Two Black Girls Talk to Two Brown girls About Everything Meet the Yoga is Dead Creators
TWO BLACK GIRLS TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING PODCAST: EPISODE 13
Yoga is Dead is a revolutionary podcast that explores power, privilege, fair pay, harassment, race, cultural appropriation and capitalism in the yoga and wellness worlds. Join Indian-American hosts Tejal + Jesal as they expose all the monsters lurking under the yoga mat.
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Speaker 1: (00:04)
Welcome to the Two Black Girls talk about everything podcast, I’m Dianne and this is Dee. And we’re going to be talking about everything like yoga, fashion, social justice and just everything Black Girls talk about. I’m so excited. This week’s podcast, we talk to Jesal and Tejal from the Yoga is Dead podcast. So it’s two Black girls talking to two Brown girls about everything. We talk about the impact of the podcast, their most downloaded episode, ever, White Women killed yoga. And what the impact that their podcast has on the Yoga culture going forward, who do we see represented in yoga? And how’s it changing in the future. Thank you for joining us. Let’s listen in.
Speaker 2: (01:01)
Welcome to the two Black girls talk about everything podcast. And this particular episode is going to be two black girls talking to two Brown girls about everything like everything that’s going on. We were talking about the possibility of the roaring twenties, the possibility of throwing a big party, getting dressed up, getting decked out, painting your face, beating your face, showing up. I’d like to talk to you guys about everything. But what I want to start with is how you two changed the trajectory of my career with your podcast. The yoga’s dead podcast, white women killed yoga. The amount of, I liked that you still gasp every time you say the name of it, because everybody thinks that who’s not white come on. Right? Everybody thinks that it was not white, but you two actually said it like out loud named it last I checked, it had 300,000 listens, 300,000 downloads.
Speaker 2: (02:01)
People got in their feelings at the time I was running a 200 hour teacher training and that podcast made it my last 200 hour teacher training I ever taught because yeah, that was the last one I taught after that. I get it. Now I get how you’ve changed because you launched a new TT with social justice focus. Okay. Now we have to bridge everything. So you have to tell us everything. I’m going to tell you everything. So I have taught 22- 200 hour teacher trainings from 2009 to 2019 was the last one I taught. I would teach about two a year, sometimes three I’d sometimes do like a 30 day intensive or a, you know, or a six month intensive. So I’ve been doing them as long as I had a yoga studio. And I always did them with the accessibility aspect, right? Like I always talked about accessibility.
Speaker 2: (02:52)
I always talked about what it was like as a black yoga teacher. So when I ran my last 200 hour teacher training, I incorporated a lot of my social justice stuff. And I had my teacher trainers at the time, all white one person who was South Asian Mamaji who I practice with. Sometimes you see me share our practice with her on Instagram. Her and I were like in cahoots the whole time we’re in teacher training because all these people showed up to my teacher training who are nodding and smiling and saying, yeah, I understand. Yeah. I know your about accessibility. Yeah. I’m going to talk about diversity when I actually got to talk about it and I made them listen to your podcasts. The amount of butt hurt that happened in that 200 hour teacher training was incredible people who were my, let me put this in quotations friends like a Sharon Osborne friend, um, you know, that kind of friend, um, uh, who were my friends for years were all like, are you calling me a racist? And I don’t think this has anything to do with race. I think this has to do with class, the amount of gaslighting and BS I had to put out with my teacher trainer, like the kids, the kids, the students that I was teaching blew my mind. And it enlightened me to a whole host of issues. Most of those people I don’t even talk to anymore. Isn’t that, isn’t that crazy.
Speaker 3: (04:12)
Yeah. I mean, not really
Speaker 2: (04:15)
Putting out the podcast. So I guess, yeah, I can,
Speaker 3: (04:18)
From the other side of what, two years, we’re almost hitting two years Jesal? I don’t remember, but almost hitting two years of releasing that first episode, it feels like we’re definitely on the other side of not being as new as we were. We have our footing a little bit that I am not surprised. You’re not talking to those people anymore because now there’s so, so many ways to identify what’s going on. It’s no longer, like, I want to see your pain. I want to be kind to you as a student, I’m a teacher, blah, blah, blah. Now you can just say like, Hey, you’re white fragility is showing up and you got some unchecked shit to look at. Absolutely. Whereas before it was very different, it was like, Oh, my student needs me. Like, we’re all kind of in this together, blah, blah, blah. But now it’s like, we have the names for what’s going on. And hopefully we’re making a lot of progress and being able to just call it what it is.
Speaker 2: (05:13)
Yeah. Name it, name it. But I had one person in my teacher training when I started talking. Cause I opened with a lot of social justice stuff. I had one person in my teacher training dropout after I think the second month, because she’s like, um, I think you’re exaggerating your experience of racism. I don’t we’re here in Canada and I don’t think it’s what you think it is. And she was talking to other people in the group who were also like talking about me, perhaps exaggerating my experience.
Speaker 3: (05:42)
That whole Canadian thing really annoys me. And I know you’re Canada based. Dee are you also Canada based? I am. Yep. I’ve heard it from Canadians left. Right. And center that they think that, you know, Canada is somehow better than the U S they’re less racist. They don’t have as many problems. And at this point I’m just like, okay, go talk to your Indigenous population about that. First of all. And then second of all, it’s, I mean, I just can’t, it just gets under my skin because it’s not that you’re less racist. You just don’t talk about it as much. We are equally as racist as the Americans, we just have better PR that’s all we just have better PR player coded and polite language. Right? Like you’re being policed by the PO the Canadian politeness. So it’s like, Oh, people feel less able to speak up because they feel like they have to be more polite than they have to be in the US.
Speaker 2: (06:32)
Oh yeah. Canadians run around here, breaking their arm, patting themselves on the back for not being racist. But they’re the thing about racism in America that I’ve noticed living on the border and going back and forth and working in, you know, in both countries is that Americans are overt more overt about it. Like, you know, pretty much right away. And my mother taught me this as a kid. She says, what the Americans do, you know right away where you stand, you know, right away what the deal is. There’s no guessing with Canadians. You’re like, they’re really covert and passive aggressive about it. So you you’re gas lit all the time. You’re like, I’m pretty sure what just happened there. But they, they do Canadians pat themselves on the back constantly thinking they’re not racist. And they were the same. I would say, I would say we were even more racist here because we don’t name it.
