My yoga teacher said something that made me really angry the other day, and now my head is all in the mud about going to the studio. Fantastic. Should I even try to explain what he said so this makes sense?
Ok, first some background information. The yoga studio is located in a part of the Central District in Seattle that is traditionally black and traditionally low/mid income. I imagine the studio is there because that’s what was affordable when they were first starting out- – fine. Now the neighborhood also has two newer scenes creeping in- – underprivileged people of color who are homeless and often have drug problems on one hand and privileged mostly white gentrification on the other hand. So there’s a little picture of the neighborhood.
The BS comment came after chanting at the studio one morning and it went like this: “Isn’t it great that we can be here in this neighborhood, with its homeless crack scene, chanting like this? I think the people really dig it. We’re really doing a great thing–we’re raising the vibrational energy of this place. You know, these people have a lot of obstacles, so here we are chanting to Ganesh. It’s so great that we can some higher vibrations into this neighborbood.”
God, no, uh-uh. Let’s be honest. You aren’t doing a damn thing for these people, so don’t pretend you are so you can feel all cozy and self-satisfied. If anything you’re making it harder for them to live here by contributing to the area’s gentrification. You don’t know what low income black people need in Seattle- – and I can assure you that whatever it is, it sure as hell isn’t CHANTING! They can raise their own damn vibrational levels if they feel like it! This whole attitude is so effing imperialistic, I can’t believe it–justifying privileged takeover of underprivileged spaces with bullshit “spiritual” excuses. I can’t believe it and I can’t stand it.
I’m so pissed, I don’t even want to go back. I don’t want to be a part of that. But I want to practice my yoga and I want to have qualified teachers. What can I do? Aaagh! And I’m in the middle of this training, and I’m on work trade so I owe my teachers a ton of work hours–I’m pretty tied to this studio. I want to say something, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate, and if it is, I don’t know how.