November 22, 2015

This is not just some oddity from Ottawa: Yoga really is a cultural appropriation problem.

Here's a story from Canada. At the University of Ottawa, the Centre for Students with Disabilities has decided to end its program of free yoga classes, because "there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice."
"Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from." The centre official argues since many of those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy ... we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga."
The Centre's prose is abstruse. The Ottawa Sun, reporting the controversy, offers some plainer English:
The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture for dubious reasons -- such as the fad of hipsters donning indigenous headdresses as a fashion statement, without any regard to cultural significance or stereotype.
Hipsters are donning headdresses? I hadn't noticed that, but fashion does typically grab and decontextualize ideas from other cultures. Have you ever seen the documentary "Unzipped," about the designer Isaac Mizrahi? Here's the scene where he's sitting in bed watching "Nanook of the North" and sketching ideas that end up in his next runway show. He's saying: "These Eskimos are inspiring. I can't even believe how beautiful these Eskimos are. And I love it. All the fur pants.... There's something very charming about a big, fat fur pant."

Now, what's wrong with the way Canadians and Americans have appropriated yoga, stripping it of its Indian religious context, taking just the amount of deeper meaning that's comfortable to the spiritual-but-not-religious crowd who feel the need to stretch their bodies a lot and their minds not too much?

The yoga teacher who was ousted in Ottawa says:
"People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find. There's a real divide between reasonable people and those people just looking to jump on a bandwagon. And unfortunately, it ends up with good people getting punished for doing good things."
The acting student federation president Romeo Ahimakin said the idea was not a permanent ban but a rethinking of the school's use of yoga "to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces":
"We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner."
That strikes me as a moderate approach, not a ban, but a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants. A university should be a place of learning and a search for greater understanding. There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief.

The yoga instructor, whose name is Jennifer Scharf, wanted to just relabel the class "mindful stretching," which, she said, would "literally change nothing." Well, literally, it would change something, the name. And if we are going to be "mindful," we might want to wonder what our mind is full of. Is it not some anodyne pastiche of Indian religion?

Scharf says: "I'm not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point (of the program) isn't to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture." But that's what appropriation is. You're taking the parts that you like, that feel good to you, that are useful for your purposes, and leaving behind everything that's deep or uncomfortable or uninteresting to you. It's religion drained of religion.

It's fine to concoct your own spirituality using ingredients you've culled from existing religions, but if you're going to practice it in classes at a public university, you should be honest and reflective about what you are doing. And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture.

151 comments:

David said...

I am offended by the way the Greens have appropriated the cultural aspects of religion. They should be made to stop.

chuck said...

Ann trolls her readers, hilarity ensues.

Original Mike said...

I'm going to appropriate the comment of @wdalasio over at Instapundit.

"I'm willing to bet that the people yelling the loudest about "cultural appropriation" are also the ones yelling the loudest that immigration enriches our culture. How the hell is it that they think that happens?"

If we can't borrow from other cultures who the hell needs them? Seriously. This is just inane.

Fernandinande said...

So now they're saying that the benefits of good ol' multiculturalism should be one-way.

Later today I'm going to culturally misappropriate a burrito and a margarita - in a respectful manner, of course. (Pretty sure both were invented in the marginalized culture of Texas.)

That yoga teacher sounds unusually rational.

Paddy O said...

Yoga is really controversial in Evangelical settings, with a number of younger people saying it's just about the stretching and a number of others saying there's no divorcing the religious from the movements. It's interesting here because the conservative Evangelicals are basically on the side of the student government, protesting its use for Christians because of its culturural/religious appropriation.

Of course, the odd thing is that one the one hand everyone wants to share cultures and bring diversity, but when it happens people get all bothered. Because integration means change for all involved.

Christmas is a great example of cross-appropriation over the centuries, one group co-opts from another, turning it into something other than it was, then the next group does the same thing. Each previous group is offended. Christmas carries on.

DanTheMan said...

What exactly is being "appropriated"? If I decide to start wearing traditional Dutch garb, exactly what am I taking from the Dutch?

And I don't see any complaints about the rest of the world appropriating American culture, technology, values, etc.. It sounds like another "Blame America First" movement.

cubanbob said...

A few weeks ago Canada was on the road to continuing normality. Then it made a U-turn and elected a leftist and went back into the crazy.

The Bergall said...

Wish I could say I'm offended, however.............

Fernandinande said...

It's fine to concoct your own clock using ingredients you've culled from existing clocks, but if you're going to show it in classes at a public school, you should be honest and reflective about what you are doing. If the clock you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture.

That's why foreign students in STEM programs have to take classes in Contemplating Western Culture.

jaydub said...

Okay, but it would have seemed much less hypocritical if you were as judgemental about non-Christians appropriating Christmas as you are an exercise instructor appropriating yoga to help disabled people. The truth is that no one "owns" Christianity and no one "owns" yoga.

Damn, I'm glad I'm living in Spain and don't have to put up with this navel gazing claptrap on a daily basis.

Michael Brand said...

Kurt Vonnegut once said the only truly American inventions were jazz and Alcoholics Anonymous. Everything else we borrowed from another country. So under the philosophy of 'cultural appropriation" we in the United States should just stop doing everything we're doing right now and settle in for lengthy re-education.

Big Mike said...

There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief.

No there's not. Meade, help your spouse learn to lighten up!

Gahrie said...

The irony of this is, a true Yogi would welcome the appropriation.

JohnJEnright said...

If you investigate the roots of what we call yoga, it arose when some Indian people adopted a Western exercise trend, and mixed it with some of their own stuff, including some of their own spiritual stuff. Some of them then proceeded to market this new package of things to the West. I think you will find this is well-established at a scholarly level, although few yoga students or even teachers seem to be aware of it. So, in this case, there was a complex interaction of cultural adoptions between the West and India.

