*A note from Wolf: The letters below are both in opposition to MY MOST RECENT COLUMN published in Yoga Journal's Nov/Dec 2020 issue. I did not censor the first letter on purpose. My response to this pushback can be found by clicking "Read More."
I just read your response to "Just Be Peaceful" in the Nov/Dec issue.
What a load of shit. This is precisely why people are turning away from yoga, because we are being battered by Yogis and the yoga world about "diving deep into our discomfort". I don't need to be made feel guilty about my thoughts and beliefs while practicing my flow. Yoga is where I come to sooth my mind and listen to my body - I'm not here to make political statements. I understand that the basis of yoga is to center yourself- but why throw politics and social justice into it? Why can't we just enjoy yoga without being BULLIED into feeling decisive and guilty about our skin color? I will definitely NOT be renewing my subscription with Yoga Journal because of comments like yours. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I have complained to Yoga Journal and their publishers about you. I love who I am, I am at peace with my beliefs (none of your effing business) and I love my yoga practice - but I will be doing it without YOU and your pressure that we need to "get to work".
How about FUCK YOU!!
Very sincerely and totally OK with myself
I am writing this in response to a Dear Wolf from the Nov/Dec 2020 Yoga Journal where Just Be Peaceful told you about her yoga experience. “In the last few years I’ve found the yoga community to be charged with politics. While I agree with some of what’s said, it taints the practice for me. Why can’t yoga just be yoga?”I wholeheartedly agree with “Just Be Peaceful.” I am a certified yoga instructor and I was taught that yoga is breath, that we are to be in the moment letting go of all the stress and things that have happened in our day. How can you do that when your yoga instructor is spouting their political view? We are told that we should be kind to all Humans and see the love in each and everyone, then how can you say “If your yoga does not center politics, social justice and human rights, then it is not yoga”? By saying that you are saying it is alright to bash the political candidates and my opinions. You never know who is in your class and what their political views may be. My yoga class is not the place for me to voice my thoughts on my political views nor is my social media that my students can see. That is just not professional. I am very disappointed with what I’ve seen in social media this year with yoga instructors and political bashing. I understand having a view, but isn’t it about making a difference, being up to something bigger? Just ranting about things others are doing isn’t that. Go out and make a difference, but there is no need to just yell about what others are doing, BE THE CHANGE you want to see and do it ethically and morally. I think we all want the same thing, a world where everyone can get along and have their own opinions, but my yoga class should be a safe place for all Humans to come together, practice together and feel safe doing so.
Peace Begins with Me
Dear Very Sincerely OK With Myself and Peace Begins With Me,
Your reactions to the recent Wolf Wisdom column featured in Yoga Journal’s final issue of 2020 could not have come at a more poignant time. After taking the time to absorb your words--and while currently witnessing a pivotal moment in US History where a projected 55% of white women voted for the reelection of a sitting president who has consistently stoked and spouted racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamaphobia, xenophobia--on top of creating policies that actively harm immigrant children and single-handedly made decisions that led to the death of over 200,000 Americans with plans to remove accessible healthcare from millions in the midst of a global pandemic--I do not have to prove that your active participation in the spiritual bypassing of systemic oppression is rooted in white supremacist values and morals. The sentences that you wrote do that on their own. It is not entirely your fault, either. It is the fault of the society you were conditioned by and the systems in place that have trained you to turn a blind eye on the blatant injustices of the world. Yoga has been stolen, condensed, and homogenized by white people to the point where we don’t view it as a life-practice, we view it as an activity. This, in and of itself, is harmful. And as more than 85% of the women who practice yoga in the US are white (women make up 76% of the yoga practicing population) it is very clear that we have stripped the integrity of yoga out of our own personal practice in an effort to numb and disassociate ourselves from the suffering of the whole.
As white yoga teachers and practitioners, it can be really difficult to hear, read, or understand that our actions out in the world must reflect yogic values in order for us to truly consider ourselves yogis. This does not mean that we sit on our mat in the seat of the teacher and rant about these systems of oppression, only for our words to cause momentary discord and discomfort amongst our students. This does not mean as students we ignore our own personal process of healing. This means that we go out into the world and make our voices heard, we use the platforms that we have to support and amplify yogic principles. When I say “dive deep into your discomfort,” I am urging you to evaluate the space from which your reactionary letters arose and consider how you can apply yoga to the conditioning that exists there. You can be outraged at the truths I speak and continue to contribute to hate and division by not observing your own reactions, or you can look at the world around you and start actively participating in making change and using your practice as a tool to benefit those who are harmed by the systems in place. If we do not speak up and speak out for the well-being of our fellow humans and of our planet; if we do not remove the people in power who intend to amplify hate, then how can we breathe easily and be sincerely OK with ourselves while we lie in child’s pose or sit in meditation? How can peace begin with us if we remain indifferent to the injustices in the world around us?
I said what I said, and I stand by it. The yoga community does need to “get to work,” and some of us have already started. I am very proud of Yoga Journal for choosing to publish my response to “Just Be Peaceful,” as they have modeled how to actively “be the change” while inviting millions of readers to choose between reacting and responding to what they face both on the mat and in the world.