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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Yoga and Colonization – Wanderlust


To be colonized is to develop into a stranger in your personal land and tradition.

As an Indian lady, that is usually the sensation I get in lots of Westernized yoga areas at the moment. I’ve been ignored, kicked out and uninvited to show in yoga festivals and areas, been regarded up and down in yoga courses as if I didn’t belong, had lecturers dismiss me besides to ask me the right way to pronounce Sanskrit phrases, and once I raised issues about how a follow didn’t sit properly with me or people in my household, been fully ignored and even mocked. I’ve grieved the lack of the knowledge of my ancestors robbed from us by colonization, and as soon as once more taken and lowered to suggestions for getting a greater “yoga [insert sexualized body part].”

Susana4I’ve shed tears of frustration at so many people being shut out by yoga establishments within the West. I’ve written letters, known as, spoken up, campaigned and cried, listened and laughed for over 20 years. This brings me right here. There may be a lot work to do. I’ve desired for thus lengthy to have the deep follow I do know and love from my household and lecturers within the custom be shared far and extensive. I need nothing greater than this follow that we cherish to be honored and revered, taught in its fullness for us and for future generations. 

And I’m nonetheless right here.

The trauma of colonization can occur throughout colonization and post-colonization because the impacts of the erasure of tradition, norms, behaviors and practices are intersectional and cumulative over time. Institutional and systemic colonial violence, which seeks to manage,

deny and exploit, can result in signs comparable to cultural dyssynchrony (feeling misplaced inside one’s tradition), disorientation and feeling remoted, not at residence in a single’s atmosphere, out of sync with tradition, time and place, a scarcity of goal, and private internalized oppression. These impacted exhibit signs not in contrast to PTSD—hypervigilance, despair and private and social nervousness.

This will present up within the our bodies of BIPOC people feeling disoriented, disconnected, having a way of tightness and stress within the stomach and chest, rigidity complications and well being issues comparable to elevated coronary heart price, hypertension and different types of bodily illness. It will probably present up mentally and emotionally via nervousness, despair, stress and different types of psychological and emotional trauma. 

This trauma impacts the thoughts, physique and spirit, so yoga could be an efficient instrument for therapeutic.

Entitlement to choose and select and to take what we wish from the yogic system as a result of it advantages us with out regard for these we’re impacting is named “colonial supremacy.” 

We may even see colonial trauma and colonial supremacy forces at play in yoga areas at the moment within the following methods:

  • Traits of many/most Western yoga areas: Chilly, quiet, clear, naked
  • Yoga tradition could be crammed with competitors and specialization
  • Skilled standing—a consolidation of information and energy
  • Interactions are transactional and inflexible

open bookThis contrasts with conventional yoga that I noticed in my travels and follow in North, Central and South India, in addition to in my follow inside Indian yogic communities within the diaspora. As a substitute of chilly, quiet and naked areas comparable to within the West, in conventional yoga teachings usually occur in group and collectivized areas. It’s fairly frequent for yogis to be seen in connection and dialog in group. For instance, as an alternative of a concentrate on competitors and individualism, conventional yoga encourages humility, respect for lecturers and traditions and a scarcity of concentrate on the self. As a substitute of merely specializing in skilled standing, there’s an understanding that information resides within the Vedas, the sacred texts, in addition to many divine and impressed lecturers. Historically, interactions aren’t transactional however slightly embedded in relationship.

Colonial trauma leads fashionable yogis within the West to perpetuate dehumanization.

Simply as early colonialism sought to divide and separate, management, deny and exploit. The antidote is connection and unification, uplifting and belonging to at least one one other. Typically the community-care fashions which might be best at the moment for coping with trauma are just like the collectivized, non-hierarchical group and collective dwelling areas of many indigenous ancestors.

A part of the work of reclaiming the roots of yoga resides and practising yoga as a manner of being, a philosophy and lifestyle. We invite this in by asking: Do my decisions result in extra separation or extra unity? Indigenous and conventional practices of mutuality will help to rebuild cultural rhythms. These embody storytelling; listening to the tales of previous trials and challenges builds resilience. Partaking in ritual and rites of passage. Practising non-attachment—swaraj—connecting to our karma and taking private duty whereas working towards our dharma or goal. Opening to know a extra cyclical nature of time and therapeutic. 

Although colonial trauma is pervasive, fractures tradition, and creates disorientation and separation, yoga is a manner of being, a philosophy and lifestyle, and its deep follow results in unity. 

With the follow of yoga, we are able to expertise holistic restoration, self-control and private duty that permits disorientation to remodel into integration and connection.


Excerpt from Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Follow by Susanna Barkataki. Copyright ©️ 2020 Susanna Barkataki. Reprinted with permission from Ignite Wellness & Yoga Institute. Get your guide at embraceyogasrootsbook.com

Susanna B An Indian yoga practitioner within the Shankaracharya custom, Susanna Barkataki helps practitioners to steer with fairness, variety and yogic values whereas rising thriving practices and companies with confidence. She is founding father of Ignite Yoga and Wellness Institute and runs 200/500 Yoga Instructor Coaching applications. She is an E-RYT 500, Licensed Yoga Therapist with Worldwide Affiliation of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). Creator of the forthcoming guide Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Yoga Follow. With an Honors diploma in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Training from Cambridge School, Barkataki is a variety, accessibility, inclusivity, and fairness (DAIE) yoga unity educator who created the ground-breaking Honor {Don’t Acceptable} Yoga Summit with over 10,000 members. Be taught extra and get your free Chapter from her guide on indigenous roots of trauma knowledgeable yoga at embraceyogasrootsbook.com/

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