Has Yoga Activism Gone Awry? An Open Letter to Kino MacGregor
I’ve been watching this situation unfold with you, Dana, Alo Yoga, and Cody over the last few weeks. Seeing as no one outside of those directly involved will ever know what is truly happening, I find it disheartening that people unrelated to this case are taking sides. It’s impossible for me to know what your motivations are, just as it’s impossible for me to know the motivations of Dana, Alo, and Cody. Therefore, making an informed decision is difficult. There seem to be pieces of the puzzle being ignored, glossed over, and possibly even fabricated. There’s also blame being projected onto others, rather than responsibility being taken.
Because of this, dissent and discord has erupted within the yoga community. The negativity and vitriol I have seen has been astounding! I honestly can’t believe people who consider themselves yogis would say such mean-spirited, hateful things to each other in the name of what is “right.”
However, not all of the negativity is coming from a place of anger. It appears to me that some of it is being cloaked under the guise of love, compassion, and open mindedness.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen you share social media posts from people expressing an opposing opinion. You’ve done so in a way that makes it look like it’s coming from a place of understanding, even though it makes you sad. Knowing the chaos that’s ensued since your first Elephant Journal piece and the anger currently prevelent amongst your supporters, did you really think that others would accept these posts with kindness and an open mind? Or were these opportunities for you to stir up hostility and resentment against those that disagree with you? Do you think the people spewing words of hatred are justified because it’s done so in the name of defending “the spiritual heart of yoga?”
How is that kind of behavior making a difference? How is that kind of speech yogic?
I have been horrified by the amount of rage that is being expressed by some of those who are following this situation closely. Do yogi activists really behave like this?
Activism is a powerful way to effect change. However, activism that is not properly thought out and executed is dangerous and sometimes damaging.
You’ve rallied your troops in support of what you perceive to be injustice. But don’t you see the injustice in innocent people being targeted, simply for having a differing opinion or for being affiliated with a brand that you don’t believe in? Just like you don't want to be bullied, they don't want to be bullied either.
We currently live in a very scary world. Our President is Donald Trump. Children are being murdered in schools with regularity. Global warming is being ignored, while animal welfare regulations are being taken away. Black people are being shot and killed by police officers simply because of the color of their skin, and LGTBQ+ rights are being repealed.
In addition to the hostility that has permeated the yoga world because of this situation, I have been shocked to see you compare your fight against a yoga clothing company with some of these more consequential issues. You even went so far as to draw a comparison between you standing up against Alo/Cody with those that stood up against the holocaust and slavery. It’s okay to draw comparisons, but being mindful of which comparisons are appropriate is of utmost importance. I found the holocaust reference to be offensive.
If you truly walk the walk and consider yourself the “keeper of the spiritual heart of yoga,” it’s important to hold yourself and those you're surrounded with to a stringent standard. Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable; there are no excuses for that sort of behavior, even when it’s not coming directly from you. And activism is most powerful when it’s executed with integrity, discernment, morality, and decency.
You have the right to speak up and use your voice to help bring about change. But when your voice is stirring up excessive anger and cruelty, it might be time to re-evaluate your tactic.
Is this the kind of activist you want to be? Do you really feel like you’re bringing the yoga community closer together? Because right now, it appears as though your cause is painfully divided.
Hoping there's a better way,