Yesterday after I taught class I went to Charleena Lyles’ vigil. If you do not know who Charleena Lyles is, know that she was a mother, about to become a mother again, a sister, a cousin, a neighbor, a friend, a fellow Seattle resident, a human being. Also, know she was a petite black woman who called the Seattle Police Department because of a burgarly. She called for help, and ultimately was shot and killed by police with her children present.
I initially contemplated cancelling class to invite students to go to the vigil and rally with me instead of yoga class, but ultimately decided to teach. It felt important to teach. It felt important to say her name, and share how racism, oppression and white supremacy are all deeply related to yoga.
Charleena’s murder is connected to yoga because oppression, police violence, and racism are impediments to liberation and yoga’s primary goal is liberation. The Yoga Sutras talk about Samadhi as our ultimate goal, and one of the translations of Samadhi is “liberated.” The Bhagavad Gita talks about all paths of yoga lead to moksha, or freedom. Our yoga practice can break us open, and it can also support us in moving towards action. I realized that whiteness and living in a ‘progressive’ city led me to a false narrative that this could not happen in Seattle. When I get lost in my anger, heartbreak, and white guilt I tend to shut down. This is an aspect of whiteness and cab also be a lack of resilience: numbing out to the pain of the world, and the pain and violence that white supremacy, specifically, causes. When I shut down I can not move towards liberation for myself, nor can I be of service to others who are fighting for their own liberation.
The practice of yoga can teach us resilience. It can guide us to move. If we are able to channel our inner strength while connected to our pain, we increase our resilience and become more rooted in yoga as liberation (not just yoga as a feel good practice).
If we are all connected, as many yogis say, how do we fight for the liberation of all? What are the actions you are doing to support liberation? If you are wondering about how to move towards action, here are some ideas:
*Donate to the Gofundme page for Charleena and her family: .
*Go to the Black Lives Matter march tomorrow (Thursday).
If you are white:
*Talk with your friends and family about Charleena.
*Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations.
*Learn more about the history of this country (because you most likely received a white centered education). Google: Red lining, mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline. Read The New Jim Crow and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
*Read Witnessing Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk. Learn how you are conditioned into white supremacy.
*Support POC businesses and offer reparations.
What are you doing to support liberation? I would love to hear so that I can be inspired by your actions and we can support each other to keep fighting for our personal and collective liberation.