Wanderlust Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Yoga and Colonization


To be colonized is to turn into a stranger in your individual land and tradition.

As an Indian girl, that is usually the sensation I get in lots of Westernized yoga areas at this time. I’ve been ignored, kicked out and uninvited to show in yoga festivals and areas, been regarded up and down in yoga lessons as if I didn’t belong, had lecturers dismiss me besides to ask me tips on how to pronounce Sanskrit phrases, and once I raised issues about how a apply didn’t sit nicely with me or of us in my household, been utterly 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 decreased 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, referred to 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 apply I do know and love from my household and lecturers within the custom be shared far and huge. I would like nothing greater than this apply 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 equivalent to cultural dyssynchrony (feeling misplaced inside one’s tradition), disorientation and feeling remoted, not at residence in a single’s surroundings, out of sync with tradition, time and place, an absence of goal, and private internalized oppression. These impacted exhibit signs not not like PTSD—hypervigilance, melancholy and private and social nervousness.

This may present up within the our bodies of BIPOC of us feeling disoriented, disconnected, having a way of tightness and stress within the stomach and chest, rigidity complications and well being issues equivalent to elevated coronary heart fee, hypertension and different types of bodily illness. It could present up mentally and emotionally by means of nervousness, melancholy, stress and different types of psychological and emotional trauma. 

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

Entitlement to select 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 might even see colonial trauma and colonial supremacy forces at play in yoga areas at this time within the following methods:

  • Traits of many/most Western yoga areas: Chilly, quiet, clear, naked
  • Yoga tradition might be full of competitors and specialization
  • Knowledgeable 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 apply in North, Central and South India, in addition to in my apply inside Indian yogic communities within the diaspora. As a substitute of chilly, quiet and naked areas equivalent to within the West, in conventional yoga teachings usually occur in neighborhood and collectivized areas. It’s fairly frequent for yogis to be seen in connection and dialog in neighborhood. For instance, as a substitute of a deal with competitors and individualism, conventional yoga encourages humility, respect for lecturers and traditions and an absence of deal with the self. As a substitute of merely specializing in knowledgeable standing, there may be an understanding that data resides within the Vedas, the sacred texts, in addition to many divine and impressed lecturers. Historically, interactions aren’t transactional however relatively embedded in relationship.

Colonial trauma leads trendy 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. Usually the community-care fashions which might be handiest at this time for coping with trauma are much like the collectivized, non-hierarchical neighborhood and collective residing 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 selections result in extra separation or extra unity? Indigenous and conventional practices of mutuality might help to rebuild cultural rhythms. These embody storytelling; listening to the tales of previous trials and challenges builds resilience. Participating in ritual and rites of passage. Training 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 apply results in unity. 

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


Excerpt from Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Observe 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 Trainer Coaching packages. She is an E-RYT 500, Licensed Yoga Therapist with Worldwide Affiliation of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). Writer of the forthcoming guide Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Yoga Observe. With an Honors diploma in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Schooling 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. Study extra and get your free Chapter from her guide on indigenous roots of trauma knowledgeable yoga at embraceyogasrootsbook.com/

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