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  • Writer's pictureSavira Gupta

Inclusive vs Exclusive in Yoga

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

I am not going to go into the history of Yoga or how it was brought to the West nor am I going to write about the different styles of yoga… some of which are just outrageous!

What I am going to write about is something close to my heart. 'Cultural Appropriating' of Yoga. Being a desi woman, it pulls at my heart to see how Yoga is being misrepresented in the West. The way its being marketed or diluted to the point where it has become a practice of the ego rather then a practice of 'svadhyaya' self study.

I love my roots and its traditions. These are ingrained within me and is what grounds me, it's what glues my family together despite the separation. These traditions have been passed on from my ancestors to me and now to my children. It's traditions are about inclusivity and not exclusivity. By honouring this ancient philosophy without watering it down or modifying it to make it more palatable, you are acknowledging its roots and its relationship to the 1.35 billion people that live and practice it in India.

Yoga is more than just the vinyasas, fancy poses etc. It is a practice of one’s own blueprint for living a meaningful, balanced and holistic life through the ‘Purusharthas’ (purpose for the self) which are divided into 4 phases of a human being’s life. Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha

If you are a yoga practitioner be curious, ask questions about Yoga/Hindu philosophy. Share your thoughts with others; let’s represent and practice Yoga in its entirety together. Yoga teachers of all colours come together. Combine our knowledge, experiences and talents to create a broader landscape for learning and teaching yoga in its true essence. Yoga is about being inclusive, respectful of everyone’s differences and abilities. Below are some tips that I use in my classes.

  • if using Sanskrit words then use them in the right context.

  • include all 10 of the Yamas and Niyamas in English.

  • if Sanskrit is difficult to pronounce then use english words.

  • introduce examples that are more tangible, relatable to everyday lives off the mat.

  • if in doubt about our culture ask us, we would be happy to share our thoughts.

  • keep it simple and real in the sessions, yoga does not have to be serious!

  • be humble and keep in mind to ‘Yoke’

Studios include South Asian teachers in your establishments, showcase their experiences and talents. Have them in the forefront and on your panels of discussion. Create an atmosphere of unity and not separation.

Honour and Respect roots of Yoga

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