We acknowledge our steps in the next coming weeks, even months may be a bit wobbly, perhaps even with a few stumbles here and there as we gain our footing. As we continue to learn, we commit to leaning into our position, not just as yoga practitioners or teachers, but also as representatives of this industry and leaders in our community. With honesty, humility and deep compassion. Always reminding ourselves that it is not enough to talk about being better, we must just be better.
So, as we are entering our 3rd week of re-opening our doors, and attempting to catch our breath after crisis on top of crisis… know where we stand. We stand in support of racial justice and the reform of our criminal justice system. Our unwavering interest in equality is founded on the knowledge that yoga benefits all. Yoga is for every body. We stand firmer than ever on the foundation that is literally etched on our floor: We are here to empower you and hope to inspire change for a better community.
Did you know that the first administrative staff member of EPIC Yoga was a fantastic black woman? Or that one of the very first yoga instructors hire to teach at EPIC Yoga was a strong and FIERCE black woman? I’ll also be the first to acknowledge that although we’ve always invested efforts into lifting up our community beyond asana, what we’ve done to empower and inspire in the past must be re-visited, re-thought and re-applied now and permanently moving forward.
We aren’t interested in going “back to normal” — it is imperative that we move “forward to better.” We must do better to train and educate, to open our lens beyond our studio walls, and to represent and celebrate non-white culture. This goes beyond a social post or a donation. This will become part of our DNA. This needs to be seen and felt by all who experience EPIC Yoga.
More specifically, some of our current steps toward this more informed direction include:
- Training our staff and instructors both on our internal values as well as how to ensure these values are upheld and embodied daily. This includes increased awareness of the language we use, the topics of conversation within our studio and the encouragement of open dialogue to ensure all voices are heard, not just the loudest ones. We will require that these values also be upheld by our members, enforcing a zero-tolerance policy of any conflicting behavior.
Representation within our walls and beyond. We will no longer be content with remaining in our limited echo chamber. We will proactively lift up small businesses, artists, community members, teachers and fellow practitioners that may have previously felt unseen in our studio.
From books and toys in Om School that also represent non-white culture to creating a more diverse company culture, the spectrum of how we can do better in this area is vast and we’re not shying away. This is the work we need to do.
Community involvement goes beyond the local yoga community. Another way to break out of our echo chamber is to actively engage with and support our local non-white businesses, highlight causes that benefit under-represented populations and do our part in creating our own community initiatives to act for equality and justice.
Giving back with consistency and transparency. Not only will we continue to offer our 1-for-1 membership program (where each membership sold gifts 30 days of yoga to someone who could use it), we will begin to feature ways for our community to donate to like-minded organizations in each of our Five Star Friday emails. Additionally, we will ensure our “EPIC Changemaker” and “EPIC Annual Scholarship” initiatives truly spotlight those in our community that are working toward or represent values of equality, representation, justice and humanitarianism.
Evolution supersedes ego, above all. This one goes beyond the studio, into all of our souls. Just because we thought we knew better does not mean we were right. Just because we didn’t have the conversations before does not mean the realities don’t exist. Just because we experience life one way does not mean it is a shared experience by all. Let’s use our tools of yoga to collectively set our ego to the side and make room for welcomed evolution.
Forward to better.
Join us in person (or online) to breathe, and begin to grow together. Our space is one meant for support, sanctuary and, yes, for stumbling as well. We are here to process the weight of global crises and systemic injustice while we also celebrate the medicine of moving our bodies. We hope to see you by our side progressing forward one step, one pose, one kindness at a time.
This is EPIC Yoga. For the better.