Dear Western (Predominantly White) Yoga Studios…

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Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

It is not revolutionary to create more all white spaces for wellness.

It is not feminist to create spaces inaccessible by prices, offerings, access, body size, expected body mobility, etc to many folks.

It is not liberation to take practices rooted in ancient, deep, spiritual, interpersonal healing, strip them to movements paired with music to make you sweat. This is just called an appropriated workout with deep breathing.

It is not loving to be entitled in your prescriptions of fixes without consideration of the multitude of complexities that keep folks from having time, space, money and energy to access those fixes.

None of our wellness spaces have to be revolutionary, feminist, liberating or loving; it is absolutely not a requirement. However, if this is the case it is important to not pretend we are creating something we are not. There are a multitude of wellness spaces across the Western world, filled with a majority of white, able-bodied, thin, athletic humans with an income that can afford $15-$27 per class. Many of these spaces claim to be wholly welcoming, loving, and inclusive — at least if not the businesses themselves, the people who fill them pride themselves on their ego-less practices, the sanctity of arriving on the mat.

What I have discovered though is that white folks have taken practices that are not ours wrapped them up in egos and “good vibes only” language to feel evolved while being largely incapable of holding space for the hard stuff, vulnerability and the discomfort of allowing folks space to heal.

“Liberal” “spiritual” spaces have let me down; have left my spirit fragmented and my soul longing.

I’m curious how we can do better.

Being able to have and do the things listed here is a privilege. It is not wrong to have that privilege. One could argue this ought to be a right to wellness for all, but in working within our current realities it’s not. So, for now, how can we better understand why white folks throw these prescriptions around like they’re accessible and possible for everyone when they simply are not?

We need more complex and nuanced conversations within wellness spaces. We need decolonized, liberating healing.

Anything less and I’m not buying in.


A white, rogue yoga teacher

Written by

counterculture writer at the intersections of spirituality, race, gender + shame

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