I’ve said before that an enlightened society would not be a racist society. I’m fortunate to be part of a yoga community, 8 Limbs, that is doing work to understand and talk about racism. They’ve helped me expand my mind and heart in this area.
Recently there was an incident that occurred at the Northwest Yoga Conference that is making waves in the yoga community in Seattle:
On February 22 at the Northwest Yoga Conference (NWYC), a problematic interaction transpired involving an Indian woman and a white woman who also happens to be the director of the conference. Savitri Palkhivala was interrupted, asked to stop speaking and immediately leave the room, and ultimately the conference, by the conference director Melissa Hagedorn-Phillips. This elder, who has been practicing meditation for 35 years, was silenced while speaking about the emergence of female power in yoga as well as the aspects of the modern yoga culture that troubled her. This was an act of both racism and Cultural Appropriation.
8 Limbs made a statement about this incident. It’s well-considered and worth reading if you are interested in yoga and creating a more equitable society.
This statement from Laura Humpf of Rainier Beach Yoga about the incident is also thoughtful and great. Laura points out that it’s not about blaming Melissa for what happened– we need to look at ourselves and work together to better dismantle racism in a large way in our community.