By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati
Friday night, a man entered Hot Yoga Tallahassee and shot several of their students. Two have died. The students resisted and even fought back, consistent with yoga’s warrior tradition. The shooter killed himself.
At DYMC, we are going to be increasing our security measures and doing staff trainings to protect ourselves and our students in case of any threat. The Board will spearhead this essential initiative, for which funding is likely to be needed.
In Tallahassee, one of the yogis was a student at Florida State University. The other was a faculty member. The President of the University has issued a statement along with several officials from local police and government. More information is available on CNN.
The city tweeted, on their verified account, “As we process the gut-wrenching act of violence that took place this evening in a place of peace in our community…” This clearly speaks to the value that yoga offers to our modern-day world and the official acknowledgement of it. But it doesn’t protect the yoga studios from the growing violence in these turbulent times.
On Friday evening, the mayor of Tallahassee met the victims when he returned home from a Shabbat service in South Florida, honoring the 11 people killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue last weekend. This means that Jews are mobilizing to honor their dead as well as protect the living. Such a religious service does both.
Please consider doing something to honor the victims. That includes those who were attacked, including the ones injured and killed. Include the police and community officials and even the shooter in whatever you do. He was obviously a person in great pain, not to mention the terrible karma he’s created for himself. Let your compassion and caring reach out to the families and the whole community. This will not only help them, it will create an energy field of protection for all the yogis in all the yoga studios.
What do you do?
Hold a special program in their honor. I will be dedicating our satsang to them on Tuesday night.
Read this letter to others (at the end of a yoga class, satsang or a gathering of family or friends).
Send the blog link to everyone you know.
Light a candle in honor of everyone affected, including you.
Dedicate a round (or several) of mantra repetition to the victims.
Talk to others about what yoga means to you.
Don’t take on their pain. Offer blessings.
I’m reaching out to yoga teachers of other styles, both in my area as well as nationally and internationally. I would like to contribute to a wave of yoga studios and yogis honoring the victims, creating solidarity in a yoga world too often factionalized. Can you help me do this by reaching out to the other yoga teachers in your area?
You might use this blog as a resource in your outreach. Can you post one as well? Or put something on your Facebook page? Tweet. Make phone calls. March down Main Street with posters saying, “Yogis for Peace.” Or use some other inspiring and short phrases, like “Remember Tallahassee.”
These actions invoke the blessings of Vishnu, whose help is needed in these turbulent times. To learn more about what’s fueling the violence, listen to my October 7 satsang audio, Turbulent Times.
Do not let this violence go unmarked. Fight back even when you are not personally under attack. Fight back by opening your heart and being a vocal proponent of peace. Remember Emma Gonzalez. Be a visible member of the yoga community in your area and in the world.
OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah
To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.