Say WHAT?: Microaggressions in Yoga Spaces

Trolls on my Instagram  are constantly telling me that i DoNt ExPeRIeNcE rAcIsM. 🙄🙄🙄

I don’t often respond, because I know their interpretation of power based violence is on the macro level, and not micro. And I don’t have the time to teach people who wish to be ignorant to the truth. However -

Microaggressions exist. But, these every day slights can make you feel like you are imagining things and making things up because they can be hard to "prove."

Here's the official definition by one of the legends in the microaggressions game, Dr. Derald Wing Sue:

MICROAGGRESSIONS are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Microaggressions can then be broken down into further into 3 different subgroups:

  1. Microassaults: Conscious and intentional actions or slurs.
  2. Microinsults: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness. May be couched as compliments. (the majority of “well-intentioned” yoga microaggressions fall into this category)
  3. Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person.

The more that we, as a yoga and wellness community, know about microaggressions, the faster we can BELIEVE and support those who are being oppressed. And the more we know, the more that we can be proactive about building spaces that are free from harm.

I've compiled a list of just a few all-too common microaggressions that have been reported out by some folx in yoga spaces. My hope is that you read these with the intent to receive and not initially try to refute. Believe folx who have been harmed.

(some) Real Life Microaggressions in Yoga Spaces:

  1. white yoga teachers assuming Black yoga students can’t keep up.
  2. suggesting that Black yoga students position their mats towards the back of the class.
  3. Students in larger bodies not being able to purchase yoga studio attire because the sizes aren’t inclusive.
  4. White yoga students/teachers wearing bindis, historically belonging to Indian folx
  5. yoga studios being intentionally silent about the death of Black lives but espousing that we are all ‘one.’
  6. asking a Black student walking into your yoga studio with a water bottle and a yoga mat “if they are here for yoga.”
  7. facilitating projects or pushing for products that ignore differences in socioeconomic class status and inadvertently penalize yoga students with fewer financial resources.
  8. requiring people with hidden disabilities to identify themselves in yoga class.
  9. turning away student‐to‐student microaggressions, even when the interaction is not course‐related.
  10. scheduling classes on religious or cultural holidays.
  11. attacking BIPOC students for making BIPOC spaces because of the aforementioned trauma.

If your yoga or wellness studio or practice needs a tune up, let me know! This is what I DO for a living, and I’m so excited to help make wellness spaces more inclusive. Check out the diversity and inclusion link in my bio right here  and reach out so we can get on a free exploratory call and do the work together.

With Revolutionary Love,