Diversity & Inclusion Statement

The yoga community has work to do in order to be more inclusive and diverse. We, the community, can work to create spaces in which varied bodies, ethnicities, races, genders, and socio-economic groups feel welcome. A commitment to change the yoga culture so that it is more inclusive requires an awareness of yoga’s context, history, and philosophy.  As yoga teachers, we want to practice ahimsa and be aware of how our actions, including the way we teach yoga, could potentially cause harm.  It is our intention to not cause harm to the culture that yoga came from and to work toward creating a yoga community that is diverse and open to people from many different backgrounds.

Now it is one thing to say this and another to make it happen!  We do not have a magic playbook and we are learning as we go but there are a few things that have become clear to us.

ONE. This is a long-term process.  We need time to listen, process, ask questions, study, try new models, fail, make a mess, and try again.

 

TWO. It is essential to understand where yoga comes from and what yoga is.  To do this requires both practice and study.  If you are learning about yoga from reading magazines or scrolling on Instagram we can pretty much guarantee that you are misinformed.  From its inception, Laughing River Yoga has emphasized the spiritual and philosophical teachings of yoga.  

 

We study through reading ancient texts, studying yoga philosophy and history, finding teachers who have more experience and knowledge than we do, and learning about the different lineages that contribute to yoga’s rich history. 

Here are some of the many definitions of yoga:

Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind. – Patanjali

Yoga is oneness. – the Vedas

Yoga is skillfulness in action. – The Bhagavad Gita

Yoga is equanimity. – The Bhagavad Gita

 

THREE. The yoga studio, as a business model, is an inherent part of the systems of white supremacy and capitalism.  We are aware that white privileged people are financially benefiting from techniques that originated in India which creates a problematic power structure.  At the same time, we want to be able to continue to use these techniques to help people heal.  We are still grappling with how to hold these two truths. This is an ongoing, evolving process.

 

FOUR. Social activism is yoga.  One of the most courageous and useful ways we can utilize the tools of self-inquiry, energy balancing, equanimity, and warriorship is to allow space for the difficult conversations.  To listen and be willing to investigate ways in which, even unintentionally, we could be causing harm.  Once we become aware of this, it is possible to change it. Ways that LRY is actively working toward creating more awareness, inclusivity and healing around the cultural pain of racism, sexism, addiction, and trauma include the following:

  1. Proceeds from our weekly meditation & conversation classes are donated monthly to local organizations, including Chittenden Food Shelf, Veterans Yoga Project, COTS, Migrant Justice, Immigrant Justice Corps and VT Food Bank.

  2. Donation based classes offered weekly.

  3. Financial Aid for those who need it, sustained by our COSMIC members. We have 8 people currently benefiting from the financial aid program.

  4. Scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training, donated by LRY YTT alumni. 

  5. We continue to offer virtual classes for folks who can’t join us in-person. 

  6. Tiered membership options help to pay it forward for others. 

  7. Our Yoga Teacher Training emphasizes yoga’s history and philosophy, somatic healing, social activism and systems of oppression.

  8. Workshops and Trainings offered at the studio aim to empower and educate. Past and future offerings include Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training, Walking with Whiteness Workshop for White-Bodied Yogis, Decolonizing Yoga Series on the Kleshas, Pelvic Floor Workshop, Inclusivity Training offered by the PRIDE center and more. 

  9. We do not offer assists without consent. 

  10. Accusations of misconduct within our studio are taken very seriously, with a thorough investigation process clearly outlined on our website and in Teacher Manuals. 

  11. We offer varied levels of classes, from Restorative and Gentle to Vinyasa and Jivamukti.

  12. Working with local non-profits to promote and support their mission.