EDH said...

A university should be a place of learning and a search for greater understanding. There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief.

One of those statements that sticks out and makes me wonder whether academics are new Pod People.

Virgil Hilts said...

I had to read this three times to make sure I was reading it correctly and that Ann was actually saying what she was saying. Common definition of Yoga as used in the West: a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote bodily or mental control and well-being. Give me a break.

chickelit said...

The appropriate response is "finders keepers, losers weepers"

Paco Wové said...

"That strikes me as a moderate approach"

"There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief."

I wish these statements surprised me, but they don't.

Paco Wové said...

When somebody plays the Dear Little Brown People card on you, your brain just shuts down.

iowan2 said...

Did it ever occur to some that, while they have a problem with something, ie Yoga, I have just as much right to tell them to fuck off?

Roger Sweeny said...

I look forward to a real "war on Christmas"--on the grounds that a religious holiday has been appropriated by buy buy buy.

Sebastian said...

While we're at it:

LeBron appropriated Naismith's Christian-Canadian invention. He should give it back.

India appropriated European democracy. They should give it back.

China appropriated communism. They should give it back.

Everybody everywhere appropriated white male inventions that make modern life possible. They should give it back.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's only "appropriation" when the "dominant" culture does it. But that's just the dominant Progs appropriating appropriation.

Eleanor said...

Does this mean I have to give up eating lasagne until I learn about the history of Italy and learn to speak Italian? "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." People who use yoga for stress relief are not mocking the people who developed it in the context of a religion. It is truly time for some people to get over themselves. Being a part of the world sometimes involves sharing your world with others.

donald said...

Oh bullshit.

YoungHegelian said...

Wait! I thought it was only fundamentalist Christian yahoos who thought yoga should taken out of the schools as it was a form of Hindu religious practice. So now it's the multi-culti lefties who want it banned because, well, because you can't have white people appropriating Hindu/Indian cultural artifacts. Strange bedfellows, indeed!

I wonder just how far the multi-culti bullying will go until people just tell the Social Justice types to go stuff themselves.

Grackle said...

Althouse jumps the shark.

False Grackle

Jim Nicholson said...

I find this whole thing hilariously ironic; I was raised by fundamentalist Baptists, and when yoga, TM, and a host of other eastern "mindfulness" practices were beginning to be popularized, I heard countless sermons against them, all of which pointed out that these were actually religious practices, and those religions were not at all compatible with fundamentalist Christianity.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Is there a problem playing "go?"

Shouting Thomas said...

Oddly, Indian yogis have prided themselves on evangelizing and spreading the practice.

I watched a biopic of Yogananda a couple of weeks ago. He was one of the first media star yogis. He became the yogi to Hollywood stars, back in the silent film era.

It's interesting that those who could claim ownership of the practice are so eager to offer it to everybody everywhere in the world.

I think it's a source of pride to most Indians that the ideas and practice of yoga have triumphed worldwide. They seem to believe that they've improved the world by evangelizing the practice and philosophy of yoga.

sykes.1 said...

"That strikes me as a moderate approach.."

What absolute lunacy. The anti-yoga zealots are dangerous sociopaths. They have no valid complaint--none. The only rational reponse to their lunacy is expulsion from the university. We are allowing gangs of insane people (?) to seize control of our universities by intimidation and outright violence. Along with the explusion of the crazies, every person supporting negotiation with them or believing their demands are "reasonable" has to be removed from the univeristy.

Michael said...

All well and good, but people are getting a little tired of being told what they "ought to" do by other people whose preferred way of looking at the world is down their noses. Cultural appropriation is everywhere, and cultural memes are not owned by those who developed them. (There are, of course, matters of taste and elements should not be appropriated for purposes of ridicule.) I would guess that people in India and China enjoy jazz without reflecting deeply on American race relations in the 20th Century. Not to speak of St. Patrick's Day, or even Christmas. Those who wish to do so should certainly go on to learn the spiritual significance of Eastern practices, but no one should be required to do so. People know the difference between historical/spiritual yoga and the "yoga" of exercise classes.

Roughcoat said...

It's fine to concoct your own spirituality using ingredients you've culled from existing religions, but if you're going to practice it in classes at a public university, you should be honest and reflective about what you are doing. And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture.

Spoken with all the grim purse-lipped sense of moral righteousness of a Hinduvata political commissar. Or a UW academic.

The words "ought" and "feels" are key to this nonsensical formulation.

And with that, I'm gone.

Shouting Thomas said...

There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief.

I think that Yogananda didn't agree with you. He addressed this issue of whether yoga was a spiritual practice or a physical practice (or both) repeatedly and he preached that the physical practice could be separated from the spiritual practice and that there was benefit to both.

Guildofcannonballs said...

What religions helped the U of O become what it is today? To not acknowledge that which created your environment is deeply offensive to those who do try to respect and understand those ideas and labels which worked and warred to provide for a world in which their infinite gifts to the universe had no need to make such decisions themselves as to take or be taken of life.

Where is respect shown for the sacrifices the people who developed and constructed and maintain the U? Many people were in positions of foundational significance at U of O precisely because they achieved envious and memorable levels of success, potential inspirations unyielding, yet mentioned nowhere in this piece.

It is fine and proper to show something respect of one's own agency, yet another to demand if others choose not to they are willfully deficient (troublesome undertones...), unless one is all-knowing as in myths or the Divine.

Sal said...

Now, what's wrong with the way Canadians and Americans have appropriated yoga, stripping it of its Indian religious context

Not really true. Even in the minimally "spiritual" yoga classes I take, my instructor often tells parables about Hindu gods during savasana. There are many instructors who chant Om, which is also religious. I've been in a number of yoga classes in Madison where I felt like I was in church, and had to suppress the urge to say "Amen" at the end.

