Have you ever been in a class and noticed just how white and middle class it is? Have you noticed for example how nearly every studio in Brighton & Hove has stairs to access it? In other words, is yoga for all, or the privileged few? I know I observed this and never did enough about it, but rather remained in the comfort of the status-quo which protects me. That is effing privilege!
It is time that we do what we can to try and change that, making what we love accessible to all and not just the few! There is much change that needs to occur and that takes action from all of us. One thing we can all do is email the studios in the area asking to bring about changes.
The email list will be updated to contain only the studios who have remained silent throughout.
1. Copy and paste all emails or choose the appropriate email address.
2. Write a subject.
Time for equity
Time to change
3. Copy and paste the email, amending areas in [brackets] and of course making any additional changes that you see fit.
Dear studio owner,
The following is said with love and compassion, which may be difficult to ‘hear’ in the written word. I am sure you are aware of recent events and how change is necessary. I am equally sure that recent events have really shaken up your business, and you may be incredibly busy just keeping afloat right now. Yet before reopening is the perfect time to start sowing the seeds to grow.
[Yoga] is a beautiful practice, which at present is accessible only to the privileged. Whilst diversity is lacking in Brighton and Hove, it does not mean that measures cannot be made to bring equity to your studio, which I am sure you are considering. We’ve all been doing what we thought was right, or enough, and it’s really apparent now that it never was. It is why I am writing to you.
I would love to know if any of the following are being considered:
All the ways the studio and classes could be more accessible for marginalised people.
Employing more teachers from marginalised groups in the future; such as BIPOC, senior populations, people with disabilities, LBGTQ.
Raising the numbers of these marginalised students in teacher trainings that are run. This is going to be one of the most important factors in raising the number of teachers from marginalised groups.
Training staff- including teachers- in diversity, in understanding their privileges and biases, in creating accessibility, in trauma awareness and even offering healing modalities.
Gathering the experiences of marginalised students in the studio, in a way that people feel able to share their absolute truth?
Creating a safe space for people to speak up in?
Sharing more of our profits to charities, including those in India, the primary country you are really profiting from. I write ‘our’ as schemes like matching what staff and students are giving to charity would be one such way.
Ways of being held accountable for actions and improvements in these areas.
Doing all of this in a way that isn’t spun into marketing to try and profit.
It may seem like a lot, and I know it will take many years to really implement and see the changes, but I believe the work really has to start now. This is a chance for your business to lead by example in society and to other businesses. I want to [practice/teach] in a studio I can really be proud of and am hoping you can be that studio.
4. Be ready to put your money where your mouth is.
This is key to our efforts. If changes are not made are you willing to take your practice elsewhere? Are you willing to maybe lose income if you are a teacher? We are all in different boats, but in order for change to occur, there may be sacrifices needed.
(Thank you to those who assisted me in the compilation of the email and called me out in many ways)