Speaker 2: (07:21)
We don’t put it out there. So we don’t have the same kinds of studies that the Americans have around racism. Like we don’t know about racism in our medical system because we don’t track that and we don’t study it, but we do know indigenous people die here. More often indigenous people, we lose more indigenous women in the police. Don’t go looking for them. The RCMP, the Royal Mounted, the Royal Canadian mounted police had a policy of picking up Indigenous people and driving them out into the wilderness and leaving them to die in the coldest times of the year, indigenous women go missing all the time.
Speaker 3: (07:57)
Yeah. And then I w right. Missing murdered indigenous women. And like, we have an acronym for that. Yes. And yet not surprising,
Speaker 2: (08:10)
Not a hundred percent. I mean, we were colonized as much as anywhere else. So any of those countries that are colonized tend to have, you know, these covert and overt instances of racism, but for it to show up in my teacher training really kind of blew my mind. Like this last group. I had a few people in there. I don’t want to throw everybody under the bus. I had a few people in there. Kim, I’m talking to you, a few people in there that got it. That were interested that read, got books, wanted to talk to me about it. And then there was a group of them that were terrible. Just like there were people I knew for a long time that it was so disappointing. Like how many friendships have you, have you guys lost based on that podcast? Like how many your friends got their feelings hurt and were just like more upset that you might call them racist or they might be perceived as racist as opposed to the racism that was actually happening. If that’s not a point of privilege, I don’t know what is, I think Jesal
Speaker 4: (09:12)
We are in the same boat where like, when we spoke up about it, it was like, we finally said something out loud to the world, but everyone in our circles could see it going down. They, they heard about our life experiences as it was happening. Right. So I think like I have a faith I’ve recognized now that I have a fair amount of, um, anxiety going into spaces and going into situations where I’m not entirely clear what the lay of the land is. And I’ve been in so many situations where I’ve let my guard down and I’m comfortable. And then out of left field, my left field, someone says something that’s like, I don’t see color. I’ve never thought of you as a person of color. And I’m like flattened. Right? And so I have this fair amount of anxiety in basically most situations. And I felt that when the podcast came out, because the podcast came out to the public and then it slowly trickled out of New York city to the public in whatever way it was going down.
Speaker 4: (10:17)
But even in New York city, I didn’t know who in my community had heard about it because I wasn’t making a big deal about it to. Like the yoga studios I was at to the yoga programs I was hosting. And I wasn’t comfortable doing that for a time until I was like, I can be safe talking about it. Or someone approached me to say, Hey, I’m here because I want to take your class because I’ve heard your podcast. And then like, my team members would hear about it. And they’re like, starting to let it normalize. But for me, I was like anxious. A lot of the time that the second half of 2019, when it came out, I was like, where am I going to go? And, and, and how is this gonna, I dunno, come back on me. Right.
Speaker 3: (11:06)
I have to say, like, I agree with Tejal. And from a personal point of view, I’m really lucky. I found out that like a lot of my friends were supportive and listening. I didn’t, first of all, I didn’t expect anyone in my personal world to really even listen to my podcast. And so the fact that they did and they were supportive, it was like a huge surprise, but also like a relief, right? Like, Oh, I didn’t have to lose too many friendships. I will say, I think I lost more professional relationships. So like within the yoga industry, you know, and like opportunities came to fill their place in other ways. But the ones that maybe some of the ones I had had in the past, or, or were building towards were definitely like not available anymore. And that’s okay. Because it just shifted towards what was better for me.
Speaker 3: (11:51)
And what was I w I was interested in, I have to placate myself anymore to fit into these other opportunities. So in a way it was a good thing. It’s like a culling process, but the other big shift I think was okay, we said, white women killed yoga, the title of our episode, but we were like, chuckling about it. Just the two of us in alone in a room, like, should we, should we really like biting our nails? Like, should we name our episode, this like, Oh, how, how naughty would it be? How much devious would it be if we did this? And so we did it. And then the interesting thing is like, then you have to say the name of the episode, like over and over, you basically have to get comfortable with saying white people out loud in public all the time.
Speaker 3: (12:32)
Right. Which is not something people of color generally feel safe doing. We’re generally, like we see one another across the room and we’re like, Oh, white people, right? Like we’re with, there was a moment where I could get away with just saying, well, I run a yoga community. I I’m a yoga teacher and I have a yoga podcast and people would say, Oh, okay. And there was a moment after doing that for so many times that I realized, I want to tell, I’m going to tell people, I run a yoga podcast called yoga is dead. And then I see their reaction. I say, an episode, one is called white women, killed yoga. And so I, I got to a point where I was like, now I’m going to deliver the information rather than just see who found it on their own way. I was like that, that turning point came. And then now, like right now, I feel like we get to talk about it. And we were a little bit free. We get to talk about it. Like, we get to talk about it.
Speaker 2: (13:30)
You paved the way. Cause you named it out loud and you were the first to say it. I think a lot of us in the community are like, right. Like a lot of us people, people of color, especially South Asian people who were teaching, we all had a, like a feeling around it. Right. But it’s so empowering to name something. Right. It’s so empowering to call something what it is and just like, let the chips fall where it may, I think it’s the bravest thing that you guys ever did. The minute you put out that podcast and went to your Patron page. And I, and I said, how do I sign up to continue this going? Cause I need, I need South Asian voices in yoga. Like I need that. This is your culture and why are you at the top?
