Two Black Girls Talk About Everything

Episode 2 Corporate responsibility with Yoga International.

January 18, 2021
Two Black Girls Talk About Everything
Episode 2 Corporate responsibility with Yoga International.
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Dee and I talk to the CEO  of Yoga International Todd Wolfenberg and Editor in Chief Kat  Heagberg -Rebar about the social responsibility that wellness brands and culture have to social justice. 

How do we create equity, understanding and diversity in wellness spaces. 

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] two black girls talk about everything podcast . I'm Diane , and we're going to be talking about, Hey everyone. In this episode, we talked to Todd will convert CEO of yoga, international and Kat Hedberg editor, and chief of yolk international. As we discussed the black lives matter movement, the insurrection at the Capitol and the steps they've taken to be good corporate city and cities, and stand up for what is right. They have set an example for what we can do in our yoga culture to help ensure equity for all of us. We are two black girls who talk about everything. And today we are super excited because

Speaker 2:

The most favorite yoga people in the world are on the podcast today. Uh , this was the , uh , company and institution that reached out to me six years ago and invited me to be on their platform in a time where I didn't see a lot of people with color on large yoga platforms. So today I'm talking to Todd Wilson, bird and Kat Hagberg from yoga international. Um , I know, I feel like it feels really special to have you here. So let me read your bio. Todd Todd is the CEO of yoga international, which is a global digital media company that serves a million plus members with exclusive content on yoga or you beta meditation and mindful living on a subscription basis. So yoga, yoga International's entire mission is centered around helping people live happier, healthier lives by making yoga more inclusive, available, and accessible to all to all as chief executive he's led the organization through tremendous growth. I would opt to say that you are the number one, place, the number one place to get reliable sourced , uh , yoga information. And that's what I hear from my followers. That's what I hear from people who are around me. So you've done a great job in being at the forefront of making yoga, accessible and equitable for all of us. And, and, and I, and I have editor in chief cat and author Kat Hebert , and we both have a book together that just came out last month, called yoga, where you are customized your practice. Look , I haven't done this myself , but I do customize your practice for your body and your life. And that's that Shambala 2000 and , uh , cat is the co-editor of embodied resilience through yoga, 30 mindful essays about finding empowerment after addiction, trauma, grief and loss. And that's what Welland 2020 cat has been teaching yoga since 2005. And though she initially trained at alignment based yoga styles, which she continues to inform in her practice and teaching. She likes Vinyasa flow. Best of all, I feel you on that in her editorial life, she writes about how to make challenging poses, more accessible and the power of language in yoga culture. You can read her work and take her yoga classes and mine too, and hopefully do soon on young internationals third year , Hey everybody, how you doing?

Speaker 3:

Hey, super excited to be here. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I was inspired to do this podcast with a conversation I had with chat last week. And she was talking about how you co you crafted a statement. You , um, I believe it was tired . It was you and most crafted the statement for your Instagram. Oh, Janessa. That's right. I had forgotten, had crafted a statement around what was going on in the Capitol , um, almost 10 days ago now. And w CAD was really surprised at the reaction you got on Instagram versus the reaction you got on, on Facebook. And that led me to start thinking about what it is we want from powerful yoga cultures and platforms. How do we want those platforms to show up in the world? Why did you think it was important as a yoga platform to make a statement about what happened in the capital ? Um, I can start with that Todd before I think, I mean, on a personal level, I was deeply, deeply disturbed with what went on as I think most of us. And I would, I would venture to guess all of your listeners are and work. Um, and I really believe that as an organization, particularly a yoga organization, one that stands on the values of yoga, which include, you know, nonviolence and truthfulness and equity , um, that it's our responsibility to speak out first and foremost against something like this. Like we have this platform, we should use it in every way that we can for good. So I felt , um , a personal responsibility, a professional responsibility to do that. And I think when I brought it up to everyone, everybody was onboard with it and felt similarly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that's a , that's an excellent summary of sort of, I think everything that we were sort of feeling at a , at a personal and professional level. And I think, you know, as a , I think there's, it's, it's always a challenging thing to look at. How do you include people that might be a very different political ideologies and backgrounds, making sure that, you know, you balance , um, left right center, you know, all of those things, as you're, as you're sort of putting this, putting this together and thinking about it, and at what point do things cross certain lines, right? That this is no longer a political issue. I think that's really, you know, we , we always are trying to make sure that because we're obviously not work , we're an inclusive organization. We don't, you know, we have people of all of these different backgrounds have different faiths of different , um, you know, ideologies. And so we want to preserve that. And at the same time, there are certain things that happen in the world that are extraordinary events and those don't, those don't happen all of the time. Right. And so , um, whether it's the George Floyd situation or this there's, you know, there are specific events that really transcend the sense of politics. And, and we felt like this was one of those things.

