Practicing Empathy and Kindness

Change is the only constant. But yet, some major social injustices lay stagnant. We must work towards social justice, in all facets, every day. Just like a yoga practice, it needs to be a daily reflection, practice and imprint.

The time for change is now. We must continue to learn, relearn and unlearn in order to dismantle the structures of racial inequality. This also doesn’t mean that we get to slow down on working towards change in all of our broken systems and social injustices. We need to disrupt all forms of oppression.

When I get overwhelmed with where to start, I ground myself in my yoga practice. I always show up, meet myself where I am each day and stay open to change. Some days that may be working very hard towards a new pose and others days it may be less movement and more reflection and listening. This transcends for me off the mat. For me, practicing yoga on and off the mat means practicing empathy, kindness and self-compassion.

  1. Thinking of two critical definitions helps exemplify this philosophy:

  2. The direct translation of namaste is “I bow to you.” Spiritually stated, it can be defined as the light in me honors the light in you. It is an opportunity for respect, trust and union between teacher and student. It embodies the heart in its entirety and breathes kindness and compassion to its core.

  3. The Oxford Dictionary defines yoga as “a Hindu philosophy that teaches you how to control your body and mind in the belief that you can become united with the spirit of the universe in this way.” Simply stated, it can be defined as union. A union of yourself to our world, each other and ourselves.

Every day I am working towards showing up and standing up for what is right. I hold myself accountable and ground myself in kindness and empathy. Just as I know each movement and breath can be better and fuller, I feel the same glimmer of hope for social justice and equity.

While this is my experience, I recognize that yoga hasn’t been as welcoming and transformational for everyone. Unsurprisingly, overall yogic language has been in the spotlight. There has been more conversation and consideration to how we speak about poses, bodies, imagery and the overall dialogue.

Yoga has always been defined as a universally accepting practice. But often the way we talk about our personal practice can feel disempowering, exclusive and discouraging for others. It’s so imperative that we think and watch closely to how we treat and speak to each other and ourselves, in every facet.

Once we begin living a life filled with vulnerability and kindness, we shed light to how our experiences are different but how we can still coexist. This is a constant practice, and takes consistent reflection. We must keep social justice as a daily practice.