Speaker 3: (14:12)
But the food chain. Yeah. I don’t know. That’s a good question. Right? Like, I mean, I’m doing, we’re researching for our season two right now. And this is so sad because I know we’ve talked about this on the podcast, but I’m really going back to Yoga Journals covers just to see like what was updated since we talked about it a year and a half ago, sadly, nothing. There’s still like, I think they had one South Asian woman podcast ever. Wait, let me tell you ever since, or at least since the, the archives that they have up or since like the 2000, so the early two thousands, right? The person that they have on the podcast cover is a Bollywood celebrity
Speaker 4: (14:56)
podcast or magazine, write a magazine
Speaker 3: (14:59)
Cover. The only South Asian person that I know of, maybe Deepak Chopra was on it in the nineties. I, what do I know? But since the two thousands, since the archives that I can access Tabu was the only person of South Asian origin on the cover. And Tabu is like a big Bollywood actress, producer director. She’s done a whole lot of projects. I don’t know what her relationship to yoga is. I don’t, I’ve never heard of her saying anything. She might have a practice, you know? Sure. But like, she’s not, she’s definitely not a part of this industry. She’s a part of the Bollywood industry. And so that’s the only person that they could pick. And then they’ve also picked a bunch of people that maybe look South Asian, a little Brown face going on or whatever, like over tanning, getting that kind of look, but they’re definitely not South Asian.
Speaker 4: (15:51)
Yeah. I, that question is like bouncing around my brain. Why are we not at the top of the food chain and such an interesting way to put it? And you know, we can’t say like, Oh, we have all the answers, but all the hours of talking all the hours of research, all the hours of writing, and then all these conversations post release have given us like a lot more clarity. But the, but the truth is like, there are many, many reasons why, and many of them are like intergenerational habits and learnings. Some of them are the community and the community pressure to perform in a certain way and not even go down the route of indigenous knowledge and practice. And then there’s all the systemic stuff that we talk about in the podcast. And we kind of like put all of that into our various articles.
Speaker 4: (16:44)
We talked an article about why we felt we needed to be silent. Most of our yoga careers up into a certain point. Um, we talked about this in our episodes, all the systemic and institutionalized ways that we just haven’t been picked. We haven’t been seen, we haven’t been invited into spaces. I mean, there’s like a million reasons and the more we get into it, the more, um, I will say that I’ve seen a lot more people create this network of support, a lot more people of color within the yoga industry start to really create networks of support and to really show up. And in a way it’s been really like liberating to say, okay, we don’t have to carry the torch ourselves. And in a way it’s created this really interesting conversation around, like, we’re not a monolith and there are some people within our community and within the diaspora that I don’t necessarily align with, but I’m happy that they’re kind of speaking up because it’s just going to show there’s diversity within the diaspora, which is another big issue around the yoga
Speaker 3: (17:50)
Industry. Like the look and the vibe you have to portray. Oh yeah. Not a hundred percent. I remember I came to this work, um, in 2011, when I wrote a blog post for elephant journal back in the day, elephant journal was like this thing that everybody was writing on. And I wrote yoga. Isn’t just for skinny white girls. And that was my first like, yo, like that is my, my version of white women killed yoga, right? This is my person, my job moment. That was the moment I became that accidental activist. Because once that, once that post went live, it went viral in an hour. Like it just picked up steam really fast. And it was all the people in the comments were people who felt marginalized by a practice that was supposed to be about unity and connection and breath and learning about yourself and all these things yet it was performative and acrobatic and sexualized and feminized and all these kinds of things.
Speaker 3: (18:46)
And that was like my first like step into it. And I didn’t, I was just, I published that post and then waited for the backlash, right? Because the minute you criticize, um, the minute you criticize white folks around anything, the backlash is Swift and fierce, right. There’s always a, a group. And then there’s a group that feel bad and they come out and they’re like, look, you need to tell us a group within our own communities to, you know what I mean? Like we also hear it from folks who are bought into white supremacy culture, but are from, you know, BIPOC backgrounds, like Asian, black, indigenous, whatever it might be. But like that they’re bought into this individualistic, um, myth, right. That we’re all individuals and that we’re all treated the same, which isn’t, we all know that that’s not true. Right. And so we get it from, I feel like it comes up from all angles, which is
Speaker 2: (19:40)
Very sad. And a lot of people internalize their oppression. So they’re willing for whatever reasons, they feel closer and more connected to the, to their oppressors than they actually do to the people who are in community with them. And that is the most frustrating and upsetting thing that I can do. Or I can see it’s like, everybody’s a Candace Owens.
Speaker 3: (20:04)
I’m thinking about, I’m thinking about Dianne, you and Dee meeting. And I like, Oh, it’s so great that you were clearly like two people of color within a space. Most likely you’re both nodding. Yes. And that you align because sometimes that doesn’t always happen. Right. Like, it’s nice. It’s nice when you have that, like look across the room and you recognize like another, you know, for you two black women. But like, for me, like any BIPOC person, kindred spirit. Right. And then like, it’s devastating when that person doesn’t share that. Oh yeah.
Speaker 2: (20:41)
Okay. Then you’re really all alone. Like it’s a really, I remember the first time I saw Dee and the thing about Dee, um, we are so similar and I just don’t know why we didn’t parallel
Speaker 4: (20:51)
Lives. It’s crazy. It is parallel lives.
Speaker 2: (20:54)
Our kids are born a couple of years apart, basically on the same days. Like both of them, we both have a, like a fitness background. We both have white husbands. Like she, she’s got a really cool history here in Windsor. Like, it’s just an, everybody knows who Dee and everybody knows who I am. And it’s just this weird living in these parallel lives. And then when I saw Dee Dee was one of the first people of color that ever came into my yoga studio, because I owned it, I opened a yoga studio in 2005, because I was just kind of tired of the scene in my town. And I remember putting my picture everywhere because I was trying to attract people of color into the studio. And he was like the first person that I saw of color that came into the studio. And I’m just like, what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get, look, people were here, come, come and practice with us. But for a long time, black folks and people of color BIPOC folks think that yoga is a white people thing.
Speaker 4: (21:47)
Yeah. What you’re describing. Yeah. I was just going to say, what you’re describing is like you as an individual, as a black woman, you’re like, I opened a space finally. Like, where are my people? Why aren’t they coming in? But it’s like, the industry is so strong, right? Like the vibe of the industry, the culture, this white dominant wellness culture is so pervasive that your one studio that’s doing it differently has to fight like 10 times harder to be seen, to show up as different to show up as more welcoming that puts the onus on you to have all the resources, to be able to send out that communication, to show up as like unique and different and in a good way more accessible. And that’s like an uphill battle. A hundred percent. I remember in all honesty, I didn’t know, going into Dianne studio that she was a black that Dianne owned it.
