The Battle Over Yoga in Schools Sparks Concerns About Appropriation

Legislation, Appropriation, and the Battle Over Yoga in Schools

In addition to un-cancelling yoga, Alabama will appropriate it and whitewash it simultaneously. “Did you hear about how Alabama is going to un-cancel yoga but also appropriate it and whitewash it simultaneously?” Susanna Barkataki shared a photo on her Instagram account. According to news reports, the Alabama legislature had enacted legislation that would enable yoga to be taught in schools. The prominent yoga supporter and author ofEmbracing Yoga’s Roots was responding to the news reports. As a result of this decision, a prohibition on the procedure that had been in effect for 28 years would be overturned.

Students will be able to participate in asana and pranayama, but they will not be able to refer to it as such.

There will be no chanting, mantras, mudras, or mandalas used during the ceremony.

These individuals are afraid that imposing these constraints on how yoga should be done would dilute the practice’s Indian cultural roots.

Is yoga a religion?

Even those who are opposed to the law acknowledge that yoga is inextricably linked to its South Asian origins. According to Eric Johnston, a lawyer who represents the church-based Alabama Citizens Action Program, which is opposed to the Alabama measure, yoga is “a very essential aspect of the Hindu faith,” according to the New York Times. It is precisely because of this that he believes it should not be taught in schools. According to Johnson’s Christian constituency, yoga is a dangerous stepping stone.

He stated that “they will quickly locate information on the spiritual components of it and examine it.” As a result, if they take a closer look, they may conclude that it is something in which they should become involved.

Specifically stated in the legislation is that the practice is limited to “poses, exercises, and stretching methods” that are taught in English.

However, yoga proponents like as Barkataki are dissatisfied with the law because they feel it strips yoga of both its historical roots and the other aspects of the practice that might be useful to children.

The dispute revolves on how we define yoga and where it falls on a scale ranging from just stretching to attaining samadhi (enlightenment). Yoga and mindfulness techniques, according to research, can help youngsters better control their emotions. Image courtesy of monkeybusinessimages/iStock

Yoga improves kids’ moods

‘This is something that schools require,’ says Marsha Banks-Harold, an Alexandria, Virginia-based yoga therapist and owner of PIES Fitness Yoga Studio. After teaching yoga to children, including those with special needs, she claims to have seen behavior alter, bullying stop, and grades improve as a result of the practice. “By denying your children access to yoga, you are denying them access to treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, executive functioning problem, and stress management,” she explains.

  1. Schools in Denver, Baltimore, and the Bronx, for example, provide pupils with spaces where they may breathe, meditate, or practice asana as part of their curriculum.
  2. In recent years, more evidence has emerged to support the use of yoga as a prescription to assist children in regulating their emotions and moods.
  3. Another research, which was featured in EducationWeek, found that providing kids with access to yoga and mindfulness techniques resulted in a substantial decrease in referrals to the principal’s office.
  4. Banks-own Harold’s children have individual education programs (IEPs) that include access to a quiet space where they can rest and meditate in order to help them cope with the multiple traumas they experienced before coming into her life.
  5. She attributes beneficial changes in their conduct and grades to the practice of yoga at home and at school, according to her.

Kids who do yoga have better grades

According to Crystal McCreary, a yoga, mindfulness, and health educator who teaches in K-12 schools in New York City, academic progress is a natural outcome of asana practice. She believes that physical postures might assist children in shedding stress and regulating their social and emotional reactions. It is much easier for youngsters to reach the reasoning area of their brains when they are not distracted by their emotions. When it comes to the classroom, “that’s exactly what instructors are attempting to do all day long: encourage students to reach the prefrontal cortex,” she explains.

The reason for this is because learning takes place in the context of creativity, and your ability to think critically takes place in the context of learning.

Does yoga in schools blur the line between church and state?

