South Asian Heritage Month
Thursday 17th August 2023
As South Asian Heritage Month comes to a close, we have been reflecting on our responsibilities as yoga teachers to acknowledge the roots of this extraordinary practice of yoga we find ourselves teaching and living.
As we acknowledge on our website, as a Scottish not-for-profit Yoga organisation we acknowledge that Yoga originates from South Asian philosophical traditions and that the practice encompasses far more than physical poses alone.
We accept and understand that as Western teachers what we teach, and practice may not always reflect the depth and breadth of the traditional teachings of Yoga and that our organisation, though not-for-profit in nature, exists as part of a modern, capitalist Western interpretation of what Yoga is. That said, we commit to upholding the philosophical underpinnings of the practice wherever possible. We hold great reverence and much gratitude for the historical roots of Yoga and its transformational teachings, and we aim wherever possible to honour these roots in a way that is respectful to the tradition while authentic to our understanding and cultural experience.
Thara, one of our wonderful ECY teachers who herself comes from Sri Lanka, comments on teaching an eastern tradition in a western country:
“The core yogic principles of self-regulation, preservation and spiritual growth are innate and embedded in the south Asian culture through religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism etc), art (dance, music, martial art, sculpture etc) and health systems (Ayurveda); however driven apart by the postmodern/post-colonial lifestyles, expectations and conflicts. Now our lives and mindsets have become fast paced, convenient and instant, so do the problems and expectations. So, we are wired to find quick instant solutions to our needs and problems. For whatever reason, when we return or are guided back into the path of befriending our innate wisdom, we have to acknowledge and learn the fundamental philosophical concepts of Yoga or any ancient scripture for that matter, to make the journey holistic. And there’s no fast and easy way out, no shortcuts. We have to work consistently and committedly preparing physically, mentally, pranically, intellectually, and karmically to remove the veils of ignorance – Avidya, and the rest of the Kleshas in order to see, understand and realise the true Self, the ultimate truth. Yoga offers so many concepts, foundations, methodologies by many teachers of various paths, schools, and generations to all takers of this life-long journey towards Samadhi. And it is important that we receive them as they are without diluting or appropriating them into short term, quick fixes. The biggest challenge in sharing yoga in a postmodern society whether you are in the east or west, is to convince people to step out of their comfort zone, let go of their fast-paced, quick fix mindset at least momentarily to surrender to the practice fully and walk the path of yoga wholeheartedly.”
Finding the balance between making the practices and philosophy accessible and relevant versus diluting or appropriating them, is an ongoing journey for all yoga teachers teaching in the UK and we are grateful for the guidance of teachers whose roots also hail from South Asian Heritage .
You can read about Thara’s experience of coming to the UK and how the Kosha model supported her in learning how to use the holistic principles of Yoga to support her own wellbeing here https://www.tharangayoga.com/ys-article-1