Right now two women are asking me questions about yoga–
One is a woman I imagine is in her 50s or 60s. She wants to know whether there are any yoga scriptures or schools founded by women. She’s been reading the Yoga Sutras and finds Pat@ñjali is quite gendered to her.
Another is a young Black woman that I imagine is no older than I was when I took Richard Freeman’s teacher intensive in 2007 just shy of 22. She wants to know about the prospects of yoga and yoga teaching as a possible career choice.
To answer the first question, I have to concede the answer of no-not any women prior to modern women. I have to concede to not only institutionalized sexism, but also the “patriarchal tilt” of scripture translations.
To answer the second person-and I do write this for the young as much as the old-I want to say that it’s young Black women and young women of color (and young Black men!) whom yoga needs most.
I’m no feminist. I’m no scholar. I’m no politician. And I’m no yoga celebrity. But here we are in a pandemic political year. We are recognizing that Black Lives Matter-we are recognizing that silence may be violence. We are recognizing that voices throughout history-women’s as much as men’s-need to be heard.
Despite the majority of contemporary yoga practitioners being women, I do think women in yoga today suffer and yoga suffers without these considerations, as evidenced by the sex scandals and trauma cases.
Find your voice and your truth in yoga, you women (and men) out there! It is increasingly important to regard your individual experience as valid and valuable. It is increasingly important to, for once, cultivate healthy attachment instead of endless letting go, endless detachment, endless vairagya, endless selflessness, and ridding of the self. Especially if you are a woman. Please find the sufficient ego strength to uncover what yoga is for you-only you-and why THAT matters!
Please bow to the plurality of gurus inside you, as you, to help us all awaken.