Listen & learn - White women killed yoga

Being a white female-founded brand I am aware that I come from a position of privilege and its important to use that position to learn, take action and be part of positive change. Part of learning and teaching holistic practices involves learning ancient teachings and the history behind them. Yoga is a religious ancient practice that should be respected but has become "trendy" in the western world. 

Before launching our upcoming activewear/ yoga wear collection, we began listening to a podcast Yoga is Dead. As a woman who has taken a foundation in yoga I know, it is vital when learning ancient practices such as yoga to understand and respect the culture behind them but I had never thought how my love for yoga could potentially offend others. This is why this podcast is so important! 

Cultural appropriation: The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas etc of one people or society by members of another  and typically more dominant people or society. This can look like taking, marketing, and exploitation of cultural practices from other populations. The problem is deep rooted and in yoga can look like:  Removing evidence of its Eastern roots to fit into the western world. As well other extremes such as the glamorisation of yoga and India through commercialism, such as Om tattoos, T-shirts within cultural scriptures or meanings on. As well as the worship or idolisation of religious figures or people within the culture. 

It's important that anyone in western society not from this background ask themselves “What is the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?” and “How can I still practice yoga without being offensive?”

No matter how much I love a knitted cardigan and chips, I don’t want to live in a world where the only cultural inspiration I look to comes from that. I have friends and family from a variety of cultures and I love learning and exploring those but it's important to be aware and respectful of how; especially within the wellness industry. I am still learning the best ways to do so but I urge anyone who is unsure to do the same. 

Marrying into a Sikh Indian family I love to learn about my fiancé's culture, I sometimes wear suits ( similar to a saree) to the temple, bangles and a Bindi on special occasions. I welcome the chance to dive into this beautiful history with open arms when invited to do so and am so grateful that I have been welcomed into a family who want me to be part of their culture. Does this mean I have the right to wear a Bindi for fashion purposes absolutely NOT! Does this mean I should be dressing in suits when not with my family in non appropriate settings... No! Yoga is much the same. Should anyone outside of the culture really be wearing T-shirts with Namaste on, the answer may surprise you but No! Namaste means I bow to the God within you. The western world has glamourised these things to become trendy forgetting that they are an important part of different cultures that if practiced need to be honoured and respected. 

Yoga is Dead explores power, privilege, fair pay, harassment, race, cultural appropriation and capitalism in the yoga and wellness worlds. Indian-American hosts Tejal + Jesal explore these issues and expose all the monsters lurking under the yoga mat. 

During this episode, Tejal and Jesal discuss How White Women have killed yoga. Something that after listening and understanding I felt we should share with everyone in our audience. They give a great insight into exploring cultural appropriation in the wellness industry on a deeper level. 

To listen to the episode, learn and donate to this incredible podcast here. You can also become a patron like us for news, updates and to support for a small monthly donation.

For mental health resources and support for discrimination and racism please see here and here

To learn more about yoga as a practice, you can join Sanchita Puri a certified yoga teacher from Mumbai, India on our instagram live October 14th as she teaches this ancient practice and talks about the importance of respecting yogas roots. 

It's understandable to find to comfort in yoga, its a beautiful and connective practice that allows us to heal and dive deeper within. It is much more than just stretching which some in the western world may have us believe. Finding the balance of practice whilst also being respectful is an important part of spiritual growth and something that yoga is dead expresses. They also offer Act against Appropriation classes to educate and raise awareness.