Most of us know by now that the western yoga community lacks diversity. Practitioners in yoga classes are disproportionately white, thin, affluent, able-bodied. So are yoga teachers, and so are the people who work in and represent what has now become an industry.
If we want the teachings of yoga to remain pure — ahimsa (nonharming), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), and aparigraha (non-hoarding) — then we have to make certain that yoga teacher trainers are doing our part to ensure that in the westernization of yoga, every person knows that yoga belongs to them.
To admit that yoga, which has at its core oneness, may be another expression of society’s racial, cultural, gender, and body-image prejudices is a difficult pill to swallow. Yoga sharers have to stand for equality, have challenging conversations around diversity, and reinforce together what our ethics and our practices as yogis will be moving forward. We cannot teach oneness when we ourselves are divided — inside ourselves and within the community at large.
Let’s dig deeper into how we may be walking, talking examples of long-term ingrained biases and prejudices, systemic racism, and our own internal struggle with body image and idealization. Let’s ask questions and be willing to listen and learn from those who feel excluded or judged in yoga settings. Let’s open invitations to diverse populations for the true face of our communities to share yoga through many voices, viewpoints, and practices.
I have to recognize that as a white, able-bodied female yoga teacher myself, I am either perpetuating the status quo, or I am taking action to adjust it. I have been educating myself through seminars, reading, partnerships, discussions, and friendships — doing my best to connect intellectually, and through the heart, to how I may help diversify and honestly represent the community within the fabric of the modern yoga setting.
I am listening. What I hear is that we all need to belong, be seen, and feel welcomed to be exactly who we are — and in a yoga class, it is no different. Outreach efforts for our 2020 yoga teacher training will focus on diversifying the “face” (body and soul) of the yoga teacher.
My hope is that people of all races, cultures, body types, sexual orientations, and experiences walk into a yoga class and see themselves reflected by their teacher.
We have scholarships available for the next Fly yoga teacher training, taking place on the Island in January and April of next year.
To find out more about the yoga teacher training, visit sherrysidoti.com/yogateachertraining.