Two Black Girls Talk About Everything

Episode 15 We Talk to Yoga Journal About The Changing Face of Yoga

May 11, 2021 Dianne Bondy and Dee Shuttleworth Season 1 Episode 15
Two Black Girls Talk About Everything
Episode 15 We Talk to Yoga Journal About The Changing Face of Yoga
Show Notes Transcript

I never thought I would see the day when I would talk to Yoga Journal. As most of you may know I have had a long difficult and painful relationship with Yoga Journal.  I recently received a heartfelt apology from the editor and I think it is time to turn over a new leaf. If people and organizations are willing to change I am open to discussion.

In today's podcast,  Dee and I speak to the Brand Creator and Editor in chief of Yoga Journal, Tracy Middleton about the changes in what one of the biggest and most influential Yoga Magazine is doing to open the dialogue around equity in yoga. What's the future of Yoga Journal?

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] two black girls talk about everything, podcasts , I'm Diane in ID . And we're going to be talking about every bill talking about yoga and fashion and just everything, everybody Diane here from the two black girls talk about everything podcast with my good friend Dee in today's podcast, we are talking to Tracy Middleton, who is the brand director and editor in chief of yoga journal. For those of you listening to the podcast, who've been following me for a while . You know, I've had a long sorted and painful history with yoga journal, and I'm happy to say that some things have changed and that we're seeing a pivot. So I was excited to talk to Tracy about the future of the magazine and how they're making drastic changes in how yoga is presented. So let's listen in,

Speaker 2:

We'll just start out by welcoming you Tracy, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for agreeing to this podcast. We're going to pause . I'm honored. It's coming on . Wow. This is really exciting. Nothing to be nervous about. We just have a little talk , um, but I kind of want to start it out with a big elephant in the room just to clear the air a little bit. So , um, as most of my followers know I've had a tumultuous relationship with yoga journal. We've had our ups and downs. We've had a few situations. I spent probably a , literally a decade calling you guys out on my social media. So we have certainly come full circle. And it wasn't Tracy who is in charge of the magazine. At that time, it was two editors previous and I've had some hurt feelings and some miscommunications and some, you know, questions around the content that was putting it being put out there. The influence yoga journal has had on the yoga world, my feelings around yoga journal and some stuff bubbled to the top. So for my listeners out there and my followers out there, you may be surprised that I'm talking to yoga journal now, but here's the thing that I want to , that I want to communicate. I only ever wanted change. I only ever wanted to be seen. I only ever want to critique and point out the places where I don't see equity and diversity and invite people to come to the table. And if people are willing to come to the table and change and listen, then I'm willing to listen back. Like I'm not like canceled. You're done forever. Like if you fall a job and you make a change, then I'm here for it. And I have to say, I was really touched. And you and I had an emotional conversation a few months ago where you apologize for behavior that you had no part of. And I, I was really moved and touched that you did that, that you were interested in talking to me. And it was really funny because my friend, Amber Karnes, who was on the magazine cover back in February was the February edition. She was so hesitant to be on the cover and knowing the relationship that I've had with yoga journal in the past. And she said, are you still going to talk to me? Are we still going to be friends? I said, they're making a concerted effort to change. And they're putting a plus sized woman on the front of the magazine and I can't fall to wanting to show up for representation. And then when we reached out and started talking, I was like, it just feels good to be seen. So I just want to say thank you , um, for stepping up and stepping out and stepping in whatever we call it these days and , uh , uh, and forging ahead and doing some really, really great things , um, change it , really changing the trajectory of the magazine, for sure.

Speaker 3:

Like I'm always so like gracious, like so grateful and just appreciative of people who are willing to give us another chance, you know, like I'm there having her feelings and that's , that's like, there've been places where yoga Journal's messed up. I will be the first one to own that. Right. And so one of the things I've been thinking about so much this past year, really just the , like the , the, the year that we've all had 18 months , we're starting to go on now. Right? It's like, I think change sometimes if , if this idea of change is right, our practice teaches us that to embrace impermanence, but still, like we think of change as like this big, scary thing typically, right? Like we have to change the way that we're living. We have to change the way that we're interacting with each other right now, because of the pandemic. We can't hang out the way we used to and really trying to reframe it as like, change is such an opportunity as well. You know, like the fact that that's where growth happens and , and if things could always stay in the same rep that they've always been in how's that would that be. And so we've been trying to like teach myself to be welded to welcome change, really not even to like allow it, but just like to welcome it and be like, what, what, what opportunity is this change opening for me and asking me to make and , and showing me ways that I can grow in this moment. I love them . I love them

Speaker 2:

And a lot. And I'm grateful. I'm grateful that people are open to change. I know it's hard and nobody likes it. Let's be honest. Nobody really likes it. And it's sticky. And sometimes things get comfortable, but things that don't change die , that's something to think about things that don't change die. And we want things to evolve and remain relevant. And we want the world to become a place where we all feel comfortable and we see ourselves represented and we all belong. And I think for a long time, for me in the yoga industry, which is how I kind of got started with my crusade for equity in diversity, in yoga, I felt like this was not a place for me. You know, I went to yoga studios and didn't see teachers that look like me or people who are practicing that look like me, whether it was in a plus sized body or a woman of color, these were all things that I didn't feel and see. And I didn't see it in advertising. So when I didn't see it, I thought, why isn't somebody doing something about this? And then I hear my mother in the back of my head going, if nobody's doing something about, it means that you have to do something about it and I'm like, it . So then I was like , uh, I'm going to start using my platform to speak out. And then people were starting to feel the same way. So how could we encourage the yoga industry in and of itself to make some concrete changes? So it looks more representative of the people we want to invite to the practice. And so that has been the crusade that we ha that I have taken on. And it's really been interesting to watch how far things have come in a relatively short amount of time.

