This notable comment about cultural appropriation in yoga just popped up on my post called “Am I Even Teaching Yoga Anymore?”
Notable, because it shows how reasonableness can occlude emotional intelligence. I’ll paste an excerpt in here in full and then offer some commentary below. Continue reading “Discussing Cultural Appropriation Amidst the Yoga Trolling”
4.5/5 stars: Highly recommended. One bump, and some questions about framing.
Inner Traditions | 544 pages | ISBN 9781620555675 | August 4, 2016
Remember that old Indian fable of the rajah who blindfolds his pundits, asks them to grab onto different parts of an elephant, and then report on what the object is?
The guy grabbing the leg announces that the elephant is a pillar. The one touching the ear says it’s definitely a woven basket. The pundit touching the head is convinced it’s a big clay pot. The rajah compliments each confident answer, and then reveals what they’ve missed.
It’s an apt metaphor for the recent explosion of modern yoga research in English. So many pundits, so many hands on the elephant. But who’s the rajah in this parable? Continue reading “Elliott Goldberg Rides the Elephant: An In-Depth Review of The Path of Modern Yoga”
Last updated: December 6th.
Liquid Facts, Solid Derision
On Friday, November 20th, the Ottawa Sun broke a story that went viral. The global backlash has distorted and minimized an issue that South Asian thought leaders in yoga culture have been grappling with for years.
“Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students,” the story began, “ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of ‘cultural appropriation.'”
The class was administered by the student-run Centre for Students with Disabilities (hereafter “Centre”), under the umbrella of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (hereafter “Federation”).
“Jennifer Scharf,” the piece continued, “who has been offering free weekly yoga instruction to students since 2008, says she was shocked when told in September the program would be suspended, and saddened when she learned of the reasoning.”
The Sun reported that Scharf was told via email that:
“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced,” and which cultures those practices “are being taken from.” The centre official argues since many of those cultures “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”
In a phone interview with me, Sun reporter Aeden Helmer clarified that these quotes came from a single participant in a 17-page email correspondence between the Centre, the Federation, and Scharf that ran from September through November.
The Sun article concluded with the comments of Federation official Julie Seguin, which argue against the validity of the cultural appropriation reasoning. Helmer confirmed via email that Seguin’s quotes were drawn from that same correspondence, which suggests that the Centre and the Federation were not in agreement on the issue as it was being discussed. Continue reading “Yogagate: The Downward Dogwhistle Story”
- It used to be that the unexamined life was not worth living. Now, the unexamined life is killing the planet. Staying mindful of our collective condition will keep things on point and our heads out of the stars.
- Yoga philosophy today is meeting a world of neoliberal values and catastrophic climate change. It needs teeth.
- Never assume that there will be agreement as to what “yoga” is, “philosophy” is, or what “yoga philosophy” is. Continue reading “20 Suggestions for Doing Yoga Philosophy Today”
It’s become clear in an era of lightning-fast interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange that the transparency of one’s sources can be a grounding factor in understanding why and how one does yoga philosophy. Inspired by discussions on this blog and others, I’m experimenting with creating a record of my religious and academic influences. I think the stories of how we come to yoga are an essential part of the yoga we wind up finding. This entry, which describes some of the impact and lessons of my Catholic childhood, is the first of maybe five parts. The others will follow the chronology as it happened: university influences, years in Buddhism, years in a kundalini cult, years of quieter study — alone, and with quiet mentors — and how these experiences seemed to roll together into an eclectic practice of yoga and the vedic arts, and occasionally being an adult. Continue reading “Transparency Papers: introduction, and growing up Catholic (part one)”