Speaker 2:

What I've always been impressed about with yoga international is your dedication to step out into the forefront. So very often in the yoga community, we hear nothing but silence, especially around things like black lives matter. And I remember when George died back in the early, like late summer or late spring, early summer, that you were among the first to step out in the yoga community and say, look at this, this is wrong. I remember you created those equity shirts and you were, you were helping to create awareness around what we could should be doing as people who practice yoga. And often you are the first and the only with such a large platform to speak out about these events. Why do you think that is? I think that was one of the things that was so shocking for me is, especially with this, these past events , um , the silence from the yoga community as a whole , um, even, you know, Starbucks released a statement condemning the violence that the capital Axe body spray really squished a strong statement on Twitter. And as Starbucks and Axe, body spray are saying this, like, I mean, this transcends politics,

Speaker 3:

It's a hundred percent, right. I mean like Ben and Jerry is that, you know , mainstream brands are doing this well, what's going on. And it's not just, I think even see it as just, you know, like wellness brands and the wellness community, like what, you know, what, what role do they have to play in this? And , uh , it's , uh , it's one of those things where it's additive, right? It's not like, you know, so-and-so has a huge following is going to move the needle on this. But the fact that multiple brands, lots of brands are able to stand up and support something makes a difference at the end of the day, even if they're small. And I feel like that's where there's, there's missed opportunity in this. And I don't know, I, you know, I think , um, that's a , that's an open question about, you know, where there, why , why there, wasn't more of a , of a , of a direct response to this.

Speaker 2:

It kind of scares me and aligns, I think even with large brands and even maybe large implores with influencers, with their platform, that they were afraid that if they take a stand one way or the other, that they're somehow going to lose popularity and following, and my question to them would be, do you really want to have people following you who believe that it's okay to , to Mount an insurrection against a fairly elected official , um, that they're more apt that they've missed the point of what such a tells us, which is truthfulness. And they missed the idea for self study . Like, what do I believe? Why do I believe it ? And why am I so scared that if I say what I truly believe, even when it is on the right side of history that I'm going to lose this following or that I'm going to somehow lose my status. And whenever way back before any of this ever happened before black lives matters was trending with the death of George White , I could often put up on my own personal platform, which is all about equity and all about diversity and all about inclusive. Somebody I could put up a post about black lives matter and clear out thousands of people from my feed, lots of people would , um, unfollow me. And the last 200 hour teacher training, I ran my last 200 hour teacher training that I'm interested in doing. I had pushback from a few of the people who were in my teacher training when I was teaching about equity. When I was talking about the responsibility of those of us who have the most privilege, those of us who have always been in charge, those of us who've always had access to justice to speak up and to speak out. And when I spoke about that or spoke about feeling unsafe in certain situations or feeling marginalized based on my , um, my skin color was quickly bypassed that whole, we are all one or our AR or gas lit, is it really as bad as you say it is like, why are you always talking about race? And I wonder why in the yoga community, that's such a source. I think that this kind of goes back to the old saying , like, you can talk to talk, but are you going to walk the walk? And I feel as though people are afraid that if they take a stance on either side, like Kat said, you're either on the side of right. Or you're on the side of wrong in this situation. And I think that if people want to take a stance, I think they're also afraid that they're going to be held accountable, right. With what their stance is. And I think that's where it gets, I think, a little murky for people they get afraid to be held accountable.

Speaker 3:

It's a , it's a, it's a totally valid point, I think, because if you're willing to take a stand on some things, you know, then are you going to be able to continue to support that longer term? Right, exactly . And going back to the earlier in the year, when we put forward some bigger initiatives around , uh, around race equity and inclusivity , um, and, and in, and around the same time that the whole George Floyd black lives matter movement was really growing and becoming galvanized. Um, we, I mean, that was something we internally talked about. Like, are we, are we, we don't want to just do something that's placating the short term, like how do we do something that's meaningful for the longterm ? How do we set ourselves up so that this isn't a, Hey, we're going to do something for a month or two months or black history month, and then just forget about it the other 11 months of the year. Right. So I think it's, yeah, it goes to, are you really willing to make substantive long-term changes that are, that are actually meaningful, or you just want to put out a statement. And I think, you know, probably from a lot of larger company perspectives, it is about PR and it's about publicity and, and, you know , uh, and, and feeling like they need to do something. And , um, and they may or may not , um, kind of be willing to do the, to do the actual work, which is an entirely different part of the equation.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's a really good point in time . I think when we were crafting our statement this summer, that was a big thing that we all talked about was, okay. We don't just want to say thing bad. We want to say, this is our responsibility to do something, and this is what we're going to do. And what is it that we're doing right now? What is it that we can do better? What are we going to commit to do better in this moment? So it's not just, okay, here's a statement. It's, this is what we're doing. This is what, we're, what we're going to , how we're going to move forward. And yeah, that's, that's the hard part and the yoga and the yoga word for that is karma, right? Karma literally means action. And so much of what I see in the yoga community and right around the time of George void and that in that rise of black lives matter, black lives matter has been on the ground during this work for a long time. It only really came to light. And I only saw a shift in like white culture , um , going, Oh really? And we never thought it was that bad until that moment until we watched him die in real time. And I wonder if we weren't in a pandemic when we were all, you know, glued to our computer screens, because there was nothing else to do, or you were working from home, you weren't going to work. You weren't distracted by everything else. Would we be where we are now in terms of understanding the plight of others? And to that point , uh, back when we did a pool, there was a poll done. I believe it was , uh , I can't remember the publication, but I'll look it up and I'll share it in the show notes around how many people were on board with black lives matter back in the beginning where I was seeing , um, marches in the tiniest of towns like , uh , D and I live here in Southwestern, Ontario in Essex County, and there'd be the tiniest little town in Essex County of 700 people would have a black lives matter March, no black people living in that neighborhood or in that County, but there would be black lives matter marches and little kids having marches on the street. And there was this

