Should the western practice of yoga be more inclusive?
Today, The Lesbionic invites us to wonder about yoga, as a healing practice rooted in self-awareness.
So many questions and we want answers… it’s time to take our power back! It’s time to practice yoga!
So tell me, The Lesbionic, is the essence of yoga not inclusive enough?
It is a pleasure to be here today, after a long break, I am ready to wonder with you again. Yoga… what a topic. I will try to speak my truth knowing that it is the perspective of a western dyke. Each individual is able to create their own yoga practice. If you are interested in the philosophy and spirituality part of yoga, you already are able to notice the depth of its essence. In theory yoga should be an inclusive practice but the western reality is different. Unfortunately, too many yoga studios are mainly promoting only one kind of body type. Cultivating white supremacy and spreading a biased image of yoga that only a skinny white flexible dancer can fulfill.
Well, let me reassure you, dear white supremacy: NO! THE Lesbionic won’t comply. Does she even want to feel ashamed of her queer body? I don’t think so. What she wants is to create a safe space for queer and BIPoC people to practice yoga.
You are too fat, too queer, not flexible enough to practice yoga. Look at you. What a misfit! They said.
Let all western yoga studios know that we will practice yoga, no matter what.
When did you start practicing yoga?
Yoga arrived in my life during the ongoing pandemic. I was not expecting it, in fact I was rejecting the thought of starting my own practice for years. Believing that I was not flexible enough, that this practice would be a waste of my precious time. Let me tell you that I was wrong. Yoga is for everybody, helping humans navigate through life with gratitude for generations. There is magic in this ancestral practice developed in India. With each breath, you allow awareness to enter your mind and your body. Being alive means breathing. Yoga is aligning breath and movement together.
For a long time, I actively chose to live in denial, to be in environments that were triggering all my deepest fears. Entering spaces where systemic racism and sexism are the unspoken truth. Living under cover, even calling myself a chameleon to rationalize my confusion. During the last year, I had to face a severe life crisis. Continuing like this was not a possibility for me anymore. Reconnecting to my higher purpose was the only way out of this crisis. Yoga helped me to become aware of my breath. My practice allows me to connect to my spiritual world, to my ancestors. This is why I transformed into Lesbionic Yoga and in collaboration with Aduna Yoga, the movement YOGA FOR QUEERS was born.
Can you tell us more about the YOGA FOR QUEERS movement?
After discovering what the wonders of yoga were doing with my mental health, I started to visit yoga studios in Berlin. Some of them were welcoming, warm and peaceful. However, the majority of studios were the exact biased image of yoga that I had in my mind before starting my own practice. The lack of BIPoC and queer representation is alarming, just absence. These studios are organized with the same set of rules as white supremacy, subjection of women and capitalism. From this starting point I decided that all my fellow queers, misfits, colorful, big, small individuals deserved a proper place to practice yoga. This place is called the YOGA FOR QUEERS movement. In fact, this calling was so strong that I started my teacher training and will graduate as a certified yoga teacher in March 2022.
How do you imagine an inclusive yoga class?
Just picture a room where everybody is welcome, regardless of origin, skin color, queerness. In this class we are aware of our differences but know to our core that we are equal. Western yoga studios are still expecting to see only one type of body (ciao unrealistic skinniness) and only one type of skin color (ciao white supremacy).
It is enough! Let’s change this bias by showing up with our flaws and our rainbows.
What is it about yoga that excites you so much?
Here it is, the question that every yoga teacher is scared to answer. How can words describe the full power of this practice? It is not very scientific to talk about magic right?
This magic that happens in a yoga room when tears start falling, one by one, slowly, on your cheeks. It has been proven that moving as a group in synchronized movements increases your sense of belonging. In fact, people are not the only species capable of synchronizing activities, other animals do it as well. But can we say that yoga is only about shaping your body in impossible ways together? I don’t think so. It comes with a deep philosophy leading to a spiritual awakening. The power of yoga is limitless. You start understanding that letting go of absolute control over your emotions is healthy. For me, what allows this emotional release is starting and ending my practice with live music, singing a mantra and playing the harmonium. Yes, there is live music in a yoga session and let me tell you, what a blessing! The first time I heard the harmonium, the melody went directly to my heart. Each time I hear it now, I feel touched through all my being until my soul.
How can I start my own yoga practice?
Let go of the fear, forget everything you think you know about yoga and join a YOGA FOR QUEERS class without expectation. Let the practice show you the way, surrender to the moment. Yoga is a life companion rather than only poses. I am particularly interested in bringing its philosophy into my classes. Maybe not everything will make sense to you at first glance, but you surely will leave the class with a wondering mind looking for further answers. Keep showing up to class and explore your magnificent body and soul.
The Lesbionic found NOT Fun Facts…
Just enter in your internet search machine these words and learn further about these issues:
- White supremacy in yoga
- Racism in yoga
- Patriarchy in yoga
- Sexism in yoga
The Lesbionic Quote of the day…
“She knows something about breathing, of which her Western sister is ignorant, and she is fully aware of the nature and manner of handling that great principle of energy and is fully informed as to its effect upon the human body and mind. She knows that by rhythmical breathing one may bring one-self into harmonious vibration with nature, and aid in the unfoldment of her latent powers. She knows that by controlled breathing she may not only cure disease in herself and others, but also practically do away with fear and worry and the baser emotions.” Shine a Light on Yoga by Ramacharaka.
The Lesbionic found Hope…
The breath can change our awareness of self. Having a sense of self is key to survival. Yoga will provide you with this essential revelation.
Ten baby steps towards your own yoga practice:
- Join a YOGA FOR QUEERS class. Get your body and mind moving.
- Explore meditation and breathing techniques, start easy but repeat daily if you can.
- Discover the wonders of essential oils during your practice and enjoy all their virtues.
- Laugh more, but also cry – allow room for all emotions. Release whatever comes up.
- Sing mantras and open your throat chakra.
- Get out of your comfort zone and find self-growth; maybe you participate in a nourishing yoga challenge, e.g. xude seven Days of Yoga For The New Year.
- Look out for a yogi friend. Practicing with a friend can elevate your own practice. (And you have a deli tea after.)
- Find out about all the different practices that yoga has to offer. Explore jivamukti, kundalini, and many many more.
- Remember to set an intention at the beginning of your practice, e.g. gratitude, forgiveness, guidance, love.
- Move through the world with gratitude for this life, namaste.
The Lesbionic Disclaimer…
Yoga is a vast topic. I continue educating myself on a daily basis. Discovering all the aspects of yoga is a lifelong project.