Speaker 3:

Well , and it's , uh , it's funny. We were having a conversation like an internal company , wide conversation. Um, and one of the things that I love so much journalism through loads of change and transition that past year, right? We were owned by one company. We got acquired by another company, and now we've just acquired a third company. So it's like, it's been all crazy change. And one of the things that I really like about the company that we're at now is that they really are committed to equity and diversity and inclusion across all the brands in the portfolio. Right. We do a lot of, we have running titles and cycling titles and Oh , wow . Just outdoor titles. And, you know, these are all spaces that are for everybody. It's not just the yoga that it's a space for everybody. And you know, it's funny. Cause I feel like people, people in the company are like, Oh, why Jay is so far ahead of everyone in bed. And I'm just thinking like, Oh , there's so much that we can do. There's so much we have to do to be, to do more with this. And so it's , it's interesting that you know, that this change happens in different stages for different groups and different people. And I just feel lucky that, you know, I have to say that there are some brands whose their readers aren't demanding that change in representation and their communities are very much, usually older white men who are just happy for the status quo to continue on like Gilbert. Journal's lucky that our community is demanding change and that there , you know, it , I feel like every time somebody called the South, it's an opportunity to listen, you know ? And it's like, how can, how can we call ourselves in, like, I think I told you, those people are when we tended to, when somebody calls us out, my first question is like, what did we do wrong? Yeah . Because there's so many blind spots, there's so many blind spots that we all have so many opportunities to learn from each other. And so I think coming from that, like, did we mess up? What did we miss? And , and let's just listen, like , let's take that first step of like, okay, that's not respond right in the moment. Cause that's white supremacy culture right there being like, you gotta fix it right now. Okay . Take a hot second. Listen to what people are saying. And just sit with that for a second. Just really stick with that and then think about like, okay, how do we re respond to what is being asked of us in this moment and , and be more intentional about the change that way.

Speaker 4:

Yeah , me too , for myself, I feel as though , um , growing up, I was always a mold. I like to call it like a mold breaker. Like I always felt like I needed to be in these spaces. Um, and as when we, when I knew we were going to be talking to you, I just kept coming up, like thinking back, like my history. And I grew up in the nineties as a teen and I was in the Kate Moss era. I'm sure you guys remember. Right. So I was, there was never, I just felt like throughout my life, there's never been representation of a light skinned black women with big hair like me. Right. Um, and then later on, you know, years ago I got into the fitness industry and then again, I found myself not fitting into the Barbie doll mold. And then I became a yoga teacher and opened a business and I teach intention settings and meditations and teaching yoga. And then I didn't fit into that crazy flexible on the beach mold. Right. Um, and I guess my first question for you, Tracy, is how can we as individual teachers in this industry break , um, break the mold and bring inclusion into the spaces as individuals, because we know we are so influenced by these upper echelon magazines, television, social media, how do we do that as individuals so that we don't feel defeated?

Speaker 3:

