Last class I was in a very awkward position at my studio. Some people talked loudly about vaccinations and how they don't know if everyone in class was vaccinated and wanted to start asking around. I knew that there were others who, for whatever reason, had chosen not to get vaccinated yet. That group looked sheepishly around and shuffled their mat ever so slight away from the first group. For a moment I felt very uncomfortable being put in the spot of having to make a judgment of which group to agree with.
I took the rest of the day contemplating how to best respond. I am by nature a person who rather wants to listen to people instead of pushing my own opinion, and so I had spent the last months as carefully as I could to listen to both sides. What I had learned was, that both sides had very compelling arguments. Both sides acted in the conviction, that they are doing the best for themselves and for the human race in general. There was not a single person I met over months of listening to heated discussions, who acted out of self-centered ignorance. Everyone deeply cared for themselves and loved ones around, the community and where we are going as a human race. Many dove deeply into researching detailed information, others tried to follow as closely as possible what authorities recommended. But no-one I met acted out of bad intention.
I took time to listen, doing my own research and looking inside what felt right to me, and was left with a sadness not about the different opinions per se, but the judgement, labelling, and division of people that followed. What hurt me most was seeing friends and family being divided over a decision that should be, in my mind, a very personal and individual choice that is made by carefully weighing out risk and benefit. I personally have not had an experience where fear or shame based decisions make the best choice.
Yoga is the philosophy and practice of balance, harmony, non-violence and respect towards all living creature. If 30 years of practicing Yoga has taught me anything in my life, it is the belief that people are in essence well meaning and act with their best intention in mind. I choose to focus on what connects us, what we all have in common, instead of getting hooked on our differences. We always will have different opinions, and that is the beauty of human nature and this diversity is a necessity for survival. Only by respecting our differences and learning from each other we can step out of judgement, division and discrimination.
In this sense I do kindly ask people to keep and open attitude when coming into the studio. Please respect that some people do not appreciate being questioned about their medical history. We are doing the very best possible to keep this place safe for everyone. Let this continue to be a place to practice introspection, respect and love towards ourselves and others around us.
Thank you, you are beautiful!