Speaker 4: (22:43)
Like, I didn’t know it was black owned. And cause remember I was saying it was a group on days and I was just going in for the Groupon. Um, and when I walked in what a beautiful surprise it was to see her sitting there and then to find out not only were you there, that you were the only owner and I have to say it, it really did turn my journey into such a positive, positive road because for Windsor, you don’t see in classes like maybe a handful of black teachers, I don’t even know. Dee I think
Speaker 2: (23:17)
You and maybe one other person in a city of 300,000. Yeah.
Speaker 4: (23:21)
I mean, this is so it’s so amazing that you’re articulating that, right? Like what a difference it makes to you as a, as an individual, like to just see yourself represented. Right. And I think that that’s like a, it’s like simple, but it’s not simple. It’s profound. And yet so many people have trouble grasping that as industry-wide we have trouble grasping that it has a huge impact on somebody to just see themselves represented
Speaker 2: (23:50)
Body sigh. Like it’s like a huge, like somebody is going to see me and it’s not going to be going into a yoga space and go, Oh, there’s a black girl in there. Ooh, she’s sweating. How interesting, the amount of people that stare at me when I’m practicing in a space, because like they’ve never seen a black person before. That was something that was very, um, well I living where I live, I, we get stares all the time, having a white husband, I get stares all the time, but it’s very uncomfortable in spaces that you’re trying to find healing to be the only one and have people like, like literally staring at you, like you’re an exotic creature.
Speaker 4: (24:27)
Wow. I’m so sorry. Can I just share please? I had a summer internship and I was living in St. Louis, Missouri. And it was, it’s strange because I’m an extroverted person. And I moved to St. Louis for the summer. Didn’t know anybody left, didn’t know anybody. I spent an entire summer basically on my own, going to the mall, going to the movies. And I really enjoyed it. But something like took me out of that experience every so often. Like I went to the grocery store and I remember I was like, what’s bread pudding. I’ve never had that. And I’m just getting groceries. It’s going through the conveyor belt, the woman who is checking me out, just looks up at me, big, huge eyes. And she’s like, your hair is so black. And I’m like, well, I don’t know what you’re saying that for, but I’ll tell you what, like I feel different right now. Like I feel like you have never seen a person with black hair before, and I’m in a space where that’s unusual and this makes me feel uncomfortable. Even though you’re probably next going to say, it’s so beautiful. You’ve already made the distinction that it’s like completely obscure to you.
Speaker 4: (25:41)
So Dee has a story about that Dee. You want to share that? Which one? For sure we did. Which story did you guys hear the podcast or listen to the podcasts that we did. Don’t touch my hair. I didn’t listen to that one in particular. Now I need to go back
Speaker 2: (26:04)
Dee often have people come and put their whole arm in her head, like right up to their elbow.
Speaker 4: (26:14)
Can I also share something interesting? Always feel free to cut this out. But I was in Botswana for a yoga teaching program, which is a whole story in and of itself. I will tell another day being in Botswana, um, as an Indian, per person of Indian descent was also like interesting. And I had was that a gas station on a road. Like we were doing road trips somewhere and I was at a gas and a woman calls me over her windows down and she’s in the car and she touches my hair. And I was like, this is what this experience. I was like, Oh, this is what this feels like. But it was obviously because she had never seen an Indian person in real life. And you know, probably was wearing Indian women were like hair weave. Yeah, no, what it felt like. And I was like, Oh, this is what that feels like. This is terrible. The feeling, the hair touching for me, it always comes. It’s like hair touch. And the question before they asked me what I am, it’s all kind of the same experience. Where are you from? What are you? Because they can’t figure out what you are.
Speaker 2: (27:35)
The question is, why are you Brown? And why is your hair curly? And why do you have blue eyes? Like that’s, you know what I mean? In their brains like, why is this person
Speaker 4: (27:43)
Brown? So you just unpacked it. Diane, like immediately, this is the thing that people are so resistant to understanding the why, like, Hey, why did you ask me that? And they’re like, why, why do you, what does it matter? Why was just saying something nice about your hair? I just, I just wanted to touch your pretty hair, whatever. And this is like, I’m not racist. I’m not racist. I’m not racist 20 years down the road. You’re going to be like, maybe I shouldn’t have touched that stranger’s hair. You wouldn’t touch a white person’s hair. Why does it take people so long to get there? I don’t know. Talk about it enough. I mean, the thing is like, we just need to all understand that we’re all conditioned to be racist and that’s okay. Like, not that it’s okay, but like, if we can just admit it, then we can move forward. Right? A hundred percent,
Speaker 2: (28:30)
I, a hundred percent Roxane gay was on a podcast and she just said, white people are racist as hell or something like that. But she just said it flat out. We were 10 minutes into the podcast, Roxanne Gay and an incredible author, just out note set it. And I just like gasped in the minute wiping, you know, and I’ve heard other people like Sonya, Renee, Taylor say things like that as well. And I just want us to own it. Like, you know, we live in a place that racism is taught in everything in our education system, in our legislature, it’s in the air. It’s like, you’re born into it and you breathe it in. And if we could all just admit that we could move on, or if we could at least admit the behaviors that we do are racist. Then once I say that to people, if I can distinguish the behavior from the entity, people are more apt to listen. And this is a game I’ve been playing lately, instead of calling them an out and out racist. I’ll just say, you know, you are probably not a racist, but what you said was racist and then hoping that they can pause and take a breath in that moment and hear what I’m saying, your behavior is racist. The way you learn that racist behavior, you can unlearn it, but you have to admit you haven’t Sharon Osborne.
