Category Archives: Teach

6 Ways to Teach Yoga With Less Cultural Appropriation

On our path to healing, we can seek to practice without as much appropriation. Here’s how.

I see you. You’ve experienced deep personal, emotional, physical, and even spiritual benefits from your yoga practice. It’s a profound gift for your life and you want to share it with others. You want to explore more deeply. Perhaps even visit the source of these wisdom teachings.

I get it. After all, the yoga you’ve experienced up until now has brought you so much good. So how can any of this be causing harm, you wonder?

Self-reflection is critical for us as yogis. Part of our practice is to be willing to practice svadhyaya, or self-study.

As we explore deeper, sometimes complexities are unearthed in our path of practice. The topic of cultural appropriation is one such complexity. As practitioners, we can pause and reflect, and instead of turning away, we can lean in. Inquiring is a great beginning.

See also What’s the Difference Between Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Appreciation?

We need to be brave enough to do our yoga and see satya in this context—the truth of our power and position—and then apply the very first of the yamas, ahimsa, or non-harming, to our role in how the context of yoga is taught and portrayed. This will help us reduce the harm. For example, if we mostly see a certain type of person practicing yoga at our studio, we can go out of our way to frequent studios or events put on by folks who are different from that norm. We can attend classes taught by South Asian teachers and invite them in as experts to uplift vital voices who are often left out. On our path to healing, we can seek to practice without as much appropriation. Here’s how: …

This Nonprofit in India is Changing Children's Lives Through Yoga

The nonprofit Khushi Charitable Society offers free schooling, meals, and health care support to kids from low-income families in Rishikesh, India.

Khushi Charitable Society

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Gayatri mantra, which concludes with “may this inspire our understanding,” is chanted daily at the Khushi Charitable Society’s school in Rishikesh, India, where self-awareness is the backbone of a complete education. 

Often called the birthplace of yoga, Rishikesh is the home city of Anand Mehrotra, a yoga teacher known for his motorcycle-riding retreats through the Himalayas and founder of Sattva Yoga Academy. Mehrotra established Khushi in 2002 as a way to fund two tuition-free schools for children from low-income families who couldn’t otherwise afford uniform costs and school fees. “In the deep teachings of yoga, it is impossible not to serve,” Mehrotra says.

See only Grow Simply with Seva

With Rishikesh flourishing as a yoga destination during the past several decades, locals from neighboring states migrated to the Ganges River banks in search of jobs. “As I grew, the town grew,” says Mehrotra, who started meditating with a local guru in the 1980s when he was four years old. The city’s population increased by a third between 1991 and 2001—and more than doubled between ’91 and today (from 45,000 residents to 102,000). This influx of people included lots of low-income families with school-age children.

Beyond the sponsored education, students receive one meal a day, annual eye exams and dental exams, medical treatments, plus yoga and meditation as part of their curriculum. “Our mission is to make the kids self-aware and self-sustainable,” Mehrotra says.

See only YJ Asked: How Do You Fold Seva into Everyday Life?

But despite all these offerings, retaining children at school can be challenging, and families sometimes require additional support. Take Mukesh, whose father, a …