Nearly 37 million U.S. adults practice yoga. More than 70 percent are women and 85 percent identify as white. But it’s not just that yoga is an incredibly homogenous white female culture; it’s also an astoundingly upper-class culture. As of 2017, more than 40 percent of yoga practitioners earned over $75,000 a year, and 25 percent over $100,000 annually. In other words, yoga studios are the new country clubs. As the 21st-century version of exclusive and elitist recreational spaces, these studios are often located next to a coffee shop, health food store, juice bar or a lifestyle boutique that sells Orientalist curios.
Beyond their visibility as conspicuous and racialized wellness/leisure consumption, yoga studios have emerged in the United States as homogenous white spaces, which are in turn positioned as “safe spaces” for white women. Such ideas of safety, built around patriarchal notions of white women’s vulnerability and purity, rely on entrenched racialized ideas of what separates the public from the private, and often further marginalize women of color since we are rarely seen as worthy of safety or saving.
Rumya S. Putcha on safe spaces.
I like yoga but oh dear sweet gods do I hate yoga classes. This is one of many reasons…