Fat Yoga has always sought to mitigate the culturally appropriative aspects of being founded by a white person, in the whitest city in the united states. Long before I developed the analysis to write the above sentence, I knew better than to call it “phat” yoga, as so many people tried to convince me, in those early days. Not only because I meant fat, fat - not cool, phat. I rarely used sanskrit terms, and avoided chanting and pontificating about chakras. Later, when we did brand and logo design; then as we opened the studio, I knew the decor couldn't be stereotypes that would invoke “India-ness”. I’ve always avoided discussing spiritual aspects in classes I offered, believing I was avoiding the mantle of Guru. I always knew I wasn’t some fat guru from on high. “Im just a fat person who likes yoga,” Ive been saying that since I first noticed people assuming I had some secret they could discover. I did and said enough harmful things for Jesus in my youth, I didn't have any desire to stomp on the true Yoga of the Indian Subcontinent. Welp, none of that was nearly enough to mitigate the harm I was committing by marketing myself using the term ‘yoga’. The last couple years, I think I knew that on some subconscious level.
Yes, just using the term ‘yoga’ to describe the type of exercise & community we have, is violence. Violence against the South Asian people whose culture and spirituality is actually of true Yoga. European colonization led to asanas-as-yoga being stollen and commodified by (mostly) white u.s. americans. Before I knew better, I participated in the same colonial behaviors I’d been raised to not even notice, let alone question. For that I apologize, I am truly sorry for violence i have committed directly or endorsed by inaction.
From the very beginning, Fat Yoga has sought to be inclusive to as many fat people as humanly possible. Often we have fallen short, sometimes we’ve been really good at cleaning up the messes we’ve made. What’s always been true is community and moving our fat bodies in new and exhilarating ways. I, as our founder and decrier, have always been led by my own innate strong sense of empathy. Sometimes my fumbling assertion of empathy for one, as alienated others. In the six years since our first classes, I’ve done continuous self-critique, studied and questioned social, political and cultural norms to find the best ways to be inclusive of even more fat people. It’s been both a daunting and transformative process for me personally and professionally. Im forever grateful to each person I was gifted to cross paths with on this journey.
It will take some work, and some unpacking to clean up this mess, and negotiate what’s salvageable and good here in the phenomenal community we’ve made over this last 6 years. Your patience though this transition is so appreciated. Movement classes led by Mack, will continue however we will not be saying “namaste” at the end of classes anymore. Taking responsibility personally, in-person for my behavior has been a very liberating experience these last few weeks. As we move forward, Im rejuvenated by the idea we can have the fat-centric community center we’ve always wanted. We have long established, good relations with our venders and landlords. Excitingly, as this has developed, an incredible small group of folks have come forward to lead this process. I am thrilled to discover how I can best contribute to my communities all the while maintaining my own boundaries of kind ethics. Im open to your feedback and critiques.
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