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Published On: Tue, Feb 6th, 2018

Michigan State’s Shreena Gandhi says whites doing yoga are guilty of exploiting ‘a system of power, privilege, and oppression’

A professor of religious studies at Michigan State University recently argued that white people who practice yoga are guilty of enjoying a “system of power, privilege, and oppression.”

Michigan State University professor Shreena Gandhi writes that to honor yoga white Americans should understand its history, acknowledge the cultural appropriation they engage in, and possibly reduce the cost of yoga classes for poor people, a group that often includes people of color and “recent immigrants, such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs.”

Gandhi, in an article she recently co-authored, argued yoga as it’s practiced in America today is an extension of white supremacy and the “yoga industrial complex.”

photo Dean Moriarty via pixabay

“Yoga became — and remains — a practice which allows western practitioners to experience the idea of another culture while focusing on the self,” wrote Gandhi and co-author Lillie Wolff, a self-described “antiracist white Jewish organizer, facilitator and healer” who is passionate about “decolonizing” yoga.

“The explosion of yoga studios, yoga videos, apps, yoga pants, and other yoga swag over the last two decades is evidence of this. Yoga contributes to our economic system, but never forget this system is one built upon exploitation and commodification of labor, often the labor of black people and people of the global south,” the two argued in their piece, titled “Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation.”

“… We must ask, in what ways are we complicit in a system that harms People of Color, queer and trans people, poor people, people with disabilities, and immigrants? Despite our best values and intentions as individuals, our actions (and inaction) are inherently connected with a system of power, privilege, and oppression.”

Read the full article at Praxis

The authors write that white people practice yoga should continue to enjoy it, but also “look outside” themselves and “understand how the history of yoga practice in the United States is intimately linked to some of the larger forces of white supremacy.”

“Few white people make the connection between their attraction to yoga and the cultural loss their ancestors and relatives experienced when they bought into white dominant culture in order to access resources,” they write.

 

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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