Cultural Appropriation in Yoga

What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

Cultural appropriation occurs when a more powerful person or institution projects the culture of a less powerful person, according to Dr. Luis Urrieta, an author and professor of cultural studies in education at the University of Texas at Austin. Urrieta says that appropriation involves this differential in power. It also often involves obscuring or erasing the meaning behind the cultural item.

A cultural item can be food, clothing, agricultural practices, inventions, techniques, technologies, and more. By appropriating an item without its meaning, it becomes more fashionable and marketable. Without the context of its history, the way we engage with a cultural item is transactional and exploitative rather than respectful.

And more often than not, the appropriator is praised for their use of the appropriated item. Meanwhile, the creators of this item continue to go unappreciated and undervalued themselves.

There has been appropriation in the Yoga industry for many years and to understand more about it, I would highly recommend these videos and podcasts as a starter point.

Thank you.