I think a lot of instructors are looking for ways to develop a loyal customer base, and one way includes appearing as some sort of spiritual leader. New Age is a big market.

Anonymous said...

Complaining about #FirstWorldProblems is an important part of our Western culture. These Indians have no business appropriating it this way.

Hagar said...

Hippies, not hipsters.

And OK, unhinged this is.

"Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance"?

Laslo Spatula said...

"to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces"

Besides the silliness of what kind of wet noodle could find themselves feeling left out of "yoga-like" spaces, I think contained there is the answer to the cultural appropriation question:

It is not yoga, it is "yoga-like." Or use "yoga-style" if uou prefer.

This is America: we are OK with things being 'like' things, without them being the actual thing itself. The car has a leather-like interior? Not real leather: got it. Still: good enough at the price.Suck it, Mercedes-Benz.

Persian-style rug: not from Persia. But it will do just fine with the Ikea furniture.

The modifying addition is not unlike spelling Cheese with a "Z": we understand that there is no 'True Cheese' in the Cheeze, but we also understand that it is meant to be like Cheese enough for our purposes. Cheese Purists would consider Cheez-Whiz heresy, but Philadelphians like it on their Philly Cheesesteak just fine.

Similar: "Chicago-style" pizza in, say, Arizona is meant to be reminiscent of Chicago Pizza, but a Chicago True Believer knows that it is not the same. Great: enjoy shoveling snow, Chicago; love, Phoenix.

So: Yoga-style. Yoga-Like. YogaZ. Stretch-Whiz. Pick one.

Just put a big window in front so we can see all the hot chicks bending over in their Yoga Pants: That window is MY Spiritual Space.

I am Laslo.

Sal said...

The yoga instructor, whose name is Jennifer Scharf, wanted to just relabel the class "mindful stretching," which, she said, would "literally change nothing."

The last time I checked on the Princeton Health Club in Madison, it was owned by some Christian fundamentalists who did not want yoga in the club for religious reasons. So instead the club offers the activity of yoga but with everything renamed. It's just gym yoga with different nomenclature.

Rob McLean said...

You're actually defending the Permanently Offended types, Ann? Sheesh.

buwaya puti said...

Coming from a truly multicultural place (Manila, being as it is a complex mix of mestizo cultures), I don't understand the argument at all. All over Asia people borrow from each other without the slightest concern on the part of the copiers or the copied.
If anything, the qualms seem to me to be a purely North American white thing, of a certain class. If any of the copied have an objection to this borrowing I suggest that this feeling is something that they themselves have appropriated from the white culture that educated them.
Relax, copy away, mix, combine, and attach and re-use. That copying is the key to progress. To limit it in any way is really stupid.

Hagar said...

The whole world wear T-shirts and levis or dark blue suits with white shirts and red ties.

Should the U.S. Gov't complain at the U.N.?
To the World Court?

The Godfather said...

This seems like yet another example of people stretching themselves too far to find something to be offended about.

virgil xenophon said...

Note to AA: There ARE NO "good effects" to "moderation." Moderation only brings forth powerful feelings of LACK OF INTEREST in anything you write as the resultant interplay of the commentariat is FULLY--no, AT LEAST--50% of the allure of this blog.

William said...

Many third world people have appropriated western thoughts and ideals. Marxism was designed for the German proletariiat and not Russian and Chinese peasants. The early Bolsheviks were aware of that fact and were somewhat apologetic and hesitant about applying the tenets of Marxism to Russia. Similarly anti- colonialism and cultural appropriation are western ideas. They were never applied to the Moghuls of the Indian subcontinent who came as conquerors and stayed to enjoy the food.

n said...

The use of yoga techniques is practiced at several Illinois public schools with which I have been associated as parent and tutor. I object on religious grounds. It will be interesting to see if the Ottawa problem shapes future policy and practice in Illinois.

Unknown said...

OK. Well, then. That's the end of ethnic restaurants unless they are 100% authentic. How many of those will we find? And I guess that's the end of our current Christmas celebrations in the U. S. That is a massive cultural appropriation that took all the seriousness out of something that is very intimate to Christians. And I guess that is also the end of hip hop dancing exercise classes. And let's not forget the end of Zumba. And it's the end of soul unless it is performed by an authentic African-American. And please don't ever play Sukiyaki again on the radio. And most sushi places will have to close down, and certainly all the Benihanas of the world. Our planet just became a less interesting place.

Hagar said...

Yoga is just one of the more innocent ways for yuppie women to make fools of themselves.

buwaya puti said...

An example of complex cultural appropriation - the ukulele.
Very very fashionable these days, its one of my wife's current hobbies.
So - the instrument is middle eastern in origin, appropriated and modified by the Portuguese, brought by Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii, appropriated and modified by the Hawaiians, made wildly popular by the Americans 100 years ago, appropriated by British folk musicians (look up George Formby) in their own unique style; meanwhile Hawaiian Hula with ukulele becomes popular with Japanese and Filipino immigrants to Hawaii, so much so that most Hula schools are taught by people of Japanese origin, and the classes are filled with people of Filipino origin.
All without guilt.

Whirred Whacks said...

I see you have appropriated the concept of "comment moderation" from Rex Parker. All I can say is that you must be seeing some really dark things that require deletion to make moderation worthwhile.

Shouting Thomas said...

The real issue here, of course, is the professor's singular obsession with the "I'm a nigger, too!" game.

Many Indians, particularly in academia have in the past decade or so decided to play the game, too. Some even pretend to be American blacks to gain quota entrance to universities.

There are also quite a few Indians who've learned to play the game of hectoring and lecturing white men. This is an odd thing when you consider that India is almost always noted as the most racist society on earth, that India offers almost zero social mobility and that an Indian who makes it to the U.S. undoubtedly was born to the Indian upper class.

