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November 21, 2018

Letter From an Ex Yoga Teacher: Please Address Gun Violence

When I began teaching yoga, I couldn’t get over the fear that the students were so vulnerable, and I couldn’t protect them. Sure, I could turn a lock on the front door. But is that enough? Is that enough to lock the door and then encourage everybody to peel off their socks, barefoot. Lay on their backs, and close their eyes. Clear their minds of worry, and “just surrender.”

“Just surrender” to the possibility that once, just once, I could forget to lock the door. Maybe somebody said hello, and I smiled and asked them how they’ve been, and in that instance I have forgotten to turn a lock on a door that later lets in the intruder who was able to buy a gun to annihilate all those people. Those people who I was supposed to be protecting. But how could I ever protect…by teaching a yoga class.

So I stopped teaching. The responsibility of teacher is enough, but the responsibility of body guard is one my petite frame and ghost-in-the-headlights panic reaction isn’t equipped to assume. Presence and breathe do nothing for people lying on their backs, palms up, with their bellies turned toward the enemy. How could I que to “surrender,” when I know in the back of my mind- their guard is called for. It is needed. It could save them.

Since the shooting, I also haven’t gone to a yoga class. When I know that I myself could not have been able to guarantee a safe environment- one free from intruders and massacre- how can I continue to take these classes, and breathe- feel- relax- release.

My point is not to dwell in doubt or despair. This is not the end of a story- it is the climax that precedes action. Think of a choose-your -own-ending type of novel- what is our ending? Do we all live out our lives in fear? Fear of less income produced by gun sales? Fear of not protecting ourselves by having our own gun? Fear of being shot while helpless next to our neighbor in savasana?

The ask here, from one ex-yoga teacher to the country: please join together as a common race of humanity, in agreeing that this is not okay. This is not normal. Your support may go in a myriad of directions: mental health, background checks, right to ownership? I am less concerned with everybody’s arguments about how best to address the issue, and moreso adamant that we come together to address the issue. Please, join me. Join us.




200 Hr Certified Yoga Teacher

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