Upon reflection on recent tragic events, I now realize that it was naive of me to think that such a statement was unnecessary for what is (in my mind) a friendly little yoga studio.
It was inaccurate and ignorant of me to think that everyone could assume that of course they would be welcome regardless of how they look. In yoga we learn to connect with ourselves and each other on a level that transcends outwards appearances, so I thought it would be a given that I do not discriminate.
That’s easy for me to think as someone whose appearance blends neatly into the visual norms of small town New Hampshire. Feeling welcome and at ease walking into business establishments is a privilege that I have, and others do not.
There are many things that prevent people from “blending in” depending on the context, including size, clothing, skin color, gender norms, and age. It is absolutely shameful that we live in a society in which anyone should have to fear being a target of violence due to their appearance.
Racism in the United States is a complex issue and any attempt I might make to distinguish the prejudices that people of color face from the challenges that other groups face would fall short. Let me at least acknowledge that while, for the purposes of a non-discrimination statement, I am grouping together everyone who might be a target of discrimination, I also acknowledge the unique and tremendous challenge for black Americans living in a society in which our own parents and grandparents experienced the travesty of “seperate but equal”. The devastating effects of those policies were not erased with the Civil Rights Act and persist to this day.
The basic philosophy underpinning the path of yoga includes self-study to weed out our blind spots. It was a blind spot of mine to think that I did not need to make a statement of non-discrimination. As our blind spots are uncovered and dissolved in the light of truth, we develop greater self-awareness. With greater self-awareness also comes a deeper realization of our interconnectedness. When we know the truth of our interconnectedness, we care deeply for evey human life.
The very least I can do as a business owner is to state clearly that everyone is truly and sincerely welcome at Eden Yoga regardless of race, color, gender, age, religion, ability, or sexual orientation. I encourage anyone who is curious about yoga to come try it. The only requirement to be a cherished member of our community is to be kind, do your best, and value every human’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
May there be justice for those who have been robbed of these rights.