Speaker 4:

Surge in understanding, or there was some surgeon support. So we move ahead six months later and I can see it waning. Right. I can see people following me on my Instagram posts. I can see pushbacks when we post certain things. And I mean, you had a lot of pushback on Facebook, around the statement you put out and was that shocking to you? I would say it was shocking to me. And I think part of it is because I do live, I do live in Los Angeles. And I think that , um, sometimes it's really easy to get in my little LA bubble where, you know, I go to my spin class in the morning and they're telling us to take political action. And it's, you know, I don't interact with a lot of people who hold those extreme right wing viewpoints. And I especially like to think that the yoga community does value. It does value soundcheck , such . It does value Satya. Um, I mean, hopefully they, you know , wash their hands too, but , um , that such an issue for anybody who doesn't know as cleanliness. Um, but yeah, so I guess maybe I have a little bit of, I had a little bit of a Rose colored glasses thing going on where I was expecting, you know, maybe a little bit of disagreement, but not right away that like visually vitriol and hatred that came up in the comments. And really just like, you know, I think my first thought was like you said, I think D is, well, you know, if people have painful viewpoints like that, that's not the sort of person that we want on our platform anyway. And it's not about creating division. It's not about politics it's about right and wrong at this point.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think, and it was, it was, as you were sort of alluding to earlier huge difference between what was happening on Instagram and what was happening on Facebook and, you know , Facebook, Facebook has really, it just shows how toxic that community aspect of what Facebook has really turned into and how a post it's made people. Um , the knee jerk reaction of just saying like, no, this is wrong. And, and, and, and kind of regurgitating talking points of, of one side or the other. And it , I think it's, you know, I think it's true on, on, on all sides, right? Because there was , um , a lot of non-constructive discussion happening, right. Left center kind of all, all over the place. And, you know , it's easy, I think on Facebook too , to get, you know, for people to kind of find a post, I have somebody to link to a post , um, in groups or things like that. And then all of a sudden you've got a bunch of Q a and people that are coming in, and those weren't really our customers anyways. So, you know, it's, it's, it's people that are, you know, looking for a fight more or less than looking to espouse some sort of position on something. Um, and , and, and certainly have an agenda. And so, you know, it was, I think a little bit surprising , um, at the same time, you know, seeing Facebook go around this way , um, a few times before, so it wasn't overly , uh , shocking. I think it's the first time even the, a lot of the BLM , um, uh, you know, racial , uh, equality posts that we had earlier in the year, didn't have this level of charged , um, uh, anger , uh, associated with them. So, you know, a little bit, a little bit surprising there. Um , but at the same time, it really does show just sort of where, where the Facebook , uh , decorum is at these days.

Speaker 5:

