https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OoBaDt9cvQ Featuring nisha ahuja, who has been sharing her examination of Yoga & Cultural Appropriation for over a decade and notably through the national tour of her play Yoga Cannibal (Directed/Dramaturged by Yvette Nolan), a playful and cutting look at the consumption of culture in the quest for spiritual fulfillment. There was a huge in-person and online response to nisha’s workshop “You Are Here: Examining Cultural Appropriation and Yoga” in January 2014, with many requests for the live streaming video to stay online. This video was created in response to that request. nisha shares this with gratitude to the many many many others who share a practice that is much more expansive than commonly sold the diluted versions of the Yogic path.
To the so many white people who practice yoga, please don’t stop, but please do take a moment to look outside of yourself and understand how the history of yoga practice in the United States is intimately linked to some of the larger forces of white supremacy.
The origins of yoga can be traced back to South Asia, a space colonized by the British and Portuguese. The reasons why yoga became popular, and why various Indian yogis started travelling to England and the United States to “sell” yoga, is also tied up with colonialism. Yoga was often used as a tool to show the British that Indians were not backwards or primitive, but that their religion was scientific, healthy, and rational. This was a position they were coerced into, and unfortunately reified colonial forms of knowledge – that knowledge must be proven or scientific to be worth anything.