Yogic education in schools has been a topic of discussion for quite some time. A Georgia vice principal filed a lawsuit against her school system, claiming that she was relocated as a result of Christian parents’ opposition to her introducing yoga into the classroom. In 2013, parents in a San Diego school district filed a lawsuit to keep yoga out of their children’s classrooms on the grounds that it had religious connotations. As a result, when lawmakers in Alabama attempted to lift the ban a year ago, ALCAP Executive Director Joe Godfrey said, “What you’re doing is blatantly teaching a religious exercise that would violate the Establishment Clause,” which ensures that church and state are kept separate under the Constitution.

As Anusha Wijeyakumar, a meditation and health advocate and advisory board member for Yoga Ed, an organization that provides yoga sessions in schools and colleges as well as yoga teacher training, points out, this is hypocrisy and Hindu-phobia at its finest.

It is a function of our political system.

According to her, “it exists throughout every single institution in our nation.” “To be quite honest, the public school system in the United States has no objections to having Christianity as part of its curriculum; we’re simply not calling it that.” Yoga in schools proponents argue that parents and caregivers need to be better informed on the benefits of yoga.

“First and foremost, there is no such thing as Hinduism.” It is not a form of anarchism.

And it isn’t dogmatic in any way.

“It is only one of many options,” Wijeyakumar explains.

Can Christians do yoga?

Rao, who claims that she spent her whole schooling career in Catholic convent schools in India, asserts that doing yoga or speaking in Sanskrit does not automatically imply that you are a non-Christian. “There have been Christians who have done yoga in India for hundreds of years,” says the author. According to Michelle Thielen, there are plenty of devoted Christians who practice yoga in the United States as well. She’s one of them, in fact. YogaFaith, one of numerous Christian yoga groups, was formed by her to provide Bible-based practice and teacher training opportunities.

  1. “I’m like, ‘Christians, why aren’t you reading your Bible?'” she says.
  2. She claims that yoga practices are harmless if they are used to worship in accordance with one’s own religious views.
  3. “They’re taking a very dogmatic approach steeped in evangelical Christianity, rooted in white supremacy,” says Wijeyakumar, referring to the restriction placed on the sections of yoga that may be taught in schools.
  4. Yoga and Hinduism are not interchangeable, for this reason.
  5. The practice of yoga constitutes a whole philosophical system and ethical worldview, according to Barkataki.

In this regard, it is no different from the teachings of Plato or Aristotle—and, as a result, she believes, should be considered as such. According to yoga instructors, yoga lessons should be presented in a way that is age-appropriate for the students. Image courtesy of skynesher/iStock

Yoga is more than bending and stretching

According to yoga instructors, the key to incorporating yoga into an educational context is to maintain it secular, make it age appropriate, and match it with curricular goals that do not whitewash the practice. “Surely, schools aren’t going to sit down and go through the Bhagavad Gita, are they?” Let’s be honest about this. According to Wijeyakumar, “this is not even happening in yoga studios.” “I do believe, however, that teachers should provide students with an understanding of where the practice originated.

  • We will not be required to offer a history of colonialism or the history of India in this session.
  • What about all the references to Hindu gods and goddesses?
  • According to Rao, “that’s mythology.” “Although the names are deity names, they are not instructing you to perform that asana in Sanskrit in order to worship that god,” says the author.
  • There is one thing that many yoga instructors agree on: if you reduce yoga to merely stretching and breathing, you are not doing yoga at all.

In Barkataki’s opinion, “honoring yoga’s roots” goes “far beyond simply the physical”: “it goes beyond stretching, beyond working out the body, and even beyond stress relief.” Aspiring yoga teachers suggest that yoga in schools should combine other limbs of yoga, such as yamas and niyamas, which may be utilized to encourage excellent social behaviors, along with meditation, which has been shown to assist with emotional regulation.

“I teach yoga in a secular setting,” says McCreary, who is also the creator of The Little Yogi Deck, a deck of cards that describes easy yoga practices that may be used to assist children deal with challenging emotions.