Do you do have any questions you want to before I jump in, I don't want to dominate the work because I know . Yeah , no, go ahead, Diane. I think it's going to lead into something that I want to say. Yeah. So I w I was grateful six years ago when you reached out to me, I think Kat sent me an email and I couldn't believe it, that I could be part of a platform because prior to seeing , uh, I had, like, I had always had yoga, international materials in my teacher training. So a lot of the articles that my yoga teacher had referenced , uh, was from your magazine. We did a lot of work with Doug Keller and he had written a lot of content for yoga international. So that was always yoga international for me, has always been kind of at the forefront of providing yoga content that is truthful, that is authentic. Um, more so lately that is diversified. Like, I , I noticed that change happening and I actually relatively quickly, the first time you , uh, you reached out to me, it was huge because I thought for once I'm , I'm getting seen by a platform that is actually going to work in bringing forth diversity and equity and not being performative with it. So I appreciate what Kat said and what you said about what are our actions. It can't be a performative post, and that's a lot of what we saw with , um, in the aftermath of George Floyd. And the rise of BLM is a lot of really performative things, putting up that black square on your Instagram, not knowing what that black square meant, not commenting about that black square often, or just doing it. Cause it was really, really trendy. What is your role you feel in creating , um, long-term and sustainable allyship among all of us in the yoga community? How with a platform as large as yours, do you move that conversation forward?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's a , it's a big question. I think it's a , it's a, it's , it's a challenge for, I think everybody to , um, uh, to tackle , um, to some degree, but, you know, the way that, the way that we sort of have thought about it , um, and over the course of time has been, you know, we started, we started really in 2015 with just a handful of employees and, and starting to produce digital content and, and try to find our way in that. And so early on, we set forth an intention that we wanted to be more inclusive that we wanted to bring forward different, you know, and , and that inclusivity, meaning, you know, body types and a variety of things that we really didn't see in the other community happening. So, you know, we , um, you know, we hired our own photographer , um, you know, early on you say like, okay, well the stock photos that are out there are not getting the job done. There's not good , um, representation there, we need to do something, but of course you have to, you have to have some success in order to be able to fund that. So it's always a little bit of a , uh , you know, a carton horse type of thing that, you know, you , you have to have some momentum behind it. And, and then, yeah, and then we've been able to kind of carry that forward, you know, each , each year and try to stand out, like, you know, we're based here in hone stale, Pennsylvania got a pretty small footprint. This is not a very racially diverse area. Um, so like our model pool was like very limited. So we weren't able to like, have all of the representation there and then, you know , as we've grown and , and, and expanded, okay, now we can do things that we didn't have the , we wanted to do. Initially. We just didn't have the resources to be able to do that. So, you know, as you've seen that over the, over the course of years, it's because we've, you know, we branched out and our growth has allowed us to do things that really we wanted to do early on. We just didn't have the capacity to really fully do. And then just partnering. Right. So partnering with people like, you know , people, people like you to , um, to show people that like this, this, this is possible, right? Like you can, you can and wait for somebody else to do it, or you can do it yourself. And we've just always been like, we're going to dive in head first and figure it out. And we don't know how all of it's going to fit together. Um, and , um, you know, you , you have to start , you have to start somewhere and realize that, you know, it's going to be somewhat imperfect, right. There are things that, you know, we all wish we could've done better two years ago or three years ago or five years ago. Um, but we're doing the best we can, and we're going to continue to just move the bar and set the bar higher and higher for ourselves. So , you know , in the past year, we've, you know, we've focused , we've as a cat was sort of, yeah . Earlier we hired Janessa and destined to be our director of people and people and culture to hold us more accountable internally and externally, to making sure that these are real long-term initiatives, that we're not just looking at short-term things. And how do we, how do we diversify our hiring practices and with COVID we did everything. And we really reshaped the way that we , um, we work with, and we've got employees now all over the country and internationally, and we can hire from a much broader pool of people than looking at the few thousand people that are around our local area. So we totally transformed that. We've looked at , um, you know, more diversity in that. And that's, you know , it's been a big initiative for us in the last six to nine months. So , um, and , and then of course working with more diverse teachers across the board. So we've looked at how do we, where, where have we historically not been as strong as we could've been, right. So it's a internal reflection point that, yeah, we've, there's some things that we could have done better. Um, you know, we started where we started and we grew, you know , in the ways that we could grow. And , and now we're able to do things that we couldn't do before, and we're gonna , you know , just continue to make this a priority and , um, and focus on it, you know, longterm . So that's really been our, you know , kind of continual improvement type of approach , um, to , uh, to looking at these things and being very open and transparent about these issues and the things that , um, you know, the, the, the progress that we're trying to make on these areas. Kat , anything that,

Speaker 4:

No, I think you said it, Todd, I think, you know, we're always just looking at ways where we can continue to grow, and we know that there's always more to do that. We always have more to learn that we're not going to get it right the first time, but that we have to, we have to keep being better. We have to keep doing better. And I think we're all driven by that. And , um, another thing that I really appreciate it makes me proud to work with yoga. International is , um , that I think all of us really prioritize our values above all that those values are more important than anything else. And that that's what leads us going forward. And if we have that, then sometimes it means we have to be a little bit fearless. Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision that maybe isn't easier. Isn't the safest decision, but we're driven by, I would say all of us by, okay, if it's the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do. And that's the most important thing.

Speaker 5:

What I have noticed by yoga international being on the forefront of this and always stepping up, like it's always, it was always incredible to me to be heard. Um, whenever I stepped into yoga spaces and DNI talked about this earlier today, when we were prepping for the podcast in our little piece of the world here, there's not a lot of diversity. I would say, you and I are maybe one of a handful of teachers of color , uh , that are in our community. And there's like a community board where people share what they're doing in the community. And a lot of it looks like for lack of a better term, white women wellness. There's not a lot of attention given to diversity. I'm wondering why spaces here in my town are more diverse, which I think is really strange given the history of where we live. Uh, these got a very interesting history. She's like an original Canadian, you got a , you've got a pedigree. That's pretty amazing. And having your family be indigenous to this part of the country and having a connection to Africa and having a connection to all those things yet, having a super diverse space here in, or a super diverse population here in Windsor Essex County, we still are seeing very limited , um, diversity. So I love that you, as a huge platform are putting that out there. So at least when people aren't seeing it in their communities, they are able to see it , um, broadcast on social media. But you said, Diane,

