Kicked out of yoga teacher training for being African American

Reporter is
United States

Nature of Incident


If you are considering Yoga Teacher Training with Integral Yoga Institute please note my experience:
I filled out the application and provided references,two of my favorite yoga teachers; then after a few phone calls i scheduled an interview with Rashmi, one of the two main teachers. this is all mandatory before you are accepted into the program.
i interviewed with Rashmi for perhaps 45minutes maybe a little more and she recommended that i take a class at Integral before she made a decision. I took level 1 class that evening and i got an email saying that i was admitted a few days later.
I arrived promptly on Monday , September 11,2017 evening for the first session where we all got to know each other (i was one of 17 students) and the other main teacher Kali. Everything went well and i was thrilled be part of a group where at least 4 people were over 60 four people ,english was not their first was not an academically or physcally difficult and it wasn't designed to be so. It was more of a spiritual journey…
The next sessions met on the following Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-6. these were eventful informative and chock full of information and activity. In the chanting session, I was partnered with a strong chanter to work with me because my chanting was weak. all good.
On Monday September 18,2017, Ii took a level 1 class at 4;30pm and was scheduled to attend the first anatomy portion of the Teacher Training at 6.
Kali and Rashmi were waiting to speak to me after the level 1class and we went into an empty yoga room; Kali informed me that they (Kali and Rashmi) had decided to "withdraw me from the program" I was stunned! They refunded my money and sent me on my way.
After a good cry in my husbands arms, wondering what i had done wrong.. I sent them an email asking humbly "is there a lesson here for me" "and did they tell the class that I'd left not by my my choice" they responded"Dear Odella, We immediately informed the class that we had made the decision to withdraw you from the response to your question about a lesson for you ,we would say ,it is always important to realize that the universe is giving us what we need.Sometimes what we need is not always what we want.." No indication whatsoever that i had done anything wrong! Basically they just didn't like me and there was no reason to be around me if they didn't want to.
I responded by saying that in response to their solicitation of feedback from the class as to ways to improve the program i suggested "they include compassion in their treatment of their students. From kindergarten to graduate school there is no instance where a student is expelled without warning or reason (absent violence or plagiarism )its the compassionate thing for a teacher entrusted with the mind ,hear,and spirit of a student to treat that student with compassion and care. A kind teacher give a student a hand up and a great teacher appreciates her students and their feelings.
Instead they treated me with callous contempt for my feelings as a fellow human being.
Later i got an email basically saying that their experience shows that if they warn a student then they have to contend with anger so they have devised this method of blindsiding them to avoid such a thing. Kali in particular seemed proud of this, by way of defense when she expelled me she noted that i wasn't the first that she did this too. Well i hope i am the last!!
When i got this second email i responded that what I had realized is that I was the only African American person in the class and apparently that was one too many. Since i still do not have one single clue as to why the expelled me , that is the only conclusion to be drawn. There are few African American yoga Teachers and i trust that none have been certified through Integral and now i know why..
They seem to be firm in their policy of not giving a reason or a warning and i suggested that they state that policy in the application because as it stands they ask a commitment from the student of heart, mind, body, time and money yet their commitment only extends until they go in the bathroom and do some whispering and come out with a decision that youu're not "right for the club. Mean Girls in grown up bodies and in charge.
so if you are considering Teacher Training at Integral yoga ask a LOT of questions before committing your precious and vulnerable heart.
So if you're considering Yoga Teacher training and you don't want any black people in your class this is the one for you.

United States
New York

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