Yoga Heals—one breath at a time. {lululemon Tragedy}

lululemon; tragedy & tenderness.

Recently, news of a murder and assault at a Bethesda lululemon store shocked the yoga world.

The attacks, allegedly committed by two unknown assailants left one store employee dead and the other bound and brutalized. Immediately I received an email from a dear friend and local lululemon employee. She expressed sorrow, confusion and fear. “How can we feel safe in a world where this is happening?” she wanted to know. I had no answer for her.

Several days later she contacted me again. Lululemon, is a corporation that aligns perfectly with the yoga community by way of their promotion of authenticity, connection and enlightened living. It seemed fitting that they would schedule a nationwide simultaneous yoga class for their employees to mourn this tragedy and honor the life and love of their colleague. This class was to be held in conjunction with the funeral of the young woman.

I felt honored to be asked to teach the Boston class and after we collectively bribed a babysitter with the promise of a pair of lululemon pants, I was able—and very happy to commit.

As I stood before 30 or so yogis, all reeling from the events and shocking new evidence of the past week, one thing became clear to me—these people were afraid.

How can we wrap our heads around what had happened? How can we make sense of it? How can we feel safe when the very people that we trust to be living authentically can allegedly turn on us and cause such hurt, pain and suffering? (and boy, do I know this one very well)

As we sink deeper into this fear we pull away from the world. We pull away from those who can support us. We wrap ourselves in a layer of armor and work to reinforce it so that no one can harm us. But in doing so, we lock out love as well as pain.

As we moved through the class I felt this profoundly. There was fear. There was no breath and there was no trust. As I encouraged these lovely yogis to breath and feel safe in their bodies I realized the fear and pain was just too great.

I sat them down and had them partner up. We came into a restorative partner yoga posture (see pic) that has them lying on top of one another. In this moment I realized that often times—just being there for someone to lean on is enough. Too often we think that we have to do something, or fix something and how can we possibly do that when we are not able to even make sense of what has happened? By allowing ourselves to be leaned on and by allowing ourselves to lean on others we create a connection that is profoundly healing. Connection begins to break down the armor. It promotes trust and safety.

It fosters love.

When the class ended there was a long silence. As the yogis began to file out of the room I received many hugs. There were many tears—and in the midst of this sad, sad day I heard them say—that was just what we needed.

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Amy Dec 10, 2014 11:11am

Sue, this article hit home for me. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse . My father was the abuser. I have come a long way after years of continuous and intense therapy and bodywork and yoga. Yet, I still struggle. I find your ideas and words validating and healing. Thank you so much for talking about this difficult topic with such courage and loving candor. I would love to attend one of your yoga classes , workshops, etc. Do you have any in the NY or Long Island area ? Namaste. 🙂

Sandra Salazar Mar 27, 2011 7:09am

Hello to everyone. No doubt yoga helps in the healing process. I can personally attest to it. However, it can also be devoid of meaning when circumstance demand further action that is not taking place. Perhaps lululemon is doing more than yoga in the wake of the tragedy, but I have searched the Internet and have not found anything about it. If lululemon is taking steps to avoid future workplace violence, it would behoove this corporation to communicate it. I'll be the first to re-tweet, like and comment when that happens.

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Suzanne Jones

Sue Jones, Founder and Executive Director of
yogaHope has practiced yoga for over 15 years and is a leading voice in the subject of mind body practices for self regulation and personal empowerment. For the last six years Sue has trained, inspired and lead hundreds of volunteer yoga teachers who have donated their time in substance abuse rehabilitation centers, domestic abuse safe houses and homeless shelters for women. She dedicates much of her time to researching the effects of yoga and mindfulness practices on survivors of trauma and those suffering from traumatic stress response. Sue’s life and work have been profiled in Yoga Journal,
The New York Times,
Shape Magazine,
Body + Soul Magazine,
Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine and on
CNN Headline News.