Speaker 4:

I also want to ask Todd and Kat with you coming into so many home , um, online, what do you can do? What , what can they work on , um , in order to, if they're kind of riding that line of right and wrong, what are the things that you think that yogis, that call themselves the yogis ? What can they do for personal development to move forward? Yeah , I would say being open to learn and being open to change your mind, that that's so much about what yoga practice is. It's not just about learning how to do a Crow pose. It's about learning, how, like being okay with changing your opinion. One of the most encouraging things that I've seen over the past couple of years is that people that I grew up with and not just people my age, but like people, my parents' age, really having a change of heart and having a change of mind and, you know, growing up, I heard a lot of in school , um, uh, the value of colorblindness being taught and adults would always say, Oh, you know, like, don't see color, don't see people as a color. And we know now of course, that erases people in a racist, their experience and doesn't bring important voices to the table and to be able to see like my teachers, my parents, their friends, people who taught me say, yeah, that was wrong. I don't think that way anymore. I see that that was, you know, maybe it was coming from the best place, but then ultimately there was something missing there. So to see others who are able to grow and change and evolve in that way has been really encouraging. And to me, that's more the yoga than anything that you'll ever do in your physical practice.

Speaker 3:

Yep . I totally agree with that . That's exactly what , what I would say too, in terms of , um, expanding , uh, you know , learn from, learn from a variety of different sources, whether it's a book or study with a different teachers , maybe online than you would've normally , um , started with , um, in the, in your local studio. And that's certainly one of the advantages of the online space is that you can study with teachers all over the world and get a diversity of , uh, of teaching perspectives on things. And I think , um, that can, you know , that can and be open to that. And that can transform the way that you might think about something or see something from a slightly different angle than you saw before. Um, and having that openness , um, really helps broaden your perspective. You might, you might get something out of that, that you can then share that, share that, that tidbit with somebody else and help spread that, you know , uh , that message. So I think that's really important right now, obviously a lot of , most of the in studio stuff isn't happening. Um, uh, if you , in , I think in the U S and Canada, so , um, but you know, in the online space, whether it's free on Instagram or YouTube or wherever, whatever, like really, you know, study with, maybe you wouldn't have studied with normally , um, you know , uh, taken that information, be open, really be open about that.

Speaker 2:

I love that. And I'm always encouraging. I get a lot of people in my ideas and I don't know, you might get this as well, too . D what can I do? Like a lot of, I think people who aren't, people of color are paralyzed around what they can do to create equitable spaces. And I always think the first thing to do is yes, look at yourself, look at what you believe. I know that there was a few yoga teachers who were a part of that insurrection. So right, when that whole thing was happening, I had people in the yoga community. DM-ing me, pictures of yoga teachers who were storming the capital pizza , a yoga teacher, actually doing a hand stand in front of the Capitol before they ran into , um, to storm the Capitol, which I don't know how as a yoga teacher, those ideas aligned with the philosophy of yoga and D and I talked about this earlier is because in some cases, yoga has been reduced to just the exercise and reduced to just the Asana and that we've forgotten all the things that yoga teaches us besides that. So when I tell people who feel paralyzed about what do we do, you know, we get into that cycle of like, Oh my gosh, that's so terrible. I'm not doing that. Okay. What else should I do? What other things could I be looking at? How do I distract myself from this discomfort? The first thing I ask people to do is just really start looking at themselves and what they believe and ask themselves if they're actually practicing yoga, if they are separating the yoga, the Asana, the physical postures from the actual philosophy, because then you're not actually practicing yoga. And then speaking up in sharing what you can share in places where your peers can see it. So that's what I love about the digital space. You put up a very bold statement, a very clear statement on what you feel and what a , and how moving forward. You're going to change the world. And that's what we all have to do. We all have to let go of this fear of not doing anything or being paralyzed into staying still because it's not serving us. And we're never going to move forward as an evolved society. Unless we start to step. We've spent a lot of time, navel gazing we've been on . We spent a lot of time meditating on it and thinking about it. We are past that. Now, now we're at like critical mass where we need to actually hold people accountable and we need to actually take action. Karma, take action. You have to do something. You have to say something. And often my mother would say to me as a kid, I'd always be like, how come people are doing anything about this? Then my mother returned to me and say, that means you have to do something about it. So if that's what comes up for you as a yoga person, or as a person who's in a space of spiritual healing, why isn't somebody else doing something about this, then it means that you need to do something about it. That's just my arrogant opinion.

