top of page

RACISM
AND APPROPRIATION OF
YOGA

I  have had a hard time grappling with what it means to be a Yoga teacher and practitioner in the modern world. The ancient instructions for participating in this practice were not geared towards one with computers in our pockets and Instagram-able posts selling hyper flexibility and steel-cut abs as the ultimate goal. I am not knocking anyone or sitting in judgment- I, too, follow some of those accounts and have my own goals of attaining various postures. Personally, as a White-Pakistani woman, I have grappled with the feeling of imposter syndrome, especially when coupled with the understanding of how harmful and exclusionary these spaces have been and continue to be.

 

If I didn't address the appropriation of Yoga, lack of representation among teachers and students, classist studio culture, and my personal privilege, then I would feel irresponsible. I understand that Yoga is about transcending the body we inhabit but I don't believe we can use that to ignore the injustice that abounds or be passive in hoping for a better world. I think we can take a path toward transcendence as well as activism in the flesh!

I have included some links to resources that have helped me in conversation and sharpened my critical thinking! I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and any recommendations to add to my repertoire. I recognize that the class videos I have offered on this site are heavy on movement. I am certainly going to be filling the pranayama/meditation section much more! If there is anything I can do to make this space or my offerings feel more welcoming, I would love to be of service. Please send a message in the contact form. I am aware of the growth potential I have in this area, so constructive criticism is always welcome.  

 

read/watch/listen

Article/Book

Article/Book

Jessamyn Stanley is a Yoga teacher, activist, writer, advocate, and more. She has sparked conversations surrounding body inclusivity/accessibility, as well as race and white supremacy within Yoga studios and western Yoga culture. Her two books and article, linked here, showcase her insight and necessary voice.

Read

Read

"Stop racism" is a bold statement. The list curated by White for Racial Equality contains really excellent, tangible ways to become more aware of ourselves as we dive deeper into antiracism. It also demonstrates ways in which we might confront our loved ones in conversation, which are both ways we can certainly work to stop racism.

PODCAST

PODCAST

Shimon Cohen, LCSW hosts this podcast in an effort to uncover the racism, white saviors, and lack of representation in the field of social work. I am about to embark on my MSW, so I find it all the more relevant. I think it is also a helpful reminder for everyone (erm, white folks) to step back and look around (professional, recreational, social) and notice how white supremacy is upheld - with fervor. Artwork from 'Doin the work'

VIDEO

VIDEO

Prison Yoga Project is one of many amazing orgs that combines Yoga and social justice. Chanda Williams shares her experience going inside. The prison system in the U.S. is inhumane. It is clear to see the racist roots and motives, and we mustn't turn a blind eye. Photo taken from the YouTube video linked.

TAKE ACTION

TAKE ACTION

This may not be all encompassing, but if you are looking to get involved, this may help point you in the direction of taking action! There are tons of local groups for you to join.

ARTICLE

ARTICLE

Rumya S. Putcha reveals so many layers in this. "Yoga studios are the new country clubs..." It is poignant and important read.

PODCAST

PODCAST

Tejal Patel and Jesal Parikh are two Indian American women teaching Yoga in the U.S. and using their smart, funny, honest voices to unveil the racist, misogynistic, and harmful ways people have hidden under the guise of Yoga.

VIDEO

VIDEO

Bhakti Yoga is all about devotion and leading with the heart. Kaustubha das of the Bhakti center, shares his thoughts on better handling the social injustices, and recognizing his prior inaction.

ARTICLE

ARTICLE

Biola Akanni details the overt, covert, and inherent racism and classism in the Yoga community.

bottom of page