By Kelley Nicole Palmer
Change is coming—what do we need to imagine as we prepare for it?... How do we practice increasing ease with what it is? Change happens. Change is definitely going to happen, no matter what we plan or expect or hope for or set in place. We will adapt to that change, or we will become irrelevant.
—Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
Change is all around us. We know that the calls for equity in yoga and wellness spaces are not new. We can understand that conversations about erasure, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, and racism are not new. It has felt, for me, that the openness to having dialogue and imagining change has expanded in the last 18 months. This time forced many of us to pause, stop and find a new way to do the work we wanted to do.
Amid a global pandemic that has impacted millions of humans, we have witnessed the collective voices of Black and Indigenous People of Color and other under-estimated identities being heard by many for the first time. This cry for justice is not new; our collective circumstances have made it hard to ignore.
Conversations about racism, social justice, and needed change were abundant on every news cycle and all over social media. People who had previously ignored conversations about equity in our wellness spaces were forced to face these realities for the first time. I found myself, a race and equity educator, bombarded with requests for workshops and trainings. The invitations to sit on panels, give insight, and lend a voice were more than I have ever experienced. I wondered how long the new interest would last. I wanted to be hopeful.
I see the interest waning as yoga spaces come back to life, and conversations have started to focus on how to "get back" to the lives we had before the pandemic. The focus on the safety of folks sitting outside of dominant culture has left the spotlight, and yoga communities are returning to their customary silence. I wish I could say I was surprised. I'm not. The needed conversations about how racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression and how they impact our wellness spaces are historically unwelcome. The folks holding power in these spaces benefit from things remaining the same, so why would they want to have the tough conversations about change? Even though many spaces and teachers seemed interested in these conversations last year, things are returning to normal.
Still, I know change is coming. Those of us committed to this work are no less committed. In fact, many of us are realizing the best use of our energy, imaging, building, and continuing to dismantle systems that try to hoard yoga and wellness spaces, for a few. I believe that the need for change is more powerful than the attempts to ignore or be performative. I also know that we are all inviting those closest to dominant culture to join us, remain committed, and welcome change in our yoga and wellness spaces. We aren't asking for change. We are continuing to create it.
Will you join us? Will you do the work needed to be in alignment with the change required to make equity sustainable and impactful within yoga and wellness spaces?
Join Kelley Nicole Palmer for a live, 12-hr online training, November 3-12, 2021. This is a space where you can come as you are, have the chance to make mistakes, and to learn and grow with other folks on this path. Race & Equity in Yoga: Disruption As a Practice is a self-study training where you’ll understand white supremacy and oppression, how you fit into these systems, and how you can use your yoga practice to disrupt, dismantle, and make change.
Kelley Nicole Palmer (she/her) is a writer, wellness advocate and community organizer committed to using the tools and philosophies of yoga to cultivate liberation, joy and peace for herself and others. Her connection to the living practice of yoga, a path of mindful wellness and self realization fuels her work, impacts her life and propels her to want to share it with others through her writing, events and guest teaching opportunities. She remains focused on making this healing practice accessible to all, connecting to communities that are normally excluded or ignored in mainstream wellness circles.
Being a mother of two liberated souls has created a point of focus that brings these tools to the way she is mothering them and also calling her to share this with all parents. Through in person and online offerings, Kelley centers her work on making these connections with authentic and sustainable tool building. Her writing, offerings and more about her can be found at www.kelleynicolepalmer.com.