Diversity in Yoga

Sumukhi, Kristina Lanuza, SongBeing non-white in the United States is always, let’s say, an “interesting” experience.  There are cultural faux pas that I hear all the time from my white friends in the U.S. that I have learned to ignore over the years.  Things like, “oh I love Asian people and Oriental food!”  Or “Wait, you’re not Mexican?”  And variations of this.  I say this because I never say things like “oh I love white people and white people food!” – because there’s really no such thing, right?  White people are just as diverse as Asian people as are African people and Latin people.  And because it’s just not in my language to group a person into a continent: yes, Asia is a continent and no, I don’t presume to represent all of Asia, I often just have to laugh with compassion inside my heart at folks who don’t get out enough in the world, nor read, nor see different people’s perspectives. The wild, beautiful diversity of people in the world cannot be grouped into these simple terms: White, African, Asian, Latin, Indian.  But yet it happens.  Here’s some very interesting dialogue that erupted from a piece written in Jane Magazine’s online blog regarding black women in yoga class.

May we all understand that the practices of Yoga are for everyone, regardless of cultural or ethnic background.  Many of the poses (asanas) are named after Animals.  Therefore, we are humans imitating other life-forms when we practice Hatha Yoga.  Hatha Yoga is, in fact, mostly being taught to us by the very famous and Divine DOG, Adho Mukha, who stretched his butt up to the sky one morning when he rolled out of bed and decided “Dog” in English sounded too crass and declared “Svana” was a better term to call him in Sanskrit.  We practice Hatha Yoga and shape-shift into scorpions, lotus flowers, elephants, cows, monkeys and we realize that all these animals, plants, the sun, the Earth and the Sky are teaching the humble human being Yoga.  Not the other way around.

So why should we be astonished at the Diversity of human bodies in Yoga classes?  We aren’t.  But some are.  God is immensely creative.  Love all Her forms.  And please stop grouping people into bizarrely broad categories that may not actually apply.  I am just as much Asian as I am European as I am Indigenous – all these blood lines cross through my veins and yet, I identify with none of it.  Some of my more esoteric biological lineage is an Indigenous group of native Philippine islanders who were the original shape-shfters.  We don’t take “form” so seriously.

In rapture.

Om shantih om,

Sumukhi

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