I have been reflecting upon how I can stand up for social justice in my small and very white mountain town with the inability to drive. It can be tough to just sit and see friends at protests, standing up for the unheard voices of the oppressed. I feel so emotional when I hear all the stories of the injustices in our country and the white people who let it happen. Am I one of those people? Just letting all of this go down without standing next to the individuals doing the work, that their ancestors have done for centuries before them. It is a difficult and uncomfortable question to ask myself, but not as difficult as the years and years of oppression people of color have been facing.
What can I do to be a pillar of light and justice for the voices of the unheard?
Well, I have been educating myself, I donated to the ACLU, I start conversations around it, I sit with the discomfort and I talk about it with my yoga students.
It doesn't seem like much to me. I send out the energy of being open to receiving what I an to do as a pillar of light for the oppressed, and my answer is usually to keep doing what I am doing. Spread love and kindness, start conversations and be a person who practices yoga off of the mat.
What does it mean to practice yoga off of the mat? To me, it means radiating out from truth, embodying righteousness and love and speaking up for what I believe in. Reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' this morning made me realize that this is all connected to Yoga. As noticing the interconnectedness of us all, when one person is oppressed, we are all oppressed. Yoga is in the way we show up, with love or with hate. Yoga is in the way we act, with right action that is derived from God or with superiority over someone else. Yoga shows up through us in our loving action, words and thoughts, our energies, reactions and the way we get involved. There are no "outsiders" here we are all part of this Earth, cut from the same cloth and woven into this beautiful tapestry called Life.
"Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere."
I find myself constantly having to stand up for Yoga because I oftentimes feel people think it is a way of ignoring the problems of the world. "Oh, just go sit in your cave and meditate...". But Yoga has helped me to mobilize and stay involved, it has helped me to know my truth and to treat people with loving kindness, no matter what they see as right or wrong. It has helped me to recognize the responsibility I have as a white yoga teacher to invite students to take their yoga with them when they leave the studio.
I will continue to see all sides with an open mind and loving heart, knowing that the people who stormed the White House in support of Trump, are my brothers and sisters, uncles and grandparents. Treating these people with hate will not help to change their minds, showing up and being an example of love and acceptance, will. I admire how Dr. King brings up tension in the letter, referring to tension and nonviolent direct action as growth and a necessary means of change. All things need tension, in order to grow, it is a part of life. I know I do not change unless I push myself to create a new habit, or I sit in an uncomfortable yoga pose to get better at it.
"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."
I will speak my truth, even when I know I am speaking to people who may not agree with me, I will create tension and I will stand up for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, the homeless, the poor, the different and the environment for the rest of my life.
Keep being that pillar of light,
*I highly recommend reading Letter from Birmingham Jail, if you haven't already, it is so eloquently written and it is a major historical piece that evoked change.
*Another recommendation I have on this topic is this new short film that stars a local Telluridian, Joel Watson, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is an astounding piece of work that blew me away and encouraged me to write this. It is called, 'This Not Too Distant Tomorrow'
Check it out for free on YouTube - https://youtu.be/YyAxQ16w2s0