Speaker 3: (29:46)
Yeah. I mean, that was, yeah. And she did all the things that white women do. Right. And that they’re conditioned to do again, it’s a conditioning, right. So it’s not even, like part of me is coming to this place of sympathy and compassion. Um, yeah. It’s not even, it’s not even you as an individual. It’s just, you’ve been trained to do this and behave in that exact way, like to fall back on tears and defensiveness and it’s in the culture. So what we really need to do is undo the culture. And that’s, I think in the episode, what we were trying to get at is that it’s a culture, but we need to talk about it as a culture. We need to talk about it as a system. And, um, like you said, it’s in the air. Like, let’s stop kind of whispering the word white because we don’t whisper the word black. We don’t whisper, you know, South Asian or Brown or whatever it is like we whisper white. Yup. Um, I want to know Dianne, cause you, you were both saying that you’ve listened to the episode and then it changed some things for you. So I’m interested to hear what changed for you saying things out loud.
Speaker 2: (30:51)
I would like soften and massage you had is like, so I’m a little bit, I’m the generation ahead of you. So you guys are millennials. I think you all are millennials. And I think Dee on the cusp there too. And I just think you guys are bold about stuff, right? Cause they got my mother, isn’t a baby boomer, but she’s the generation before the baby boomers, like she’s on the cusp. So they had a different way of dealing with things. It was a go along, get along culture. And I was kind of raised in that, like, this is just the way the world is. We’re just going to kind of have to put up with it. Um, you know, that old adage, I don’t know if it’s a biblical verse, like God gives me the strength to change the things I can change and to accept the things that I can’t.
Speaker 2: (31:31)
And I was, I got to a point where I’m like, I’m not down with that anymore. God gave me the courage or, you know, whoever it is, you pray to universe, whatever. Give me the courage to stand up and not put up with that shit that I want to put up with anymore. And the minute you named it out loud, that podcast just naming a loud maybe thing, they feel it it’s true. They said it it’s true. And there was an extra piece of authenticity for me because this, you are South Asian, this is your culture and you are calling it out. Sometimes a lot of times as a black person, I feel like, Ooh, am I appropriating this culture as much as I feel really connected to it? You know what I mean? And so to have a South Asian, South Asian women who are yoga teachers who were trained in America and trained in India, call it out and name, it gave me more passion to just really name it without skirting around it.
Speaker 2: (32:24)
And then it made me think, I don’t want to teach 200 hour teacher trainings anymore because everybody’s like, Oh, I love yoga. And it makes me feel really good. I just want to teach it to everybody and want to work at the gym. And I want to work at like, these were the people that were showing up. And so I wanted yoga teacher training, which is why I just was like, I’m done with that. I’ve had a, I’ve had a 300 hour teacher training for five years and I just never did a full one because I’m like, I want it to mean something. I don’t want to teach people a bunch of random poses to put together in a sequence. So you can work at the gym. Like I don’t want to do that anymore. And that was like the guidelines for Yoga Alliance. I want to do something with, to create leaders that went out there and called shit out. Like YouTube did. That’s what changed?
Speaker 4: (33:08)
Wow. That’s like really fun of that. I mean, we’ve heard, we’ve heard the validity piece before, which that in and of itself makes me feel like whatever energy and effort and money, whatever we put into making that was worth it, you know what I mean? Just to make other people feel validated in their own experience. Um, and able to talk about that. That makes me feel like, okay, we, we did something good. Like, you know, you changed the game. I don’t know if you know that a hundred percent so thankful. I was so thankful. Um, the one episode that really, I mean, when I saw white women killed yoga, I chuckled a forest. Right. Um, because like Dianne saying, I think it’s something we all kind of think, but don’t say it. Um, but the one episode where I was like, thank you. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (33:55)
Thank you. Was veganism killed yoga? Mm Oh yeah. I want to hear more about that from you. What, what, what resonated with you? Well, because I’m not a vegan, but have always, I mean, I dibbled dabbled out in and out, but because of a health condition that I have, um, it’s, it’s not good for me. Like I could nearly kill myself if I am a vegan or vegetarian. It almost did. But, um, yeah, just the, just to make, I guess I’ve always felt like if I wasn’t a vegan, because you know, when you meet vegans, they always make sure that that’s like the first characteristic of themselves that they tell you, like you just know right away that they’re a vegan. So it was, it was one of those things.
Speaker 2: (34:40)
Turn the podcast off.
Speaker 4: (34:43)
Hey, um, so we’re not here. Right. So, um, and if you feel that way, then you probably do do that. So I feel like when I heard that, because I have always, because I’m not vegan, I have always felt like maybe less of like a Yogi or felt like my, my, um, my practice wasn’t my practice was my practice was not what it should be or I wasn’t at your Yogi or that bad Yogi. Yeah. It’s so true. Right. There’s the argument of ahimsa and non-violence, but then there’s this underlying thing where if you’re vegan, you’re, you’re pure, like you’re pure, you’re choosing pure things. And if you’re a true Yogi, you need to be purified in your practice and the way you live. And like somehow these two things combined into a concept
Speaker 3: (35:38)
Of what yoga or a devout Yogi is. And then this HIMS, the argument that we dove into so much was fascinating for us to just put down and then deliver out to people, which is, don’t be talking about ahimsa as it relates to food and animals that provide you food. If you’re an to people, if you can’t recognize that we come from different starting points and nobody’s hearing us, nobody’s accommodating for that. And you’re expecting people to be quiet about their lived experience. So you can get on with your, I don’t know, almond milk.