And I was a nineties girl too, who did not fit the Kate mold either. Right. Um, and, and , you know, I'm a CIS white woman. I was in a much larger body when I was in the nineties. And I didn't feel like that represented me too and not to draw a parallel. Right. Like I don't want to conflate that the lack of representation that I felt just as a larger white woman is anything is not the same as what you felt as a light-skinned black woman, that beautiful hair. Um, but I think, you know, there are so many people and I think it's , it's social media has really helped with this right. People, Diane, like Amber, like yourself who are like doing such amazing things and are, you know, I look at it , all of these people as mentors really as these, these individual people that we can learn from. And I think it's , um, we actually had another conversation yesterday at work and we were talking if we had like an internal panel and it was a bunch of like women who were kind of higher up in the, in the company, you're talking about leadership. And I was like, you know, I want, I want a younger mentor because like women in their twenties and thirties, they don't put up with a bit like the BS that I put up with early in my career. And so I just think like finding these mentors all over the place, you know, like there are amazing studio owners. Um, you know, like I've been working with HX Johnson a little bit lately who started Magnolia studio in new Orleans. That was the first black owned studio in new Orleans and kind of being like, okay, tell me, like, tell us what you learned . Like share that with our community. Cause I feel like that's the place that yoga journal could be like, we are, we can be that platform for these individuals to share their story, but they're the teachers, they're the mentors, they're the ones who have the power to influence everyone, you know, like we're just the vessel and so many ways. Um, and you know, how can I look at your parents ? Like how can we hold space for that? And then, you know, really try to uplift those individuals who can teach me as an individual, how to make change , um, in my own life, you know, I don't, I don't know studio. Um, but you know, I think that there are certainly listening to those voices makes me when we get back to the studio, which I miss so dearly. Um, like when I see that lack of inclusion in the studios that I go to, then it's on me to step up and say like, Hey, how can my community studio be more inclusive and reach out to other teachers and make them feel welcome in the space and how can it , how can I, you know, invite people into this space to practice with me and to share this with me again ? You know, I think those, those individual changes don't seem big, but I think they are big to the other individuals who we're interacting with. Like those, those one-on-one conversations and interactions don't necessarily make us splash in the same way that a magazine covers, but they're so impactful between the individuals. And it just creates that chain , um, that , you know, each person has that opportunity to make change with at least one other person.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing because it does have a ripple effect. It does people honestly think that one person can't make a change. Like we have this, I think it's an old idea. I think it's sometimes a white supremacist idea because they don't want people to try because when one voice stands on the side of a mountain top and screams out into the ether, you might hear it, but somebody else might also hear it and come in and start yelling out with you or , or, or, or talking to you. So back in like 2012, I wrote an article for elephant journal, which was the thing at the time everybody was writing on this blog. And I wrote a blog post that kind of started my activism. That was , uh, the, the title was complete clickbait . So the title was yoga. Isn't just for skinny white girls. And I didn't pick the imagery for my article, but my editor at the time, you know, searched all the yoga journal covers and just put up all the yoga journal covers for the year. And it was a year that there were no people of color on the cover of yoga journal. And so that was what was used to talk about my article and what the article was talking about was, you know, there's other people out there who want to come to yoga. And just because you see me in a plus size body, doing all the things that smaller bodies can do, doesn't make me an anomaly, right? It , it tells you that there's a whole group of people out there that are being missed in the conversation. So that kind of launched my activism. If you had told me 10 years later that I would have done all the things that I had an opportunity to do to help push the needle forward amongst diversity and accessibility, I would have never guessed. That was one article , one person, one time that spoke to a group of people who were feeling the same way because that article went viral in an hour on the internet. And if you go back to the article to this day, there are thousands of comments on it, of people who have gone to yoga studios and been the only person in the studio with a plus sized body or a person of color or a disability, and have been completely ignored by like an able body teacher who has been panicked or scared because they're like, Ooh, I don't know what to do with this person. And so many trainings have cropped up accessible yoga off the mat. All of these things have cropped up to address these problems, but it just takes one person to speak loud enough B and to take the lead because we will follow , um, once we can identify with what , what is going on. And the thing that I love the most that you said, Tracy, is the, the idea of listening. This is, was not what happened prior with previous , um, editors and previous brand , uh , creators , uh, for yoga journal that I interacted with the first reaction to me was defensiveness and anger. And so it's so refreshing that we're getting to a point in the world where people are actually taking that pause, which is the yoga, right? That's the yoga, when you take the pause and go, Oh, okay. I've been called out on my blind spot. Something has happened. Let's not have that knee jerk reaction, which is also , which is what we've been taught or what we've been trained to do. Let's use the yoga and create that space because the yoga is that space for reflection. And then you came back with how can we do better? Which is not the experience I've had. So it's really amazing to see the evolution. And the two of you make me feel really old because you were teenagers in the nineties. I was teenager in the eighties. I was in full-on in my, do I dare say it, my third thirties in the nineties? Or no, maybe I was in my twenties in the nineties, but it's so interesting to see a younger end to track back to that, to see a younger generation stormed the world in a much different way. Um, I find that this gen Z gen Z for my American Guzman's , they're putting up with zero things and they are well-organized . They know how to use social media platforms to galvanize and to organize and to, you know, help people question what they believe. I watch a lot of stuff on Tik TOK from younger creators and indigenous creators. And I have never gotten such an education in my life with people who are completely on point. I was not that organized at that age. I think it's smart to have young mentors.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. And it's just like the , the earlier that those conversations happen, then it just becomes so much more normalized, right? Like slightly different. But so I've got two daughters. One of them is , um , rapidly entering between them and, you know, talk about change. Right. Um, and I just, I just got her, this book that , uh , a woman I used to work with wrote called puberty is gross, but also awesome and great books. I'm looking through it, looking through it. And you know, this is a book that my daughter's 11 and we have conversations about gender identity and, you know, things like that all the time. But just like that was represented in this book. Like, Hey, like there , here's a whole section of like, here's I like, and what I like, am I like, and like, to even think about a book being available like that when I was 11 years old , it just wasn't there. Right. And so it just gives me so much hope to feed. This is just the shift happening. And for kids who are so plugged in, like, there are certainly lots of dangers of the internet and social media, but there's so many opportunities as well. And it's just really, like I said, hopeful to think that they will grow up in such a different world than I did. And the things that I didn't learn until my , so my forties, certain things right now. Right ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah . So much smarter than us. There's so much my kids educate me every day . Yup . So much smarter than us. I say that all the time, but it's good because each generation kicks like kicks the can down the road. Each generation makes it better for the next one. So I'm very excited to see the evolution. And I never thought that I would see it so soon because I found in my life changes slow. Like we're still talking about equity, we're still talking about racism. We're still talking about all these things. 400 years plus 50 years, plus from the 60, 60 years, plus from the sixties, we're still talking about this. I'm hoping that with this new generation, the millennials and Gen-Z and gen Z, that the conversation and the change happens that much quicker, that we evolve faster as human,

Speaker 3:

Such a , uh , an amazing change to see happen. I share that. I share that hope with you, for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I have another question for you. So how hard was it to come into yoga journal and change the direction of the ship? Like, did you get a lot of pushback in wanting to be in showing work basis of color and showing like you had a cover with a person who was, I believe a double amputee, like these are all the things I've just always wanted to see on the front of yoga journal. Like how hard was it to make that shift

Speaker 3:

In some ways really easy because the yoga journal team was already like the people on the yoga journal team. Like they have amazing inspire me every day. Um, and I think that they had been like, none of this changes , not all me, for sure. Right, right, right. A lot of this, they had been working on for awhile . And , um, you know, as you said, like change can be slow. And I think that there were things that they had kind of changed that they were making in that they were hopeful that people would just recognize. And so we've tried to be a little bit louder about that and , and be more transparent and the change that we're making. Um, but from like the yoga journal team perspective, like everyone was so onboard , you know, everyone really bought into this , um, other places in the company who, you know, they're maybe not as dialed in to the conversations that are happening in the yoga community. There wasn't necessarily pushback, but sometimes questions. Right. And the cover that we have coming out, we just, we just shifted an issue. I can't spoil it . Who's going to be on it. But it's like , this was , this was every, every cover we haven't sat with me, but this one is like my fan girl moment, I have to say, and it is the cover that earlier in my career, they would have been like, you're going to put who on the cover, like now I'm battling herself , I'm excited. Um, and they're like, well, I hope this is , I was like, you like you , I can't imagine anyone not being inspired by this person. Um, but you know, I have some questions I'll say over the past year of like, you know, do you feel like you guys are going too far in not having, you know, a white person on the cover? And my response to that is, you know, when I look around the yoga community right now, and the people who are really changing the way that yoga is and the way that we think about our practice by and large, it's not a lot of this white teachers. Like those, those aren't the people who are, who I find like the most exciting and inspiring and motivating right now. So it's not so much like thinking, okay, well, we're going to put this, this person on the cover because they have a Brown body and we're going to put this person on the cover because they're in a plus size body. It's because these are the people who, who are really defining what yoga looks like, right. Where it's reclaiming it from that skinny white girl that you wrote that know , you know, elephant journal , um , piece about. And I also, like I steal from, you know , rip RBG when someone asked her how many, how many women will be enough women on the Supreme court. And she said, nine and people were all like, wait, what? She's like, well, there was nine men for how long and no one thought that was a problem. So, you know, why, why can't every cover for the past six covers, be a black body, a Brown body, a differently abled body. Like there have been, there was enough, certainly flexible bending white girls for your editor to pull out a whole catalog of stuff to put on there. So I think it's just like, I want to put people on the cover who are making change, who are talking about yoga, who are influencing other people. Um, and those people are Amber and Stephen . Who's the WMPG that you mentioned and Shayla Stonechild who's on our current cover. I think she's the first indigenous woman who's been on the cover, but her matriarch movement, it's so incredibly inspiring in the way that she is reclaiming space for her community and for native women. And just bringing attention to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. Like that's inspiring, that's yoga, right? It's not exactly. And you get into this, like that is yoga. I'm loving all of this. I feel like I was go back to myself because that's been my experience. I've never wanted to be like the check the box. I've never wanted to be a token. I just want it to be heard and accepted. Right. And I , and I think, I don't know , can't speak for you, Diane. But I feel like from our conversations, it's always been the same for you too . Totally.

Speaker 2:

I'm always conscious of that. When organized , zations ask either to use my image or invite me to be on a panel, like, am I going to be the only black person on the panel? Are you going to feature, you know, people who are practicing with disabilities, people of color, indigenous people, self Asian people, which we often see erased quite frankly , um , from the yoga conversation in so many ways whose culture who brought us this incredible culture. But yeah, I always tread the line of tokenism versus representations . What I've been doing a lot of times is if an organization asks me to speak or be a part of their panel or whatever, first things I go do, there's Daisy , of course I go do, is I go check out the board of that organization and I go see who's on the board. And then I go see the lineup of the panel. And if I'm the only person on that panel, I'll say, have you considered inviting this person and this person and this person, and I'm willing to take a cut in my pay. If that means you were going to make space for another person of color or a person with a disability, or , uh , you know, a person of size to also be on the, on the , uh, the panels so that we get a range of diversity. It's so great to hear when people want to center a different experience. I think centering a Brown body, a plus sized body, a disabled body lets us know , uh , or teaches us so much more from constantly centering cisgender able-bodied, heteronormative people. We know what that conversation is like. We've been, we've been privy to that conversation in our entire lives. We know what that perspective is. How much more can we learn when we sent her someone else? And I want to learn that like, I want my experience of yoga and my experience of my life to coincide as a practice. I'm practicing being a human being. I'm practicing, being a good human being. I'm constantly challenging my belief systems. I'm constantly figuring out how to dismantle white supremacy. I'm constantly trying to empower people to step into themselves whenever I can. And it's a practice some days I'm really good at it. And other days I just screw it up royally, but what do I learn from those script points? I learned way more when I sent her other voices. Then when I sent her the same voice,

Speaker 3:

Something , you know , to your question about like how easy was it to make this change? I think that it will be difficult to , and this is something that like, not, not to say that this was the wrong reaction, some of the community, but the first couple of covers, we have the first couple of different bodies we sent her people, you know, people did ask, well, is this just tokenizing? Right? That's a fair question. That's a fair question. And it's , and it's taken a year of, you know, we've been putting out like a quarterly report of just like, here's some things that we're working on. We're all spent a feedback, like just being transparent of like, here's some of our fear , some of the places where we feel like we're working, we're making change, but come at us with the things that aren't working rates, like we're open to that constructive criticism too. And I think it takes that sustained change to , you know , and , and rightly so to show people that this isn't just a tokenizing , okay, we're gonna , we're gonna put this person on the cover or we're gonna bring attention. You know, it's the, you know, let's not just talk about black history during black history month. Let's not women during women's history month. And someone at some of the conversations that I have with other editors cheats , it's like, let's not talk about like the thing that I, as a content creator, I never want to do is just be like, here are like the heroes of yoga, like black heroes of the Browns heroes of yoga is just like Steven , the amputee who we had on the cover, his accident is like the least interesting part of his story to me. Yeah . Right. Like he, he hits yoga in criminal justice reform. And like that is like so strong and powerful. And the thing that I find most interesting and inspiring about him and like, yes , the body that he's , then it looks different from my body and, you know, moves differently in ways than my buddy. But like, that's not the most interesting thing about him. So as a content creator, I'm constantly aware of, let's make sure that we have representation, but also that every like, but center those people and let center their stories, but don't only center them when it is about them being black or Brown or differently abled or right. You know, you know, that they think in a different way, they have , um, you know, and it's when we have kind of rehab , we have tons of great writers who now are working with us. Um, and it's like, okay, please, you know, write about your experience, your lived experience as a, you know , South Asian teacher, but also write travel stories for us, write sequences for us, right ? All this other stuff that has nothing to do about your lived experience, but like your lived experience as a yoga practitioner. So that it , it, that is my goal in what we're doing really to free those voices to the table, but in lots of different ways,

