Yoga + privilege: a much-needed acknowledgment

“When you say ‘your thoughts shape your reality’ or ‘this person is just angry at me because they are carrying this or that attachment’ we are minimizing all the systemic factors that shape people’s experiences. We are minimizing forces like racism, sexism, homophobia and importantly for the yoga world – ableism. Without intending to, we are being condescending and dismissive. We are causing harm because, without even meaning to, we are reinforcing our privilege.”

Calling for Community Care: a reflection on whiteness, privilege, connection and spirit.


Thank God someone is finally saying something about this. I DO believe our thoughts create our reality. On. One. Level. Which doesn’t at all dismiss all the other systemic factors that limit freedoms. Both can be equally true; it’s not one or the other. One person can have a debilitating condition and let it limit them. Another person can have the same debilitation and instead use it as a springboard to new levels of joyous life experience, and everything in between. Two single queer mothers of colour trying to make ends meet can have two very different experiences depending upon both their life situations in relation to capitalism, racism, ableism, sizeism, sexism, homophobia *and* how they react and respond to those limitations on an individual level. It’s everything all at once and never all one or the other. By not acknowledging the systemic limitations that very much do exist in this world, we devalue other people’s experiences, even erase them, and in doing so, we deny them their humanity.

The ‘this person is angry at me because they are carrying this or that attachment’ line of thinking is pretty much straight up a way of dismissing the other person’s perspective and abnegating personal responsibility for compassionate conscious communication. That attachment may exist and may be responsible for creating an angry response to something a person said or did but we also have personal responsibility for what we put out into the world. Off-loading blame is a crappy way to live in this world. Using spirituality to eschew responsibility for one’s actions is just… wow. It’s completely antithetical to what spirituality is. Spirituality is extra-ego. It’s the state we strive for as spiritual beings having our human experiences. Part and parcel to being human is contending with ego and learning not to let it rule everything we do.

Anyway, this is just my off-the-cuff reaction to the little bit that was quoted. Go read the whole article — it’s completely worthwhile and really gets to the core of the matter far and away more thoroughly than I do here. Really, it’s something that’s needed to be said for a long long time, so major kudos to Andrea MacDonald for getting the white-, able-bodied-half of the conversation started (‘cuz it’s not like people of colour, etc., haven’t yet noticed this yoga/privilege issue, y’know. Just sayin’).

Thanks to S, for posting the article and quote on FB.