Speaker 3: (36:16)
I mean, I’ll also say so much of the processing of episodes for us has come after the fact, right? Like we did a bunch of research, but shaped our point of view. And then you hear the response and then the response also like either like anger as you, and then makes you sit with it, or like you hear a validity, you know, people feeling validated and they’re furthering the experience that I’m not even like, I didn’t even know about all these things. Um, the intricacies of all of it. And so you process so much afterwards. And one of the things that really solidified for me is how the vegan movement, you know, and I’m, again, again, I’m going to say not all vegans, because the great thing is we’ve heard from a lot of vegans that have also resonated with that episode. And that makes me feel like, yes, we did the right thing. But like the thing that solidified with me is that a lot of the vegan movement, appropriates yoga in of itself veganism is a whole ethical system of belief. And so if that’s an ethical system of belief and you’re claiming another ethical system of belief as part of that, then what you’re doing is appropriating it a hundred percent
Speaker 2: (37:24)
100 present. And as a person who had an eating disorder for 30 years, something, I nurtured something that I was hospitalized for something that like you said, Dee nearly killed me. I’m not a person who can participate in veganism or vegetarian. I don’t, unless it’s going to make me deathly ill. There’s no foods that I don’t eat. I’m an omnivore. And whenever I would go and do, um, yoga teacher trainings anywhere, or I get hired for a workshop, you know, the first class, the first question everybody asks you when they’re sponsoring you as like, Oh, um, do you have any food restrictions? You know, kind of thing. And there’s always this weird thing. And I always, once I started listening to that particular podcast as well, because I would just go, no, I to see whatever. And now I’m like, no, I’m an omnivore. Like, do you know what I mean?
Speaker 3: (38:14)
I will eat everything and anything you put in front of me exactly.
Speaker 2: (38:17)
Unless I’m allergic to it, it’s going down. And so it was freeing to say that because I had worked before with teachers who were vegans and were very, very, very condescending and judgemental about it. And I’m thinking, okay, here’s my philosophy on yoga and yoga teachers. In my experience of teaching yoga for 35 years, these are some of the most judgmental nonjudgmental people I’ve ever met. I worked in the fitness industry for years and there was no problem. The people might get mad at you because you stole a combo or a sequence, but that would have been the most of it. But when I worked with yoga people, there was so much drama. I know that people are really tuned into this practice, but the amount of bullshit I had to put up with it.
Speaker 3: (39:08)
Yeah. And this is one of the pitfalls. This is one of, I think like if you, if you have ever worked with like a community that is like authentically steeped in the practices, they warn you about this, that like any you kind of going on this path of spirituality can put you at risk of now creating a hierarchy where you feel like you’re better than everyone else. And that is the antithesis of yoga. And that is one of the things that can happen being on this path. So you have to be really vigilant about it, right? Like you have to be really vigilant about not creating this idea that you’re better than other people. And I think when we, you know, we named the episode, vegans killed yoga. Obviously we talked about more than just veganism. We talked about, uh, him. So we talked about food justice.
Speaker 3: (39:50)
We talked about all of these other topics, but we named it that specifically because there is this association with vegans of acting morally superior. And whether that’s true for each individual or not, that is part of the zeitgeists of the culture. This moral, this moral superiority also showed up in this, happens to us in every episode. But for vegans, it was so hilarious because already you’re saying like, veganism is the way. And then you’re even more off at us because we missed something that you care about in relation to vegans. In our episode, like our episode was comprehensive, but it wasn’t comprehensive enough for you. And so in addition to getting upset at us for taking down veganism, which we did do, we took down this, this culture of the facism around it. And in addition to that, they were like, well, you totally were wrong because you didn’t talk about animals as living beings and pets and animals, and the way they’re treated in manufacturing and food farming.
Speaker 3: (40:53)
And we’re like, we just didn’t have time for it. We’re just two people we had. We went over an hour probably, which we weren’t even trying to do in the first place, but we just had so much, we needed to talk about and share. And I find it fascinating that now that we’ve done this thing and we’re on this platform or whatever, people are still willing to tell us how we’re doing it wrong instead of joining us in the platform, like taking up the mantle, go do your podcasts, talk about the things you feel are missing, fill the gaps. Don’t put this back on our shoulders, like recognize what it takes to do that, and then decide, are you actually this as well?
Speaker 4: (41:34)
Or are you just like random peanut gallery with the free cheap seats in the back? Totally. Right. Virgility that just continues to show up. They just want you to stroke your ego or a yeah.
Speaker 2: (41:51)
This, your, your, um, your labor without actually, you know what I mean? Like extract your labor from you and then complain about whatever it is they do, but don’t actually take up the mantle. That’s a big part of it because for me, um, when I think about yoga, I think about action and karma and your devotion, right? Those are the three, the three kinds of yoga and the Gita, right? Action, Bhakti and Jnana. What action are you doing your action to attack somebody? Because they don’t, you know, they show you a comprehensive, um, failing in the yoga practice, but instead of going, okay, I’m going to write a blog post, or I’m going to, you know, look at this in some kind of way I’m going to contribute. No, I’m just going to attack the person who didn’t have the same point of view as me. So I’m just thinking to myself, how is that productive action? How is that right use of energy? How was that? Non-violent like you’re out here running around with the mantra of yoga, yogi on your head that you’re not participating fully you cherry pick what works for you and you
Speaker 4: (42:49)
Forget everything else. And there’s a huge, there’s just a huge component to the three types of yoga and the Gita that I feel like it’s kind of this understated umbrella, which is the silence, the meditation portion of the yoga that brings introspection. That brings that pause before you immediately respond to someone else before you go like into reactivity. And so that gets lost a lot and it’s called Mon Mona. Like, you can do this practice. You can have silence in your practice. You don’t have to be responsive all the time. That’s what I wanted to say. So go ahead. No, I was going to say, Dianne, you just basically described like modern culture where everyone’s reactive all the time. And you know, the other thing is that our mission statement for our podcast is to spark conversation, right? It’s to infuse critical thinking and critical conversations into this industry. And so it’s very interesting to me when people like want to take us down because in a way I’m like, well, I accomplished my mission because what I wanted was to talk about this and bring it all out in the open and to spark conversation. So there you go. Like I still win, if you think that you’re taking me down a hundred percent
Speaker 2: (44:16)
Grateful for you guys being so brave and just like naming things and you change the game, there’s nobody out here that I talked to, that doesn’t in my industry that doesn’t know what your podcast is about. Like everybody I know, listens to it and waits for it and sitting on pins and needles for the second year, but I really appreciate you going back through the, the afterlife. I got to be like the first person to kind of interview you guys on the afterlife. How has that going? And like, what are your thoughts for your next year or for your next series of podcasts?
