Laura Humpf, a 39-year-old yoga teacher since 2004, publicized an “Undoing Whiteness” yoga class this spring in which white people would learn to “unpack the harmful ways white supremacy is embedded” in the society and how they continue to perpetuate it.
“I do stand behind white people needing to talk to other white people on how to undo whiteness. Can I keep refining it and doing it differently and better? Yeah, and I will forever and ever. But I believe in this space as one tool,” she told the Seattle Times.
“I do stand behind white people needing to talk to other white people on how to undo whiteness. Can I keep refining it and doing it differently and better? Yeah, and I will forever and ever. But I believe in this space as one tool.”
She added that her class includes yoga postures and readings from a book aimed at helping white people to deal with race-based conversations.
The inspiration for the new classes came after noticing how white people appeared in yoga spaces “in racist ways.”
“I was seeing white people show up in yoga spaces in racist ways,” Humpf told the Times, pointing to white yoga instructors who apparently made racially-charged jokes, as well as saying “all lives mattered in yoga, so why see color.”
She also said an Indian meditation master was controversially removed from the Northwest Yoga Conference.
Her class tries to neutralize defensiveness, perfectionism and the “white savior complex” as participants try to physically interpret words such as “oppression” and “liberation.”
“I was seeing white people show up in yoga spaces in racist ways.”
Multiple people, including local radio hosts, have already mocked Humpf over the class, especially for gearing it towards exclusively for white people, according to the Times.
This also isn’t the first time Humpf’s yoga classes have come under fire. Four years ago, she was criticized for discrimination after organizing a class for only people of color only while excluding white people. Due to the backlash, she canceled the classes.
She told the newspaper that her class didn’t discriminate and was just a practice of voluntarily congregating by race to dismantle white supremacy.
Despite the backlash, Humpf said she will continue moving with the new class.
“The truth is that we all are one. There’s a divinity that connects us as human beings. But the reality is that we’re in different bodies so we experience the world in very different ways."