Beyond JEDI Statement
Justice, equity and accessibility, honoring diversity, and going beyond inclusion to center those who have been marginalized are all cornerstones to the purpose, business model and function of Yoga with Avery.
The process is iterative, and never complete. Expect it to evolve and take new forms. While both yoga and movements for change are profoundly valuable and worthy of lifelong commitment, the current era of both the yoga/ wellness industry and the movements for “diversity equity and inclusion’ are fraught and problematic.
Yoga with Avery is committed to equitable access to high quality, inclusive, transformative teaching and practice of yoga that is rooted in collective liberation and honors lineage, in every sense. These statements are also an invitation for everyone involved in Yoga with Avery, as a collaborator, student, community member, etc. to lifelong learning that includes space for growth, change, critique, imperfection, and nuance.
This commitment drives the what and the how of Yoga with Avery, and is expressed through 3 Key ComponentsRespect and Responsibility: Decolonial lens, lineage based, financial structures geared towards redistribution, equitable access, and collective prosperity.
- Nonbinary spiritual frameworks: Yoga and Justice work as inherently intertwined. Yoga is at its root a collective healing and justice oriented philosophy practice; movements for social change necessarily require what yoga has to offer.
- Beyond access and inclusion: Subversive recentering and cherishing of those with underestimated/ marginalized identities. Uplifting South Asian teachings and teachers! cherishing Trans and Queer lineage!
The Waters We’re Swimming In
The nature of our intersecting social locations and the historical and present day contexts of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, last stage capitalism, and all the isms that weave toxic forms of supremacy, hierarchy, and eco-domination cannot be separated from the project of studying and teaching yoga, nor running a business. The effects of systemic oppression are real and all pervasive.
In the spirit of transparency, and inspired by the revelations about identity and intersectionality brought forth by the black femmes and women of the Combahee River Collective, I share the following identities in hopes that you and I may find ever deeper understandings of what it is to be in a relationship in ways that honors our interdependence and ability to thrive. Yoga with Avery represents the project, teaching, platform, and small bussiness of Avery Janeczek Kalapa, a white, queer, neurodivese, nonbinary, trans, ablebodied, mixed class AFAB settler who has US citizenship. I am invariably part of the problem, and the solution. I am racist and antiracist. I am problematic, and beneficial, as we all are in unique and specific ways.
Performative activism and “woke washing” are pervasive. While critique of such practices is essential, I also acknowledge on some level we are all performing, and there are many ‘right ways’ to strive towards ethical conduct. This document and the procedures it describes aim to be honest and forthright, even such processes are iterative and at times, messy.
The yoga offered here, in it’s presentation, purpose, form, who is centered, and what it upholds, as well as the ways money and resources are involved, seek to stay grounded in the visions, culture, and praxis of social justice.
BKS Iyengar held the belief that all people, regardless of religion, race, class, caste, or gender can participate in and benefit from yoga, that it is a gem for all who are willing to practice. Much of his life’s work was devoted to making yoga accessible to a wide variety of people, for the good of the collective, and this legacy has been carried forth through the subsequent generations of the Iyengar family.
Yoga practice as we know it has been dramatically affected by westernization, white supremacy norms, and capitalism. In an era of widespread philosophical and cultural appropriation, I seek to honor the lineages of spiritual practice that I have benefited from through practice and teaching that strives to be honest, humble, and sincere. I also commit to give back to the people and places these lineages and that my life is rooted in, financially and energetically. I seek to honor lineage in a way that offers reverence for my teachers and without erasing their faults, growing curves, or humanity.
I also seek to honor, spiritually and materialy, the queer, nonobinry, and trans lineages I benifit from, and am part of through the practice and teaching of yoga.
Yoga with Avery operates in the spirit of the legacy of the healing justice movement, led by Black and indigenous queer disable femmes, though as a for-profit entity and as a white person I do not describe my work as such. Yoga with Avery upholds the perspective that yoga that includes social justice frameworks is a way of honoring the roots of yogic practice, and rejects mainstream tendencies towards spiritual bypassing.
Yoga with Avery rejects notions of competition and gatekeeping and disrupts the common narratives that 1. Yoga is a luxury for thin, white, upwardly mobile cis people; 2. Only certain types of people should teach or practice yoga; and 3. There is one right way to study, practice, or teach yoga.
On ‘Safe Space,’ Community Care, and Consent
While ‘safe space’ is a nice term that has become popular, there is no way to guarantee a ‘safe space.’ Anything could be triggering given that in various ways we all carry personal, ancestral, and collective trauma. Instead we practice, as coined by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens, “brave space,” that welcomes courageous opening while respecting people’s subjective realities.