Speaker 2:

I think that's so important because it becomes very one note . If I'm only known for being a social justice advocate for creating diversity, I'm so much more than those things like people are multi-dimensional , their experiences are multi dimensional. And we also don't always want to put black and Brown bodies in a place where we're constantly extracting their labor and educating white folks about their blind spots and their behaviors that may be racist. Right. And that's a new thing I've been playing with in my mind. I've been less likely to call out people as, as racist. I mean, if I meet the grand wizard of the Klu, Klux Klan, definitely calling that person out. But I know that there are well-meaning white folks out in the world who are completely unaware of their blind spots and completely unaware that the behavior that they are doing, the behaviors that they're doing are behaviors that are culturally insensitive and racist. And it's easier to pull people into the conversation. You don't call them a racist outright, but you say to them, this behavior can be construed as racist. This behavior is based in an old idea and an old stereotype for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, the world is moving this way. I find when I talk to people that way about race, they softened a little bit, and they're more open to hearing the conversations. Mike, next question for you is how has your readership responded? Because you're always going to get those trolls. I was just going to ask the same question, right? Because they see one thing for such a long time. And it's for me, when I look at it, it's a dramatic change for me. Like when I was scrolling through your Instagram for the past couple of days to prepare myself just what am I seeing what's going on? And I was really blown away by how diverse your Instagram is. I go through like other, like other brands that make yoga clothing and nobody's near, near as near or close to you in providing that kind of representation. My question is, what does your readership thing and has your readership changed?

Speaker 3:

It's hard to fan some ways. Cause I feel like COVID has changed the traditional data that we get . Right. Um, but I think, you know, some of the, some of the things like , I think when we post that certainly on social media, I think that occasionally we'll get a troll for sure. Um, but a lot of times, and it just goes to show, I think like how welcoming the yoga community can be. Um, as those, like, those are often the posts that get a lot of positive feedback. We had something the other day , um, Angela Perry , who's like a tremendous social media manager who works for us. And she posted something of , of a woman who was probably eight months pregnant doing often. Uh , and everyone was like, wow, this is , this is amazing. And this is great. And you know, everyone loves seeing a different body in a different shape. Um, we, you know, we, juvenile Haman just wrote a story on politics and yoga. And I was like, okay, like, I'm going to prepare, like we know, we know we'll get the like politics , blah, blah, blah. Um, and there was, there were surprisingly not a lot of pushback to that. Um, but then during, you know, right after the inauguration , uh, or during the day of the inauguration, I feel like we posted a story and it was , uh, a repost actually of a woman , um, who she was like, it was , she was doing like a sound bath, like she was managing her space and , and the comments or the commentary that went around with it was just like, like I'm cleaning my space for, for a new four years. And it was a black woman and there was a lot of pushback to that. So there definitely is part of that community. Like why did we get that pushback when it was a black woman doing that versus like, does that make a difference in what is deemed acceptable conversation ? Um, that always makes me think and , and, you know, I , I guess the very convoluted answer to that question is like, yeah, there's, there's people who aren't embracing this change and those are the people that I'm like, okay, then this isn't maybe the community for you. Yeah, yeah. You know, the short answer, like, we're not gonna, we're not gonna shift the way we're not going to shift to this change because you know, there, there are two non believers in our audience. Right . Like I just, I don't want to empower that. I don't, I just , I don't want to, and, and, you know, when we have stories on the Sykes that talk about different lived experiences, that aren't just like the wall, maybe, you know, we we've just had a couple of stories about , um, you know, the, the ban in Alabama being reversed. I read that school, then that conversation, and like , does it get the most clicks on the website? No, it doesn't make me drive the most traffic, but that's okay. Like, we're not going to stop doing that. Like, that's the line that I could feel like I've put in , in the sand with, you know, the higher ups at the company is like, yes, I'm focused on as a, as a general content creator. I'm going to be focused on those metrics. Like that's, what's asked of me in my job to deliver, but we're not going to stop doing this important work just because those stories might not have the traffic spikes that other stories do, or I know they don't have to be the most read stories on the site, as long as they're read . Yeah. I'm concerned.

Speaker 4:

Tracy, do you think that is what has stopped , um , in the past that the transition and the diversity and the inclusion, because of like the fear of things not being as popular or as accepted.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . I mean, like I said, I've worked in magazines for 20 plus years and I have definitely been in rooms where it's like black women don't sell on the cover. Right. Which number one, I think is BS. Um, but you know what magazines have been hit hard the last couple of years for lots of different reasons . Um, do you stay on sales ? Aren't what they were that has impacted, but there's lots of negatives that , but the positives that come with that is like now I think a lot of magazines feel better taking, you know, what, in the past the theme is like taking risks. Um, because it's like, okay, well we know that, you know, it's, it's not going to make or break us up one issue doesn't sell well. And I think that it's really sad that it took that, you know , capitalist mentality to change, to be able to normalize this. But I think what we've seen is like, those covers often sell better than otherwise. It's like , guess what? For all that time we were wrong.

