Letter to the Editor | Practice yoga with cultural appreciation
October 16, 2021
Recently, an article was written on, “Yoga practice raises questions of cultural appropriation.” Personally, I invite people to practice yoga and try it out as it has many physical, mental and emotional benefits. However, I also urge that people understand the spiritual and religious roots of yoga.
A key aspect that was left out of the article was how yoga stemmed from India and specifically Hinduism. Yoga stems from the Sanskrit “yug,” which means to unite. In this context, unite and control the body, senses and mind. Yoga is not just a physical or mental exercise but is a way of life, a way of being.
Within Hinduism, yoga is a “darshana,” or one of the major schools of thought or philosophies. A common Sanskrit text solidifying the nature of yoga is known as the “Yoga Sutras” by Sage Patanjali — published sometime between the years 200 B.C.E. – 200 C.E.
Throughout the years, yoga has transformed based on regional and religious practices and beliefs. This is why yoga is all around the world. Many traditions have key aspects that are linked to a form, aspect or tradition from yoga and holds a lot of meaning.
It is amazing to see how many people have been positively affected by yoga. I encourage people to at least try a little bit of the physical exercises of yoga for fun, too. However, I also urge people to learn the foundation and history of the tradition when practicing to gain a greater perspective on it. It is important to note that numerous traditions have yoga as a key spiritual or religious practice, including Hinduism — which yoga has foundational values and practices come from.
The more we can learn about each other’s cultures and traditions, the greater amount of tolerance and respect we can have with one another. It gives us a unique appreciation for the various contributions of traditions around the world.
Mauktik is a senior in Business.