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Dear Friends in Yoga,

Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. As we celebrate, we understand that the progress that has been made in the last 155 years does not nearly amount to enough. We stand allied with all who value racial equality, freedom and injustice, because Yoga teaches us first, ahimsa – “to do no harm”. 

Yoga aims to lead us from suffering towards liberation. At the heart of Yoga philosophy is the belief in a luminous and benevolent essence that is our inner spirit. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the primary source book for understanding Yoga philosophy, yoga is defined as stilling the fluctuations of the mind. Patanjali tells us that we make the journey to still the fluctuations so that we may abide in our “own true splendour.” (LoYSP, sutra 1.3, Iyengar) Due to the nature of life, we collect imprints that cover this knowledge of our true selves, and that is called avidya – or ignorance, which is considered the root of all of our human afflictions.

Yoga offers a path to overcome the obstacles and afflictions that we all experience. Let us brighten the light of discernment which cuts through our ignorance and shines the way forward. It may be an arduous journey, but one that we undertake for our fellow human beings experiencing injustice.

We hope you will join us on the journey to confront and undo systemic racism within ourselves and our community. The National Museum of African American History & Culture put together a great resource to begin “ Talking About Racism”, along with several other resources we have listed here:

May the light of Yoga shine through us. May the principles of Yoga guide us forward, together.

Sharib Khan, IYAGNY Board President
James Murphy, Association Director
Edward McKeaney, Executive Director

On behalf of IYAGNY’s Board of Directors, Association Teachers, Faculty and Staff

Iyengar Yoga
Institutes of New York
227 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011

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