Speaker 2:

We got to , uh, when the yoga and body image coalition came together in 2019, we were invited by yoga journal , uh, and uh, off the mat and Lulu lemon to sit down and have a conversation about all the things that were, you know , going on in the yoga industry at the time. And you had a body body positive. Um, I think it was called the body image issue and Kathryn Bullock was on the cover and it was just a bad photo of Kathryn Budig it wasn't, you know, cause Catherine brew to get at that time. I don't know where she is now still represented that very able-bodied because she was the queen of the, you know, the, our imbalance . Um, she's still in a, in a small body, like a yoga body on the cover that they're , they , they weren't quite ready to take the leap into the next , um, conversation. And when way back then, when we were having those conversations, I would have never guessed all these years later that I'd be sitting across from you having a completely different conversation because at the time , uh, the editor in chief was completely oblivious to the, to the fact that , um, they weren't showing a lot of diversity and that just comes with white privilege because you're not forced to look beyond your own , uh , recognition. So the two black of we were invited to write a blog post for the digital content. So I wrote a blog post and my friend Anna's , um, my friend Dana Smith from yes, yoga has curves. Yoga diva also wrote a piece for the blog and then more traditional sized yoga he's wrote a piece. So five or six of us wrote a piece for the digital content on your , um, on your website. And then it was put out or two weeks before we had the sit-down panel, we all flew to San Diego. It was a yoga conference and we all sat down and had a conversation of what it means to be in the yoga space and what a yoga body looks like. And right before they announced who they were, the editor in chief at the time, came up onto the stage and said the most read blog post out of everybody who was posted was mine and Dana's. And I thought to myself, aha, this is true . This is 2014. Aha. Okay. We now have the metrics to prove that people who look like us and people who don't look like us are still interested in our stories. We're going to see a change. Yay. We now have some concrete metrics that say that this is possible. And then

Speaker 3:

Whoa , Whoa, Whoa,

Speaker 2:

Nothing happened. And so it's refreshing to hear you say, just because those articles or those stories don't drive traffic or don't sell doesn't mean we can't run them along the store alongside in, in conjunction with the stories that do sell, because once we get people to the page, they're going to read whatever's on the page. Right. So lining that up is really interesting. And I'm so grateful to hear that metrics. Isn't the only reason we want to share a story in publishing

Speaker 3:

Within yoga. Right. I can't, I don't know that I can speak for, for all of the publishing, but I think that like , that's just an important part of our ethos now and our DNA and it looks like that's , that's the non-negotiable okay .

Speaker 2:

I love it. I love it. I'm I'm so hopeful for the future. I never thought I never thought seven years ago, I'd be sitting here having this lovely conversation with you because my previous conversations , um , um , not worked out as well. So it's great to see things evolve and I'm grateful that you were so open to coming on the podcast and , and talking about the ethos and the change that yoga journal it's shaking . So what do you, do you have a question before I ask my next question, D I don't want to cut you off. I see you. Uh, no, no, go ahead. So what do you see the future? What do you see for the future of yoga journal moving forward? What is, what is your

Speaker 3:

Perfect , um, you know, I really want it to continue the steps that we're taking and continue to not only have be the platform for more voices, but one of the things that, you know , I'm really conscious of , um, is that your w w only be as good as the people who are on the team helping to create it and who have that proximity to power. Right. And, you know, we've been, we've been trying to , um , bring some more different voices and different faces to who actually work on the team. Um , and I want to continue to do that. You know, one of the things about this pandemic is, you know, in this way, in this remote way. And so as I'm hiring people now, it's like we don't have to have, you know , um, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, which is super white. I actually, I never moved there. I'm in Pennsylvania. I hired an editor earlier this year. She lives in North Carolina. Um , and being able to open that up, like just open up the way that we work up to have different people with, like, it doesn't require them to move to this really white bubble that might not be welcoming , um, to them as I'm hopeful that that will allow as we do more hiring to, you know , attract a wider, just a wider talent pool. Um, because that just the more voices that we can get in the room. I just think if you don't have that at the table, when the decisions are being made, it's so hard to try to truly be equitable and representative. Um, and that's not to say, like we're doing diversity hires, right ? Quote, unquote, we hired is , was the best candidate of everyone who applied every race and gender. And every , like she wasn't hired because she was a black woman. Right. She was hired because she's all amazing and kicks . I'm saying just so talented. And so, you know, but the more that we do that, and now that we have that ability , um , but that's one thing that I want to do is just really try to think about like, you know, what is , what does our team look like? Um, and then, you know, we have some exciting stuff planned that we're going to start doing some like live classes, I think, and, you know, we're doing different types of like workshops , um, and just, you know, keep having these conversations and the conversations change and evolve, making sure a bit , again, it's that listening part, right? Like listening to the community, listening to what people are talking about and listening to, you know, when we go wrong, because we invariably, you know , I'm not going gonna say yoga journal. We'll never make another mistake because we're human and we're fallible. And that happens. Um, but you know, it's, and that's , you know, we've had these conversations too , of we being the publishing industry. It's like, this is so hard being, like being representative and diverse is so hard. And I think the unspoken part of that is like, this is so hard to do perfectly right . And to do perfectly the first time. And again, like that's white supremacy culture. That's telling us, like, if you don't do this perfectly, the first time it's not worth doing right . And I think like erasing that mentality of like, it's , it can, it can be messy work and, and it's not always linear. And you know, when we drop the ball, if we do harm, we will own, it was the biggest thing. And then we will figure out how to do less harm going forward.

