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NWYC Aadil Palkhivala Letter

LETTER ON NWYC INCIDENT BY AADIL PALKHIVALA

AADIL PALKHIVALA’S LETTER ABOUT NWYC 2018 INCIDENT

Dear teachers, sponsors, studios, and community leaders connected to the Northwest Yoga Conference,

On Thursday, February 22nd, an incident occurred at the Northwest Yoga Conference that we feel you should be made aware of. Master teacher Aadil Palkhivala was to receive an award at the conference as Yoga Luminary. Aadil was unable to attend, due to bronchitis, so his wife, Savitri, came to accept the award on his behalf. Aadil was saving his voice for the upcoming three days where he was scheduled to teach hundreds of students who had travelled from far and near specifically to study with him.

Savitri is a well-respected Meditation Master and senior teacher in her own right. Aadil was allotted 10 minutes to speak and Savitri spoke in his stead. The speech was engaging, lovely, and discussed women’s voice and power. About five minutes into it, the Director of the conference, Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, interrupted her. Melissa proceeded to tell Savitri to stop, grabbed the microphone from her, and into the microphone told her that she needed to leave. She ordered staff to escort Savitri and those from her studio out of the building. Aadil was called that evening and told that he was not allowed to teach at the conference at all. Savitri and Aadil’s Alive and Shine Center studio was banned from coming back to the conference, their table which they had paid for was dismantled in their absence, their products ending up on the sidewalk, and the classes Savitri and Aadil were supposed to teach, handed over to other teachers.. It was an appalling moment and has infuriated and hurt hundreds of yoga students in the local community.

When a white woman in a position of authority silences the voice of a woman of color, an Indian Meditation Master, it is cultural appropriation at its worst. Please see the original post, including video, from Aadil and Savitri’s daughter here.

Since this incident has occurred, yogis in the community have been searching for answers. Originally, this request for explanation initiated with openness for dialogue. However the response from Melissa and NWYC staff has been as equally disturbing as the incident itself. All students commenting on the page regarding the incident or with questions about it have been blocked and comments erased, which amounts to hundreds of comments at this point. This erasure is a form of gaslighting. Aadil’s students, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles to see him, were lied to by NWYC staff who claimed that Aadil had cancelled. Aadil has never cancelled a workshop before, even when he was seriously ill.

The Conference has had 3 days to respond and has chosen to remain silent, with the exception of a short email sent out which essentially said nothing other than the conference was “started with the intention of bringing the yoga community together in a supportive and inclusive environment…”. Nothing else. No apology. No mention of the incident.

Aadil has called Melissa on her personal cell phone after the incident to see if a peaceful resolution to this matter could be achieved. No response. Alive and Shine Center’s marketing director, Bella, managed to contact Melissa’s husband and told him that Aadil would be willing to come to Seattle to discuss this in a friendly manner. No response.

Many have wondered if “something happened” before the incident to warrant this behavior. However our community cannot think of anything that would warrant this level of disrespect, hostility and censorship. Strangely, just before the event, Melissa met Savitri in the hallway outside where she warmly hugged Savitri.

This series of events, and particularly the way management has handled themselves after the event, calls for accountability. As a sponsor, teacher, studio owner, or person in position of leadership who is connected to NWYC – our community is asking that you hold NWYC accountable. Please post this letter on your social media page and/or forward it to the conference organizers to request that they:

  1. ProvideasincereanddirectapologyfromMelissaPhillips-HagedorntoSavitri,Aadil,their studio, and family for the disrespect they were shown at this event.

  2. Issue an apology to the community, via their public Facebook page as well as via email to their students, for attempting to erase concerns about the incident instead of simply addressing them and admitting fault.

  3. Refrainfromdeletingfurthercommentsabouttheincident.

  4. RecompenseallfinanciallossesincurredbyAliveandShineCenter.

  5. AcknowledgethatNWYCfailedonthisfrontandthattheywanttodobetter.Theywilldo

    this, in part, by recruiting POC (people of color) yoga teachers to lead and organize future conferences.

