Today’s award goes to the authors of a ridiculous article about yoga.
A professor of religious studies at Michigan State University recently argued that white people who practice yoga are guilty of enjoying a “system of power, privilege, and oppression.”
To truly honor yoga, writes Michigan State University professor Shreena Gandhi, white Americans should understand its history, acknowledge the cultural appropriation they engage in, and possibly reduce the cost of yoga classes for poor people, a group that often includes people of color and “recent immigrants, such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs.”
Gandhi, in an article she recently co-authored, argued yoga as it’s practiced in America today is an extension of white supremacy and the “yoga industrial complex.”
“Yoga became — and remains — a practice which allows western practitioners to experience the idea of another culture while focusing on the self,” wrote Gandhi and co-author Lillie Wolff, a self-described “antiracist white Jewish organizer, facilitator and healer” who is passionate about “decolonizing” yoga.
“The explosion of yoga studios, yoga videos, apps, yoga pants, and other yoga swag over the last two decades is evidence of this. Yoga contributes to our economic system, but never forget this system is one built upon exploitation and commodification of labor, often the labor of black people and people of the global south,” the two argued in their piece, titled “Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation.”
“… We must ask, in what ways are we complicit in a system that harms People of Color, queer and trans people, poor people, people with disabilities, and immigrants? Despite our best values and intentions as individuals, our actions (and inaction) are inherently connected with a system of power, privilege, and oppression.”
The authors write that the many white people who practice yoga should continue to enjoy it, but also “look outside” themselves and “understand how the history of yoga practice in the United States is intimately linked to some of the larger forces of white supremacy.”
There’s more at the link.
Wow. There’s so much bull**** in that excerpt that one hardly knows where to begin analyzing it. Just for a start, yoga comes from ancient India, but spread through three major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Which of them (if any) “culturally appropriated” it from the other(s)? Who says this practice “rightfully belongs” to Indian women? How about cooking rice? Indian women do that, too. Does that mean it’s an Indian cultural thing? Chinese women might have something to say about that . . . As for “queer and trans” people, how the heck did they get into this debate? And just what the hell is the “yoga industrial complex”? One has visions of General Motors making cars where the exhaust plays the “jewel in the lotus” theme. Yoga, yes; industrial, yes. Brilliant! In that context, maybe “trans” means “transmission”?
The authors of that article can kiss my non-yoga-practicing, non-supremacist, fundamental jujube. That’s the only response I can think of that adequately reflects my disgust.