If a rich white girl like Althouse can play the "I'm a nigger, too!" game, who can't?

Well, that sort of answers itself, doesn't it? White, straight Christian men are the only players not allowed in the game. Althouse likes this fine, and why wouldn't she? She's eternally in favor of having her ass kissed.

Bay Area Guy said...

Good morning - this is more College horseshit. Either do Yoga or don't do Yoga, but there is no cultural appropriation problem whatsoever.

Balfegor said...

These two points:

"to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces"

We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from

are in conflict. The second calls for making the "yoga" experience more narrow and culturally-specific, not "more accessible and more inclusive." The most accessible and inclusive approach is to strip it of as many cultural signifiers as possible. Rather than restoring the exclusivity of the original spiritual and cultural aspects, that approach would require that one try to further alienate yoga from any cultural specificity at all, e.g. by stripping it of its association with yuppies in yoga pants.

Anglelyne said...

And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture.

Althouse, you are trying very, very hard not to understand the spiraling insanity for what it is. For someone who is always finger-wagging about "context", you seem determined to remove all these incidents from their contemporary, real-life context. This leaves the bizarre impression that the last fifty years never happened for you -- everything for you seems to be happening in a c. 1965 Eternal Now, the fresh dawn of the civil rights era.

This is not about the yoga class. Intelligent Indians (and Buddhists, and American Indians, etc.) have been rolling their eyes since forever over the antics of dumb "spiritual" Westerners. They get irritated, or offended, and say so. The objects of their annoyance can "reflect", or ignore, as they choose, in a free society. (See: Piss Christ.) But seen in context, it's obvious that all this current bitching about "cultural appropriation" is nothing but a power play. (Hint: the condemnation is entirely one way, and it proceeds in the context of an ever shriller attack on the history, culture, heroes, and traditions of whitey.)

"Cultural appropriation" is what people do. All the time. (Historians and anthropologists study and have names for this age-old phenomenon.) You can find instances of this offensive or stupid but you can't stop it. In fact, Althouse, your whole world view is based on the (implicit, entirely unreflected upon, as far as I can tell) belief that everybody has "culturally appropriated" the civic and cultural traditions of Western Europeans and is good to go as a member of a Western society.

People see bits and pieces of something they like and adapt it to their own "folkways". Of course New England cat-ladies were going to turn the Upanishads to their own do-goody post-Christian purposes, and Californians turn yoga into an exercise program. Is it "yoga" in any sense a Hindu would understand? No, but "cultural copyrights" don't exist for words.

All that said, I admit without shame that I'm enjoying watching SWPL airheads ground under the (!trigger warning! cultural appropriation ahead!) juggernaut that they set in motion.

Anonymous said...

Why should any of that be required?

Human beings have been taking the stuff they lied from other cultures, if not for all of history, then at least for many centuries. A few years ago, for example, I edited a history of Athenian ceramics that mentioned that a very large share of Greek ceramic painting had been recovered from Italy, to which it had been exported for sale to the Etruscans. They almost certainly didn't know who Heracles was, but they really liked that big muscular dude with the bow or the club. Buddhist sculpture derives a lot of its style and motifs from Greek sculpture—but applies them to Buddha rather than, say, Apollo.

This demand that people should only be allowed to enjoy things from another culture if they have a sophisticated awareness of the original cultural context looks to me like a bizarre mixture of puritanism and class snobbery. Let's judge things by whether they're done well or badly, not by arbitrary rules.

clint said...


What you call "cultural appropriation" IS my culture as an American -- I love my California roll sushi, my deep-dish pizza, and fortune cookies with my Chinese takeout. I sometimes mix my whiskey with things other than ice, without ever fearing the offense I might be giving to people across the pond in Scotland.

It works both ways. I give the same tolerance I expect. I make no objection to Scots who deep fry Mars Bars.



The Gold Digger said...

I've been in a number of yoga classes in Madison where I felt like I was in church

And those are the teachers whose classes I avoid. I am not using yoga as a religion, I am using it as exercise. I want a teacher who keeps her mouth shut.

pm317 said...

So the yoga instructor was shallow and not suitable for higher scholastic goals of a public university?

I kind of agree with Althouse on one level that we should have a healthy curiosity and respect for where things come from and how they are interpreted. But some misappropriation and some misinterpretation should be expected in the cultural exchange.

And definitely don't try to trademark it if you are not an Indian and even if you are Indian, don't do it because there is a good chance YOU didn't invent that.

Meade said...

"Ottawa"? Isn't that a culturally appropriated Algonquin term?

sydney said...

I suspect it is really about the Yoga pants.

Meade said...

"I think that Yogananda didn't agree with you. He addressed this issue of whether yoga was a spiritual practice or a physical practice (or both) repeatedly and he preached that the physical practice could be separated from the spiritual practice and that there was benefit to both."

Yogananda was a "preacher". I did not know that.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Note to AA: There ARE NO "good effects" to "moderation." Moderation only brings forth powerful feelings of LACK OF INTEREST in anything you write as the resultant interplay of the commentariat is FULLY--no, AT LEAST--50% of the allure of this blog.

11/22/15, 12:07 PM"

Quite wrong.

Moderation makes me feel as though each and every syllable of each word I write is fussed over by important, wizened citizens afraid of my power via the mere written word.

It feels as though I am soulless not because of the ginger, but because of my deity-style nature as seen through other's eyes looking at me.

I don't do blasphemy so I can't say that kind of thing, you know of course.

Paco Wové said...

"I don't understand the argument at all. All over Asia people borrow from each other without the slightest concern on the part of the copiers or the copied."

Just so. This obsession with people (well, really only white people) giving offense for doing something some other culture does makes no sense at all in any sort of global or historical context.