We feel strongly that it is the responsibility of people in positions of power to hold others accountable when they fail to do so on their own. Moving forward, the students who have signed this letter will not support any teacher, studio, or connected sponsors who have failed to speak out against this incident. Please do not remain silent and condone this unacceptable behavior.

Sincerely,
Yogis from the Northwest and beyond

Please go to http://bit.ly/sign-nwyc-letter to sign the letter

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Updates: NWYC Incident 2018

PRESS RELEASE NWYC INCIDENT

PRESS RELEASE INFORMATION AND DETAILS AS TO THE ISSUE

Indian-born Female Yoga Master kicked out of Yoga Conference

Savitri, creator of Heartfull Meditation, dismissed from Northwest Yoga Conference while talking about female empowerment and yogic lineage

February 22, 2018 – Seattle, WA. – Meditation master, mother, and wife of yoga master Aadil Palkhivala disrespected and kicked out of NW Yoga Conference. Savitri, a female, Indian Meditation Master and creator of Heartfull Meditation, who has been practicing and meditating on Love and Light for 35 years, was aggressively kicked out of “Be the Light” themed Northwest Yoga Conference by conference founder and organizer, Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn. Savitri was invited to the opening ceremony of the conference to accept a “Luminary” award on behalf of her husband, Aadil Palkhivala, yoga master, who was unwell and couldn’t attend. Each “Luminary” had been allotted 10 min to speak. After Savitri was presented with Aadil’s award, she asked Melissa, the conference organizer, if she could speak now. She was told “yes” by Melissa, and began to speak about Aadil and her journey with Yoga and the importance of female strength, empowerment, and energy in all industries, including yoga.

The audience was deeply engaged in Savitri’s speech. After just under 5 minutes, Melissa abruptly interrupted her speech, while Savitri was in the middle of speaking on respecting the Indian lineage of yoga and female empowerment. When Savitri said “Aadil was given 10 minutes,” Melissa immediately pulled the microphone from her hands. She was told to leave, along with “her people” – staff and friends that were present at the ceremony honoring their teacher. 

Savitri and her students/employees were escorted out of the room. After this happened, many attendees left the room and told Savitri they were very upset with how she was treated and with Melissa’s actions. One said, “That never would have happened if she were a man.” A small number of attendees walked out in solidarity.

Two hours after the incident, conference staff informed Aadil via telephone that he and Savitri were no longer invited to participate in the conference. Aadil was scheduled to teach three workshops and a free community class with 150 participants, and Savitri was scheduled to teach one workshop; she had offered to donate her income from her workshop as a gift to the Northwest Yoga Conference. Their Bellevue studio (Alive & Shine Center) was also a vendor at the conference, with a paid-for booth. The booth was dismantled by conference staff without permission the following morning. Aadil and Savitri were some of the few Indian teachers at the conference, and their classes were taught, in their absence, by white teachers. This incident incited much passion on social media regarding the legacy of cultural appropriation in modern yoga culture and has set the northwest yoga community on fire.

Alive & Shine Center staff and students, and participants who were moved to join, protested for three days outside the Washington State Conference Center, in bitter cold weather, requiring an apology and explanation for this situation. They distributed statements from Aadil to participants who were confused about why these respected teachers had been disinvited at the last minute.

Savitri’s speech was being video-recorded as a memento for Aadil, to see his wife honor him at the ceremony. Aadil attempted to contact Melissa to no avail. She did not answer her phone nor call back. After seeing the video Zenia, Aadil and Savitri’s daughter, became involved as she was appalled by how her mother was treated. She uploaded the video on her personal Facebook page. Her video was circulated online and, with over 100,000 views in three days, is getting the yoga community in an uproar. The Northwest Yoga Conference Facebook page (run by Melissa) deleted all comments on social media (an estimated 500+ comments) related to the incident and waited 5 days to issue a statement. When she finally released the blog statement it only noted “time concerns” as her reasoning, but did not name Savitri, Aadil, or their community. It also did not include an apology. Of course, there were no “time concerns” since Savitri had only spoken 5 minutes, and Aadil had been slated to speak at that same time and location, for 10 minutes. Since time concerns were obviously not the reason for this behavior, the conference attendees wondered what provoked such a violent outburst and dismissal from the conference.

