March 26, 2021Madeleine Bong on March 26, 2021
Welcome to The Diary of a Yoga Teacher. Through this series, I hope to share with you my perspective of my internal and external world specifically as a coloured Yoga Teacher and perhaps it’ll grow into sharing other BIPOC and LGBTQ+ stories too. My intention is to offer another viewpoint because modern yoga is filled with white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, slim women. Where are the rest of us?
In today’s diary, I’d like to focus on my mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. The kind of sensation that leaves you feeling heavy, emotional, and downright depressed. I know many of us are probably feeling this way because of the pandemic. The lost of physical touch and seeing friendly smiling faces have led to people say that globally we are grieving. But to be honest, I think the world has been grieving long before the pandemic. From global warming, violence against women, to police brutality, in reality nothing was “normal” pre-covid. If anything, the pandemic has brought light to issues that desperately need to be dealt with and nothing will or should go back to “normal” post-pandemic.
In my experience, the external world is in such a turmoil that I have been feeling the need to teach less and/or teach more intentionally. There simply is too much to process, too many movements to stand behind, and too much to keep up with. I feel the need to hunker down, rest, and feed my own soul to remember how blissful life is when we just slow down…
I do also wonder how much lighter I would feel if I see more white-owned Yoga studios step up for BIPOC communities rather than having the weight on our shoulders. I believe this is the heaviest stone that lies on my heart. There was a time where I would teach 15 classes a week and barely notice when there would be less than 2 (or none) people of colour in my class. There was a time when it didn’t bother me when I was the only teacher of colour in the studio. But now I care. I care a lot. And I don’t have the time or energy to give to studios, students, and other teachers who don’t care. I am tired of having conversations with white folks who do not bother to educate themselves or talk to their fellow white friends about white supremacy and the harm it poses on everyone. It is tiring when people assume that I have all the answers. I am exhausted. For so long I thought this feeling of isolation was “normal”, but with more stories of racially invoked violence and experiences coming out…I know now this is not “normal” and when more of us speak up and stand up, the larger the ripples of change become.
My teacher once said that there are two types of exhaustion, one is the kind where you need sleep and the other is when you need peace. I think right now I need both. Peace for my own heart and rest so I can offer intentional caring classes for those who desperately need it.
For those who continue the journey of social change and justice, please remember to take care of yourself and that happiness if your birth right. We may not see all the changes we want in our lifetime but each step is a step forward. For those who worry about me, please don’t. I am not fragile. I am living my human experience. I will and do reach out for the support I need, so I ask that you trust me. The pain, grief, and sorrow are a part of my beautiful lived reality and I choose to see beauty in my journey. I will continue to have meaningful conversations with those who are on the same page with me and those who are not. I will continue the work of unity and connection. But I will also honour when it is time to take the weight off of my shoulders and rest.
Till next time,
Read my article, “Resources to find support, education, and community” if you are interested in becoming an ally and accomplice to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
The Magic of Pranayama in Supporting Anxiety Attacks
Here I share my first anxiety attack experience and how my nervous system quickly turned to my breathing exercises. I never thought I would have such a strong anxiety attack and under the water nonetheless!
The Diary of a Yoga Teacher: Exhaustion and White Centering Yoga Studios
The Diary of a Yoga Teacher is a series of writing that reflect upon my experience as a person of colour in Western Yoga spaces. In today’s entry, I talk about my overall exhaustion from the current political and social landscape.
Resources to find support, education, and community
A list of resources to educate and support BIPOC communities. This page will continue to grow as I learn too. I will be looking deeper into LGBTQ+ resources as well, stay tuned.
We will send you updates and new blog pieces! I promise, nothing worth going to spam for.