Yoga is a holistic practice that encompasses both the physical and spiritual aspects of our being. At its core, yoga is about cultivating compassion, empathy, and non-violence. When we side with the oppressor, we are acting in opposition to these core yogic values.
Here are some reasons why it is wrong and un-yogic to side with the oppressor:
- Oppression is harmful – oppression causes suffering and injustice and it denies people their basic rights and freedoms. When we side with the oppressor, we are condoning and perpetuating this suffering
- Oppression is against the yogic principle of ahiṃsā (non-violence) – ahiṃsā is one of the most important principles in yoga. It teaches us to respect all life and to avoid causing harm to others. When we side with the oppressor, we are acting in direct violation of this principle
- Oppression is against the yogic principle of satya (truth) – satya teaches us to be honest and truthful in our thoughts, words, and actions. When we side with the oppressor, we are complicit in their lies and deceit
- Oppression is against the yogic principle of sevā (selfless service) – sevā teaches us to serve others without expecting anything in return. When we side with the oppressor, we are putting our own interests ahead of the needs of others.
In addition to these ethical reasons, there are also practical reasons why we should not side with the oppressor. When we side with the oppressor, we are aligning ourselves with a force that is ultimately doomed to fail. Oppression is unsustainable. It creates resentment and resistance, which eventually leads to its downfall.
As practitioners of yoga, we should always be on the side of justice and compassion and we should stand up against oppression whenever & wherever we see it. We can do this by speaking out against injustice, supporting organisations that work for social change, and engaging in acts of nonviolent resistance.
Here are some specific examples of how we can practice yoga in a way that challenges oppression:
- Support organisations that are working to dismantle systems of oppression: this could include organisations that work for racial justice, gender justice, economic justice environmental justice, and so on
- Educate ourselves about the causes of oppression: the more we understand about oppression, the better equipped we will be to fight it
- Engage in nonviolent resistance: this could involve participating in protests, boycotts, and other forms of civil disobedience
- Use our voices to speak out against injustice: we can do this by contacting our elected officials, sharing our thoughts on social media, or simply having conversations with our friends, family, and colleagues.
By practicing yoga in a way that challenges oppression, we can help to create a more just and equitable world for all.
See more: The Palestine Academy