After Melissa’s blog statement, she disrespectfully and defamatorily told presenters (a presenter shared a screenshot with the family) that Savitri, Aadil and their family and friends have a “destructive appetite”, have been “spreading falsehoods” and practiced “harmful behavior” in this situation. When in reality, the family’s aim was to protect their reputation and explain their side, due to people likely being confused as to their sudden absence at the conference. Conference attendees had expressed to the protester outside, that they were disappointed that Aadil cancelled his teaching since they had come from far and near to study with him. This was incorrect, since Melissa had cancelled Aadil, he had not cancelled himself. Besides, the protesters wanted to have an explanation and hoped to learn more about the reasons behind this disrespectful conduct toward an elder and master meditation teacher.

TIME DETAILS: On Tuesday, Feb 27th, Melissa made a blog post and did not contact Aadil or Savitri before posting it. On Wednesday, Feb 28th at 8:09am (wasn’t read by Aadil’s assistant until 3:00pm) Melissa finally reached out to us via email, after 6 days (Feb 22-28th) of silence. It was a very short email and she did not apologize to Aadil and/or Savitri in the email, she just referenced us to her blog post. She mentioned mediation in that email and that route is now being pursued.

 

Sponsors and presenters from the conference have issued statements of rebuke for these actions.

“To make it clear, I was given the honor and 10 minutes to speak. I asked Savitri, meditation master and my wife, to accept the honor on my behalf and speak in my place as I had bronchitis and could not attend. She very graciously agreed. It was a blessing to the conference to have a true master of light in their presence. No, there was no time issue.”  – Aadil Palkhivala, co-owner of Alive & Shine Center, co-founder of Purna Yoga and husband of Savitri.

Our students, many of them the same ones who had been kicked out of the opening ceremony, stood in the cold for three days to stand up physically and spiritually, for YOGA to return to the deep respect that is a bedrock of true Yoga.

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Color is Life

COLOR IS LIFE

SavitriSmiling

Article by Savitri 

When I was 25, I was very ill and turned to meditation to support me. The first demand from my Spirit, through my meditation, was to stop wearing all dark colors, especially black and brown. I was guided to wear happy, uplifting, peaceful colors. To my surprise, my body, my mind and my emotions began to feel more balanced. I had no idea that there was such a thing as color therapy. I was an interior designer for many years and understood color invokes feelings of beauty, order and self-expression, but not healing. I was happily surprised to learn that many scientists and doctors have been studynature-flowers_00273585ing color therapy for many years. Since my mid-twenties, I have integrated color therapy into my interior designing. I use green, from emerald to pastel, to help open the Heart Chakra and to feel self-love and oneness with others. I use bright, sunny yellow or soft, pastel yellow to awaken joy and reveal the inner smile. Also, I use red and orange, in softer hues, to energize and uplift laziness into action.

The meditations I teach are to visualize color, especially white light, as it includes the colors of the rainbow, therefore making it unnecessary to imagine all the colors separately to bring healing. The body recognizes white light for balance, self-love, and oneness with our true Creator. Soft pink light has a gentle healing presence which transforms our inner child wounds and brings maturity. In the meditation, we also imagine royal blue light to help release and transform karmic habits which are creating the unhappy and stagnant stories in our lives. The blue light also increases our devotion and commitment to our true purpose, bringing permanent healing. As we go deeper into our Heart Chakra and closer to our Soul, we imagine and feel the silver light to reconnect with the Divine Feminine aspects of ourselves. Gold light is also imagined and felt to reconnect with the masculine parts of ourselves. Our Soul, the Spirit, the Creator are all energy particles of light – white, gold, silver and beyond.