What's most disturbing about it to me is that somebody like Althouse, with her own obsession for hyperanalysis of statements and texts, can read something like "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy" and not consider that it is essentially boilerplate gobbledygook, in no way justifying – or even attempting to justify – the actions that followed.

Althouse, I can come to no other conclusion than that you are not willing to hold certain groups of people to the same standards you hold other groups of people. You're probably smart enough to realize this, and I'm sure you've come up with some way to rationalize it to yourself.

Char Char Binks said...

They can have my yoga pants when they pry them from my cold dead butt.

michael chellman said...

There is NOTHING wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief!

There, fixed for you, Ann.

Jupiter said...

"That strikes me as a moderate approach, not a ban, but a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants."

Really? Are you serious? Because it strikes me as batshit, loony-tunes ought-to-be-locked-up crazy. Completely insane. Utterly devoid of anything resembling reason. Nuts. Psychotic. Are you really so dizzy from the academic whirlpool of crazy that you can't tell this is so far out to lunch it's not even back from breakfast yet?

Bay Area Guy said...

I will trade all my Wife's Jane Fonda work-out videos for a female Yoga instructor to be named later.

traditionalguy said...

Amazing insanity comes again. The whole benefit of two cultures encountering each other is the amazing good that comes when each feels that it can borrow the good parts from the other one. Prohibiting anything that is not PURE culture taken from another backwater failed states is the worst thing you can ever do.

Prohibiting that "Border Town " cosmopolitan life intr-mixture is like declaring the life of NYC to be illegal.

Hyphenated American said...

Next step - prohibit blacks, Mexicans and Asians from playing classical music. Agreed?

n.n said...

The gatekeepers have spoken. So it shall be verboten.

Bob Ellison said...

The teacher is kinda cute.

n.n said...

When was the last time the gatekeepers attempted to reconcile their positions?

Now, they're not even trying, but ruling through decrees.

William said...

It's sad to reflect that Indians practiced yoga for many centuries without ever developing yoga pants. Yoga pants are an integral part of lightweight, fun, stress relief and take it to a whole new level.

MadisonMan said...

the Centre for Students with Disabilities

I'm surprised the name hasn't been changed to Students with Different Abilities, or some such thing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

DanTheMan said...

And I don't see any complaints about the rest of the world appropriating American culture, technology, values, etc.. It sounds like another "Blame America First" movement.

Wait... Did you just appropriate Ottawa?

averagejoe said...

What the stupidest part of this bogus kerfuffle is not that Yoga is not a religion, but that the school agreed to keep the program if they would change the name, but the geniuses of modern academia couldn't agree on an apt appellation, so instead they just cancelled the class... Talk about "for want of a nail, the battle was lost". They cancelled the class because they couldn't come up with an alternate name for it. More proof that progressive leftist academia is a den of moronic idiots who can't save themselves from themselves- course that won't stop them from trying to "save" all the rest of us.

Scott M said...

Did it ever occur to some that, while they have a problem with something, ie Yoga, I have just as much right to tell them to fuck off?

Mic drop...

chickelit said...

It seems plausible that this whole ruckus is because real Indian gurus don't look good in yoga pants.

Paul Ciotti said...

Is no one worried that iPhones are daily being culturally appropriated from Steven Jobs?

sinz52 said...

All these minority groups should just stop speaking English because that's appropriating white culture, stripped of its Celtic and Saxon cultural origins.

David said...

I want my Yahweh back.

Fred Drinkwater said...

I think we are supposed to compare and contrast the yoga incident against the girls-in-Boy-Scouts incident, as examples of cultural appropriation.
Too bad I have to go ride (bicycle invented in Germany and France, but I am English/Welsh/Swedish genetically) on a road called "Almaden" (Spanish invasion of Alte California, but the word itself is Arabic for "mine" and was only used in Spain because of a prior cultural invasion.) The bike itself was made in France using carbon fiber (primarily a result of US military research.) The wheels use ball bearings (invented by a Welsh guy! Yeah! So I'm good there, at least.)
See you later.

averagejoe said...

Wow, Shouting Thomas sighting- I would have sworn that his diatribes were responsible for the new moderation/stop-and-fisk policy... Does that mean there is someone out there even more vulgar and hostile to Althouse than Shouting Thomas? Whoa....

Anonymous said...

"There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief."
I nominate Ann Althouse as "Commissar of Righting Wrongs". Success in Madison could result in promotion to "Director of Cultural Adjudication", where Althouse could get the rest of America to channel our efforts towards the "right" activities.

Pookie Number 2 said...

"Better than nothing" is a good standard for blogging, too.

Anonymous said...

I second the feeling that Ann has jumped the shark.

Two thoughts that make me feel this way:

1) The author of this post can not be the same person who believes that gays should be able to call their union a "marriage". Centuries of understanding wiped out in the last 3 decades? Appropriation at the core. She should feel about gay marriage as follows: You take something held precious to billions throughout the eons and dilute it into a "Fun, Lighthearted, dare I say, Gay, adventure. And you should stop and contemplate how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture." That's what Ann should say about Gay Marriage.

2) Why is it that Ann can spend a half hour (at least) and 500 words laying out her angle on a topic such as this, but then when 95% of the comments go against her, she hides and refuses to engage in a 'dialogue'. Is that how she teaches. Here is what I feel is true, but I will not engage with the plebes. If they don't like my point of view, there are other professors out there. GO!

Ann is too lazy, by the way, to jump any shark. The jump is implied.

Fernandinande said...

Hyphenated American said...
Next step - prohibit blacks, Mexicans and Asians from playing classical music. Agreed?


No! Blacks should be required - nay, forced - to play Mariachi music, Mexicans to play Chinese music (which isn't as bad as it sounds), and French Chinese American Yo-Yo Ma to play "I'm a King Bee" through a Marshall stack, singing in Navajo.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Speaking of cultural appropriation, would it be off-topic to mention Mr. & Mrs. Gritzkofe's resentment of the appropriation of the word "marriage" by the homosexual culture?

