Justice, Equity & The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center
Love is a powerful and fierce practice, and real compassionate service is our best response as conscious beings. The Bhagavad Gita speaks of action, love and wisdom and the basis of our conscious imperative. Love is a verb, informed by the kind of wisdom that generates service as action.
This community has shared resources nearing $25,000 in the past few years with local and national organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, Sankofa Collective, the Chinook Indian Nation, IRCO.org, The Multnomah County WIC, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, Coalition of Communities of Color, Southern Poverty Law Center, Living Yoga, 350.org, Homeless Houston, the Los Ambulantes Puerto Rico Rescue Efforts, the MRG Foundation, Sri Caitanya Sangha, Food For Life Vrndavan, Futures Without Violence, Honor the Earth and the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund. For 2018 and 2019, we are committed to donating to organizations that support indigenous people and people of color in many different ways, beginning with Portland Equity in Actions' Stolen Angel's Billboard Project and continuing with The Movement for Black Lives, Sri Rama Ashram, the Womxn and Femmes of Color Organizing for Racial Justice, The Queering Yoga Documentary, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA, PNW Family Circle, Direct Assistance Fund, Don’t Shoot PDX, Adelante Mujeres, SPARK for Reproductive Justice, and the Electoral Justice League. Stay tuned for more events and opportunities to be active in giving, participation and community-building.
Who's land are you living on? Many of us are settlers, immigrants or descendants of those forcefully brought to this land, and it is our collective responsibility to pay respect to and recognize that this land is the traditional territory of the non-federally recognized Chinook Nation. However, the land was actually ceded from them in the 1855 Willamette Valley treaty that established the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Multnomah county rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other Tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River, and who can be credited with naming this county. Multnomah is a band of Chinooks that lived in this area. In recognizing that this business occupies colonized Native territory and out of respect for the rights of Native people, it is our collective responsibility to critically interrogate the colonial histories and present day implications of this systemic oppression, and to honor, protect and sustain this land upon which we are settled. Please take the opportunity here to join us in educate ourselves and giving to the Native people of this land with a recurring donation, or thru their tribal wish list, which you can find here. We are actively involved in creating a relationship with this Nation by way of monthly reparations donations, letter writing on their behalf to government bodies asking to recognize them as a sovereign nation, and in meaningful community education. Please click here for more information on Indigenous People’s land, issues, literature, ways to repay what has been stolen and more. Education and action is all of our responsibility. (*logo used with express written permission from the artist, tribal member Tony Johnson, and the Chinook Nation)
The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center's Equity and Inclusion Commitment:
In an effort to broaden equity in the field of yoga, each year we will offer at least one Full and Two partial work-trade Equity Scholarships for a Person of Color or member of other marginalized group to attend our yoga school training program. We recognize that it is difficult to do the work of access to healing and self-care for all when some populations do not see themselves represented in the yoga practices, studios, and publications/media around them.
We believe that there is a deep need for diverse voices to teach yoga in all communities. We are also committed to supporting and cultivating the people, language and approaches that most effectively communicate yoga teachings and informed community-building work. Please inquire here if you or someone you know are interested in these scholarships.
The community, business and teachers of The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center are deeply invested in staff training, meaningful self-education, and building the knowledge, skill and human resource necessary to invest in a more equitable business model. We're creating conversations about race, inclusion, fat-phobia, ableism, trauma-informed practices, and equity on a daily basis here, and aim to make use of these skills in a broader capacity in the yoga community. Our center and classes/events are mobility-device accessible, and while not all of our teachers are trained yet in deep accessibility for folks with disabilities, we are working toward this potential.
We have not always worked in these arenas, and even still, are making mistakes as we learn and try. We are open to your comments and suggestions by emailing email@example.com, and are also willing to be held accountable in public for the ways that we have failed or caused harm. We are actively mentoring and training new teachers, while working to hire teachers of color and teachers from groups on the margins that have less representation in the yoga space. Relationships matter deeply to us here, and so we build those relationships first, which often takes time. Trust is important to earn, and to make changes in this realm takes time. We also acknowledge that all of the work that we have been doing on this may not be visible yet.
Resources about Cultural Appropriation:
In an ever-increasing effort to understand the effects of the damage done to yoga and to South Asian people by cultural appropriation and the western colonization of yoga, we are working to be engaged in skillful education and appropriate action about these topics in an ongoing way. If you are interested, you can read many pieces of writing and criticim on this and other topics related to colonialism, supremacy and the theft of knowledge by clicking here.
Another way that we have attempted to stay engaged in study, reciprocity and repair with the roots of yoga is by being in contact with the South Asian community, listening to and seeking to employ South Asian teachers to speak on their culture and on yoga, and by donating income to ashrams, indigenous teachers and organizations in India and beyond since 2008. These organizations, teachers and ashrams represent and educate about the true culture from which yoga emerged, and they also participate in its continuation/dissemination for both local Indigenous people and others that have learned directly from them. We actively engage in our own connections to our source lineage and study where possible, and are working towards cultural honoring and appreciation rather than appropriation as much as possible in relation to the teachings of yoga, considering that many of us are colonizers and settlers. We are failing at this every day, but we continue to do the work as we aim to be faithful stewards of those teachings.
Click here to read our blog post about our ongoing understanding of the use of Namaste and other terminology that has been appropriated by the western yoga culture, and our attempts to do less harm as part of our participation in yogic ethics.
To ground us in service, love and liberation for all beings, we offer this kirtan by way of connection to source tradition. Please don't forget to sing, dance, write poems, and read stories. We are capable of great things in love and intimacy.
Lisa Mae and Monicka
(Lila-mayi and Malini Dasi)