Appreciation versus Appropriation
August 2021; updated October 2022 and November 2022
The issue of cultural appropriation is an important one in today's climate and culture; it something that I have tried to be mindful in my own practice and especially my teaching. Consideration of this topic is what led me to stop using the word "namaste" at the end of my classes (see Notes on Namaste).
At the same time, I still love the Sanskrit language and use it in my classes occasionally. I wish to honor yoga's roots, not eradicate them. This Yoga Journal article (written by Indian-American teacher Rina Dishpande) offers some exploratory questions that I have utilized in my own process of learning and decision-making. Another Indian yoga teacher shared similar thoughts in Arundhati Baitmangalkar's Yoga International article. Although I don't necessarily agree with all of her positions (e.g., I still use the term "yogi" and I still play music in my classes), I continue to respect and to be cognizant of her and other points of view. And as noted in the first paragraph above, I am willing to change my own behavior.
In my classes, I incorporate yoga philosophy, quote the Yoga Sutra, and teach that yoga is more than asana. When I reference symbols of Hinduism such as mudras and Hindu deities, I provide background information. There is still much I don't know, and I am committed to learning.
November 2022 update:
I also like Pranidhi Varshney's take on appropriation versus appreciation (from Yoga Journal).
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