Living Yoga’s Equity Statement
The following equity statement and organizational commitments have been developed by Living Yoga’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team, which is made up of representatives of Living Yoga’s staff, board, volunteer teachers, and students. We anticipate this statement evolving as we advance our understanding, and encourage feedback from our community. In our effort to be simple and accessible, we have linked to definitions of words and concepts that may have different meanings or associations to each reader. For example, the term white supremacy often provokes images of individual or small group racist behavior. In this context, we are speaking more broadly of structural or systemic oppression of non-white people.
To heal trauma, we must consider its causes. We recognize that everyone is impacted by trauma and that there are many forms. Trauma can be caused by violence, natural disasters, or loss, as well as systems of oppression such as white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and settler colonialism. The impacts of trauma are cumulative, and compounded for those also experiencing systemic oppression and recurring trauma. For Living Yoga’s work to be effective and truly trauma-informed, we must continue to provide tools that assist individuals in addressing their personal trauma while acknowledging the corresponding traumatic impact of historical and institutional inequities.
Structural inequities spread trauma and prevent access to healing services. While this affects everyone, many are impacted to a higher degree due to skin color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, financial stability, mental/physical health or ability, and other forms of discrimination or bias. We believe that part of healing trauma is using an intersectional lens when listening to those who are disproportionately impacted by these systems, particularly people who are black, indigenous, of color, Muslim, Jewish, immigrants, transgender, queer, women (womxn), people with limited abilities, and those experiencing financial insecurity.
Living Yoga is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and continually reaffirming what that means for us as an organization. While Living Yoga has excelled at including individuals impacted by incarceration, addiction, homelessness and poverty, violence, mental health challenges, and limited mobility, we are now widening our focus to examine the intersection of racial and systemic inequity.
As we embark on this complex and challenging work, we have developed a list of commitments to guide us. This list is not permanent, fixed, or exhaustive; it demonstrates what we have done, what we are doing now, and where we are headed. We promise to lead with vulnerability rather than certainty or habit. We know that we do not have all the solutions and we recognize that the impact of our efforts may not line up with our intentions. When we make mistakes, we commit to acknowledging and consciously addressing those mistakes.
We envision a world where all individuals, no matter their circumstances, have the support necessary to heal from trauma, build resiliency, prevent re-traumatization, and interrupt oppression. We are grateful for the support and trust of or broader community. Our intention is to engage and inspire others to join us in this work.
What are we doing?
1. Working to balance the requirements of mindful, trauma-informed practices with the requirements of urgent, radical social change.
Creating conversations and awareness around equitable access to trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness services (continuing education, communications, and ongoing internal dialog).
Collaboratively reviewing (with the DEI Team) our communications and processes to ensure they align with our social justice values.
Following our organizational guideline to be safe, simple, and inclusive, recognizing what is safe for some may not feel safe for others, and minimizing chances for re-traumatization.
2. Identifying our own privileges and respectfully seeking out, listening to, believing, and acting upon the needs and requests of those who are systematically less privileged.
We have created a new staff position, Equity and Inclusion Facilitator, to help guide an organization-wide collaborative effort in this work.
We have organized a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team. This team is made up of volunteers, staff, board, and students, and provides ongoing feedback and insight on important communications and strategic decisions.
3. Providing safer and welcoming ways for anyone to join or contribute to our organization at any level, as well as access to our trauma-informed services.
Inviting others to join Living Yoga’s board, committees, strategic conversations, volunteer positions, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team, looking for and removing potential barriers to participation, (when/where meetings are held and how opportunities are presented).
Prioritizing financial assistance for individuals and organizations who would otherwise not have access to our services by implementing sliding scale price structures, scholarships, and flexible payments for our trainings, continuing education classes, and services.
Offering internal cross-hierarchy lines of communication for students, volunteers, staff, partners, and community members (feedback surveys, connection to leadership, training facilitation style).
Continuing to invest time and resources into collaborative processes, providing space and time for the input and perspectives of others to be offered and considered.
4. Diversifying our board, staff, volunteers and student populations by prioritizing equity-motivated decision-making across all aspects of our work.
We added demographic data to our board, volunteer, and student surveys to define a measurable baseline and identify opportunities to diversify.
Applying an equity lens to all our opportunity postings, screenings, selection criteria, on-boarding processes, and support offerings, to broaden recruitment and increase retention.
Actively recruiting potential volunteers from outside the yoga studio community and among those representative of the populations we serve (expanding our communications strategies, offering information sessions in new locations).
5. Making decisions based on the future we are creating, noticing and leaning into discomfort, and resisting the impulse to continue with “the way things have always been done.”
Prioritizing staff and board time for conceptual equity training and discussions, recognizing that thoughtfulness and efficiency have equal value in an effective process.
Seeking and considering feedback that differs from our assumptions when making decisions.
6. Continuing to educate ourselves on how privilege and cultural appropriation show up in our work, and leading our community in these conversations and explorations.
Devoting staff and board time and training budget to internal education.
Sharing resources via our social media platforms, newsletters, and resources page.
Inviting conversation, recommendations, and guidance from the community as we deepen our understanding of these topics.
Pausing and redirecting ourselves when mistakes are made and when our increased understanding informs more appropriate action. Being open and transparent when we make mistakes during this process as our mistakes allow for growth and learning.
For questions and feedback, please email our Equity and Inclusion Facilitator, Christopher Hirsh, at email@example.com.