Speaker 2:

It's amazing. The first tenant of yoga, right. Do you know, are , I think in this new world where we're all learning about things, and I'll try to figure out where we stand and all doing this introspection, where we have to have a little bit of grace that we're still gonna step in it. But what I love about what you said is when we step in it, we own it. We figure out how to learn from it and we move forward. We don't get defensive and push back or point fingers. Cause I find that's never helpful. And it's been a huge journey for me to get out of my anger and just kind of meet people where they are, because for a long time, I was really hurt and really angry. So there was a lot of pushback there. And , uh , a friend of mine who used to be , uh , the editor in chief , uh, for yoga journal, Linda Sparrow once reached out to me and sent me a text cause I was on a rampage on your social media. And she says, she said to me, I get why you're angry. And a lot of people have tried for a long time to reach out and try to change the content and that they're not ready. So we need you in this industry. I need you to redirect your, your anger, your anger is righteous and it's, and it's , um, and it's necessary and all those things, but redirected back into the work that you're doing and focus on that work. And the rest of the world will kind of catch up. And she said that to me, cause I was like right in my feelings about something. And then I shifted my whole perspective and I'm like, I can be angry and you're allowed to be angry. And my, you know, our anger is often righteous, but how do I channel that righteous energy into something productive as opposed to just, just always being angry about stuff. And that has been the biggest takeaway. And when I started focusing my attention on how I want the yoga world to look, everything kind of caught up sort of, and I could look out and see that organizations were making changes and people were actually listening. I was, I always say to myself, I was just ahead of my time, 2012 people just weren't really 2010 people just weren't ready, but a lot has happened because of the pandemic that has made us change our perspective in a lot of ways. And I kind of think in a way that the pandemic is kind of a gift for you because you can hire a more diverse team and pool because people don't have to live in Boulder. And I've been to Boulder once. And when I was there, I only saw one other black person and he was driving a ups truck and we saw each other and we went, Hey, that's what we did in the Parson park city mall or whatever, whatever it's called. Hey. And that was my whole experience in Boulder. And I was like, cute, but I think I'll stay in Denver. Um, but I'm happy to see the world shifting and I'm happy to see people taking accountability. And I happy to see people have these hard conversations because it's exactly what yoga asks us to do, have hard conversations, sit in our discomfort, work on liberation of other people do no harm. All these things happen intersectionally and they happen to make the world a better place for all of us. And not just for some of us. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk story .

Speaker 4:

No, I, you know, I want to just say like you were talking about like getting out of your feelings and like you had to redirect you like where you were going, because I feel as though like attracts, like, and your energy will attract. So when you're focusing on the negatives or you're getting angry about that, it's not going to sort anything out. Yeah . Right. Um, and that's one thing that I always try to do is I try to keep things positive, even though I may be in my feelings and I'm hurt because I, it's not going to work anything out. If I'm defensive and you shut down, shut down and nobody's going to want to even talk to you or, you know, hear you out if you're an approachable yeah. Your vibrations off. So yeah . I feel that,

Speaker 3:

I love it . I love that she had, you guys had that conversation. She's

Speaker 4:

So lovely . Yes .

Speaker 2:

Linda Sparrow , shout out. I'm writing down everybody for the show notes. Like anytime mentions the name . Like, let me write that down. I need it for this knows . But yeah, she was instrumental in me really shifting my focus away from like having this bird's eye view on yoga journal. What are they doing today? What are they screwing up ? What can I call out? Dah, dah, dah. And she's like you , that is not right. Use of energy Baraka Macharia that is not right. Use of energy. Go out there and use that energy and create your own content. And what I really loved about the rise of social media, I mean, it can be assessable in some places, but it gave people a platform to speak their own truth without waiting to kind of be recognized by a bigger platform and catapulted into the stratosphere, for whatever reasons that I could just create a platform, share what I was feeling, share what I think is the path forward. And those people who were interested come follow me and let's go this way. And people who are not just kind of fall off and that was okay. And so that was huge in me. Just shifting my perspective on yes, I'm angry, but how can I redirect that anger into something that is going to serve the world and not give me a heart attack that give me a heart attack,

Speaker 3:

Right? Yeah . Look at you now, like you've done these amazing books and, you know , just have created so much amazing change. So it clearly was the right path for you.

Speaker 2:

I'm grateful for everybody who has stepped on my, my path. I'm grateful for all the experiences I've ever had. It's really, it's brought me to this moment. Some , some of them, you know, I always say some of them, I wish I didn't have, but I didn't, I didn't learn anything. Like that's how I learned. And I'm just grateful to see the world catch up. And I'm really hopeful that this momentum is not a trend and that this is a change. And that's my big fear.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. We'll be, we'll be telling over the course of the next year, you know, like we've already seen attention go away. Yes. Last summer I think there was so much hyper-focusing after George Floyd was murdered . Everyone seen me , everyone was reading white fragility and everyone is renamed. You know , all of these books, it's like, that's great, but it has to be sustained. It has to be, it has to be continued. And you know, that's, that's the piece of it that I'm really proud that we've been working on it and continue to work on. And also like, there are people, look , there's yoga , Journal's 45 years old and there's 45 years. Right. I know. Right . Um, and, and, and there are , you know, there have been people like you weren't really uniquely hard Diane . And I think there's other people who have been even harder and there are people who they may decide like this is not for me, no matter what kind of changed they do. And that's fine too. Like I respect those people's feelings because as much as that, you know, I appreciate you saying that, that anger really wasn't serving you and redirecting, it helped take you on a different path. Like you can't invalidate harm and hurt and hurt feelings. And that's not that not everyone is going to worship big , the change that you made. Right. Like everyone has to make those decisions for themselves. And I just try to, you know, yes. Would I love if everyone was like, yeah, I know paternal is doing great now of course I would, but you know what? It's going to take time. It's very there and there's history there and that , and that's okay. It's okay. Sometimes, you know , recognizing that in interpersonal relationships or even in brand relationships that sometimes damage has been done, that people are able to re repair a relationship. And I try to hold respect for that and not let my feelings get in the way and my wanting people to recognize the changes that we're making a thing like, well, now you should come back because it's okay for you. That's not going to be the case for everyone. And that's okay.

