When I first heard about the Queering Yoga documentary, I wanted to jump on my mat and get into happy baby pose. Not only is there an entire project dedicated to the expression of truth from a community I belong to — and which is so often left on the margins — but we all get the chance to become part of it by supporting it.
Oakland-based filmmaker Ewan Duarte is raising funds through Indiegogo to complete the documentary, and just has a few days left to meet the $40,000 goal. Duarte is encouraging those who can’t afford to kick in funds to share the Queering Yoga Facebook page. Supporters of this project make it clear that they are here for all of us. But there’s no need to take my word for it. Just watch the video below:
It’s clear to me why we all need Queering Yoga. Here are four reasons:
1. It provides a frequently oppressed group of people with tools and resources to process their trauma physically and mentally (and, often, spiritually).
Most commercial yoga spaces in America don’t serve the needs of the LGBTQ community. Instead, they focus on a typically homogeneous and heterosexual culture that doesn’t always create space for a variety of experiences. Personally, I need for my teacher to invite, rather than direct, me into my yoga practice if I make the somewhat difficult decision to go to a class. While I know this is a result of my personal medical trauma, my sense is that being in a specifically queer yoga space would make that invitation implicit, as it is in curvy yoga classes.
Ewan Duarte, the producer, director, and fundraiser for Queering Yoga, and also a queer transman, had more to say on the topic of tools and resources in an interview with Original Plumbing: “Yoga can provide trans and queer people with a practice of self-care, self-love, acceptance and compassion. There are many health benefits of yoga. Some are reduced stress, a peaceful mind, physical health such as increased circulation, flexibility, improved energy, vitality, increased muscle strength, cardio health, improved posture, etc. The list goes on! It also provides peace of mind, connection to one’s inner life and feelings of happiness.”
Once the Queering Yoga documentary is finished and released, it too will become a resource and tool for so many in intersecting communities. Creating the opportunity for people to speak and witness truth is one of the most powerful experiences humans can have. This project will do just that — hopefully to the level that it changes the current structure of western yoga.
2. It supports the work of queer and/or trans individuals (which, in turn, supports communal truths by sharing individual truths).
The project’s creators remind us that support comes in many forms. Yes, financial capital is required for this film to be made, but there are other ways to make it happen. Taking a moment to share the video clip is another way.
3. It highlights the importance of creating safe spaces for queer and trans people — and helps create those spaces in the process.
Viewed through a queer or trans lens, the world is not a safe space. This is reflected in many private spaces — yoga classes, for example. As Ewan says in the Original Plumbing interview: “Queer/trans-inclusive yoga classes can provide Queer/Trans people with a safe space to be heard, seen, mirrored, and to practice yoga in a diverse community. Yoga can provide Queer/Trans people with a chance to connect authentically with themselves, practice being present, focusing on one’s breath, and grounding one’s embodiment in the present moment. Life’s challenges are mirrored on one’s yoga mat. Yoga is a wonderful practice to honor one’s whole self, health, and one’s community. Any act of self-care is a revolutionary act in our society where we are taught that are value is based on our productivity. It’s important to find a yoga teacher and yoga classes where you feel welcomed and safe as a queer/trans individual. Practicing yoga in a queer/trans-inclusive class strengthens one’s community, is validating to one’s identity, and is empowering.”
4. It radicalizes Westernized yoga practices while honoring yoga’s roots.
The discussion of yoga as cultural appropriation is a complex one, but there’s little question that it has become an inauthentic, westernized practice that shares the same name, but not the same core values, as the original yoga. Queering Yoga will allow its viewers to witness authentic dialogue around this: “Audiences will learn about the intersection of queer/trans identities, race, class, sex, etc. and how that intersects with the practice and teaching of yoga in the West. … Yoga has its roots and origins in Ancient India. Yoga was brought to America, and it’s like yoga’s been colonized again in America. It’s an issue when the majority of yoga practitioners and teachers are white women with privilege that have access to these spaces and this healing practice and other individuals do not. Yoga is meant for all. All people ought to have access to this practice while being aware, honoring the origins of yoga and being educated about their privilege,” Ewan says.
It’s clear that Queering Yoga is a highly conscious form of activism and healing — not to mention a film that supports access to something every single human has a right to: their own bodies. Their breath. Their bones. Their muscles. Their minds. The interconnection of all of these things, instead of separation, both on and off their mats, inside and outside of the classroom. Truth through storytelling is one of the most effective forms of healing. It is, in and of itself, a yogic act.