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With respect to equity in yoga, the goal of this responsibility within the Ethical Commitment is for a deepened recognition of the many instances of inequity that live in yoga spaces. It will support the membership and broader yoga community in building and contributing to yoga communities that unite.

This is reflected in the updated Code of Conduct and new Scope of Practice and their enhanced attention to anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, explicit and informed consent, and active inclusion, amongst other key points. It will also be evident in the introductory Equity in Yoga course Yoga Alliance is developing alongside experts and leaders in the field of equity, which will be offered in late 2020 for Continuing Education credits for all members.

Position on Equity in Yoga

During the last two years, Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation have engaged in honest and informative exchanges with its membership and the broader yoga community—as well as with leaders in the yoga equity movement—to learn about their unique experiences, encounters with inequitable treatment, and the need for more welcoming, supportive, inclusive, and accessible yoga spaces. This has informed our increasing awareness of and responsibility to equity in yoga and influenced the development of the Ethical Commitment to be shared by all Yoga Alliance members today and moving forward.

Through the 18-month long, community-led Standards Review Project, a diverse group of yoga school owners, teachers, practitioners, and non-practitioners shared candid stories and advised us on the need for a more equitable yoga environment—especially for those who have been impacted by inequities. These insights built and shaped our awareness of these important issues and serve as the foundation of our continuing work. We now take this opportunity to explain why this is important to us and to share our hopes for increased equity in yoga within our membership and throughout the broader yoga community.

Why Equity? In the spirit of satya, we recognize the inequities in the systems that surround yoga and through which yoga is practiced. In the spirit of ahimsa, we acknowledge that these inequities have led to the exclusion and harm of many communities. Equity creates space for a fair distribution of resources, support, and opportunities amongst diverse populations and communities, allowing for the opportunity to teach, practice, and study yoga safely, without harm or judgment. By focusing on equity, we are able to center our work around facilitating change in the areas of diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity. This emphasis on equity aligns our hopes for everyone to have access to resources and support as well as recognizes that there will be distinct work required to ensure all communities are able to leverage opportunities across the training, teaching, business, and practice of yoga.

Why now? The emphasis on equity in yoga is not new. Many in the yoga community have been driving the conversation and working to promote a yoga that is welcoming, supportive, inclusive, and accessible. We are thankful for the opportunity to learn from these leaders and to join the movement. Yoga Sutra 1.1—Atha yoga anushasanam1—serves as a call to action for all of us to engage, to assess the present moment, and to tune into what is happening now. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and rather will strive to amplify the voices, experiences, and work of those who continue to guide us through this process of learning and expanding our awareness and responsibility.

Why Yoga Alliance? We are part of the yoga community, and we are on our own journey towards supporting a more equitable yoga. We recognize the many challenges we face and that this is the first step of many to come. In the spirit of svadhyaya, Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation recognize the discomfort of this work and embrace it, continuing our self-study as we engage in continuous reflection, education, and training along this lifetime of learning. Our desire is for a deepened understanding of inequities and exclusion within yoga, and for spaces that welcome, support, include, and are accessible to all communities. Yoga Alliance is committed to supporting changes that will move yoga towards greater equity, as we believe in the potential of yoga, and we welcome all of our members and the broader yoga community to join, inform, and continue the work in this effort.

What’s next? We will invest our resources to facilitate greater awareness of, and responsibility to, equity in yoga within our membership and the broader yoga community. This investment starts with the Ethical Commitment, which includes an updated Code of Conduct and new Scope of Practice that contain enhanced attention to anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, explicit and informed consent, and active inclusion, amongst others. It will continue with the release of our introductory Equity in Yoga course and our support of events and activities that showcase a more diverse range of voices and lived experiences. Our goal is to collectively embark on this journey and to play a role in meaningful change through work founded in the spirit of yogic principles. We acknowledge that this work will likely be different for each of us, and we invite you to share in this responsibility and join us in our journey towards greater equity in yoga.



About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives