Decolonize Yoga Introduction Steps
1. Listen to Black Stories (without comparing your trauma or personalizing it) -Nearly every Black person has experienced some level or kind of racism.
i. Understand: racial-trauma is real. 401 + years of racism faced by Black Americans makes Black people more susceptible to having a genetic predisposition to developing post-traumatic stress.
ii. Investigate: Learn how and why your POC friends and students (or just some blk people you see on TV) have been racially traumatized
iii. Speak Up: Educate your white friends and family members because their anti-Black views are more than just an opinion. Those views hold weight and impact policies that not only negatively impact but destroy and take Black lives.
2. Hold Space for POC students
a. Instead of shutting down questions that make you feel uncomfortable or viewed as not positive when speaking about philosophy, compassionately LISTEN and seek understanding rather than TONE police like the Michigan Yoga Connection Facebook group did.
3. Consider True Ahimsa, “non-harming”
a. Ahimsa isn’t only about diet
b. Other ways to practice ahimsa as suggested by our friends at the @YogaisDead is
i. Focus on human relations
ii. Work toward healing human suffering
iii. Validate each other’s (ALL students) stories
4. Pay Homage
a. Recognize the cultures in which the yoga traditions originated.
b. Consider your use of Sanskrit even. What do the works even mean? Who uses the language? Hanumanasna for example....when you teach it, do you know what it means? 5.Welcome communities of color into your space, ask them for their opinions.
6. Keep in mind that not all people of color are poor, some may not join your space simply because they do not feel welcomed.
7. Do not make comments about students bodies.
8.Do not assume that black students you just meet are new to the practice.
9. Take the time to learn and correctly pronounce the students name. Calling the only black person in class by the name of the only other black person that comes to class can be very triggering in what is meant to be a safe space.
10. Do not touch the students hair or body without consent.
11. Ask people of color if they have injuries.
12. Challenge your assumptions. Yoga is not just for rich thin white women, 1 size body, or able bodied people.
13. Do your own work around your subconscious bias. Understand that your proximity to black friends or family members does not absolve you from this. Bringing unknown bias into the yoga room can be traumatizing to students. Visit harvard.org and take a test on your bias so that you may become conscious of them and deconstruct from there.
14. Notice who is on your instagram feed. Does everyone you follow look like you.
15. Notice your friends, are they all the same as you.
16. Notice your unconscious bias when you see black people in stores.
17. Collaborate with marginalized communities and yoga groups to help bring the practice into your community through collaborative classes and fundraisers.
18. Talk to your racist family members. Actively correct them when you hear them speak poorly about all people of color.