Is it ever ok to play music in a yoga class with the word NIGGER?
By Yogi Casino
This just happened. In New Orleans of all places. How is this acceptable? So here I sit on Thanksgiving Eve visiting New Orleans as instructed by one of my many teachers in India on my last Pilgrimage there. This is sort of a homecoming for me as I was born and grew up not far from New Orleans and haven’t been back to the South in well over a decade.
The last two days I have found myself exploring the city’s many mysterious above ground cemeteries and talking to all of the glowingly helpful locals. There is a real buzz in the air around here. The India House Hostel where I am lodging is a warm cozy complex of 6 or 7 shotgun style homes build out with one communal kitchen filled with the excitement of travelers new to the city’s Southern charm. This was the perfect place as its nestled right in between two yoga studios and I am determined to go to as many different ones in my short time here. I am always seeking out exciting unique teachers to train with in my travels as well as photograph illuminated beings for The Art of Yoga, my website advancing conscious yogic art and classes.
I woke up this morning at 5:30 to catch a 6:30am Mysore style un-lead class from New Orleans native Meredith Salvago who’s hands were gentle yet confident in her adjustments of my self- practice. A fine way to start the crisp Autumn day. Bless her. I will return for her teachings.
Later that evening after exploring all around NOLA on foot, I found myself close to a studio I had my eye on visiting. After seeing some pretty good reviews online I decided to drop in for a community class as I go out of my way supporting anyone with a donation based class.
I arrived to the class, got signed in, rolled my mat out, and we began. All was seemingly normal as the class begin to pick up. Maybe except for the hip hop playing. Not my prefer choice of music for a class but I accept that it may have its purpose for some beings. "Release judgement, just deeper into my practice I’ll go" I tell myself. The class flows along for a few minutes.
"Nigger”, sharply I am rattled for a brief moment. "Did I just hear that in a song in a yoga class?" My mind echoes. "Surely the teacher must have just let that slip into the playlist". I’m a teacher I see how that could happen. Compassion. My mind floats back into my meditation in motion for a few more minutes before, ”Nigga” the sound system booms again my stomach begins to churns with a song I didn’t recognized immediately from Outkast. I freeze. I wanted to leave. "How could this be ok? When is it ever ok to play such words in a class?" My stomach sinks. My mind begins to race with something I had posted about earlier in the day while at the cemetery.
"The Tantric approach to Kāli is to display courage by confronting her on cremation grounds in the dead of night, despite her terrible appearance." "The goal of the devotee is to become reconciled with death and to learn acceptance of the way that things are." -wiki
"Nigga” again the track belts out. This would be comical if it weren’t so void of anything funny. Needless to say at this point she looked terrible to me. Although soon with the lesson I pondered earlier came reconciliation and acceptance and I pressed on finishing the class confronting her if only through my practice only.
I like Outkast. Who doesn’t. I have on many occasions been told I have the swag of Andre 3000, one half of the charismatic rap duo. We are both McHammer pant wearing skinny brothas, so I see how people could make that association. But a yoga class to have such seemingly flagrant ignorance and insensitivity from a teacher must be address by the studio. It also may need to be addressed in the New Orleans Yoga community as whole. How could this be occurring in this predominately African American city? Maybe something like this is reoccurring in your studio? I remember reading in the news couple of months back about a yoga studio in Santa Barbara, CA with a controversial and in bad taste "Ghetto Yoga". I though then that this was just an isolated incident but it may be more far spread across the US yoga community as a whole.
It is my wish that this writing will spark a constructive conversation about how to better integrate more African Americans as well as other minorities into our yoga classes, also heightening the level of sensitivity and awareness, first within the local New Orleans yoga community, perhaps within the national yoga community in the US as well.
We will transmute this negative into a positive with open dialog with one another as teachers and leaders craving a more conscious future for the yoga community.
Love to all. Light to all. Peace to all.
Sat Nam, Yogi Casino ॐ
Please repost this and spread. And if Andre reads this lets do a collab homie!
GEOASANA (Two Legged Downward Dog) Modified with Chin Mudra
"No, I did not invent this pose as it is not possible to invent any yoga pose. You simply tap into the divine breath of the infinite ever present moment and allow the divine form to take place as the Universe breaths you." -Yogi Casino
"The Tantric approach to Kāli is to display courage by confronting her on cremation grounds in the dead of night, despite her terrible appearance. In contrast, the Bengali devotee appropriates Kāli’s teachings adopting the attitude of a child, coming to love her unreservedly. In both cases, the goal of the devotee is to become reconciled with death and to learn acceptance of the way that things are." -Wi
Location St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 New Orleans, LA USA @ Nicholas Cage’s Geomantic Pyramid grave plot (he’s not dead yet). Oh the magic of New Orleans.
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