I am unwavering in my support for them in their quest to discover their most true selves and to respect the most authentic truths held by others.

What happens next?

In order for the Alabama bill to become law, it must receive enough votes in the state Senate. Yoga experts say that if the ban is lifted and yoga can be taught—in whatever form it takes—it is critical that teachers be well-trained in order to provide it in a way that is both safe and age appropriate for students. According to McCreary, “I’m very deliberate about the yoga and mindfulness pedagogy that I employ in order to teach those skills.” The question I’m constantly asking myself is, “What is the purpose of this lesson?” “Can you tell me about a specific tool from the yoga and mindfulness traditions that will help me?” It will be critical to avoid egregious mistakes such as the one made by a Delaware teacher who used the plow and boat pose to discuss slavery during Black History Month, which was a blatant misuse of the practice.

  • “We have to make sure that yoga teachers aren’t giving students incorrect information or implying that students who don’t use Sanskrit or don’t do certain things will not benefit from the practice,” Banks-Harold says.
  • McCreary believes that parents should have a variety of options.
  • As an alternative to removing yoga from the school, they provided families with the option of choosing not to participate in the sessions.
  • “I’m a mother of four children.” The responsibility of parents is to exercise caution when it comes to what is going on in their child’s school.
  • “Because it can.”
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Why Schools Are Banning Yoga

Some sections of the United States are seeing an increase in the likelihood that kids will be doing downward-facing dog in class rather than playing dodgeball in gym class or playing Heads-up, Seven-up as a break between lectures. Yoga-based lesson plans, teacher training courses, and “mindful” music playlists for schools are all readily available on the internet, and programs for trained yoga teachers who wish to bring their practice to their students’ schools have also risen in popularity in recent years.

  1. Butzer and her co-authors came to the conclusion that school-based yoga programs are “appropriate and possible to put in place.” The experts also anticipated that the popularity of such applications will increase in the future.
  2. After implementing a yoga program at one of its primary schools in Cobb County, Georgia, in 2016, the school became the focus of considerable criticism.
  3. A few years earlier, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against a San Diego County school system, claiming that the district’s yoga program promoted Eastern faiths and disadvantaged students who chose not to participate.
  4. A Hindu activist was alerted to a recirculating document mentioning yoga as one of the activities outlawed in “gym class” last month, which drew the attention of the Alabama Board of Education, which had already banned the practice for decades.
  5. For the most part, proponents of mindfulness-based treatments such as yoga for children reference research that demonstrate the advantages of such therapies for their development.
  6. Other research suggests that “mindful movement,” such as yoga, might help children improve their executive functions—skills such as working memory, attentional control, and cognitive flexibility—in a positive way.
  7. For one thing, decades of studies have demonstrated that it is difficult for a youngster who has not learned how to cope with stress to perform well in school.

Amy Wax, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who specializes in social-welfare policy, condemned certain current research on yoga and mindfulness in a 2016 Atlantic piece as being of “poor quality and dubious rigor.” Wax is a leading expert on yoga and mindfulness.

And other parents claim that the potential advantages of yoga aren’t significant enough to warrant the expense at a time when public schools are already struggling to meet their financial obligations.

Yoga comprises a wide range of methods and practices, some of which are more spiritual in nature than others.

Religious influences may be found in things as simple as “om” chants, positions with Sanskrit names, and, as the recent debate in Georgia has demonstrated, communal “namaste” welcomes.

“There will be no praying in schools.

But the principal, who eventually apologized and revised the yoga curriculum, argued that much of the criticism stemmed from incorrect assumptions about the program—for example, one parent worried that the school was promoting a “Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation.” In reality, school-based yoga is often geared toward either physical activity or relaxation and mindfulness exercises and meditation.

Some schools include it into their curriculum through in-classroom courses in which students do a few activities at their desks during brief breaks throughout the day.