8322699254_4f0b42978aWhen it comes to clothing, the body loves joyful, rainbow colors from soft, gentle pastels to more vibrant, uplifting, energizing hues. Color brings balance to the mind and body. We are color beings from Spirit to form. Many physicists agree that all matter is frozen light. This is why nature is so colorful, it is revealing the beauty of our true selves – color and light. We have heard many times that we are what we eat. Yet we also eat (absorb) through all our senses. The eyes and skin absorb color and light. I find that beige, tan and other neutral colors tend to numb the mind and prevent us from feeling ourselves as loving, alive, radiant beings of light. Since the skin emanates Light because it is alive, its color is irrelevant; however, inanimate black, brown and other dark, dense colors are “blindness” to our mind and eyes. These colors are used in nature to hide, block and separate us from our true selves. Black, brown and other dark colors actually deplete us of energy by absorbing light and positive feelings. This makes it difficult to receive life-giving energy from around us and blocks our ability to smile from inside-out. Furthermore, since the essence of yoga is to create union between body, mind and Spirit, it is logical to wear beautiful, joyful, uplifting colors that welcome your Soul into each yoga posture you do.

We live on a very colorful planet. Enjoy this gift of seeing and feeling your true self around you. After reading this article, buy a bouquet of flowers and observe the uplifting feelings that come up as you focus on nature’s expression of beauty and life. One day, in meditation class at Alive and Shine Center, you will see you are the light, colorful, radiant, shimmering and yearning to shine in every cell, bringing true health and joy. Let’s come alive and shine together and create a beautiful, love-filled humanity.  6c9a5562a96e7344ac283dec47aae7b7

Savitri and Dr. Dietrich Klinghart have done a few radio shows together regarding color, and Klinghart has spoken highly of the importance of color as well as the impact black or dark clothing has on the body. Studies have shown people who are depressed or struggling tend to veer toward dark colors, while those with a more calm or uplifted outlook tend to lean toward rainbow shades. Below are more facts about color from an article written by Dr. Dietrich Klinghart of Bellevue, WA.

“…treatment with color projection into the eye can have a profound effect on the hormonal system, the emotions, stress levels, sleep, brain function, and many other aspects of the patient’s biochemistry and well-being. The profound effect of light stimulation to the retina on the body’s metabolism has long been established through the work of the brilliant German ophthalmologist Fritz Hollwich, M.D., Ph.D.”

“A study showed that wearing black clothing immediately depresses the NK-cell activity and several other parameters used to judge the activity of the immune system. Black is carcinogenic. The opposite is also true: wearing rainbow colors stimulates the immune system and the mood.”

“German scientist Fritz Albert Popp, PhD. confirmed all cells in an organism use subtle light emissions to communicate with each other constantly. Cells gossip, inform, celebrate and grieve. Only cancer cells behave differently: they do not emit light.”

“Light (and sound) can have a profound effect on regulating and correcting inter-cellular communications.” [1]

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 9.34.53 PM

The chakra system shows how colorful and beautiful the human body is.

Chakras consist of the crown (purple), third eye (indigo), throat (blue), heart (green), solar plexus (yellow), lower (orange), root (red).

Sources:
[1] http://www.klinghardtacademy.com/images/stories/color_therapy/color_therapy_through_eyes.pdf

Live your life in color!

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Why We Care So Much About Respect

Why We Care So Much About Respect

SavitriSmiling

We wanted to address a question we’ve been receiving: “Why are we making such a big deal?” about the rude treatment of our teacher, Savitri, by Melissa at the NWYC.

  1. LEADERSHIP MATTERS. To excuse these actions or brush them off would be to infantilize an adult woman in a position of important power in the Northwest Yoga world. As founder and organizer of the conference, Melissa decides who is invited, who is promoted, and (literally and figuratively) who gets the mic. This puts her in a position of leadership, one that comes with a deep responsibility to uphold the vibration and authenticity of Yoga.