Identity based separate spaces for yoga have great value. Sometimes we need to be around people with a shared experience of oppression in order to open up. I support such classes, and sometimes offer them.
I will never be the right teacher for everyone, nor do I seek to be. I am committed to harm reduction, and serving people in a way that honors their needs and boundaries, and supports their potential for growth, health, and happiness.
I teach through a trauma informed lens, though how this looks will vary greatly depending on context, content, and the students. I practice asking for consent before offering physical adjustments, and offer education about modifications and how to adapt practice for a variety of physical, psychological, and emotional needs. I strive to be welcoming for feedback when I make mistakes.
The ways white supremacy culture and white-centering dominates most yoga spaces is violent. I am deeply honored when folks of BIPOC students attend yoga with me, and I respect that a white yoga teacher (even one who works to be anti racist) or embodied healing spaces that include white people are not always a good fit for some BIPOC. Here is a list of recommended BIPOC teachers for your reference.
Similarly, I am deeply honored to have large bodied folks in my classes. Toxic weight loss culture and fatphobia is rampant in most yoga and wellness spaces. I have learned many ways to adapt and create beneficial practices for bigger bodies, but if you’d rather study with someone with a similar body to you, here is a list of body positive/ fat identified yoga teachers.
I will continue to do my work around all the places I hold privilege, as part of my commitment to create spaces that are welcoming and affirming for everyone, that honor their age, ability, body, race, ethnicity, religious orientation, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and other markers of identity. While much of yoga involves internal practice, it is not an individualistic quest. We heal in community; we co-regulate together. The prioritization of accessibility is rooted in this understanding.
Yoga is by its nature profoundly valuable, and I believe it’s pursuit is worthy of our investments of time, energy, and therefore under capitalism, money.
As a full time yoga teacher, and the sole breadwinner of my household of 3, I am existing within capitalism. At this stage that includes exchanging money for services, which is inherently entangled with the violence of these systems of oppression.
This business strives to interact with money in a deliberate, responsible, ethical, and mutually beneficial way. It redistributes funds and resources in the spirit of reparations both through
A. Financial access to health, rest, and wellness especially to those historically denied via equity pricing, scholarships, and free attendance;
B. By donating a percentage of revenues to Honor Native Land Tax and other grassroots justice organizing. Currently, 10% of net proceeds goes to HNLT, though sometimes as global crises emerge, money is sent elsewhere to site specific mutual aids, or Black trans led grassroots organizing. This means that for revenue on classes, workshops, and private sessions, after taxes, fees, expenses are taken out, 10% is set aside for such causes.
In order to make such a model sustainable, Yoga with Avery actively welcomes donations to offset the cost of equity pricing and scholarship programs. When you pay the higher price, you help cover someone else. You can make a donation here. Large ticket items like retreats also help fund free community yoga projects.
This business model rejects the idea that money is anti-yogic. It rejects scarcity, and uplifts mutual thriving. It rejects the idea that yoga should be free (which would only allow those with substantial class privilege to teach full time) and supports the movement for yoga teachers, and healing arts practitioners of all types to be able to earn a living wage and be well compensated for their time and skill. As such, while alternative forms of payment such as barter or work trade is occasionally utilized, the preferred method is to exchange financial payment in order to respect the worth of people’s labor, including mine.
Yoga with Avery seeks to contribute materially and energetically to transforming the structures it exists within, via emergent strategies and co-creating new models that benefit us all. In accordance with yogic values, Yoga with Avery upholds a vision of abundance via equity, sustainability and collective prosperity.
Inner and outer work is required to uplift change. Yoga with Avery is committed to both, in the following measurable steps:
- Equity pricing
- Scholarships and free/low cost options
- Reparations and redistribution of funds through built in donation
- Specialized spaces for Queer and Trans practitioners
- Ongoing commitment to accessibility in its many forms including physical, cultural, financial, age and neurological and physical ability, gender affirming language and frameworks, trauma informed frameworks, and body positivity.
- Crediting teachers and teachings, honoring lineage
- Continued intersectional, decolonial yoga study with BIPOC and specifically South Asain teachers.
- Ongoing study and embodied learning around anti oppression, accountability, and harm reduction
- Willingness to explore mutual accountability processes when mistakes, misunderstanding, or harm happens.
Questions or Comments:
If you have any questions or comments about this statement or the site, please contact Avery Kalapa using the email form available through this website.
UPDATED: Sept 2021