Speaker 3:

That's a , it's a really good, I think it's a really good starting place. And also people, you know, and maybe it's even more true for Americans perhaps, but we have this, like, we have this like fix it culture type of thing too. Like I need to do something and we're just going to like, fix it right away. And that's obviously like, we're talking about shifting things gradually over time. I think people, as you were mentioning before, like, you know, if you look at the, some of the statistics around the , uh, the whole BLM movement and racial equality, like it got momentum, and then it sort of started to started to wane , like, how do we make this sustainable? Right. Like, it can't be, it can't be that way. Right. For it to actually get changed . It has to be a sustainable movement. And I think, you know, for a lot of us collectively , um, you know, we can't kind of check in and check out, check out of it in those kinds of ways. It has to be sustainable, long-term change. And I think that's not always sexy or exciting, but that's like what actually moves the needle over the course of time. And I think people have to also see their individual contribution. Okay. We're, you know, yoga international is not Chevron, right? We're not, we're not Ben and Jerry's, we don't have that type of type of a following, but we can do our parts and each individual person can do their part. And collectively that does begin to change things over the course of time. And that's, you know , that's what historically has worked. And so if we can just continue to move the needle, it's going to move us in a, in a more positive direction.

Speaker 2:

And I believe it has to be honest change as well. I don't know, like you guys would agree, right. It has to be an Onnit deep down focusing, like we were saying, not on the physical part of yoga, but on that inner work. Um , because that's the only thing that is going to propel forward and , and stay consistent and inclined upwards and to making change.

Speaker 3:

And I think, you know, there's, there's often this new jerk reaction and we've , you know, I think we all suffer for this a little bit, like this is right, and this is wrong. Well, there's a lot of people that just haven't really examined, you know, their thoughts and their , and , and , and, you know, especially in small town areas like this, they just, it's, there's a lot of ignorance around it. And so , uh, and a lack of exposure because we don't have a lot of diversity here. There's really have a construct for understanding all of the complexity around that. And so , um, you know, we have to , um , kind of meet people where they're at. We can't come at them from a, you know, an angry perspective and try and expect that to that, to shift the needle. Right. Um, I think the whole, you know , um, the , the cancel, everybody that , um, doesn't think like I do is gonna only lead to more pushback , um, on the other side of that. So we have to figure out more ways to bridge those gaps and meet people where they're at.

Speaker 2:

That's a good point. That's an excellent point. And also that people change that people change, right. I noticed right now, sometimes if you're a celebrity and you've said something 35 years ago, or 20 years ago, that somehow gets recycled back into the current conversation that people cancel you really quickly not giving people the opportunity to say, I believe that when I was 20, I don't believe that that I'm 50, or I believe that when I lived in this very limited space in the world where I didn't have access to, like you said, seeing other cultures and having other experiences, and now I've traveled the world and I have a completely different experience on that. That's where I think we need to have a little bit more compassion and a little bit more space for people to change their minds. Um , on the flip side of that, if I've had to continually have a conversation with you over and over and over again about why you, when you say these types of things , um, that they're problematic or hurtful or discriminatory, and you're not hearing that, then I'm not interested. Like for right now, the conversation that's been going on in the capitalist , we have to have healing. And can we just look past this moment of insurrection and all come together? I'm going to be a hundred percent honest here. I'm not interested in meeting toe to toe with the people who stormed the capital . I am not interested in hearing the perspective of people who want me dead. You know what I'm saying? Um , I'm only, I can't, I'm exhausted around that. I'm interested in the people who've learned from this experience and are moving forward. I'm not interested in batting back and forth with somebody who has a very limited idea and trying to change that idea.

Speaker 3:

You know, there is , there's a , there's a wide SWAT there, right? You've got people that are full-blown extremists, and you're probably that the odds of, of moving and having them find some , uh, common grounded and, and coming to terms with certain things pretty unlikely, right. There could be all sorts of, you know, trauma and things wrapped up in that that , um, you're not likely to overcome. And then there are a lot of people that just haven't really examined it and they don't, you know, haven't done that self-reflection . And so , um, how do you, how do you bring some of those people and , and the way I think you, we have to fundamentally believe that people can change otherwise, what are we doing? Right. Like this there's, there's no point in any of this that we don't think we can get people to , uh, to change their viewpoints on things and have some more holistic understanding of some of the more complex issues. And so , um, I think that's, you , that's really core to all of this is that we have to, we have to believe that, and we have to meet people , um, with , um, and , and not, not come at them from a confrontational perspective there , as you said, there are some folks that are going to bring compensation the other way, and that might not be, you know, probably not worth your, your, your while to try to bring those people around. Um, just continue to share what, what I think is , uh , truthful to you and , uh, and what feels right. And , uh , and what feels balanced. And, you know, I think ultimately that, that honesty around that resonates with most, with most people and they at least will come to the point where they understand where you're coming from, if they're really interested in learning and , and paying attention. So, yeah, I think it's, it's a super challenging time for, for everybody to try to grapple with those levels of everything from very extreme to middle of the road. Um, uh, you know, folks that are grappling with a lot of , uh , a lot of, a lot of elements right now, and a lot of frankly, propaganda that's happened over the last number of years.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm always interested to see how this takes, hold in the yoga community. I know we have a lot of holistic beliefs in the yoga community and a lot of, kind of like non backs or beliefs in the yoga community, that lens that becomes the slippery slope, where it , um, it lends to these, all these Q non conspiracies. I was never more shocked in the world to see that take hold in the wellness industry. Why do you think that?

