Yoga is fundamentally a practice of unity, of community and care for each other and the world we live in. MFML is committed to inclusivity in yoga.
MFML’s commitment to anti-racism and inclusivity in Yoga
This page is written in acknowledgement that the yoga community have been conspirators in the white-washing of yoga. This is what Resmaa Menakem aptly named ‘white-body supremacy’. We are sharing the work that we are doing around anti-racism and inclusivity: where we are now and the time-bound and ongoing actions we are taking going forward.
Yoga is part of the cultural dialogue of the white body ‘beauty myth’. Movement for Modern Life commits to being the change, to do the work, to make changes within the yoga and wellbeing industries and well beyond.
The ‘Yoga’ Body
It’s time to speak out about how the ‘yoga body’ has been idealised in the media and on social media. Yoga has been synonymous with a bendy blonde making extreme shapes. Yoga has been peddled as a commercialised health product, a fitness solution, a weight loss solution and a solution to help women to reach an idealised shape and form. A form which is inherently unattainable (and would be unhealthy) for the vast majority of bodies.
Respecting the roots of yoga
Modern postrual yoga is based on an ancient set of diverse spiritual practices which can be an amazing tool for mental as well as physical health for both men and women.
We acknowledge and respect the roots of yoga and a diverse range of practices. This includes the yogic practices of pranayama (breathwork), meditation and chanting. This also extends to living our yoga off the mat in accordance to the principles as set out in yoga philosophy including the Yoga Shastra and other yoga texts.
As westerners living in the modern world, we also able to embrace a diverse set of practices, including functional movement, somatics, Pilates and playful movement, mindfulness and a variety of breathwork. All of which can also help us to find liberation in our bodies and minds and increase our/consciousness of the connectedness of all of life.
We acknowledge that these tools which are so helpful for our happiness, health and awakening are not available to every person. There are very many groups in our modern society who have been marginalised by the ‘health and wellbeing industries’ and the yoga industry in particular. These have not been options available to disadvantaged sections of society, including poorer communities, BIPOC people, people with disabilities, older people, trans-people and the LGBTQIA+ community.
MFML and anti-racism
Race is a massive intersection which covers socio-economic exclusion, body stereotyping as well as multiple layers of structural disadvantage. Access to physical and mental health is only one example of the structural and institutional racism that is pervasive in modern Britain.
Movement for Modern Life and I (Kat Farrants, founder) are committed to being anti-racist. We are 100% committed to examining our own policies, practices, and our own cultural stereotypes and biases. We are doing the work, and we hope that you will join us in our learnings and we will all be able to move towards a true yoga of unity, community, truth-seeking and speaking, and connection.
Here’s the action we’ll take
- We will hold anti-racism training for all members of the MFML team including Kat. New team members will also be required to participate in unconscious bias and anti-racism training.
- We have changed our hiring process, of team and teachers, to ensure transparency. This process will continue to change as we continue to learn.
- We will continue to place race at the heart of our work on sustainability and the climate. The effects of climate change are not shared equally, and are inextricably linked to colonial and industrial growth. Climate justice and anti-racism are central to our vision.
- We will actively challenge and speak out against racist bias and white body supremacy on social media.
- We will seek to educate ourselves and also our community through a series of talks, seminars, courses and events and by sharing resources.
We shall continue to share the voices of Black leaders and teachers in all of Movement for Modern Life’s content, in our videos, on our platform, in our blog and in social media. We currently are filming with 34 teachers. 9 of whom are BIPOC This is 29%. we can and we shall do better.
As well as our commitment to BIPOC people, we also are committed to finding and amplifying voices of people with disabilities, trans-people, those from the LGBTQ community, people of different ages and different body times to feature on our platform in every way – in our blog, in our team as and when we hire, in our social media posts and shout-out, teachers and featuring in videos.
As well as action, we are financially supporting BLM organisations. We are donating to the Stephen Lawrence Trust and Black Lives Matter UK during summer 2020. These charities take their place amongst those we regularly support and are all charities that combat inequality and fight for the environment. We shall be publishing the amounts which we are able to donate. We encourage you to make your private donations to these amazing charities.
As well as supporting and educating our team, we acknowledge that our role is to inspire and support our community. We want to support our community by learning about inclusivity and yoga. In terms of our learnings, I’m learning about inclusivity in yoga in a series of talks on instagram and which I’m also releasing on the podcast. I have already spoken to Nadia Gilani (The Yoga Dissident) on Instagram Live and this is now available on our YouTube Channel . From September 2020 I will be speaking to other teachers, MFML team members and activists. We will publish details and dates as they are confirmed.
We will launch a book club which seeks to educate our community so that we can learn together. We will select books which contribute to our understanding of social justice and yoga; as well as an exploration of the original teachings of yoga.
Equal Opportunities Policy for MFML teachers, staff, freelancers and contractors.
Movement for Modern Life is fully aware of the bias and discrimination in society in general, and in particular, in the culture around yoga and wellbeing. We are an equal opportunities company. As such, we do not believe that age, sex, race, disability, religion, belief, sexual orientation or maternity status has any bearing on anybody’s ability to do the job they were hired to do. We seek diversity in everything we do. We are aware that, when hiring for teaching roles, it is important to make yoga accessible to all sectors of society.
Yoga is a tool for health and wellbeing. We believe that it should be a tool which is of equal access to all people, in all areas of society. We do not want to help to perpetuate the ‘white girls do yoga’ image of yoga. We actively seek to show people of all ethnicities and body types and areas of difference appearing in videos. We expect everyone who works with us, in any capacity whatsoever, to respect everyone irrespective of their age; sex; race; disability; religion; belief; sexual orientation or maternity status. We do not allow any bullying or harassment of any kind whatsoever. As yoga practitioners we believe in non-violence and respect towards all other beings.
Situating Kat, the Founder of MFML
Movement for Modern Life is a small business. It is important to situate the decision-makers in any business. Kat Farrants the sole Founder and key decision maker of MFML. I’m a white, cis-gendered woman, LGBTQ, second generation immigrant.
My background is in diversity and inclusion. My MA (Hons) was in Gender Studies and Social Anthropology. I have worked as a discrimination lawyer in Human Rights law firm, Bindmans. Inclusivity is fundamental to my mission and approach and my reason for starting MFML. I commit to listening and learning from the voices of our community and beyond.
Hiring Policy for new MFML teachers
You will find our recruitment process here. Founder Kat Farrants is the key decision-maker. One of the MFML teachers will join her in the final decision-making process.