Yoga cultural appropriation or not?

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quizzical
Yoga cultural appropriation or not?

do you think so?

had someone say this and couldn't wrap my head around it.

Unionist

If you did more yoga, you'd be able to wrap your head around it.

 

voice of the damned

quizzical wrote:

do you think so?

had someone say this and couldn't wrap my head around it.

As a simple exercise, no, I don't think doing yoga is culturally imperialistic. Not unless we're also gonna say the same thing about any martial art originating in East Asia, for example. (I don't think I've ever heard a Korean tell me they wish foreigners wouldn't practice taekwondo.)

Now, I guess if you're practicing yoga to show everyone how "eastern" you are, when, in fact, you have no other connection to anything in India(or wherever else yoga is considered an indiginous practice), yeah that might be a little offensive.

quizzical

lol unionist.

can get a leg around head but doesn't give much insight into the rules on cultural appropriation some people seem to have.

VoD my first thought was; "is karate next and will having a colourd belt make me racist?"

but I would really like to know if this is a growing rule for some and if so why?

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

It's been a topic for a while now.

University of Ottawa yoga class resumes with new teacher

Without meditating on capitalism, 'Yoga-gate' will tie you in knots

Quote:
"is karate next and will having a colourd belt make me racist?"

It's only racist when you call them "coloured".  :0

Unionist

quizzical - on a more serious note - I don't know who invented the term and concept of "cultural appropriation", but I'd love to have a word with them sometime.

 

quizzical

tks for the link and chuckle magoo. 

got a couple of thoughts to add.

Italians expropriated tomatoes to create their red sauces from the Mayans. so if you test positive for the NA Indigenous haplo gene are you taking your culture back by cooking Italian?

if taoist guy referred to in the linked thread and Yogananda brought their philosophies to the "west" then is it cultural appropriation?

seeing as how the Hindu philosophy is a compilation  of all major religions with a few minor chucked in can it be expropriated as it's a  expropriate?

voice of the damned

While I share the skepticism of many here about "cultural appropriation", I will read into the record that I was once shopping for a wedding gift for a Canadian who was ancestrally of a particular culture(non-European), and saw something at an art shop that seemed like it was from the same culture. I mulled it over a bit, and figured it would be an inappropriate gift to give her. Even though I ended up giving her something else that was from another non-European culture.

I'm not sure if that counts as an aversion to cultural appropriation, or if it was just that, given the one-on-one context of gift giving, it would have seemed a little presumtuous on my part(like, I think she needs my help to appreciate her culture).

 

voice of the damned

From one of the articles quoted above:

One colleague told me she's not interested in establishing inner peace -- burning 300 calories is her biggest draw to yoga.

But I'm not sure if there's anything wrong with that. Religious systems can give us useful techniques for various everyday things, even for people who don't follow the tradition. Someone who cites Occam's Razor in a debate isn't commiting himself to the entire medieval Christian worldview, even though William Of Ockham probably came up with that on the way to arguing the supposed truths of Christianity.

Back to yoga, if the person in that writer's anecdote were going around claiming to be really into the whole spiritual aspect of it, when in fact they were only doing it for the physical benefits, yeah, that might be a problem. But if she acknowledges that her primary interest is the physical effects, I don't see why that's a problem.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Personally, I think cultural appropriate certainly does exist (think:  Indigenous costumes at Coachella, or dressing like a "gypsy" for the Hallowe'en party) but I don't think the practice of yoga counts as an example.

Yoga, in a sense, has a "use value" -- it's not solely a religious or cultural practice.  Same with martial arts.  Someone wearing an Indigenous headdress at a music festival isn't doing it to keep their head warm,  but many people who practice yoga do it for the exercise, to improve flexibility, to relax, etc.

Now I suppose if you practice yoga for six months, then open your own "hot yoga" studio, adorned with random clip art of Hindu Gods, and start peppering your speech with snippets of sacred Sanskrit, you've crossed a line.  But just doing yoga, on a mat, wearing LuluLemon gear?

It's ironic that one of the complaints seems to be that yoga has strayed from its orginal origins and is now about spandex and weight loss, but wouldn't it be even worse if non-Indian practitioners were buying cheap saris and making offerings to Ganesh and acting like holding the Downward Dog for two minutes brought them spiritual enlightenment?

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Now I suppose if you practice yoga for six months, then open your own "hot yoga" studio, adorned with random clip art of Hindu Gods, and start peppering your speech with snippets of sacred Sanskrit, you've crossed a line.  But just doing yoga, on a mat, wearing LuluLemon gear?