Henry said...

Tattoos. The Maori want them back, hipsters.

Ken B said...

You and Meade better not be practicing tantric sex.

Ken B said...

They had to cancel the class to make it inclusive.

Better to just move it to Ben Tre.

n.n said...

Acting "white" has been appropriated by societies globally to great acclaim.

Although, the Chinese, for example, are gradually reconsidering selective-child policy, and other rites of pro-choice doctrine. It was never a "white" invention, but a quasi-religious artifact of primitive cultures.

Bay Area Guy said...

Don't we have a commentator named "I've Misplaced My Yoga Pants"?

walter said...

Whatever happened to "imitation is the highest form of flattery"?

I can't keep up with the st.
Has tanning been attacked? (in normal use, not Rachel Dolezal sense)

Jonathan Graehl said...

Really, really weak stuff. Yawn.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

Geez. I might a actually tried to learn some kinda martial art back in the day if it had only stripped of all that mystical, spiritual, Eastern, Asian bullshit fetish crapola that they insist on serving up with the kicks and twirls and ass-kicking.

Drago said...

Athouse can see and feel which way the wind is blowing and wants to get out in front.

After all, once the SJWs set their sights on you no amount of tenure can potect you in the Peoples Education Collective.

TWW said...

Drago, I disagree. It doesn't matter how much goodwill you 'bank' with the SJW's making silly comments and taking politically correct positions. One misstep and you're toast! That, of course, would be Melba Toast in the case of Mrs. Meade.

CWJ said...

Paco Wove wrote,

"When somebody plays the Dear Little Brown People card on you, your brain just shuts down."

A not uncommon phenomenon among white female baby-boomers. It's usually harmless, but not always so.

CWJ said...

"This is not just some oddity from Ottawa: Yoga really is a cultural appropriation problem."

People having a problem with something is not the same as something being a problem. Cultural appropriation is not a problem. It's an inevitable result of human social interaction, and nine times out of ten, a positive one at that. Renaming a natural human process for the express purpose of attacking it in order to gain control over the innocent behavior of others. Now that may qualify as a problem.

Michael said...

Let's face it, there is actually very little of these unique and precious cultures worth appropriating. Unless you are talking about mineral right or cheap labor, of course.

I am now thinking about taking up yoga as a result of this article. The only thing that was ever more fun for western men was when we stole all of the ideas from Africa. One minute they knew higher math and the next minute, poof, we had it over in Athens and wouldn't give any of it back. Not to mention their philosophy of rational thought.

Watchful Hours said...

I wonder who decides what constitutes authentic yoga. Maybe there are Hindus who consider it fun, lightweight stress relief. Anything AA knows about yoga she's learned from translations into English. Hardly an authoritative source on the subject.

MadisonMan said...

I second the feeling that Ann has jumped the shark.

And yet, somehow, here you are.

Really, really weak stuff. Yawn.

The irony meter pegged.

Beldar said...

Re this: "And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture."

I read this, mindfully stretched, and decided it's nonsense on stilts (which is a nicer expression than the one I actually said while stretching). Felt good, I'm limber now.

buwaya puti said...

I am one of the little brown people.
Ok, somewhat brown and not as little as would be good for me, but still, I count as one of William Taft's "little brown brothers". To Taft, of course, everyone else was little.
Anyway, I offer, free, gratis, every bit of my little brown moral standing in order to say that cultural appropriation is just fine. If anyone hassles you about yoga, send them to me. I have helped out countless Indians in my time, since when I helped some of them pass engineering school, so they owe me big time.
It's all OK if you want to take up the tinikling too. That's more challenging (and dangerous) than yoga.

buwaya puti said...

And if you want to try sing "waray waray" like Eartha Kitt, knock yourself out.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

"But that's what appropriation is. You're taking the parts that you like, that feel good to you, that are useful for your purposes, and leaving behind everything that's deep or uncomfortable or uninteresting to you."

That covers just about every cultural 'exchange' since human beings were invented. So I think it can be judged a universal part of human nature.

Michael E. Lopez said...

"That strikes me as a moderate approach, not a ban, but a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants. A university should be a place of learning and a search for greater understanding. There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief."

No, there isn't. And the proof is this: there's nothing wrong with the activity that's being *done*. The entire weight of the alleged wrong here is being borne linguistically: call it "shmoga" instead of "yoga" and there's no alleged "problem", right? Or call it "Blue hamburger ice temple deluxe". Whatever.

Just because someone practices something that they call "yoga" doesn't mean I can't call what I'm doing "yoga". There's no *moral* claim to a word, not in that sense, anyway. There's certainly no confusion: I think all the be-stretch-pantsed ladies out there with their mats understand that some yoga studios are very spiritually oriented, some are just like an aerobics class with mats, and some are actual transcendentalist semi-cults with more or less formal religion blended in.

And just to be clear: there's nothing "moderate" about meeting absolute batshit crazy insanity halfway.

Big Mike said...

And just to be clear: there's nothing "moderate" about meeting absolute batshit crazy insanity halfway.

Very clearly stated, sir, and I second that motion.

n.n said...

One drop and all of your cultural appropriations problems go away.

Well, that, or discover your dignity.

Marty Keller said...

Althouse gets up on her soapbox and stamps her little feet at the culture appropriators, and lectures (like her beloved Obama) the benighted on how Things Must Be Done:

"It's fine to concoct your own spirituality using ingredients you've culled from existing religions, but if you're going to practice it in classes at a public university, you should be honest and reflective about what you are doing. And if the religion you're using for your source material comes from a culture that is foreign to you, you ought to spend some time on the stretching exercise of contemplating how what you are doing feels to those who belong to that culture."

