If you’re not from Canada, or specifically Vancouver, you might not be aware of the huge kerfuffle over an International Yoga Day event that threatened to divide the city and the local yoga community. In short, the event, titled “Om the Bridge,” was a massive yoga class planned by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, sponsored by Lululemon, Y Yoga and AltaGas, to be held on Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge shutting it down for seven hours, costing the city an estimated $150,000, on Sunday, June 21, also known as International Yoga Day, also known as National Aboriginal Day, which also happens to be Father’s Day and the summer solstice.
Needless to say, many Vancouverites were not pleased. Not only did it stir up outrage from locals upset over the cost, corporate sponsors and bridge closure, there was a huge backlash over disrespect for National Aboriginal Day. The uproar, which gained traction on social media, turned political with B.C. Premier Christy Clark being thoroughly criticized for producing the heavily sponsored event and disregarding the city’s true frustrations. (AltaGas, one of the event’s sponsors bringing $10,000 in support, is a huge gas, power and utilities corporation, by the way.)
Clark responded to the “yoga haters” on Twitter trying to make a joke (?) which did not go over well.
Hey Yoga Haters- bet you can’t wait for international Tai Chi day. pic.twitter.com/1sEfIwKbG3
— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) June 11, 2015
By the way, the reason we’re referring to all of this in the past tense is because pressures from the people and the major boycott have forced everyone to retract their participation and cancel the whole dang thing. Lululemon, and Y Yoga made announcements Friday morning which were followed by Clark’s own non-participating Twitter announcement, albeit seeming somewhat begrudged.
@stromkonsult After much feedback, we’ve decided not to participate. We’ll be reimagining a way to honour the spirit and tradition of yoga.
— lululemon athletica (@lululemon) June 12, 2015
Yoga Day is a great opportunity to celebrate peace and harmony – it’s not about politics. I don’t intend to participate.
— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) June 12, 2015
Y Yoga issued a statement via their website.
International Day of Yoga is about celebrating something very positive, and it has become anything but that.
Our intention to provide yoga to the city in celebration was purely formed. We hoped that our intentions would shine through, but that has not been the case. We have had the opportunity to connect with our very passionate community over the last several days and have done a lot of listening. We have heard that the event that was presented was not what they wanted.
The importance of celebrating the tradition of yoga still rings true for us. We are working with our partners from the community to deliver something that serves them in a more meaningful way.
Please stay tuned for something that will reflect the tradition of yoga, and the wishes of our community…in a park.
And that’s how it’s done, folks.
As for International Yoga Day in Vancouver, one of the biggest yoga cities in the world (and coincidentally Lululemon’s HQ), it sounds like there will still be some sort of public celebration/event (likely in a park), which will presumably not cost $150k and will not disrespect an entire race of people.