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June 28, 2020

I’m a Yogi & I Don’t Celebrate International Yoga Day: Here’s Why.

Okay sure, I would likely label myself a yogi.

I am a yogi. I love yoga. I love it a lot. I love to practice yoga. I love to learn about yoga.

I am a certified yoga teacher, which honestly means I paid a lot of money to a studio for a summer intensive course to be able to label myself a teacher. I got the paper, I was certified, and I could go into the world and teach others.

Over 12 years, I have cultivated a deep, complicated, beautiful, loving, and humbling relationship with my yoga practice. It has often been an on-again, off-again relationship. It has been sweaty and rigorous, and also the most gentle and soothing.

The summer I did my yoga teacher training and the summer before, of course, I posted a photo on Instagram for International Day of Yoga. It was on the beach, it was sunset, and I was doing a cute, simple pose, and wrote a caption about all the ways yoga saved me and how much I loved it. I added at least five of the most common hashtags, and voila, I did my yogi diligence.

The year after I completed my YTT and each year since then, I have not posted about it.

Instagram gets flooded by so many thin, white women doing handstands and tough poses that just keep raising the bar for what yoga is and what it looks like. It is equally none of that, and so much more than that image that carries expectations. It is much more inclusive, and it’s often way more simple. Yoga is not always crazy swirly poses—it is often not that at all. So I stopped posting about International Day of Yoga because it felt like one more poser thing to do to be a good yogi.

This year, I instead shared about National Indigenous Peoples Day, having my love of people be louder and greater than my love of yoga.

Usually, in my city and others in Canada, there are a few small events marking this day. Some of my favourite local indigenous artists perform and share their special art, and now I choose to light up my social media with a few of these voices. Each year, it mostly quietly passes and goes unheard of for most people. We hear about summer solstice events, International Day of Yoga, or of course the term powwow this year.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is still young in Canada, established only in 1996 by Roméo LeBlanc, the Governor-General of Canada at the time. Originally named National Aboriginal Day, it was changed to National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017.

This year I decided to stand alongside our beautiful indigenous folks, our passed over, judged, misunderstood, too often harmed neighbours. It is high time we shower them with respect and honour. Let’s tell their stories, those we have permission to share, and henceforth, let’s have 21 June be established in the collected conscious as National Indigenous Peoples Day. They deserve it.

With much of the country still avoiding events, the platforms this year switched to being online. Websites organised online celebrations, featuring indigenous art, culture, stories, and people to mark the day.

Now is a great time to take these opportunities to educate yourself. Listen to their stories, read something, ask supportive questions, check out wonderful art and music, and more. Learn about the many wonderful people and their traditions.

As much as I love yoga, it can step back on this special day to create space for these amazing people.

~

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