Nonsense, but thanks for the superciliousness. Guess all that PC culture at Madison inevitably has an impact, no?

Browndog said...

No one gets it.

You want to argue about the word "yoga", and what it means. What does "appropriation" mean?

Everyone on this thread is appropriating another culture's language by speaking English.

So hateful, so hurtful.

Redeem yourselves, and never speak again.

And yes, I denounce myself. I do hope Althouse will consider the possibility that she could be considered and accomplice of crimes against humanity should she choose to post this.

Marty Keller said...

Oh, and then we have Madison Man pegging the irony meter.

Nuff said.

Jon Burack said...

"That strikes me as . . . a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants."

I wonder if ancient Roman soldiers felt this way about Christians appropriating the cross for their purposes. I mean, really, where did those uppity Israelites get off taking the cross, a deep and meaningful way to induce reflection about the sin of insulting Rome's gods and make it into such a shallow symbol of resurrection fantasies by salvation-minded young Jews no longer content with the hard truths and legal intricacies of their fathers?

Come on, Ann. This stuff is out of control nonsense.

MountainMan said...

How much dumber are things going to get? Safe spaces? Micro aggression? Cultural appropriation? America is all about cultural appropriation. Goodness, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week; didn't the Pilgrims "appropriate" from the Native Americans? Last year this WASP family celebrated New Year's by cooking Italian together; this year we are discussing doing Mexican again, like we did several years ago. It's good none of these little snowflakes will be sitting at our table.

MadisonMan said...

And just to be clear: there's nothing "moderate" about meeting absolute batshit crazy insanity halfway.

Laughing at it works.

I always encourage a lot of Whys.

My wife does Yoga. I call it Yogur. Because why not?

clint said...

"rogerthistle said...
I second the feeling that Ann has jumped the shark.

2) Why is it that Ann can spend a half hour (at least) and 500 words laying out her angle on a topic such as this, but then when 95% of the comments go against her, she hides and refuses to engage in a 'dialogue'. Is that how she teaches. Here is what I feel is true, but I will not engage with the plebes. If they don't like my point of view, there are other professors out there. GO!"


Nah. She wanted to spend the day watching football, or otherwise off-line, but wanted the active comment section to continue without her.

Chuck nailed it right at the top:

"chuck said...
Ann trolls her readers, hilarity ensues.

11/22/15, 10:57 AM"

Original Mike said...

It's always made me uneasy, but I now believe that multiculturalism is a grave threat to our civilization. America's melting pot wasn't just her strength, it was a bulwark against disaster. Who here would bet on France's future?

Why is the left is trying to divide us? Is power so important to them? It's a deadly game they are playing.

Original Mike said...

Is it possible they don't know what they're doing?

Paco Wové said...

"if you want to try sing "waray waray" like Eartha Kitt, knock yourself out."

I'll restrict myself to some pancit and lumpia, thanks.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Got it:
..Required: studying other cultures, accepting other cultures.
..Prohibited: actually using anything from another culture.

Namaste (Strike that!) Peace, Dude

Fritz said...

Third world problems.

TWW said...

Finally, an issue which we can all agree, liberal or conservative. My only surprise, given its importance, is that it took eight years for the SJW's to act. It's apparent to me now that Thanksgiving should be cancelled.

Thank you, Mrs. Meade, for bring this to my attention. My shame is boundless. Someone should ask Ward Churchill or Elizabeth Warren for support. They certainly know something about cultural appropriation and could no doubt wax more eloquently on this travesty.

Char Char Binks said...

This entire issue is about paralyzing white people into inaction by making us second-guess everything we do, or don't do. Am I being ethnocentric by NOT doing yoga, or am I Columbusing it if I DO do it? Should I go whole-hog into the mind-body-ness of it, or is that disrespectful to do as a white man who doesn't speak Hindi? Is it disrespectful to half-ass it by doing yoga-lite without embracing the totality of the experience? I'd care about this if I were a hippie, a Canadian pansy, or a hipster-douche lefty. YOGA SUCKS!

MaxedOutMama said...

Well, the Jains do yoga, the Buddhists do yoga, the Hindus do yoga. Why the bleep shouldn't the secularists do yoga? After a certain point, a practice gets so common and so widely diffused that it cannot be "appropriated" further. Some of the yoga/breathing exercises are commonly used in medical circles, so???

One might as well claim that the Christians appropriated the Old Testament, and demand that all Christian faith centers or chapels on campuses be closed or suspended. That, IMO, would be better founded than this.

Mankind is the cultural beast, and thus the appropriating beast. You are really asking people not to be human, which is generally a bad idea.

The breathing/meditation part of I think Hatha yoga has its parallels in at least Greek orthodox prayer/breathing practices.

I was taught as a child stuff that is extremely similar (without the bodily postures) which must derive from the European pietist traditions and is used for healing other beings. It is associated with a Christian tradition, and must be original to that tradition if not brought over from some earlier tradition. It is older than the western encounter with yoga, so it must have a different origin, and it is more than possible that it is a fused Amerind/pietist custom. But I have run across numerous references to what seem to be similar practices in Christian traditions and other traditions, and I've never studied any Asian Indian traditions, so?

I consider the claim here to be basically ignorant. What makes yoga spiritual aside from the physical exercises seems to be very widely disseminated. It must be one of the things that humans do.

The west now has its own tradition of secular yoga. It can neither diminish nor disgrace anything that is real or true about any of the Indian-rooted yoga traditions. In any case, imitation is a form of flattery.

Hagar said...

It was on the evening news that one of the local pueblos is holdng a pueblo-themed gingerbread contest.
Quelle Horreur!

(Though some shown in the clip looked quite nice, actually.)

Bay Area Guy said...

The concept of "Yoga Pants" is very amusing. If need a quick giggle, I just say aloud "Yoga Pants" a few times, over and over.

