First of all, let me start by saying that I very much respect the fact that the LGBT movement has to keep promoting their message. I also find it very sad that they need to do so.
In the modern world where allegedly 2 billion people now practise yoga, why is there still so little tolerance around the gender issue??
The most commonly practised form of yoga today is ‘Hatha Yoga’ (or more specifically, physical asana practice). In the Hatha Yoga tradition, the influence of the old Indian caste/social system persists, along with its slant on proper form of relationships. Bearing this in mind, lack of tolerance is perhaps not surprising. For example, historically in India there have been cases of women being
excluded from the practice of yoga.’ ( women being excluded from the practice of yoga)
If you have been practising Hatha Yoga, hopefully you are familiar with the Yamas and Niyamas.
These ethical guidelines of yoga are laid out as the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path. They function like a map intended to provide guidance through life’s
journey. Simply put, the yamas are things not to do, or restraints, while the niyamas are things to do or observances. Together, they form a moral code of conduct. When we respect these guidelines, they create within us an understanding that we realise Brahman through Atman. In other words, the inner and outer are mirror reflections – we live in a universal field where our actions cause reactions (dharma and karma). Everything is connected.
We are one unified field (yoga= union) in which we have to learn that Tat Tvam Asi (I am that (too)).
If we fail to understand this, we are merely practising from the intellect or the body. We are not practicing yoga.
Yoga is about testing your growth through acceptance of what is, loving what is..
It is not unwise to participate in communities in order to strengthen and deepen this experience.
However, I do believe that those communities shouldn’t be exclusive.. Unless we need them to feel safe until we feel love for those that simply are who they are.
It is not my place to speak of the experiences people have encountered on their path to discover who they truly are (eg gay, lesbian, transgender etc.). And there does seem to be a need for exclusive classes for some people to be able to feel supported and have the strength to deal with underlying issues related to gender identity.
For some personal insights into meeting those kind of needs, I have found the following articles very helpful. They provide a sense of where the LBGT community is headed.
Wishing you all Happy Pride for June and indeed, all year round!
And if you happen to live in Berlin, I am more than happy to accommodate you in my yoga classes at Yellow Yoga in Kreuzberg. We love embracing diverse communities in that space.
Robert Schware from the Yoga Gives Back Foundation: Yoga: How We Serve Diverse Sexual and Gender Identity-based Cultures
Lindsay Daney: How LGBTQ Yoga Can Heal A Community
Madeleine Huish: Phenomenal Luminosity – an honest account of how difficult the change can be