The psychiatrist, therapist, and certified yoga instructor Marlynn Wei, who has written extensively about yoga’s educational applications, agrees that “many original forms of yoga are performed in a religious or spiritual sense.” Nonetheless, religion-infused yoga frequently seeks to achieve the same goals as its secular counterpart: For example, they both highlight the importance of being in the present moment.

  • Wei believes that by eliminating yoga’s more superficial features (such as Sanskrit words and symbols), it is still possible to practice mindfulness and enjoy yoga for its advantages that go beyond physical exercise.
  • Although these programs have gained widespread acceptance in the United States, their implementation has been inconsistent across the country, with yoga in schools being significantly more frequent in certain locations than others.
  • Many of the programs are based in places that are recognized for their New Age–y enclaves, such as Colorado and the Northwest United States.
  • Schools in the United States are instilling in students the belief that morality is unimportant.

Furthermore, much of the research on school-based yoga focuses on its benefits for “urban youth,” a large percentage of whom deal with trauma such as poverty, community violence, and exposure to drug abuse, all of which have a negative impact on their ability to manage stress and cope with life’s challenges.

It’s easy to take these things for granted in areas such as the West Coast and the Mid-Atlantic.

The same poll discovered that many people who had never tried yoga before believed it was just for young ladies or those who were already flexible, athletic, or spiritual in their outlook on the practice.

The fact that everyone has his or her own way of thinking about yoga is perhaps the most significant challenge that school-based yoga must overcome.

If you consider the differences between religious and secular perspectives, as well as between exercise and meditation, and exclusionary and inclusive perspectives, it’s no surprise that two individuals may observe the same youngster executing a warrior posture through very different glasses.

A Letter To All White Yoga Teachers

Greetings, White Yoga Teacher! Yoga may be a favorite activity of yours. Perhaps yoga has even saved your life or helped you to mend your spirit. Consider attending a yoga session to leave feeling calm while still dealing with the daily stresses that you have in your life. Perhaps, as a yoga teacher or practitioner, you aspire to provide a secure or comfortable place (in person or online) for all of your students and to encourage a relaxing environment for all of your students. All of this is genuine, insightful, and powerful.

  • And everything about Yoga appears to be so serene and strong.
  • However, just because something is advantageous to you does not imply that it is yours to exploit or claim as your own.
  • Well, in actuality, this objective of providing an INCLUSIVE and HONORING atmosphere for all students, as well as honoring the foundations of yoga itself, does not always succeed.
  • I just want to pass this information forward to others.” Alternately, “”I don’t discriminate, and I believe I do my best to provide a safe atmosphere for my pupils,” says the teacher.
  • They’re something I’ve heard a lot.
  • And just because you have no intention of discriminating does not imply that prejudice is not taking place.
  • Despite the fact that yoga has been performed for thousands of years by people of color, particularly from the Indian subcontinent and Africa, if you look around at any marketing for yoga courses, practices, or clothes, you’ll see that skinny, white, cisgender women are the majority.

The Indian origins of the practice of yoga have been ruthlessly removed from historical memory.

Indians who practiced yoga were reprimanded, mocked, and even imprisoned during the British colonialism of the country.

My dear yoga practitioner or instructor – please bear with me.

Are you prepared to stand up for our pain and suffering if you want our practices that promote peace and power?

Or will you continue to “love and light” us into oblivion as you have in the past?

Yoga has been so westernized that if you take a quick look around, even at stock photographs of yoga, you’ll most certainly see predominantly white people in spandex participating in a yoga position, which isn’t surprising.

“Well, I’m sorry for your troubles, but how does this contribute to a terrible learning environment for my students?” you might wonder.

It’s not just in publications or on websites or in ancient history that this is the case.

A great deal of cultural appropriation has taken place in recent years that disadvantaged groups such as BIPOCs and persons of South Asian, Desi, or Indian culture may feel uncomfortable entering into a classroom full of mostly white people who are taking our culture and selling it to us.

