This is yoga
Damn friends, it's been a minute since I've wanted to practice. A full however-many-minutes since mid-March when Seattle CPY studios belatedly shut down due to COVID. I taught at CPY for 2 years, after practicing religiously there for 4. C2s and C3s were life! And to teach them was the DREAM. The best part of my week was when a student came out of class sweaty and smiling, and would stop to ask "What song was that?" or "This pose hurts, what can I do instead?" and especially just the quiet smiles and "Thanks." (That's the CPY student I was - so grateful, but too shy to stop or chat after).
And while no company is perfect (duh), there were parts of working for CPY that never sat well with me. For a wellness company, we had really poor boundaries. But I watched the kindest, smartest people I knew justify working for free for multiple hours each week, and tolerate harassment in many forms, and meanwhile continue to do the best they could for our beloved students with the limited resources they had. And I thought, "Well, I'm damn lucky to do this at all."
Then COVID hit, and shined a harsh light on literally everything.
In the aftermath of getting laid off from CPY (after likely getting COVID from CPY), I learned it didn't have to be that way. That CPY made a long series of business decisions that encouraged them to pay their staff as little as possible and work for free as much as possible, while paying >50% back to their investors. That CPY was operating in a scarcity mindset while they graded our performance as instructors on having an "attitude of gratitude". (Note: numerous BIPOC instructors were fired or denied employment altogether for this very reason).
So return to point "no company is perfect". True. But aren't we yoga? Shouldn't a 5,000-7,000-year-old borrowed practice (for White people that is!) be held to a higher standard? Shouldn't the company that in many ways sets the industry standard for Western yoga, and whose HR motto is allegedly "human first", be held to the highest standard for upholding the practice of yoga?
So COVID hit. I was home alone without the stream of reassurance from my students and instructor friends, and I felt angry. Then Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were murdered, and I reckoned with my privilege, and felt scared and sick (which is GOOD). And all the while, the last thing I wanted to do was yoga.
I avoided you all. I avoided my yoga instagram. I didn't take class, even on my own. I felt guilty AF when I saw you were teaching, because BLESS the ingenuity and resourcefulness you all showed! I wanted to support it. But I couldn't stomach savasana or Sun A or even Sanskrit if I'm really honest. It all brought me to that angry place.
Then one day we got a survey to measure our interest in returning to CPY. Oh, yikes, I was a real jerk on that survey. I filled out my availability as only being free from 5-8pm on weeknights, only being able to teach at the nearest studio, and in the comments section I wrote "I am returning because I love the people. I DO NOT CONDONE THE WAY THIS COMPANY HAS TREATED THEIR WORKERS OR RESPONDED TO BLM). I'm sorry for whoever had to read that. That was my Whiteness showing, thinking I could vent my frustration and maybe still get offered a prime time class on my way out the door. Full vom.
So with half a mind to quit via aggressive survey responding, I logged onto FB. And noticed I'd been invited to a national group of CPY instructors who wanted CPY to walk the talk they'd been preaching for years...
And now we're here.
For the past 7 months I've had the extreme pleasure of rallying the Seattle community. "Rallying" in my playbook is letting people know their feelings are valid and that they have options. "Rallying" is providing education on those options. It's fangirling people to do what's right for them. It's cheering on people who return to teach, and cheering on people who stay home because COVID is real and affects us each differently. (Viruses, on the other hand, don't have feelings and will choose every host they can to proliferate, and that's why we need masks, plexiglass, well-ventilated spaces, good health insurance, and PTO).
And the most magical part has been this: the best people for the task have found their way to the movement. I didn't "recruit" a single soul. I didn't persuade anyone that "I'm right" "be mad with me". People have organically found their way with the resources and gifts they have, to make their magical contribution to this community and this soul searching work.
THIS IS YOGA.
This is what yoga has always been about at its core. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sweaty, difficult, long-game-playing pose that only shows itself after years of annoying drills and tears.
Finally, for the first time in my life, I'm finally doing real yoga.
It's good to be back. Thank you to each of you for showing me the way home.