Women hold up half the sky
Back when I was living on the Gold Coast I started a small program called Warrior Women Yoga. The program was designed for a group of incredible women who had suffered sexual violence and rape. Yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, affirmations and mantras was our weekly focus yet I truly believe I learnt just as much (if not more) from facilitating this course, as the wonderful women did.
These women stirred something deep within my soul and thus began my own personal journey into discovering the truth (and enormous scale) of gender discrimination. There were a few important lessons and understandings I took away from my time with these women and I will share them in this post.
If you are reading this Warrior Women, I love you.
Be mindful of the people in your class – This one is for the yoga teachers out there.
As teachers we need to be extremely mindful and conscious of the yogis in our class. We may look out onto the rows of people and see happy faces all ready for their class, but beneath the smiles and positive attitudes is a wealth of experiences (good and bad), memories, triggers and pain. Don’t assume that everyone is your class immediately feels safe and comfortable.
Admittedly the women I taught all suffered extreme cases of abuse, leaving them very vulnerable and untrusting. However, 1 in 5 women will experience some form of sexual abuse in their life time, so the fact is you will definitely have someone in your class that is a victim of sexual abuse.
One of the women in class wanted the door left open, while another begged me to keep it closed, the majority of the group didn’t close their eyes in meditation, refused the foot massage at the end of class and wouldn’t even consider opening their legs out wide for a big hip opener. Aspects of a yoga class that the average person may not even notice turned out to be huge hurdles for these brave women. Awakening to all these hidden obstacles I now try to offer more options, more choices and I always ask permission to touch people before adjustments. I have began using phrases like ‘I invite you to…’ or ‘If if it feels good try…’ it’s all about letting the students feel like they are in charge of their own bodies.
In general, luminous teachers, just be aware, be conscious. Create relationships with your students, ones where they feel they can communicate with you and share any fears. Teach a class where everyone will feel safe and comfortable. We just never know the experiences or situations of the people in our class, open your mind to the possibilities and open your heart to all.
Women Need Women – more than ever before.
The first few weeks of Warrior Women was a learning curve for everyone involved. The ladies I taught had never done yoga before and I had never taught such an unique group of women. After time, once we ironed out the creases, it was like I had acquired a new family. They became my sisters and I loved them so very much. I saw them go from strength to strength as our bonds as group became stronger and stronger. Many of the women began meeting outside of the group and talking to each other daily, offering support, advice and friendship.
It showed me the power and magic that occurs when women unite. If one lady was having a bad week or broke down during class, her sisters swarmed around to comfort and uplift her. One sensational lady became so empathetic and supportive of the others, that towards the end of the program she announced she was starting college to become a councillor, so she can help other women who have suffered sexual violence.
My heart exploded. The power of women. The power of sisterhood and love and connection.
Sometimes I log onto social media and read the judgemental, harsh and horrible comments women leave on other womens photos, it truly breaks my heart. Women suffer enough discrimination in this world without dishing it out towards one another. We can achieve so much more when we empower each other and share our divine femininity. We never know what someone else is going through and as women we are awesome at hiding how we truly feel. Never judge, never assume, just love. Always give love.
I believe this course wouldn’t have been so beneficial if the special bonds between the women were not formed. It’s extremely comforting to have people beside you who understand, listen and that offer compassion.
Reach out to the women around you, talk about sexual violence, ask about each others past, offer advice, empathy and time together. Dig deep and create your own sisterhood that emancipates the women around you.
‘Empowered Women, Empower Women.’
Women Need Men – more than ever before.
Understandably most of the women in my class were extremely untrusting of men and had no male support, love or influence in their lives. I have been ridiculously blessed with the men in my life, they are gentle, respectful, caring and compassionate. It was like a cold shower waking me up to the fact that not all women have good men (or women) in their life. I believe that men and women need each other, the yin to the yang. It’s a perfect balance and we compliment each other, I’m not just talking about relationships but in the form of friendships, companions and family as well.
More than ever before we need men standing along side women in this fight for equality. It’s not women against men, nor men against women, it has to be a oneness, standing strong together, side by side until the end. I talk to my fiancé about the discrimination of women all the time and one day, as we are sitting around in a group of friends someone made the most sexist, violent joke about women. My beautiful man turned to him and said ‘You shouldn’t take about women that way, it’s extremely disrespectful’.
Once again, *boom* heart exploded. If I had said something as a women, it wouldn’t have been taken as seriously (the harsh truth) but because a man rejected this joke the whole group stopped in silence. The man apologised and something shifted within the group. An understanding arose that maybe it’s not OK to promote violence against women, even in the joke form. It is going to take men, all men to stand up with women and say ‘this is NOT ok’.
So ladies, talk to your beautiful men about these issues. Talk to your sons, your friends, your fathers! The biggest change starts with the way that men view and regard women, so get talking, singing and dancing in the name of women.
We all have the power to help – Yes, even YOU!
I often get this overwhelming, horrible feeling that there is too much in the world to fix. How can I help everyone, the animals, the children, the women, the men, the environment? It’s daunting and to be honest, impossible. But I can help someone, I can help some animals and I can care for some of the environment. Imagine if everyone did this, the world would be ridiculously awesome! We can’t change the world over night, but we can offer help, aid and connection where ever we are. Teaching these women has inspired me to continue helping and assisting with other causes. It creates a happiness within that no other experience can offer.
I now know that one women I taught is going on to teach and empower other women. What a feeling, what a blessing. Work together, love one another and offer your support where ever and when ever you can. Together we can create equality. Together we can change the world.
A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water.
“What are you doing, son?” the man asks. “You see how many starfish there are? You’ll never make a difference.”
The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean.
“It sure made a difference to that one,” he said.