Yesterday I went to a yoga class given by a teacher that I real like. But I could not relax fully because I did not feel safe and cared for in the studio. The lady at the front desk, some students and even the teacher at some point were not wearing a mask when moving around, and I did not see any COVID passes being checked. The room was full and we could not keep our distances properly. It was a Kundalini class, so a lot of breathing and spitting around as you may have already experienced! And it's only thanks to the broken heating that made the room too hot that we were able to keep the windows open (not great for the planet, but quite good for a pandemic context). If anybody in this room had been ill, everybody could have potentially gotten ill or bring that to vulnerable people in their family during the Christmas celebrations. There was no consideration for that at all, as it's massively the case in the western spiritual community at the moment.
As a yoga teacher and holistic therapist, people grant me their trust when they join the spaces I hold. So beside making sure that the setting is as safe as it can be, I got vaccinated as soon as it was possible to get the messenger RNA version.
By conviction and not by obligation.
Not to be able to go to bars or restaurants, but to protect my students and my clients (some of them have a depressed immune system or are pregnant) and the more vulnerable people around me who can't get vaccinated for health reasons or because they are in precarious situations and can't afford to be in bed for a couple of days after they get jabbed.
Trusting very informed voices like Dr. Aviva Romm and science the same way I trust it when it demonstrates the benefits of yoga and meditation, and making use of the outrageous privilege of access that I had compared to my friends in the Global South, whose communities have been devastated and who were dreaming about a vaccin.
Aware of the huge privilege of having access to a fairly good healthcare system if I would get really ill - that will not discharge me with big debts like it was the case for some of my friends in the Global South or in even the US - but choosing to not congest it more by risk of taking away care time for people with other diseases.
Not by fear but in the name of love and community care.
This has been part of my practice of Ahimsa*.
I have, am and will continue feeling extremely uncomfortable and not aligned with discourses about being one with the rest of the world and sending love and light (like it was the case at some point yesterday) coming from individuals that have not considered the full impact of their personal choices on the wider community and the planet.
My heart has been aching for a long time now because of that.
And today is the time for me to express it.
I may lose many followers but it doesn't matter, what matters is to be aligned with my values, and to support others who may feel, like me, extremely isolated in the mainstream thinking of the (mostly) white privileged western yoga and spiritual community when it comes to the pandemic.
At the individual level I will continue loving and respecting those of my friends, colleagues and teachers who think otherwise, but at the collective level I can't accept it anymore.
* Ahimsa is one of the 5 Yamas of the Yoga Philosophy (external ethics and values to apply in your relationship with yourself and other), and can be understood as non-violence, non-harming, rooted in action rather than acceptance (e.g. failing to act can cause violence).