Speaker 3: (44:48)
Oops, that’s a lot, that’s a heavy question. Okay. The afterlife is going really well. And we’ve been really, um, excited about all of the guest moderators coming in and all of the conversations that have been again sparked, um, through this further exploration, we get to give more nuance to each episode to give updates because new news has come up every time with, with all of the topics. Um, so it’s been like a great way to revisit each topic and give more. And the next season we’re like deep into writing and we can’t really tell anybody what the topics WE are trying to get the scoop.
Speaker 3: (45:31)
You know, what’s going to be good. We’re really excited about the direction. And we’ve got some really interesting and cool ideas. Some of it is like, I’ll say one of the episodes we’re writing now. It’s like really getting into the weeds on, on, um, you know, different tax structures. I’ll say that. And I’m like, Oh man, this is kind of cool for me because as I’m diving into like tax structures and like being confused and trying to take out like simple nuggets, I know that the audience is going to appreciate us having done all of the work so that it’s just like simplified. You know what I mean? I’m excited to like, be able to bring information and ideas into the, um, the culture of the industry again, and to simplify things so that it starts to become more of a mainstream conversation. Because I think that’s one thing that we’re good at doing.
Speaker 3: (46:25)
We’re good at like simplifying topics so that we can, it all, it feels accessible to all of us. Yeah. I think I I’m really jazzed about the way we’re going about it. I think everyone knows at this point that we dropped episode one and we were like, I’ll listen to it, Jesal. And Jason’s like, I’ll listen to it, Tejal. And then we were getting calls for our best friends that were like, Hey, it just feels like I hung out with you for two hours because I listened to your podcasts. And I was like, you did what, I’m very embarrassed. But then that, that like, you know, expanded into what went viral. And so we went into the first one without really our ducks in a row in a way, or just like, we didn’t know, we weren’t seeing straight because we’d never done it before.
Speaker 3: (47:09)
We didn’t know which paths to take. And so for season two, I’m really excited about the process of exploring the process. Like what is our process? And are we allowing each other to be in our humanity, through the process rather than sucked up into this whirlwind of expectation of who we are now and like where it might go for people and what it might mean to people, which is something huge. And it’s a great responsibility, but I think we owe it to each other to just be in each other’s like in relationship with each other, as we go down this road, we’ve, um, added team members. And so how we like onboard and how we communicate with them, it’s just a reflection of literally every single one of the tip sheets we created from season one and, and all the things we have in our head for season two, that I’m really excited to just keep living as we explore what season two is going to be, as we get it to the place where we can deliver it.
Speaker 3: (48:08)
I want to be able to tell this whole story with the confidence that like we lived our yoga while we did it. Yeah. And I agree, and I also don’t want to add one cool fact, which is that since the podcast came out, we have, um, created a wider network of people who support us, who are fans of the podcast, or who think that the work is important and are aligned in their missions and goals. And what’s cool for us as we now get to reach out to those people and ask for their input, right. And whether or not that makes it into the episode in whatever way, shape or form. It’s just nice for us to have like a, a wider reach of information and a wider range of opinions and ideas out there. So that is informing a lot of the way that we’re writing each episode, which to me is like amazing. And we get to be in again, like further relationship with people in the industry that we respect and admire. I have to tell you, it’s so beautiful when you’re speaking your truth and doing it, living your truth for everything just starts to align. And it sounds like that’s happening for the two of you and it’s worked, but it is, you know, it also,
Speaker 2: (49:19)
I think it’s really, um, when people think things fall into alignment, sometimes I think people think, think things come with ease and I, that’s not necessarily the truth. They can be in alignment, but you still have to work for something which I think is, and you guys said, I, I I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. You guys changed the game, named the things you are a force to be reckoned with . You are a presence. What is different now about the yoga industry post, the yoga is dead podcast. Like what are some of the things you have seen that have been concrete changes that you may attribute to having these conversations?
Speaker 3: (49:59)
I think on the very base level, the people that were receptive to the message are understanding what it means to have diverse representation. And that’s like one level, like that’s kind of like low hanging fruit in my opinion. But some people who are really taking what we’ve said to heart are, are showing up in really beautiful ways. Like having more processes, having clear communications, actually not launching a thing until they feel like they can take care of the people they want involved in it. And I say that thinking of yoga studios that are single studio, single person ownership, and they’re like, yoga saved my life. I’m just going to start offering classes and then I don’t want to teach anymore. So I’m going to invite teachers in and Oh yeah, I have to pay them. Maybe I won’t this time around, like maybe I’ll just tell them to do it anyway.
Speaker 3: (50:54)
And let’s see how it goes. We’re in this together. I’m like, that’s not good responsible behavior. You’re not being like a leader in that. So I’ve seen more people take the responsibility of being in the yoga industry to heart, uh, which has been nice. I have to say Dianne, I’m so flattered that you say all that. And then at the same time, I’m like, it’s really, it’s really hard to quantify the impact, right? Like, it’s hard to say that, Oh, this is directly because of us or was the timing just right. Or were other people already emerging and was there already a feeling that truth needed to come out and did, you know, um, other things in the culture just make it okay. So I feel like it’s a hard thing to quantify, to say like, Oh, it’s because of you, but I’ll say the things that I’ve heard from other people directly is like what you were saying, that they felt more validated in speaking in their own truth.
Speaker 3: (51:47)
And to me that has had a ripple effect and I can see it on individual levels. And I hope, I, I think I can see it on systemic levels too, but I’m hesitant to take any credit for that because, um, you know, we’re not, we’re not actually as big as you might think. I mean, we’re w I think within our industry and the people that know about us, we’re big. But like, if you look at some of the yoga celebs and the kind of following and reach that they have, we’re not near that. So we try to keep like our head on our shoulders and be, and realize that, you know, it’s, it’s not all about that in a bag of chips quite, but we, we recognize that there’s been individual impact and that people have come up to us and say said. Like, you know, I have started speaking my truth more vocally and more freely.
