bypassing: triyoga talks episode 34: Listen here
- UK Black Lives Matter: Donate here
More resources for UK, US and beyond: https://linktr.ee/NationalResourcesList
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Each time I send out an email I am including my current reading, watching, listening highlights. In there I am sharing anti-racism and unlearning racism resources alongside yoga, wellbeing and other areas of activism and ally-ship which I am involved in, including my LGBTQIA community and Climate Activism.