Letter from Shannon on Chauvin Verdict

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

Yesterday in the United States, Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged for the murder of George Floyd, was found guilty.

This is a unique moment in United States history. It is both significant for how pointedly rare it is to witness such a public showing of accountability, and yet diminutive when compared to the historical mountain of racism we have yet to overcome. We also know that, while our histories may be different, similar lived-experiences of discrimination and marginalization are in communities all around the world.

First, for the many yoga teachers and practitioners experiencing discrimination, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, South Asian, Asian American Pacific Islander, Latinx, Immigrant, and the many more individuals who have been historically marginalized, I cannot begin to understand what it means to share yoga’s lessons of love with a world that does not mirror these sentiments back. Please know Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation honor your experiences and service and recognizes our responsibility to serve you.

For some, yesterday’s verdict may feel like a long-awaited acknowledgement of the injustices specifically against Black Americans and the racism so deeply engrained in the U.S. Yet, we find ourselves at an all-too-familiar crossroads facing two paths: one which repeats history and leads us back in the direction we came, and one—though difficult and unknown—which guides us to a future of equity for all.

To be clear, YA/F chooses the second path, because it is both the just and ethical choice, and because we believe yoga calls us to do so. I hope we all do.

In the instance of Chauvin’s verdict, several takeaways are clear: the need to stick with the difficult work, to remain vigilant and energized against racism, and in the case of YA/F, remain steadfast in our mission to promote equity and accessibility in yoga and beyond. This includes holding space for these important conversations, investing in historically marginalized communities, sharing Social Justice Resources for the public and our members, in addition to engaging in ongoing internal reflection and education.

It’s often that when YA/F comments on challenging or uncomfortable issues, we hear calls to “keep politics out of yoga” or to “stick to the yoga,” and I am certain that we will hear this now—to which I’ll respectfully respond in advance; this is yoga. As yoga teachers and practitioners, readers of this letter are no doubt familiar with the principle of Satya, which can be translated to “truth.” Satya asks us to deliberately avoid ignorance to live a more honest life. With regard to racism, this includes not shying away from difficult realities and seeking education on anti-racism; taking action in the ways and places that we can; calling out injustice when we see it; and promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity when and as much as possible.

We must also stick with yoga and each other, as sharing this practice elevates our human consciousness and raises our collective awareness. Together, with the safety of our common goal of true equity as our guide, we can break this dark pattern and create restorative balance.

In hopes of a more just future,

Shannon Photo and Signature

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