January 30, 2022

COVID-19 was the Greatest Yoga Renaissance.


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When you are unaware that there is a problem, there is no way you can be part of the solution.

In fact, you might be the problem.

In the old good days of yoga in the west, ignorance was bliss.

People didn’t have any reason to question a yoga guru’s moral fiber, because yoga gurus were a new commodity, and no one had ever seen a yoga lineage splinter in the wake of all sorts of scandals.

And to some extent, this dysfunctional relationship was inherited by generations of farm-raised yoga teachers.

To this day, we can see in many different scenarios this idolized relationship going down in yogic flames.

Charisma, looks, and handstands used to take you faster on the commercial yoga ladder than dedication, education, and humility.

An oversized yoga teacher’s egos used to get away with murder while their students nodded, followed, complied, obeyed, admired, idolized, and demoralized themselves.

The Supreme Court of social media, with its double edge sword and the house of trolls, can push you to stardom or down the drain with the same eloquence.

Luckily for all of us, we have voices that have risen to the occasion to tilt the scale once again. The landscape of yoga has changed so much that simple acrobatics on the mat won’t cut it anymore. Looks, ambassadors, and influencers had proven to be obsolete and no amount of power will ever obscure the heart of yoga.

COVID-19 could be considered the greatest yoga renaissance.

The new, emerging voices are sharing the importance of a yoga practice that is not detached from social justice, activism, cultural appreciation, anti-racism work, accessibility, body positivity, and so much more.

These newly expanded frontiers had given opportunities to many fighters for the greater good to represent us all.

And yes, it sucks that the world is still a complicated place, but it could be much wose than what it is now without the hope brought to us by those who won’t go back down.

I know that wanting to be a well-rounded yoga teacher these days takes more time and energy than it did before. And yet, with the same token, it has become a much meaningful and richer experience because we are no longer feeding a branded idea of what yoga should look like. But instead, we are looking head on into how to make reparations and avoid harm—both individually and collectively.

Those who are pushing the message of accessibility, inclusivity, equality—those within the yoga community who are diverging from the norm—are the ones who had experienced first-handed the disadvantage of a fixed yoga scale. They speak from their own struggles. They roar.

Yoga has always had the potential for social transformation and for building stronger communities. And this could be the right time. In these moments of shared fragility, the time is ripe for an overdue change.

The yoga community could be that perfect example that inspires other communities to return to a more loving and altruistic vision of the world.

These voices are reminding us that any of us can tilt the yoga scale (or any scale) toward a more inclusive paradigm.

When you are aware that there is a problem, you don’t look the other way and hope for the best. You must make yourself part of the solution. And you join forces with those who are paving the way.

It is that simple.

This article was inspired by the work of so many yoga teachers including:

Jivana Heyman

Dianne Bondy

Matthew Sanford

Nikki Myers

Octavia Raheem

Amber Karnes

Anjali Rao

Michelle Cassandra Johnson

Susanna Barkataki

Rhonda V. Magee

Jacoby Ballard

David Emerson

And so many more.


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