It's ironic that one of the complaints seems to be that yoga has strayed from its orginal origins and is now about spandex and weight loss, but wouldn't it be even worse if non-Indian practitioners were buying cheap saris and making offerings to Ganesh and acting like holding the Downward Dog for two minutes brought them spiritual enlightenment?

Yeah, and what if non-Indians convert to Hinduism for real? Is it still appropriation for them to practice yoga? I get the idea behind "don't mock another culture by dressing as them for Halloween", but the whole "cultural appropriation" criticism has always seemed to me to have something deeper and far more poisonous at its root: a sort of intellectual/cultural segregationism. Everybody just live in your own little assigned-at-birth bucket, and don't you dare adopt the ideas or practices of anybody who doesn't look like you.

quizzical

i think the same cco.

dressing in costumes is much different than creating a personal philosophy or food palette.

i think some attempts at segregation of philosophies, activities and food choices because they're  culturally different from "the west" is a form of bigotry.

 

Unionist

I vehemently agree with quizzical and cco.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm not looking to turn this into a foodie thread or anything, but I really hope there aren't many (if any) people sincerely trying to make the point that cooking or eating or liking food that originated in another culture is somehow anything but good.

First, of course, is that food is so intertwined with history, and moved about the world the same way people did, and so it's difficult to really say whose food is whose.  Goan (Indian) food is half Portuguese.  Okra came to the Caribbean along with slaves.  The Japanese found that even though it's a very non-Japanese thing, they love mayonnaise.  The Chinese invented noodles and Italy made them a cultural icon.  And the second-best Indian food in the world is in London, England.

Second, many of the crossovers of food between cultures have happened because of immigration.  Running a restaurant was often an avenue "into" another culture -- think Jewish delis, Greek diners, or the first Chinese restaurants.

Admittedly, we might want to at least be aware of those times when colonialism forced that crossover, but I think it's still OK to like the results.  Banh Mi is as awesome as it is because the French, even as they colonized Vietnam, at least blessed the Vietnamese with the secret to really good bread.  The U.S., when they left (in something of a hurry) left behind cases and cases of sweetened condensed milk, and thereby blessed the Vietnamese with the secret to sickly-sweet coffee.  But in any case, it's a legitimate part of Vietnamese food culture now.

Third, food and the recipes for it are just too naturally fluid to ever pin down.  Sure, Boeuf Bourguignon is French, and Pad Thai is Thai, but if I borrow a bit of flavour profile from both, use duck and fettucine in place of beef and rice noodles, and throw in some Chinese five spice and a little Worcestershire sauce, what's the real pedigree of that inedible monstrosity?

Whatever your opinion of copyright laws, I think we can all agree that it was a good thing when it was decided that recipes would be exempt from them.  Food just moves freely, and we don't need any fences around it.

quizzical

ha! my mom just taught herself how to make Pad Thai a couple weeks back from just tasting it once. it's good too. 

back on topic a bit is the reality yoga is a big philosophy not just Hatha.

also think when philosophies are shared with those who were unknown to it and those who decide to follow the tenets are not expropriation.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture
Aristotleded24
quizzical

nope. but try telling the speaking in tongues evangelicals it isn't devil worship.

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Does this count?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0l4FlZT-A

Love it! Thanks, krop.

If JC could see this, he'd climb up on that cross and thwack in his own spikes.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

quizzical wrote:

nope. but try telling the speaking in tongues evangelicals it isn't devil worship.

This is why my cousins are estranged from each other. His ever so holy wife can't be in contact with his sister and family because she runs a business that includes 4 or 5 yoga studios. Wifey was willing to overlook them being Jewish, but the yoga was the final straw.

Religious people are weird.

quizzical

Timebandit wrote:
 

quizzical wrote:

nope. but try telling the speaking in tongues evangelicals it isn't devil worship.

This is why my cousins are estranged from each other. His ever so holy wife can't be in contact with his sister and family because she runs a business that includes 4 or 5 yoga studios. Wifey was willing to overlook them being Jewish, but the yoga was the final straw.

Religious people are weird.

she is probably a Zionist Christian. Evangelicals of the worst type.

but we should take heart because they're busy splintering along tolerance lines.

guess some just can't go for the ends justify the means doctrine.

JKR

I think the word "yoga" we use in the West is more accurately called "asanas" in Sanskrit. Within Hinduism, Asanas are just a tiny part of yoga.

lagatta4

My only problem with Western yoga is how commodified and fetishised it is.