by Jardana Peacock
Calling all aspiring yogis and yoginis, yoga activists and healer types. Have you been watching what is going on in Ferguson? Now is the time to put our bodies in mindful action towards ahimsa (nonviolence), now is the time to use yoga to help heal the samskaras of racism, oppression, and injustice in this country. Now is the time to learn, grow, and challenge ourselves into a new pose of solidarity with the people in Ferguson, with the activists and organizers on the ground in Missouri protecting the basic human rights of residents and activists protesting police brutality! Now is the time to take action because Michael Brown’s life matters, Trayvon Martin’s life matters, Renisha McBride’s life matters, Black Lives Matter.
I know that in times like this it can be confusing how to take yoga into the street, into the public space for grieving, solidarity and action. However, I believe have what is needed to make a positive change. Now is the time to live the 8-limbed path set out by Pantanjali and be change we want to see in the world.
In light of the uprisings in Ferguson, and the violent response from mostly white police towards residents in grieving and protesting Michael Brown’s murder, we must take action. When the world is in turmoil and when so much is going on we can become immobilized, scared and confused.
The first step is to feel the weight of that.
As healers and yogis the next step is to put our yoga in action. Here are some action steps we can take right now.
1. Read and share resources and news about what’s really going in Ferguson to all of your social media sites.
Here are a few specifically for white folks:
2. Change our profile pictures to stand in solidarity with folks on the ground in Ferguson and in protest against the violence being enacted by police onto people in Ferguson. and in protest against the violence being enacted by police onto people in Ferguson. There are some downloadable ones right here. Or Instagram a healing yoga asana with hashtags #yogisforjustice #yogisinsolidaritywithferguson #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeforMikeBrown #SolidaritywithFerguson
3. Say a prayer. Dedicate our practice to justice and an end to racism. Take moments of silence and for all us yoga teachers, call for an end to racism and police violence inside our yoga studios and outside in our community work.
4. Set up a yoga demonstration for peace and justice in local towns or city centers, in a park, with other yogis, with other activists. Work in tandem and in solidarity with other Black-led and people of color efforts in the community. Start deepening and building authentic relationships with people from different communities. Here is an article about a yoga demonstration that I put together in Knoxville, TN a year ago for Trayvon Martin.
5. It’s okay to make mistakes because we will. We are human and we make mistakes. However, if we say the wrong thing let us learn from it and get back up and try again. Just like when we fall out of a balancing pose or handstand. When we practice, over time we get better, stronger and more confident of the benefits we reap from showing up.
6. Give to on-the-ground organizing efforts in St. Louis through donations to the Organization for Black Struggle.
Here are some action steps we can continue to take throughout our lives.
7. Know the 8-limbs of yoga and live by them. Ancient Indian texts, such as the Yoga Sutras, provide a map for justice. Follow the Yamas: Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truth), Asteya (be present), Brahmacharya (let your inner light shine), Aparigraha (practice letting go and standing up).
8. Know our culture. What is the real history of racism in this country? Who are the fierce white women and men who have laid down a righteous path towards justice? How can we build onto the paths they have laid down? Get to know leaders of antiracism, start with these people: Anne and Carl Braden, Septima Clark, bell hooks, Abby Kelley, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Ella Baker, Howard Zinn, Bayard Rustin, Mab Segrest, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Winona LaDuke, and so many others.
9. Get trained in antiracism. Unfortunately anti-oppression and antiracism trainings are not a part of Yoga Alliance requirements but they should be. As a sharer of a cultural tradition that is not our own, we must understand what cultural appropriation is and how to be the best steward of this yogic knowledge we have been granted access to. We must understand the difference between yoga service and yoga for liberation, especially as the Westernized yoga world continues to trend towards yoga charity work that tries to ease suffering without challenging structural inequality and injustice that causes so much suffering. We must understand how we enact racism and maintain oppressive power structures within the Western yoga world in order to dismantle them.
As aspiring yogis, we are given a great social responsibility. Let’s share the philosophy of yoga from the historical context from which it comes, created in ancient India by people of color. Let us stand up and resist the commodification of yoga and show the world why this ancient healing system is so vital, especially in times like this one.
As an aspiring yogi, we are community builders, cultural workers and connectors inside and out . What a powerful role we can and do play! When we stand in the power of justice, in the truth—transformative pathways open up, this is the path of the yogi. Now, let’s follow this guide together and share with others because, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” ― Arundhati Roy
Reposted from Elephant Journal with permission.
I am moved by human resiliency and authentic acts of bravery. I am a holistic healer, helping to connect the mind, body and spirit of creative women making a difference in the world, all over the world. I love working with women through my virtual radical wellness coaching which is for creatives on the edge of burnout or women who are working through trauma. When I’m not coaching courageous women or leading wellness and healing yoga retreats/workshops, I can be found wading in a creek with my 3-year old or watching romantic comedies (and really sad love stories) with my partner in Nashville, TN. Someday I may live on a sailboat and everyday I will work to bring more racial and economic justice into the world.