Dear Yoga Garden SF Family,
The staff of Yoga Garden has spent this past week listening, learning, reflecting, and conducting important and challenging conversations about racism in our lives, community and society. We have intentionally refrained from making statements other than support for the Black Lives Matter movement, to make space and amplify those who are better qualified to speak now. However, Yoga Garden is a community with a mission for education and personal practice–action, so it is time to say more.
We at Yoga Garden strive to be the type of business that stands for personal and collective growth and feel the importance of using our platform to contribute to and uplift our community, through our willingness to be humble, to take a stand and to manifest change. We regret that it has taken a string of tragedies on top of centuries of injustice to prompt us to take this stand. To our BIPOC community members and educators, we hope this is not too little too late towards accountability of any harm that has already been experienced. Unconscious micro aggressions do exist and we strive to do better.
First, we deplore all forms of racism—whether it is manifested in overt acts of violence as we witnessed in the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other men, women, queer, trans and disabled in the US, or that it is unconscious participation in structures that reinforce exclusion and oppression. We are striving to be accomplices to those who in many different ways are working for change—whether it is in the streets, in the halls of Congress, around kitchen tables or in board rooms of large and small businesses.
Second, we know that what has to change is not going to come easily nor quickly. We are not going to rush our response today at the expense of meaningful study, reflection, planning and resourcing. The biases that we participate in are reflections of the communities and industry in which we are embedded, and to change this will take sustained and concerted action. We will undoubtedly make mistakes along the way, and want to be held accountable for our efforts. This is a systems problem and we are committed to investigating and rooting out the ways we contribute to systems of oppression.
Third, because we are an educational enterprise, we will ensure that our staff and instructors are educated in and sensitive to the experience of BIPOC in our classes and programs and that we are providing inclusive and safer spaces for our programs and employment opportunities. We will examine how our public instructional programming can be effectively enhanced to address the biases that reinforce structural racism and oppression, and implement changes where necessary. Immediately, we are establishing six yoga teacher training scholarships per year for black or indigenous persons of color. In addition, some of our instructors are leading benefit classes in the next couple of weeks to raise funds for the Loveland Foundation, with a goal of $1,200 for therapy support for girls and women of color.
Yoga Garden understands its responsibility and we will be a part of the change–today and everyday until our work is accomplished. Until then, we stand in solidarity with those impacted by systemic racism and violence, and those fighting against it.
David J. Nelson
Owner, Yoga Garden SF