  2. RESPECT MATTERS. This incident happened at a ceremony that was meant to honor “Luminaries” – those yoga teachers who had helped bring Yoga to the northwest. These are our elders, and Melissa was entrusted with our votes to honor them. Each luminary was given 10 minutes to share their words; for some unknown reason, this honor was not being extended to Savitri, there to speak, at Aadil’s request, on his behalf. There was a clear lack of respect extended to this elder in our community, the only woman of color being honored. An apology still has not been extended.

  3. TRANSPARENCY MATTERS. There was a clear desire on the part of NWYC to completely silence this incident and pretend it never happened. After the incident, we were shut out of the conference; our teachers, students, and booth were all kicked out. Any phone calls were being ignored. And all comments and inquiries about this incident on the NWYC were being censored and deleted. Again, this is very disturbing qualities in a leadership team.

  4. CULTURE & RACE MATTER. Whether we like it or not, Yoga has become an American institution and commodity. And like most American institutions and commodities, it is primarily in the control of white people and has been mined for marketable and profitable purposes. Whether consciously racist or not, the impact of this incident furthered the institutional racism of the western yoga world. Two teachers from India were kicked out without cause and replaced, across the board, with white teachers. That is not our yoga.

    Alive & Shine Center has been an Indian-family owned business since 1992, when yoga was still under the pop cultural radar. Our diverse community shares a deep respect for Aadil & Savitri, who are master teachers, and for the rich lineage that they bring with them. Respect and humility are what separate cultural exchange from cultural appropriation.

  5. TRUE YOGA REQUIRES ACTION. There is an unfortunate tendency to assume that “being spiritual” means avoiding conflict, floating in a metaphorical cloud above the riff-raff of life, and always feeling and being peaceful. This divorce of the spiritual with the material has led to a dying planet, a war-torn world, a depressed populace, and a government and corporate structure that supports this life-destroying course. That is not our yoga.

  6. IT IS TIME that we all stand up and support teachers, studios, conferences, politicians, businesses, nonprofits, etc. that align with our values. Passively sitting things out will not move the dial on our planet from war to peace, or separation to union. To LIVE Yoga, not just “do” yoga requires uncomfortable conversations, acknowledging wrongdoing, and deep respect for every living being.

Our students, many of them the same ones who had been kicked out of the opening ceremony, stood in the cold for three days to stand up physically and spiritually, for YOGA to return to the deep respect that is a bedrock of true Yoga.

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Who Is Savitri

WHO IS SAVITRI?

Savitri-NEWEST11-2

SAVITRI - Creator of Heartfull Meditation

When Savitri was 11 she had a serious head injury, as a teenager she was orphaned as she suddenly lost both her parents in a devastating plane crash, shortly thereafter she experienced the shocking murder of her sister, her best friend then died of AIDS and her cousin committed suicide. These events led to life threatening illnesses and several near-death experiences.

Through sincere prayer and over 30 years of intense personal practice, Savitri healed her own personal tragedies and illnesses with lifestyle and meditation techniques she developed, helping thousands of students do the same. Since 1995 it has become her life’s work to share Heartfull™ Meditation with the world so we can truly live heartfully.

Savitri founded the Alive and Shine Foundation to share Heartfull Meditation™ and Lifestyle techniques to reach those who would never be able to find these solutions. She’s co-founder of Alive and Shine Center in Bellevue and co-creator of the College of Purna Yoga with Aadil Palkhivala.

The Align and Shine Snacks and Heartfull™ Lifestyle helped her to come alive and shine, when she was told she would never have children, blessing her with her beautiful daughter Zenia. Savitri’s Heartfull Meditation techniques are taught in Alive and Shine Foundation and Yoga Behind Bars Foundation.

What does Heartfull Represent?

It’s a mission of living from the heart in all you do. 🙂

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