There will be no chants, mudras, or traditional music.

Let’s be honest about this.

You are effectively stealing and exploiting someone else’s property for your own benefit if you just take the portions that work for you and leave the parts that don’t function.

I’ve been referred to as “dot-head” while leaving a traditional puja, or ritual, been threatened with physical assault because of thebindi I wear, and battled in the streets while being referred to as a “filthy Indian.” Would you like to come along with me then?

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Would you join in the mockery with them, or would you stand with me, or would you simply walk away?

What do you do when you see someone being profiled based on their race?

Can you image how you would feel if someone was glamorizing, exotifying, sterilizing, and diminishing your culture and customs, and you were forced to spend time in those environments?

Yoga is more than simply a stress-relieving activity or a go-to, feel-good moment for those of us who are fortunate enough to have yoga as part of our culture.

Even said, it is not without its intricacies, which are also available to be understood and explored.

Yoga and wellness should be available to everyone, regardless of their financial situation, physical appearance, or race. It should be offered to anybody who wants it, and teachers must discover methods to fully appreciate the practice’s historical foundations.

  • Learn about the history of yoga on a consistent basis (here’s a link to a list of resources to get you started on your quest for knowledge)
  • To the more that we educate ourselves about our traditions and become conscious about their origins, the greater appreciation and respect that we may have for them will grow as a result.
  • Educate, support, and empower teachers of Indian and South Asian ancestry as well as other BIPOC and marginalized educators. If they wish to share their knowledge, provide room for them in order to counteract widespread erasure. Not in a patronizing manner, but with love and sincerity. via the development of interpersonal interactions
  • Do not attempt to rebrand yoga’s ancient traditions. Maintain a strict adherence to sacred text, terminology, and, most importantly, the reality of yoga. Students should be made aware of the fact that this is more than simply a physical workout, but also a holy and ancient healing practice for the mind and spirit.
  • Keep your coworkers in check if you believe they are culturally appropriating in a polite and professional manner. It’s possible that they aren’t even aware that they are doing so. In the process of doing so, you may start a helpful discourse about the history of yoga, which will begin to enlighten them in ways that will allow them to recognize their own appropriation of the practice in the future. Sharing information like this blog on cultural appreciation vs. appropriateness or this list of 60+ Alternatives to Saying Namaste are good options.

Continue to practice, and continue to honor yoursvadhyaya (self inquiry). If you want to examine yourself and make sure you are honoring and establishing equality, it might require a lot of research. It is not necessary to be flawless, but it is necessary to make an effort. At the end of the day, we are all human, and with being human comes a slew of dangers and faults that we will undoubtedly encounter. However, it is critical to keep oneself informed and to advocate for continued education in order to maintain the sacredness of yoga and its practitioners.

It is possible that our ability to progress toward genuine union, as well as the future of yoga, will be dependent on it.

“If you’ve ever wished to practice or teach yoga from a point of awareness and purpose, this book will provide you with a set of far more profound and important skills.

“I strongly advise all honest students and instructors to read this book as it is an essential step on the path of awakening.” Kino MacGregor, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Yogi Assignment “In my capacity as a Black woman Yoga Teacher, I believe Susanna Barkataki’s work is crucial to understanding how we may share yoga with people all around the world.

We have an opportunity to turn the tide, and Susanna Barataki is particularly prepared to serve as our leader in this endeavor.” Author Donna Farhi, author of the New York Times best-selling book Yoga, Mind, Body and Spirit: A Return to Wholeness, says, “Embrace Yoga’s Roots is an essential addition to any yoga practitioner’s library.” —Yoga Journal The Underbelly Yoga Center was founded by Jessica Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga and founder of The Underbelly Yoga Center.

