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I invite you to join me in the journey of honoring and embracing the roots of yoga. Wander with me as we walk the careful line of cultural appropriation versus cultural respect. Whether we are making our way into the temples of Southeast Asia or having your first Hammam experience in Turkey, here at Moon Wandering, we explore cultures and world views with pure intentions and open hearts.
I am not a guru or an expert. I have no superior knowledge of the human body that can fix anyone. I’m simply a person who is passionate about yoga and world cultures and made them my profession. In recognition of my skin color and nationality, I believe diversity makes us stronger. My clear intention is to be respectful, inclusive, and socially fair and just. In this post, I hope to offer transparency and compassion toward the cultures I have explored as well as the ancient traditions of yoga.
“Yoga brings us a practice of personal, local and global connectedness. It also helps us expand our capacity for universal empathy.” – Sussana Bakataki
To build a more just and equitable world, we must take into account society’s systematic inequalities, including those based on race, class, gender, ability, and geography. We must consider ugly histories of colonialism and the generational trauma that has since ensued. In recognition of that, I am committed to actively working toward greater diversity and serving social justice in my physical and online community.
I honor diversity by exploring a variety of personal experiences and worldviews. To me, social justice means being true to the commitment of challenging social, cultural, and economic inequalities imposed on individuals arising from any differential distribution of power, resources, and privilege. By example, I purchase only ethically-sourced crystals, incense, and other products. By integrating equity into the practices I teach and live, I invite us all to raise the vibration of the world.
I do not believe in the misguided attempts of teachers to clean up their offerings as a way of avoiding the rough edges that cause uncomfortability. White-washed understandings completely miss the most important work.
I honor the lineage of yoga and deep reverence for tradition and ancient roots of the practice. – Whitney Reynolds
It is not my intention to be part of an imperialist takeover of Yoga’s indigenous roots. It is not my intention to hurt, harm, or misappropriate these ancient practices. I really believe no amount of capitalism or appropriation can touch the warmth and love we know in our hearts. But, it bears to keep in mind, that generational trauma that cannot simply be undone. We need to heal and we can start that process by recognizing and paying tribute to the tragic circumstances as they were and how they are.
When exploring new cultures and countries, I believe in doing your research, showing respect, and not expecting those within the culture to teach you the right way. I believe in learning the language, researching the customs, and knowing societal taboos in whatever culture you choose to explore. This form of integration, sharing and understanding requires resiliency, flexibility, and bravery. Adopting a custom that isn’t traditionally yours requires careful consideration and recognition of your role within the lineage.
As a white, western woman, I know that borrowing chunks of another’s culture without paying any reverence toward the source is disrespectful at best. Misappropriating a piece of culture that I have come into contact with isn’t always acceptable. I am respectful of that, but at the same time, my integration of various cultures comes from a place of pure intention, open curiosity, and utmost respect.
If you are manipulating aspects of the culture and inputting certain aspects while ignoring the whole picture, you’re practicing cultural appropriation. – Unknown
As someone who is really sensitive to cultural appropriation, here are the ways I show respect to the cultures in which I explore and the ancient traditions of yoga while promoting an inclusive and loving environment of growth and acceptance.
There is strength in diversity and no abuse of power will ever lead to wisdom. I say all of this to recognize this work is crucial and is always in progress. While I may strive to do my best and continue to learn and grow, fighting for a more equitable world is never finished. I work with the knowledge that I have with humility and openness to learn and grow.
I didn’t grow up with any deep philosophical knowledge or true religious background. I started studying yoga and yogic philosophy when I was seventeen years old and I felt my whole worldview crack open. The self-inquiry and seeking of knowledge spoke to me on a deep and intuitive level and I’ve been practicing and studying ever since.
At this point, I’ve spent more time believing in Yoga than anything else and I feel that it is truly a piece of who I am. I’ve always felt like I belonged to yoga and that I was meant to practice it to find peace.
As we move forward, we need to remember that Yoga is connection. Working with and alongside those affected by systematic oppression and generational colonial-caused trauma, we can bring integrity back to the heart of yoga. We can benefit from the yoga industry and the commercialization of yoga while continuing to honor the ancient roots and traditions.
On a personal level, I acknowledge my place as a western, white woman sharing the traditions of yoga through my unique lens. Being a small thread within a larger tapestry, I echo the teachings of those that have come before me with the utmost reverence and respect. I consider yoga to be a multigenerational and multicultural thread that reaches back into the dim mystical past and runs through humanity, from the earliest of ancient wisdom to civilization as we know it today.
May we all find peace along our unique paths.
Thank you for reading. Moon Wandering is a community of inclusion, love, compassion, and open hearts. Feel free to share ways in which I can continue to grow. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Wishing you well,