Speaker 3:

No, it's interesting. Right. Because I think people think about it being left and right. And like, you know, but there's, there's an interesting thing here, like it's left and right. And then it folds over on itself, like the far left and the far right. Are honestly like the same hold, like 90% of the same beliefs, right? Like it's, it's an overlapping segment. And I think, yeah, that's a, you know, it's a , it's an interesting thing. They extremists on both sides are like equally, equally dangerous in a lot of ways. And I think the yoga and wellness industry is particularly prone to being a bit of, you know , uh, anti-science and die , um, you know, anti knowledge and, and , um, and , and medicine sometimes. And , and rightfully so to some degree, right. There's, there's, there's, they've been dismissed. Um, things that, I mean, gosh, we were a organization we worked with before was manufacturing the neti pot back in the seventies, and people just laughed at it and said, Oh, this is, this is just completely ridiculous. And then guess what, you know , 25 years later modern medicine is like, Oh, by the way, that , that, that actually did work like that , that, that works. And everybody should do it because it helps with your allergies. And it helps with your , um, uh, colds and flus. And please do that. So there has been , um, there, you know , there's blame to go around on that, on some of that, but at the same time it's led to this, well, we just don't really know anything anymore. Right. Like what can we possibly know? And so people have been pushed further and further off to the extremes on these things. And , uh, you know, then, then you're the kind of subject to being prey to any kind of popular , um, figure that comes about and tells you some things that you want, that you want to hear. So, you know, I think it's a , it's, it's kind of a little bit of a dangerous time, I think, for the, for the yoga yoga industry to some degree, but certainly the wellness industry, perhaps even more where , um, it's a little bit a drift right now, and it's, it's full of people that are, you know , kind of full-blown Cunanan people, people that are trending in that direction. And that's , uh , you know , that's , that is a slippery slope. That's a , that's a dangerous situation. And as you mentioned before, like we, we know some people that were, you know, they were right there at the Capitol yoga teachers that were right there at the Capitol , um, you know, with everybody else , um, as, as part of this movement. And so they're , you know, it's a , it's a real thing. And , um, you know, we don't, we don't, we actually try to like minimize the amount we talk about that. I think it's somewhat rare or to some degree, but at the same time, you don't want to give them a platform to increase their, their voice either. So, you know, you don't really even call them out. It's almost like just kind of ignoring that aspect of it because you don't want to lend any credence or any kind of additional , um , fire to their particular anger around some of these things. So it's a really, it's a really touchy issue. And I think something that , um, you know, a lot of wellness brands , uh, wellness organizations, they've seeded some of this because they've seeded the distrust in science and distrusted in information so much that has pushed people into the fringes quite a bit.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. We , um, talked about that. Um , my husband, Kyle and I on our yoga talk podcast recently when we interviewed a new show YGL Kumar, she she's , um , one of our teachers on yoga international too . And it is really interesting to see the correlation and the relationship between pseudoscience and between racism and it's stronger than, you know, I thought I would have ever thought. And I think , um, when I look at yoga International's values and when I look at our editorial guidelines or contributors guidelines that we have up on our site , um, those things are clearly stated. We, you know, we fact check, we, we try our very best to not post things that are pseudo-scientific or to not post things that are questionable or that could be untrue. And I think that , um , in retrospect, it's, I'm really saying how that does inform our other values as well, and was just, it's interesting to see how things that might not seemingly be so related really are much more related than we , I actually had somebody slide into my DMS yesterday because the commercial is rolling , um, or the advertisements roaming through social media. And I think it starts with me doing some yoga in the park, and then it cuts through a bunch of different people. And I'm still trying to figure out whose voice was the voiceover. Cause it's very spirit . It sounds very much like a movie poster, his voice, right. You know, like whenever you hear those movie trailers, Oh ,

Speaker 3:

I actually thought it was , um, I had somebody comment on that and they believed it was Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Speaker 4:

And I said, I would be honored

Speaker 3:

If he wanted to do it, but I pretty sure we didn't, we didn't have, we don't have that kind of reach right now.