Speaker 2:

I appreciate that. You respect that. So tell me three things that you do for self care . As , as we come up on the hour, what are three things that you do? And it doesn't even have to be yoga. It can be like sitting in your pajamas, eating Oreos. Cause that's one thing I do.

Speaker 3:

Well, I like, you know , I'm a runner. Um, so that's part of my self-care . I always colleagues running my other yoga because it is like physical and tool . Like it just, I'm not out there to like win metal cause I'm not going to, I'm not that bad. I'm not that good, but I'm a better version of myself every time I do it. So that's one thing that I'm trying to get back from now. Yeah , for sure. For sure. Um, and I just, you know, I try to make time to laugh with my kids, but the big thing, like, I feel like it's , it's such a short time, goes fast . We have with them . I know that's what we felt care. And um, and then I watch a lot of British television. I live in [inaudible] and I'm just like obsessed with everything. And so we watch like reruns or shows that were on when I lived in the UK and with a nice cup of like builder's brew tea, then Milky and

Speaker 2:

I love

Speaker 3:

Anything British I'm in ,

Speaker 2:

You know what? I I've been loving. Oh God , you know what? I've been loving lately. Watching people wreck their hair on YouTube. I don't know why rip their hair on YouTube. So, you know, salons just opened up here maybe about six weeks ago. So everybody was cutting their own hair and bleaching their own hair. So there's a couple of hair stylists on, on YouTube that have YouTube channels of people just wrecking their hair. And I am fascinated about the amount of people who want to dump bleach on their hair and leave it for like six hours. This has been my entertainment lately. I'm just like, and I talked to the screen, like, don't do it, don't do it. Or they pull their bangs in the center and cut them too short. This has been my energy payment . It for the past two weeks, a little piece of escapism . I'm going to watch somebody write their hair. I just, I don't know.

Speaker 4:

That's funny. Silly . Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Clip upon clip . And you see the hairstylist reaction going? No, no, no. And then boom. And then the person it falls to pieces and they're trying to take their hair back together. It's like, I don't know. I don't know if they just do it if they purposely intend to ruin their on YouTube, but for whatever reasons I'm fascinated by it.

Speaker 4:

That's my guilty pleasure. Wow. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So we've come up on the hour. Sorry. What was that?

Speaker 4:

Guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasure. Um, Ooh . Um, I never felt guilty about it . I mean , everything's guilty pleasure. So really not guilty anymore. Um, I don't know. Hold on , hold on. Let me think really quick. Oh . Bubble tea lately has been my guilty pleasure. Thanks to Diane. She introduced me to bubble tea last year. Have you ever had it Tracy, but it's not guilty to me. I just enjoy it. I'm just like, I love it. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it's bad when they open a shop 10 minutes from your house. It's not that it becomes an expensive habit,

Speaker 4:

But I sneak out. I sneak out. I hope my kids don't listen to this. And I go in my car and I run my errands and I have my bubble tea and

Speaker 2:

I love that. So as we come up on the hour, I want to thank you for joining us for this wonderful, wonderful conversation. And I'm excited about the path forward. I think all of us together move the path forward with the needle forward in creating change and equity and all the things. And I want to thank you for coming onto the podcast. It's been a real pleasure to get to know you and to meet you. And I want to thank you for everything you've done and for healing this relationship, it was me. It was meaningful.

Speaker 4:

Well, for me, I'm so grateful to people like you who are willing to give another chance. And it's been just personally lovely getting to chat with you. And I think a couple of months ago we had like a lovely Trump bashing session . My people , this is my people

Speaker 2:

We did. And we're all like if he gets in again, just come on over here, just like pack up your stuff. You're already ready. You're already used to the cold living in Pennsylvania. It can't be much different up here . So

Speaker 4:

Tracy, thank you so much. It was so great to meet you. And I have to admit over the years , um, I really didn't follow anything. Yoga journal just because of obvious. I just, it didn't speak to me. Um, so I'm really looking forward to following yoga journal, which I've started doing a lot of lately and just seeing your content that you've put out and just having a face in a , in a conversation behind all of it. So yeah. Thank you. When, when conferences and meetings and stuff like that, that comes back and we'll actually get to , to be, to be in the same space. That will be the dream, right? Yeah. I'm waiting for COVID to be over. So thanks everybody for listening for two black girls. Talk about everything podcasts next for special. Thank you to Tracy Middleton from yoga journal for being here. We look forward to sharing this conversation with everybody. Thanks everyone.

Speaker 1:

Hey everyone. Thank you for listening into the podcast and a big, thank you for Tracy for coming to talk to us at two black girls talk about everything podcast. It was an interesting conversation and I'm excited to see how yoga continues to evolve and change as we move into the future, remembering that yoga is in all of us and is for all of us and that we want to be respectful, thoughtful, and embrace everyone in this practice. Thank you for listening in . If you're enjoying this podcast, we'd really love it. If you would go on Apple podcast, rate it and leave a comment. It really helps us out and it helps people to hear the podcast. You can hear our podcasts anywhere where you listen to your favorite podcasts . You can also reach out to myself, Diane , on my Instagram page at Dianne Bondy yoga official and you can reach out to di on divine intentions on Instagram. Hopefully you're having a great day and we'll catch you later.