Solidarity and Yoga: Opportunity & Obligation

Dear Friends,

As the weeks of our studio hiatus turn into months, you’ve been on my mind more than ever. I should not be surprised that a time of necessary separation has also revealed the extent to which we must work and grow together to build a world that is worthy of our hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of our children and families.

In recent years, many of you have explored with me ideas around cultural appropriation,colonial violence, and hyper-individualism, and the ways in which these dynamics live within our bodies and, at times, within the practice of yoga itself. In the early days of these explorations, it sometimes felt to me that these issues were separate from one another, and bit distant from the peaceful mini-world we inhabited together in the studio. But, as time passes, these issues reveal themselves to be connected not only to one another but to the most pressing issues of our time. They are connected to, and live within, each of us.

As we see more than ever the impacts of greed and consumption on our planet, many of us are also waking up to the impacts of white supremacy in a new way. During this time, and forever onward, we have an opportunity and obligation to confront and address the ways in which our own communities have participated in and benefited from white supremacy, from the consumption and degradation of other humans, even if in the absence the extreme behaviors that fit the narrow definition of “racism” that many of us once adhered to.

That opportunity/obligation exists here within our yoga community as well. As we continue to shift away from the “aspirational exercise” and “personal growth” paradigm of western yoga in decades past. I believe that there is a depth to this practice of union and liberation that can help reveal what wellness truly looks like- a wellness that prioritizes community and collective health as much as our own.

Our humanity requires of us a shift. It asks us to remember in a new way not only our own dreams, but the dreams of those who have been steward of the land we now use, the dreams of those whose forced labor built the wealth and power that has subsequently been used to further oppress Black, Indigenous, and People of Color today. It requires us to remember the dreams and sacrifices of ancestors, lineage holders, and descendants. It is not an easy ask, nor a quick task, but one that holds within it the possibility of remembering something else- our own wholeness, a wholeness that will remain out of reach until we address the systems we have built to elevate a few at the expense of the many. There will be no meditation to ease that pain.

That said, inner change is an important part of the process, and one that I am committed to fostering here at Shelburne Falls Yoga. As they have in recent months and years, my yoga classes will focus both on building the strength, stamina, and clarity needed to meet this moment in the world AND on addressing the patterning and separation that exists within our own bodies. Both will be needed in the time that is upon us.

Above all, this is a time for honesty and perseverance. It is essential that we keep speaking truth, keep showing up, and supporting one other in the process,even from afar.

With love and gratitude,

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About the Author

Kate Pousont Scarborough is a yoga teacher and studio owner, a Zero Balancing practitioner, a lover of movement and nature, and a dedicated cheerleader for her college-aged son. She lives with her partner in Western Massachusetts.

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