Yoga Rising is a collection of yoga stories about authentic practice beyond superficial projections of perfect yoga poses and bodies in media. The stories are compiled by Sociologist and Women’s Studies Professor, Melanie Klein and return us to shared struggles toward authenticity and self-study (svadyaya).
I was particularly drawn to Indian-American yoga teacher Lakshmi Nair’s story, “Whose Yoga is it Anyway?: An Indian-American’s Adventures in YogaLand.”
I can easily relate to her concerns about romanticizing and reducing Indian culture and the origins of yoga….
While romanticization of our culture might seem preferable to outright bigotry and ignorance, I feel a lump in my throat chakra when I hear white folks singing the praises of Rama, a Hindu God who is said to be an avatar of Vishnu, one of the trinity of Hindu patriarchal deities and is the hero of the epic Ramayana. Do I bring up that Desi (South Asian) feminists revile Rama for his treatment of his wife Sita (though She Herself is an avatar of the Goddess Lakshmi) and risk getting flooded with those pitying looks that I get when I wear a bindi (the mark worn traditionally by Hindu women on the third eye chakra point) … hip on white women, but a marker of patriarchal oppression on me? Do I bring up the Dravidian nationalist theory that the Ramayana is a narrative of Aryan colonization of the Dravidian South in which the Dravidians are rendered as monkeys and demons?
Like her, I hope yoga in the U.S. and everywhere can be inclusive and open to a diversity of experience. For more about her Satya Yoga Collective: Yoga for people of color, look up: https://www.satyayogacollective.com
Like her, I believe in yoga as a form of social action:
We cannot strive to liberate ourselves alone. To truly free ourselves from suffering, we must work tirelessly to end the suffering of every being on the planet, because we are all One. That is our dharma. Yoga IS social justice.
Klein, Melanie C.. Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body (p. 161). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD. Kindle Edition.