June is LGBT Pride Month, which is especially meaningful on the heels of the horrific attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida—the worst mass shooting and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history. In the aftermath of such an unthinkable tragedy, how can yogis come together to advocate peace, love, and pride? Justin Michael Williams, yoga teacher and co-founder of The Business of Yoga presented by Yoga Journal, developed this 7-pose flow to help foster both self-love and compassion for others.
"In the photos for this sequence, you'll see I am in street clothes, which is an ode to the true practice of yoga. For me, the yoga practice is about getting more and more clear and confident in your own self and being able to celebrate that clearly in front of everyone at all times, no matter where you are, whether you are gay, straight, or whatever," Williams says, adding that yoga helped him accept himself as a gay man when he started practicing at 17.
The five Warrior poses in his sequence serve as a nod to how difficult it can be to celebrate yourself openly and proudly. "I included Warrior poses in this sequence because they are powerful, and sometimes this [open celebration] is a hard thing to do," he explains. "When you take the stance of the Warrior, you take pride in who you are, you stand for it fully and completely no matter what you're coming up against."
Williams also included variations of Warrior like Heart-Opened Warrior with the the hands interlaced behind the back to foster openness and receptivity to everyone else's truth as well, he says. "Humble Warrior in the same vein is about honoring the truth of other people, and owning all that came before you, not being prideful for the fight of it but leading from the heart. When we as individuals come together in union, we can see some of that violence and hate dividing us start to dissolve. We stand together in our uniqueness, in our authenticity."
Apply now for Williams' Yoga Business Boot Camp event coming up at Yoga Journal LIVE! Estes Park.