Yoga class banned over ‘cultural appropriation’ in Canada – Times of India

A free weekly yoga session at a Canadian university has been cancelled after faculty members alleged that the ancient Indian meditation practice was a kind of “cultural appropriation.” The students’ federation at Ottawa University, which is the varsity’s independent student body, took the decision to cancel the sessions. TORONTO: A free weekly yoga session at a Canadian university has been cancelled after university officials alleged that the ancient Indian meditation practice constituted a kind of “cultural appropriation.” The decision to suspend classes was taken by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, which is an autonomous student organization within the university.

  1. “In this activity, there are questions of cultural significance that must be addressed.
  2. The email goes on to explain that while many of those cultures are indigenous to the United States, “Because of colonialism and western supremacy, indigenous peoples have been subjected to subjugation, cultural genocide, and diasporas.
  3. Scharf said that the complaint that resulted in the cancellation of the presentation came from a “social justice warrior” with “fainting heart ideals” who was looking for a cause to be celebrated.
  4. Despite the fact that she has not received a response from the university, Sharaf expressed her confidence that the school will assist her.

When you consider how traditionally non-controversial yoga has been, it’s a marvel that no one is offended by kickboxing or spin class, which are becoming increasingly popular “Sharaf went on to say more. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail

U of O students’ decision to cancel yoga class sparks Internet backlash

A mind-bending act of political correctness by student leaders at the University of Ottawa has provoked an international outcry on social media, according to the university. Although this advertisement has not yet been loaded, your article continues below it. Because student leaders were concerned that the practice of yoga was not sufficiently respectful to yoga’s cultural roots, the university has suspended free yoga lessons until further notice. Approximately 60 students in yoga teacher Jennifer Scharf’s weekly class were unable to participate in the program as a result of the decision made earlier this autumn.

  1. As a last resort, Scharf proposed rebranding the program as a “mindful stretching” class in order to disassociate it from any potential criticism regarding cultural appropriation.
  2. When New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo retweeted the story to his army of followers, who included Canadian-born Conservative columnist David Frum, the tale became an international talking topic.
  3. As Frum pointed out on Twitter, “the way Indians hijacked European calisthenics to create contemporary yoga” was “very inappropriate.” Frum was referring to a report published by the website Yoga Journal that looked at western influences on the yoga tradition.
  4. Doug Ritter, writing from Las Vegas, pointed out that Ottawa is a name that has been taken from indigenous culture: “To trade” is derived from the Algonquin word adàwe, which means “to do business.” Although this advertisement has not yet been loaded, your article continues below it.
  5. “Stopping yoga sessions at universities because of cultural appropriation concerns appears to be a terrific strategy to get conservatives interested in yoga,” he said.
  6. Among others who commented on the incident was Alesha Brandt, who wrote: “Someone got their yoga pants tangled up in a knot.
  7. Although this advertisement has not yet been loaded, your article continues below it.
  8. On the website of the Centre for Students with Disabilities, there is a video that continues to promote the yoga service, which has been halted due to a continuing controversy about the “cultural difficulties” that surround the practice.
  9. It demonstrates the complexities of the center’s aim to “fight all kinds of oppression,” as stated on its website.

We are also attempting to dismantle other forms of oppression, including, but not limited to, heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, HIV-phobia, sex negativity, fatphobia, femme-phobia, misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, sexism, and linguistic discrimination.

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Three cheers for cultural appropriation – The Boston Globe

During the last seven years, the University of Ottawa’s Center for Students with Disabilities has sponsored free on-campus yoga courses, which have been more popular. The programs are taught by a professional yoga instructor from the city’s Rama Lotus Yoga Centre. Free yoga for special-needs pupils may appear benign and kind to those of us who are logical. It didn’t matter to the political correctness vigilantes, who were successful in getting the university’s student council to stop the classes because they were considered an abhorrent form of “cultural appropriation.” As reported by the Ottawa Sun, the Disabilities Center publicly admitted to their crime against humanity in a public declaration.

