It was really only a matter of time. As a former owner of a yoga studio and now a yoga teacher and wellness professional, it is the dark thought that I have repeatedly depressed in my mind.
Why should nobody come to my class and shoot my students and me? Our doors are open, and we practice positions and relax our breathing in a way that has to enrage someone who is filled with hate.
I have to accept that my worst fear was recognized.
For me and the thousands, like me, who use yoga as a haven, Friday night's shooting in Tallahassee kills two yoga students and injures four more, including the ultimate invasion of peace. Black churchgoers, aging synagogues, high school students and their teachers, concert and movie lovers, night clubs, 20 children aged 6 and 7 and now also yoga students: all people in places of reflection, learning and liberation are targets of disturbed people Ease Access to weapons designed, sold and purchased for killing.
To attack these places means to exploit people in their most vulnerable places. Then they allowed themselves to spend an hour on the mat, a morning in the benches or a theater night to let go and feel free.
The killing at Hot Yoga Tallahassee is as insidious as the other shootings (mass or otherwise), but it hurts especially when these students claim time and space for their own self-care and suddenly sink into a nightmare.
It's a repeat in 2018 and in the midst of #MeToo yoga is almost synonymous with women. Of the more than 20 million people who practice yoga, 85 percent are women.
Yoga quickly became a household word in the 20th century because it is a spiritual practice that simultaneously moves the body. It awakens feelings of relaxation, steadiness and strength and is a satisfying alternative to gyms for and by men. Although Western yoga has its roots in India's ancient philosophy called The Vedas, it is a popular meeting place and exercise for modern women. The very positive effects of yoga on the nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems are well known in the industry and are increasingly confirmed by science. While many practitioners take yoga to relax and relieve stress, many associate the practice with similar feelings they receive or once received in their place of worship.
After hearing about the shooting, a friend said, "Since I started yoga, I always thought that no matter what happened, I could go to my mat." These words reflect those of hundreds of my students and many Men who have said in my 15 years that yoga is a place in their body and in their community, where they feel safe. People often discover yoga when they are injured or stressed out. For so many practitioners, this is a way to find strength and self-confidence and even to be happy – exercise positions ironically called "warriors" or even in a macabre detail "corpse pose".
That makes shooting in Tallahassee so painful.
I wondered all day, what happens now?
A well-known word in yoga is the Sanskrit word ahimsa, which does not harm English. How can you not hurt yourself, how can you improve if you fear your corpse pose can become murderously real? Will we also seriously discuss arming yoga teachers who are fashionably referred to as peace fighters? Did we really go that far?
The foundation of any successful society is that it is safe and that its children can grow and thrive. Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it has been said a thousand times that as a nation we would not be able to reform the gun laws to deal with atrocities such as the massacre of 26 people, including 20 6- and 7-year-olds Preventing Grounds The deaths and injuries at Hot Yoga Tallahassee are another reminder that there seems to be no limit to a murderer who is determined to destroy. Nobody and no place, no matter how holy, feels safe.
But next week I'm going back to the classroom. Just as thousands turned to Shabbat ministries this weekend to restore their faith, I hope that my actions will encourage people to engage in yoga instead of moving away from it. I know that I will teach with a higher purpose. Every time we exhale, we let go. And every time we breathe in, we commit ourselves to inner and outer peace.
Kim Weeks began practicing yoga in 1995 and has been teaching yoga since 2001. She has been honored several times as the best yoga teacher by D.C., as a yoga expert at NBC4 Washington, and in a PBS documentary on spirituality. Kim is currently teaching weekly at YogaWorks in D.C. and works as a wellness consultant. You can find them under: kimweekswellness.com