Earlier this week I wrote a post in regards to the yoga class that I teach for women of color. Afterwards I received a message from one of my white students asking why I felt the need to teach a class just for women of color. After all yoga means "Union". and my class was excluding others. Let me start by saying that my class is a group of women that have hired me to teach yoga and facilitate discussions about issues in the Black Community. While I do teach yoga classes open to anyone, my goal is to ALSO host public classes for people of color. Yes, it is true that Yoga does mean union. But let's get honest...If you look around the yoga scene in CLE or around the country, it is overflowing with opportunities for all of us to practice yoga together. There are literally hundreds of yoga studios, plus community centers, community colleges, senior centers, churches with yoga classes that are open to all people. "Ylonda wouldn't you be upset if there was a class just for white people?" My answer is this... Most yoga classes in CLE are in fact white. The dominant images associated with yoga today are 99% images of white people.
There are classes for Yoga for New Parents, Yoga for Women in Addiction Recovery, Yoga for Parents of Children with Disabilities, Yoga for those with Eating Disorders, Yoga for Women, Broga (yoga for men),the lists goes on and on. In each of these classes, students are able to bring their full selves more honestly and vulnerably into the practice. Even if the students never say a word about their experiences in class, just knowing that other people in the room have come to heal similar wounds gives immense power to the practice. It is usually asked that people who do not fit this identity choose another yoga class. The reality is that people of color suffer minor and major traumas of living in a racist society every day.
It is important for a community of people so under represented be given a common space to meet, share, heal, and grow, especially in the racially tense climate of today.
So thank you to the student who sent me this question. Thank you for helping me get more clear and more determined in my motivation.