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Society where yoga began “has endured persecution, cultural genocide, and diasporas as a result of colonialism and Western domination; we must keep this in mind when practicing yoga as well as how we express ourselves.” Nothing is immune from the wrath of the left’s High Church of Perpetual Dudgeon’s outrage machine, according to its adherents.

  1. There are harpies of cultural correctness everywhere these days, stoking controversy by misappropriating someone else’s intellectual property without their permission.
  2. They want Selena Gomez to apologise for not wearing a bindi on her wedding day.
  3. They criticize homosexual white guys for imitating the actions or attitudes of black women.
  4. The behavior of cultural-sensitivity fanatics, on the other hand, is characteristic of those who are quick to criticize when people raised in one culture adopt features of another culture.
  5. Cultural appropriators should not be blamed for their actions.
  6. Every kind of culture has been “appropriated.” Everyone’s communities, tribes, faiths, and ethnicities have been impacted by others at some point in their history.
  7. It goes without saying that it is never acceptable to intentionally cause offense for the sake of being offensive.

Ruth Tam highlighted in a recent article in The Washington Post “the stigma connected with immigrant meals,” such as the Cantonese dishes she grew up eating in her parents’ Chicago home, as “immigrant foods.” After being told by a student that her house smelled like “Chinese grossness,” she recalled her embarrassment at the time.

  1. Tam, on the other hand, is not happy about the increasing popularity of dishes she has always like.
  2. “American chefs.
  3. Human cultures are not like vacuum-sealed beakers from which no particle may be permitted to escape, as is the case with bacteria.
  4. Not just because imitation may be the purest form of flattery, but also because “culture appropriation” is the means by which we advance in society.
  5. We are enhanced by their contributions, deepened by their insights, and broadened by the disciplines that they represent.

Yoga, like other cultures, belongs to everyone, and stating this is not a crime against humanity. To contact Jeff Jacoby, send an email to [email protected] Jeff Jacoby may be found on Twitter at @jeff jacoby.

Alabama lifts ban on yoga in schools. Sort of.

— The Royal National Society (RNS) Teaching any meditation practices or yoga in Alabama schools has been illegal since 1993, according to a state law passed in response to conservative resistance to exposing Alabama’s youngsters to the Hindu roots of yoga. The state legislature’s lower house recently passed a bill that might allow yoga to be taught in the state’s schools. In a way, yes. Asana — the physical practice of yoga — will be permitted under the new legislation, which must still be approved by the Alabama Senate.

Students will be given the option to opt out of the activity.

But I’m torn between the two options.

All of my reservations, however, are held together by a couple more hands: the continued disassociation of yoga from its Hindu origins, the disconnection of yoga postures themselves from the larger context of yoga as a philosophy and spiritual practice, as well as what appears to be genuine ignorance of and bias toward Sanskrit as a language, among other things.

On the one hand, there is the issue of promoting religion in public schools, which is forbidden under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

A position on yoga in public schools developed in 2013 in response to a highly publicized lawsuit in Encinitas, California, asserts that yoga “is a spiritual discipline rooted in Hindu philosophy,” but that it is available to anyone without “coercion, pressure, or the requirement to change one’s religion.” Yoga classes are becoming more common in schools around the United States.

  1. Studies have also indicated that for youngsters, the practice of asana may serve to lessen Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and enhance general conduct and grades.
  2. You can mention the Hindu origins of yoga but only provide instruction in its physical components.
  3. But, by banning the use of Sanskrit, Alabama goes beyond the requirements of the First Amendment.
  4. Alabama has fallen off the slackline, avoiding constitutional entanglements but falling squarely into the mouth of cultural appropriation.
  5. The benefits for students using the traditional names of asana, in terms of cultural sensitivity and awareness, far outweigh any issues of schools promoting religion.

