by Sara Kleinsmith
As a result of the recent terrorist attack in Charlottesville, many are wondering what can be done to combat oppression and hatred. Oppression and systemic racism have long dominated our nation, but with the circus that is the current presidency, blatant racism is on the rise. White supremacist groups march in the streets and threaten the violence of all those who oppose them. It can be difficult as a yoga student or teacher to know what to do in these cases when you want to stay zen but also want to hit Nazis. Here are 10 things you can do now to resist hate and fight oppression.
1) Teach or attend a yoga class for a cause. Organize a class for ACLU or Planned Parenthood or attend a class that gives back to a cause you believe in. It will do you good to give your support and your energy
2) Call your senators and your representatives at (202) -224-3121. Many of you can already do it. Good work! Do not stop. If you do not do it already, much of this battle is taking place on phones and e-mails. Contact your representative and tell them what you think. Attend town halls if you can. Resistbot can help if you feel too busy to call.
3) Champion of color yoga teachers. The typical image of the yoga teacher is that of a thin white woman. Yoga Journal covers have perpetuated this for years and it is well beyond the time for change. People of color need to know that they have a place at the yoga table, both as teachers AND as students. Attend classes taught by people of color. Keep the space. If nothing else … LISTENING.
4) Face and correct. As yogis, we tend to be gentle and empathic because we are also seekers of peace. It's time to have those tough holiday conversations with Aunt Mary or Grandpa Bob. It's time to confront the offensive language and correct the misinformed "facts". It will not be easy. And this holiday season is going to be tough for a lot of Americans. But remember Krishna's words to Arjuna as he huddled at the thought of fighting with his family. "Give up that mean weakness and get out."
5) Read (or reread) The Bhagavad Gita. It is time to return to the swaying knowledge of the Lord in all their greatness (if that's your thing). The Bhagavad Gita gives us the courage to stand up to our enemies, whether real or proverbial, and to remind us that all things are transitory and small, compared to the unity we all are, under the # 39; illusion.
6) Attend marches and demonstrations. If you feel safe, go for it. Be there with people and say what you think. Take space. And above all, encourage peace. Yogis are supposed to be experts, after all. Go and be an example of peaceful protest.
7) Practice. If stress about the atrocities that abound in our world is depressing you, come back to your practice. This can mean on your carpet in a classroom, or simply by breathing. Practice self-care. Get a massage. Talk to a friend or therapist. Rest to avoid burnout. We need you, my friend.
8) Read about the history of yoga. There is much discussion about appropriation versus appreciation in the world of 21st century Western yoga. Read about the origins of yoga. Read about India and yoga before it comes to the West and was popularized by movie stars. Engage in conversations, if you can, with someone from India on what yoga means to them. Listen Learn.
9) Avoid trolls and triggers. You know what these comment sections look like. They are where benevolence will die a slow death, covered with fast food barbecue sauce. Choose your battles wisely. Also, avoid the pitfalls of being accused of being "non-yogic" or a member of the "intolerant left". People use these words on you because they know you want to be a good and tolerant person, and they will throw that super power into your face like kryptonite. Speak your mind with love and strength. Do not back down.
10) Use inclusive language to teach or promote yoga. Not only when it comes to diversity, but also politics. Remember that some people in your yoga classes may have voted differently. They could have completely opposite beliefs. Yoga class is the time to promote self-study and incarnation. Try to be authentic without distinguishing people of different beliefs. Yoga is the place to include all, if you are able. Keep strong convictions for your calls to representatives.
Sara Kleinsmith is a nasty woman, mom, yoga teacher, writer and anatomy geek in Austin, Texas. She wrote for Scary Mom, Yogi Times, Elite Daily, Elephant Journal and Thought Catalog. She is delighted to be added to the list of voices for YogaDork. To learn more about his work go to www.sarakleinsmith.com .
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