Speaker 4:

The voice is like, Ooh, a little dark battery yet. Ooh . That moved that guy from the movie trailers. And so ,

Speaker 2:

Um, this person has led into my DMS and said to me, okay, do you actually know them? Do you actually work with them? Do they have the right to use your image? Because so many times I go to all these yoga apps and in their advertising, they have people of color or people with disabilities or , or a bigger body person in their , um , in their advertising. And they , then I get to the platform and everybody looks the same. Is this actually legit? And that's what they were, they were saying to be , to go . This is actually legit. I worked for them for six years. I'm actually doing yoga. I have a ton of content on there. She says, because I'm not spending my money anywhere where they just use it as tokenism. And that's one thing I appreciate about the path that yoga international has taken is that they know the difference between tokenism, right? Like , and for those of you who are not familiar, if you go back to the seventies, the Kool-Aid man would always like, Hey, bust through a wall and there'd be 20 white kids and one Brown kid. And usually one black kid. And my mother would always point that out to me, she'd always go, Oh, there's the token black kid in everything that diversity is everyone all the time in different situations, whether it's body shape , um, sexual orientation, beliefs , systems, skin, color, all those kinds of things that it's important that we're not tokenizing people who are different, but we're actually creating sustainable diversity. And I had a hard time in the beginning , um, being on certain platforms, wondering if I'm participating in tokenism or am I opening the door for diversity? And I've always felt like at yoga international, that was the gateway and opening the door to diversity.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. I think, I think that's one thing that we always ask ourselves to continually is there's so many people who have so many incredible insights to share about yoga. Just some amazing teachers who aren't having their voices heard, who aren't getting a seat at the table. And, you know, we have to ask ourselves who isn't getting a seat at the table right now and why, and how can we give them a platform? How can we not because, you know, we want to get bonus points for featuring a person of color, but because this is a person who has so much to share with us so much wisdom. And , and they're not getting to share that because of, because of racism because of systemic racism and, and other , um, other factors. Well , of course, and I know Diane, whenever, you know, your name comes up and people , um, looks , we've had the opportunity to collaborate together so much. The first thing that I always say is like, Diana is such an incredible yoga teacher. Like she has, she just has so much experience like your knowledge and the way that, you know, your thinking has , um, has evolved and kind of shaped the way we think about alignment and variations and things like that is just so innovative and so cool. And you know, like you should, you should have had a seat at the table much sooner. You should have been valued as an much sooner.

Speaker 5:

And that's, that's really going to just serve us all and it's going to serve our whole community because we're all going to get the chance to learn from wonderful teachers. Like you. Thank you. I appreciate that. So what is the future for yoga international? Where do we go from here? What's the path forward?

Speaker 3:

Good question. Good question. I think, you know, we're, we're, we're, we're going to continue to , um, you know, our, our goal is to be more and more inclusive as we grow. So how do we bring even more , um, inclusivity to what we offer as a platform? How do we, how do we, you know, as a , as an organization, when we started with, you know, eight or nine employees, we could only work with, I dunno , four or five teachers. Right. So we had to, you know, we just literally just call people that we knew and were like, Hey, would you film some classes with us? Right. So it started, started just tiny. And then we grew and, you know , um, and we were able to work with different teachers all over the place. Now it's really like, we want to just, we w we want to really work with a huge variety of teachers and bring, bring more of those voices to the table in different ways and be able to be supportive. I think right now, with COVID and teachers being displaced, like, how do we play a role in, in helping with that? Um, from a platform perspective, how can we be relevant to helping teachers, you know, put content , um, you know , quality content out there , um , make some money off of it, which is really important for teachers right now. Um, so we're really, you know, we're really trying to evolve ourselves. And then really, how do we also create more positivity as a platform with so much negativity on Facebook and even Instagram to some degree, and, and, and these other social platforms, how do we create a safe space for people where they can be positive and uplifted by one another and uplifted by teachers in a way that, you know, they, they aren't getting right now. I think it's more critical now and probably will be even more critical going forward , um, for those, for those interactions to happen. And for people to find a community online community, you know , uh, online and in person once, once that can happen again , um, and feel like they have some support right now, I think everybody is struggling with that on their own. You know, these, these guys say that because why people are listening to podcasts and people are looking to hook into things where they can feel more positivity. And so , um, and, and, and community. And so what we're really keen on this year in particular is bringing more of that to the forefront of what we do. How do we support teachers and how do we really foster positive digital communities so that we can really be a positive, you know , have a positive impact on people's people's lives day to day , and, you know, let them interact with one another and end up lift each other. So it's a , yeah, I think it's a, it's a big initiative for us this year and there'll be a lot more coming forward.

Speaker 5:

Wonderful. I love that. So great. I think, I think you've said it all. Um, Todd, perfect way to end our, our podcast. I want to say an extra huge thank you to tall Wolfen Berg and Kat Hagberg for talking to us as women trying to move forward to create a more diverse and equity.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for listening to this episode of two black girls. Talk about everything. We love talking to Pat and Todd from yoga international and hearing why equity and diversity is important to them and their team and the steps that they're taking to make sure they're on the forefront of this important work. You can reach me on Instagram at Diane Bond , yoga official, or my website@dianneyoga.com . You can also reach Dee on her Instagram at yoga deep . If you want to hear more episodes like this, make sure you subscribe to our podcast . Extra points. If you leave a review and share it with your friends, we'll catch you next time.