While the word alludes to the Divine sameness and connection between individuals, in everyday practice these are no more religious than a contemporary Spanish or French speaker wishing a friend “Adios” or “Adieu.” RELATED: Yoga’s ‘father in the West’ still defining our spirituality and celebrity 100 years later Teaching school kids about Hinduism and yoga does not threaten anyone’s faith and may even increase the benefits of yoga by teaching them to appreciate another culture, rather than appropriating it without acknowledgement.

(Mat McDermott is senior director of communications at the Hindu American Foundation, where he produces the podcast “That’s So Hindu.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

Debating Matters – Topic Guide – Cultural appropriationTopic Guide – Cultural appropriation

This section presents a concise review of the most important points in the debate, placing them in the context of previous talks and the contrasting perspectives that have been taken into consideration. Is it better to borrow from or appropriate from other cultures? For many critics, the topic of where to draw the line between valid cultural borrowing and unlawful appropriation continues to be a source of contention. Multiple interpretations appear to be possible for certain cases of appropriated property.

After all, if one person’s “appropriation” is another person’s “recognition,” how are we supposed to apply the idea in public decision-making?

The term “cultural appropriation” is oversimplified, according to writers such as Nick Cohen, since it presents cultures as distinct, homogeneous entities rather than as part of a complex history of ongoing cultural exchange and development.

To the contrary, appropriation is an essential first step in safeguarding marginalized cultural identities in our increasingly linked, globalized, and multicultural communities.

According to Yen-Rong, in response to Shriver’s statement, ‘it’s easy to argue that “Asian isn’t an identity” when you haven’t experienced what it’s like to have to deal with prejudice on a daily basis.’ According to Jawun Urujaren, the notion of cultural appropriation as mutually beneficial obscures power differentials that favor one party or the other in determining the final outcome.

  1. Cultural appropriation is the pinnacle of privileged behavior, defined as “the use of another’s cultural symbols to meet a personal urge for self-expression.” What role does the battle against cultural appropriation have in bringing political conflict into the ordinary lives of people?
  2. Politics of identity Cultural appropriation, according to its detractors, represents historical injustices and the resulting legacy of entrenched inequality.
  3. In unequal societies, dominant cultural groups take use of their superior standing to exploit and profit from the cultures of marginalized groups.
  4. In the words of Yasmin Abdel-Magied, ‘in urging that the right to identify be given up, Shriver epitomised the type of mindset that contributed to the normalisation of imperialist domination.
  5. More significantly, the word can serve as a diversionary tactic from more serious offenses such as intellectual property infringement.
  6. It has been reported that students have demonstrated against “inappropriately cooked” ethnic meals, as well as against “blackface” and the plunder of cultural objects by colonial powers.
  7. However, even assuming that cultural appropriation is recognized as a problem, isn’t it a diversion from more pressing concerns in the “real world” such as poverty, war, and the environment?

Furthermore, it has been accused of causing harm to people of marginalized cultures by reminding them on a constant basis of their subaltern status Campaigning against cultural appropriation may therefore be considered an effective method of drawing public attention to underlying societal problems.

Telling other people’s stories: Who has control over their culture?

She was right.

As a result, there may emerge a cultural environment that is poor and even less representative, in which, for example, established white authors may be encouraged not to write about black people.

On the other hand, some who oppose the use of the freedoms of speech and expression argue that such justifications are hollow when these liberties are unequally dispersed among different cultural groups.

Consequently, according to Kat Blaque, cultural appropriation grants individuals of a dominant culture the ability to experiment with and play with cultural symbols, a privilege that is denied to the cultures whose symbols are appropriated in this manner.

Furthermore, white writers are more likely than marginalized subjects to find success writing about their own cultures than marginalized subjects are to find success writing about their own cultures.

‘This is especially true if you expect to make money from it.’ Isn’t it true that appropriation, no matter how well-intentioned, denies marginalized people the ability to express their own cultures? Is there a limit to the number of diverse voices that may be heard in a crowded marketplace?

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