It seems like a strange time to celebrate anything when you take in our public health crisis and political climate, but I do have something joyful to make note of – this month, Source Yoga turns 15! In July of 2005, dear friend and fellow teacher Melissa Paz and I dreamed big, threw our hat over the wall, and opened the doors of our sweet little yoga studio in North Tacoma. We crossed our fingers that people would show up, and you did.
I just looked back at the classes for that first week in the studio, and there were many familiar names on the rosters – some of you have been attending classes since our inaugural week! I can’t fully express my gratitude for those of you that started with us, and the many of you that have joined us along the way and found a second home within your yoga community at Source.
Now we are in a very different time. This has been a tough year, to say the least. I see small businesses closing, and my heart hurts that despite best efforts to keep going, the current circumstances make running a small business (challenging in the best of times) even harder. At least people who start small businesses tend to be creative, entrepreneurial types, and have practice going through challenges. Small business owners are resilient, because we have had to be.
It’s the difficult times that I have been through in the past while keeping a yoga business surviving (and thriving!) that gives me confidence that we can make it through this time too. In 15 years, running a business has taught me many things: adaptability, creativity, humility, resiliency. I’ve learned a lot about how to not take things personally, and how to bounce back after stumbling. Trust in myself has grown, as has my ability to listen, pause, and respond rather than immediately react to difficult circumstances. I have a deeper understanding that all things change, and I have learned to keep returning to my intention, mission, and what I am truly committed to – offering a space to explore yoga and mindfulness practices that are accessible for all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.
It’s these qualities that have developed through my practice of yoga, and what I think of as the spiritual practice of running a business, that has me trust that we will make it through this time with greater strength, resiliency, and wisdom.
This trust that we will get through this applies not just to business, but as an opportunity for all of us during this time. This time living through a global Pandemic, this time of political strife, this time where we are confronting the ongoing harm to Black lives in our country, and for many of us – perhaps for the first time – understanding how we have been complicit in oppressive systems. In many ways, this time is painful.
Right now, individually and collectively, we have an opportunity to dig deep within ourselves, opening to the pain of this moment, bringing it to the surface to examine, be with, hold and heal. As Vietnamese Zen Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, the beautiful lotus blossom grows out of the muck at the bottom of the pond – “no mud, no lotus.”
To heal our internal wounds, we need to allow ourselves to see the mud within us – the ugly, mucky places. We need to give space to the places where we struggle, where we defend or resist, or close our eyes and ignore. None of us wants to be in pain, but there is no way to the other side without acknowledging our own suffering and the suffering of the world.
To be honest, examining whiteness and white supremacy has been a place like that for me. A place I knew was there, where I could feel the pain of it, but where I subconsciously kept avoiding looking too closely. A place that I had the advantage based on my whiteness to avoid looking. That fear, defensiveness, and avoidance no longer has validity for me. Not in this time, not if I say I want it to be a just world for everyone. Not if I believe that the freedom, the liberation that yoga provides is available for all of us.
I know the time is now to examine how I am contributing in harmful ways through my ignorance and through my avoidance. As a white leader of a yoga organization, I know that it’s time to look at how I/we contribute to systems of oppression within yoga, within the culture of the studio. It’s time to look at how we can wake up to causing less harm with our words, thoughts, and actions, and how to be intentionally anti-racist rather than simply believing the illusion that we are not racist. An illusion, yes, because we (all of us) have been conditioned within a racist system.
With this intention, I have invited a wonderful teacher that many of you know, Kate Fontana, to facilitate conversation and embodied practice with us through an online workshop:
Anti Racism as Spiritual Practice
What does yoga have to do with race? How has our shared yoga practice been a tool of white supremacy and institutional racism? How might our practice equip us to address these wrongs in a holistic and embodied way? More particularly, what does #BlackLivesMatter mean for us, as Source Yoga community members? Who does this time call us to be?
This is a 2-hour gathering designed to support experiential, embodied engagement of the recent death of George Floyd, subsequent protests for Black Lives, and the legacy of white supremacy in our nation, communities, and selves.
Through contemplative practice, trauma-informed somatic awareness, self-education and explorative conversation, we will practice listening inwardly, to each other, and to the world around us with the intention to make clear, grounded choices for acting in our spheres of influence to heal the wound of white supremacy.
Space is limited in this workshop, please register early. Proceeds will be donated to The People’s Assembly, a local, grassroots organization supporting Black Lives.
The truth is our yoga and mindfulness practices – practices that many of us have worked with for quite some time – have primed us to be able to look with sensitivity and openness at healing racial trauma in ourselves. The qualities that have been cultivated through our practices – being able to pause, sense, feel, breathe, find equanimity, even when feeling challenged – these qualities are exactly what is needed right now.
Let’s do this work together.
Thank you for 15 years and thank you for being on this continued journey with me.