Speaker 3: (52:33)
Um, and I’ve stepped into all of my identities that I felt like were holding me back and started to see them as an asset. And so from that point of view, I can see a movement of people who have felt validated and strengthened by our message. Yeah. Come on over to my house. My mom will be like, why do you want to come see Tejal? She just studies in her room all day. This yoga, yoga business, keeping you humble. Especially when I always say, when I have immigrant parents, they’re always like, no, right. My mom too. I just, I just think it’s funny, but I have to say for me,
Speaker 2: (53:13)
Me and the, and the things that I put out in the world have been greatly impacted by, by the work that you have done and that you have said it, and that you had that so much attention was garnered around your podcast. And so many, it gave so many people pause. And I think you’re being generous. Jesal, I think you’re being generous. I don’t think you fully understand the breadth and the width of your impact. Like, you know what I mean, with the people who really matter? I don’t, you know, I I’ve, I used to write for, do you yoga? It’s now just called, do you and I used to write about this, this idea of the yogaLiberty and the yoga Liberty aligning with, you know, European beauty standards, able-bodied nets, flexibility, heteronormative ideas. I talked about that all the time, but now we’re seeing a dramatic shift where I’m seeing trans teachers, I’m seeing way more teachers of color, um, on platforms. I’m seeing way more South Asian teachers out there. And I think you guys were at the front of that tidal wave of change. And I can’t minimize that impact because once you see two South Asian teachers calling shit out, as it is, then everybody’s like, I want to be like Jesal and Tejal, I want to be,
Speaker 3: (54:23)
You have to stop. It’s really crazy because let’s just, let’s just say we did do this podcast and it really got people’s attention, but every single person has listened and shared and then use it in their TTS and then donated and shared, like everybody who did that had a part in it. And I’m going to even say this, that even the haters had a part in it, because the way the algorithms work, that buzz kept buzzing, right. Showing up in people’s spaces, in their scrolls. And then they paused. Yeah, because it was this bold ass message, but everyone had a part in that. So we put it out. But I mean, here’s the thing you’re probably privy to conversations that were not privy to about our work, because people aren’t coming up to us to our face to tell us like, Oh, I have this conversation that was sparked by you or whatever. Like, you know what I mean? Like, we’re hearing a small portion of that, but we’re not really hearing all of the conversations behind closed doors of, you know, leaders or, um, gatekeepers and how, what kind of fire that might’ve been lit under their bums by this conversation. Like, I have no idea if you’re hearing some of that, I’ll take your word for it.
Speaker 2: (55:36)
And Dee you’re hearing that too. No, like we hear it.
Speaker 3: (55:39)
Oh yeah. I mean, yeah. Big time. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (55:43)
Yeah. So I, I, you know what, I often, I often think it is the plight of BIPOC and women of color in particular, to minimize ourselves and to minimize our impact. And let’s be a hundred percent honest, cause I’m going to just name it out here. It is people of color who make the biggest impacts in the world who created the biggest shifts in the world by speaking up and pushing out. And we know this by looking at the current U S election, thank you, Georgia, Stacey Abrams. Like we know that when we get together and we work together for our communities, everybody benefits. So you may not think your impact is that great, but working for your community made the entire system better and it’s incremental and it’s small, but it’s bigger than you think. And I, and that’s all I’m going to say on that.
Speaker 3: (56:32)
Well, thank you. And that’s motivation as we dive into a season two writing, cause it is monotonous. It was a lot of like researching and reading and write, you know, like writing is not necessarily the funnest, no anything. So, um, that’s wonderful motivation as we like, kind of get into those deep moments of like being in solitary confinement, essentially. I’m like in my office, I’m like, Oh, I haven’t seen anyone in a couple hours.
Speaker 2: (57:01)
So get up and stand up for a minute and shake my head and see what falls out. I feel that. So as we come up on the hour, what would you like to share with our listeners? What is, what is one thing that you would like to share with our listeners on what it is that you do or how it is that you show up in community?
Speaker 3: (57:18)
I’m going to just say, like, I kinda love that this podcast exists and I had a moment where I was like, are we really gonna talk about everything? Don’t I need to know what we’re going to talk about. What did that make me feel better? And the fact that you’re just showing up and you’re like, we deserve to be here talking about whatever the EFF we want to talk about. And we’re going to take up that space is exactly the message that I want to leave everybody else with. So I think like, yeah, we did this great thing and I love the thing that we did and I’m really proud of it. Um, but I, there are so many leaders out there and I, and I, what I want people to hopefully get from what’s going on in the world right now, and how many leaders are showing up is that wherever, you know, those leaders to be, even if they’re on the periphery of your experience, that we’re out here, we’re advocating and we’re working really hard.
Speaker 3: (58:09)
And so let that help light your fire a little bit, to also speak up and take up space. Like this is the thing that needs to be done more and more and more. I appreciate that. I’m going to leave people with something Tejal said earlier, which is that we need to be practicing the way we want to be in the present, through the work that we’re doing. And not just for some, you know, obscure future idealized future. Like the future needs to be. Now we need to be treating each other the way we want to be treated now. Right. And that means dismantling all of those, um, harmful and toxic behavioral, you know, things that we were conditioned to do right around urgency, around perfectionism, around productivity and not resting and not taking care of ourselves and each other. So I think that’s exactly what Tejal was saying is like, we need to be in relationship now and we need to take care of each other. Now
Speaker 2: (59:05)
I love that. I love that. Well, thank you for being part of our podcast. What Dee and I are doing. We’re still figuring it out. This is our first year. So we just get on here and talk, shit and then stuff comes up and we talk about it. So we appreciate you being open to just like vamping and freestyling and all those things. So it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to the creators of the yoga is dead podcast. We will share all their information in the show notes, and it’s going to be four women of color, talking about all the things to Black girls, to Brown girls. Thanks everybody for listening.
Speaker 1: (59:41)
Hey everybody, thank you for listening into this week’s episode of two black girls talk about everything podcasts. It was a hoot to talk to Jason and phagial about their experiences on and off the mat and in the world of yoga. If you liked this podcast, please, please, please give it a thumbs up, give it a comment, a like rate it on our podcast, scales on Apple. It really does help more people hear the podcast. And once again, thank you so much for listening in and we’ll see you ne