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Cultural baggage and yoga.

I heard a yoga teacher say the other day that they avoided philosophy and sanskrit in their teaching because it carried too much 'baggage'. Besides being problematic, this statement is also blind to the fact that the porous membrane through which culture moves, is two way. We consider whiteness as the default, so everything else is 'other', exotic and cultural. I don't belong to any Judeo Christian religion specifically, but I carry heavy baggage from that Western culture with me, whether consciously or unconsciously. This will inevitably come into my yoga teaching, and I think the same will apply for almost any white yoga teacher. If you want to distance yourself from cultural baggage in the context of yoga, you have to first drop your own.

Being a devout christian isn't seen as cool but spirituality is, and we can view spirituality through the lens of Eastern practices, but because of privilege, we get to then adjust that lens to suit our needs, and keep a safe distance between us and anything uncomfortable or 'too much'. But yoga is being uncomfortable, not just in a compromising pose, but finding the ability to sit in and work through difficult emotions and patterns within ourselves, our communities and the world at large. If you do yoga only for the feel good factor, then you're depriving yourself of a significant part of the practice.

I think a big reason for the distancing from the culturally deeper aspects of yoga, is a fear of getting them wrong, whether that be pronunciation of Sanskrit, or misinterpretation of the Gita. I do believe that it is OK to get it wrong, sometimes that vulnerability is the best way to really learn. Accepting yourself as fallible is, after all, such a big part of doing the yoga.

Another reason is the times we live in. In a world where everything is so instant and in-your-face, the art of study gets a bit lost. We are time poor, yet need distraction from the task at hand, hence why you see things like 'Drunk Yoga' cropping up, a perfect example of Western cultural baggage weighing heavy on yoga.

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