Privilege and Oppression in Yoga Service

Privilege and Oppression in Yoga Service



Code Switch – a cool blog

Decolonizing Yoga

More food for thought – wellness is not the monopoly of the priveleged


This is some pretty cool stuff.  It’s good to know that we are sharing experiences of freedom, no matter how they challenge us. yoga is freedom, and freedom is our birthright.


Hasidic chakra: Couple introduces yoga to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox

i’ve been thinking about the boxes we put ourselves and others in, and this is just more of people taking themselves out of those boxes, even when it’s hard.  yoga is freedom, and freedom is our birthright.

Out of the Yoga Closet, by guest blogger Cyndi Kershner

Out of the Yoga Closet

July 17, 2012 by Cyndi Kershner

I am coming out of the yoga closet to extol the virtues of antidepressants.

Antidepressants  saved my sanity during one the hardest periods of my life, when my son was in the midst of a serious illness and I was a full-time caregiver. I didn’t know how to cope, how to care for myself while intensely caring for another, and because of this I found myself in a full-blown clinical depression. The diagnosis of my son’s illness and the onset of the clinical depression happened while I was  starting my career as a yoga teacher. I thought my yoga practice would be enough to help me cope, but it wasn’t. And I felt a subtle sense of failure for having to take the antidepressants, as if I was too weak to face the problems on my own.

Being a yoga teacher or a yoga practitioner does not insulate you from the hardships of life. In fact, it can often intensify hardships for a while, because whenever you begin truly unfolding deeper into your own true nature, everything that is not true about you will be revealed to you and you will have multiple, shall we say,  opportunities to get into integrity with yourself. But that’s another post entirely.

There is a strong bias in the yoga world, and in the alternative community in general, against pharmaceutical drugs. I used to feel this way myself, believing pharmaceutical companies were only out to make a profit and did not have my best interests in mind. That may have some truth to it, but it is not the whole truth.

I recently attended an Ayurveda convention where the keynote speaker spent a good part of his address railing against the drug companies, proclaiming that drugs were poison to our bodies and the only way we could find healing was to reestablish our connection to nature and each other. Again, there is truth in this assertion, but it is not the whole truth.

I wonder how a person whose life was just saved by chemotherapy would feel about the anti-drug sentiment?

I wonder how welcomed a student on antidepressants  would feel is she overheard her teacher talking in hushed tones with another teacher about how sad it was that one of her students went on antidepressants, and if she just did more yoga she would feel better?

This bias comes back to the same old violent patterns we use to beat up on both ourselves and others. This is prejudice, and it comes from the ego. It’s a subtle way we use to build up ourselves, or the club we are a part of- in this case, the yoga club- by saying that we know best about something, and that another person is falling short somehow.

My very first yoga practice, way back before I knew anything about doing poses, was meditating on this poem, which captivated me for over a year:

Out beyond notions of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in the grass, it is too full for words.

Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” makes no sense.

Out beyond notions of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.


How about cultivating the belief that we don’t know, we just don’t know what’s best for another human being?  The belief that life is full of mystery, and it is so much truer to fall down in reverence and awe before that mystery than to think we know best?

That maybe, somehow, even the things we are diametrically opposed to and that seem like the embodiment of evil to us can be working to create good? That’s Purnam,  the belief that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, which falls outside of the Universe’s intrinsic wholeness.  Not me, not you, not pharmaceutical drugs or climate change or the government or whatever the current bad thing is.

So I am out and proud about my Celexa use.  It’s not the right choice for everyone, but it was the right choice for me.