Statement About 2018 Northwest Yoga Conference

Dear yogis,

I want to take a moment to address an incident that arose during opening ceremony at the Northwest Yoga Conference this past weekend.

An individual that was scheduled to receive an award at our opening ceremony informed us that they were not able to attend.  They sent another individual in their place to accept the award on their behalf.  Because there was another event in the room immediately after the opening ceremony, I wanted to ensure that the schedule was maintained.  When the individual exceeded their time, I approached the individual to remind them of the time limit that had been communicated before the ceremony and, after their response, I retrieved the microphone.  I regret I chose this action as the way to address the situation.  This has been an immense learning and growth opportunity for me.

As I mentioned above, the reason I asked the individual to stop speaking was because she had exceeded the time that had been offered to her. There was no racial motivation.  The nominee and their spouse have both been presenters at the conference for several years and the event continually hosts presenters of diverse ethnicity. I deeply regret that the issue of race has been falsely identified here as a motivation as it contributes to the undermining of validity for incidents that are truly racially motivated.

Though much of the information about the incident that has been circulated online is false and inaccurate, instead of focusing on the misrepresentations, I want to focus on how we can move forward as a community.

I hope that this incident provides the opportunity for the yoga community to engage in conversation about how we process and respond to these types of incidents that will inevitably arise.  This incident has made me painfully aware of how deep the wounds of injustice and oppression are and how deep the need is for dialogue and learning about all of the ways this injustice occurs and how we as a community might address them.  I am dedicated to working alongside the yoga community as well as my own trusted mentors and leaders in the community to help facilitate dialogue, action and change.

I encourage each and every one of you to be a willing participant of this dialogue and I hope that we may learn and grow together in a way that acknowledges our humanness.  I hope that each participant will bring mindfulness into the way that they engage in this discussion and, in particular, apply these four yamas, or ethical guidelines, while doing so: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Please note, any comments on our social media forums that do not apply these principles will be removed.  We encourage comments that aim to engage in open, honest, sincere and respectful dialogue.

I am grateful that in spite of the incident, our community gathering was able to continue forward and hold space for yogis to deepen their practice in a supportive and inclusive environment. We will continue to look for ways to hold space for dialogue, learning and growth.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Melissa Hagedorn
Northwest Yoga Conference Founder/Director