I recently completed 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. I have loved yoga since I took my first class with Laurie Broderick-Burr in Santa Cruz. Her class was Iyengar-based, and it was rewarding. There wasn’t a shred of spiritual artifice. Upon moving to Oakland I began Astanga with Tim Thompson at Monkey Yoga Shala. I fell in love with the practice. A little fruity with the chanting at the beginning, but it didn’t matter because I was twisting into pretzels and getting stronger BY THE CLASS. My heart went to yoga when it needed to rest and recharge. Yoga in Phoenix was as deep as the Canyon for which the state is known. I found Dave and Cheryl Oliver and Danielle Godfrey, and found myself in love with yoga’s healing potential all over again. This time it was in Yin Yoga, sound healing, and storytelling. All of these incredible people were my teachers and they were strong enough to command the charge of teaching a woman like me. A woman who is… human.
Let’s talk about yoga in Los Angeles. A lot of it’s trendy. It’s appropriation of spirituality. It’s also colonialism. What would one expect in the home of Disney-ville? I fought the box. A teacher really wanted me to be in a certain box. So, we fought. The box is death. A dear friend once said, “Marketing is the antithesis of art.” If marketing is the antithesis of art then it is certainly the opposite of healing too. Healing occurs when we integrate, not separate. If a space does not allow all of the parts of you then there is no love.
Secondly, we released the video to Moese and Luna Angel’s song “InI A King”, and I say “we” because it is a video that reflects the community. In the video my dancing accentuates the work of the artists who created the murals, song, and costume. This was a pure collaboration. Seamless. I am very proud. Well, what about the dance? The dance was used to push the story along. Thus, it was very much in line with Zari Le’on Dance Theater’s mission:
The dance stories are comprised of a motley crew of influences from a diverse set of ethnic, racial, religious, and geographic lenses. ZLDT uses the dance floor as common ground to discuss and explore how these different influences merge to create and enhance distinct cultures.
“Autobiography of a Warrior” is a representation of two primary cultural influences in Los Angeles and in my blood: Mexican and Black. When the little box asks,
“Are you Hispanic (non-Black)” I immediately cringe. Uh oh. The denial of diversity and multiplicity is something that I most certainly cannot support. That paradigm means the death of me. The video is about humanity. The video is a prayer, a visual mandala, an homage. There is so much there.
This blog entry has gone a round about way to say this: we are losing the essence of diversity. We are being asked to chose “teams” and to cram our glorious splendor neatly into a little box.
I humbly ask: “What if I am not playing any games?”
Always human. Always yoked. Always Dancing.
In the Spirit,