Nothing says tired, stressed out, overworked 45-year old working-Mother more than "Yoga Pants"

If Mrs. Bay Area Guy is working out, I say " Hey Babe, you look pretty hot there sweating away in those Yoga Pants"

Meditation might be a diluted form of prayer, but Yoga Pants no doubt are the Holy Grail of Spandex.


Fernandinande said...

From Steve Hsu's blog

Nat Philosopher • 7 days ago

The buzzword of these college kids is safety. They want a place they can feel safe. Why might 22 year olds have remarkably robust and consistent anxiety-like behaviors?

"At postnatal day 14, rats were intraperitoneally injected with a viral mimic, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (PIC). Two months later, these rats displayed remarkably robust and consistent anxiety-like behaviors as evaluated by the open field/defensive-withdrawal test."
Peripheral immune challenge with viral mimic during early postnatal period robustly enhances anxiety-like behavior in young adult rats.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21643765

BTW, the timing is spot on. In 1994 they were giving Hep B vax at 0 and 1 month. In 1989 they weren't.
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/past.html


Freeman Hunt said...

Puritans of all stripes, unite!

Douglas said...

Prof. Althouse,

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your posting, but you seem to be offbase here. The claim that there is only one way to do yoga is just false in its premises and in its underlying philosophy. There are many, many schools of yoga. Some (e.g., Ashtanga) are very traditional and delve deeply into Hindu philosophy (Ashtanga teachers even count breaths and call out postures in Sanskrit, which is to Hinduism what Latin is to Catholicism). Some (e.g., hot yoga) are much more physical exercise/stretching oriented. As far as I can tell, not a single Indian Hindu in the world is offended by westerners taking some or all of traditional yogic practices for themselves, and adapting it for western beliefs/lifestyles. They even do that in India, where not everyone is a practicing Hindu. From what I read in the newspapers, the Prime Minister of India is happy to see Westerners practicing yoga to one degree or another, even if it's on a purely physical level with no Hinduism at all. He views this as a form of Indian soft power.

And don't get me started on criticizing something as "cultural appropriation," which is so boneheaded and stupid that it's only worthy of mockery.

Lucien said...

Well let's just say there is a culture that pays attention to the ideas of other cultures, and when it find that they have good ideas, it adopts those ideas and elaborates on them. Let's call this culture oh, i dunno, "winners".

And then there's another culture side by side with the winners, and some of the people there see that there are good ideas in winner culture and try to adopt and elaborate on them, but then their peers say "stop that, you're just trying to act winner". Let's call that culture "losers".

Is it not clear that the winners are deserving of extreme moral opprobrium due to their cultural appropriation from the losers?

ken in tx said...

Back in the 70s, the Unitarian-Universalists were trying to work out a new creed. They were conflicted about whether to refer to God as He or She. They resolved the conflict by leaving God out of the creed altogether, saying you didn't have to believe in God to be a Unitarian-Universalist.

So, what I think we are looking for is Unitarian Yoga.

Anonymous said...

Lots of religious traditions have a tradition of fasting. If it turns out that hey, doing some of this stuff actually might be beneficial physically, why can't people just appropriate the parts that are useful absent the cultural context?

Religions don't have a monopoly on physical practices or rituals. It might be crass if someone wanted to market, for example, what are essentially Mormon undergarments under a different name in a purely secular context, but where would the government get the power to ban such a thing?

I don't see a problem here. The instructor was being pretty clear to begin with that what she was doing wasn't the authentic religious version of yoga. If somebody from that tradition wants to explain the finer religious points, perhaps they can be invited to do so or to advertise a separate course. It's just nutty though to step in and say that no, you may not teach a secularized version of the practice in a secular university.

Hyphenated American said...

Moslems "appropriated" many Jewish beliefs. Time to demand moslems to stop doing this?

Bay Area Guy said...

If they ever try to culturally appropriare "Yoga Shorts", Althouse might lose it for good.

urpower said...

We need to catch up on the history of yoga -- a 19th century fusion of English athleticism taking some cues from Indian meditative practice. https://uddari.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/the-real-roots-of-yoga-by-wendy-doniger/

~ Gordon Pasha said...

No more budo? Appropriating kendo and karate is the ultimate cultural appropriation.

jr565 said...

Yoga is a cultural appropriation problem? Are they serious? So, non Asians can't do Yoga now? Is this a real thing?
are there really people out there aggrieved at this?

Eric Landgraf said...

Yoga Shorts! Would Ann feel the same way if a Hindi group sold "YOGA USE LICENSES" to hipsters? The licenses would permit them to use and practice YOGA in exchange for cash. Is this just another minority led hold-up of the guilt ridden elite? The elite that wants to buy their way out of guilt in order to enjoy their perks, dominance and pleasures?

The first amendment does not forbid us from misappropriating culture. Just ask the Disney Corporation.

Mankind has done this for millennia. Paper currency, noodles and pasta, silk, woolen cloth, high quality steel, cast iron, toys, fiction, visual artistic productions, sexual and marital aids, games (CHESS) and scientific ideas have all been mis-appropriated by individuals, commercial enterprises, governments and religious institutions. And every case is protected by the rule of law; especially when accompanied by a contractual agreement like a license.

Mac McConnell said...

So they came after Yoga, when can I expect them to come after my madras shirts and khakis?

Amadeus 48 said...

It's a melting pot, baby. Cultural appropriation is what we do. Had any Tex-Mex lately? Mmmm-mmmm,good!

Jon Burack said...

I am wracked with guilt. My wife does a Zumba class! Zumba was invented by a Colombian, and neither I nor my wife are Colombian. While I contemplate how I can atone, I think I'll order out for some Chinese and watch "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." I mean, hey, it ain't the Bhagavad Gita, but like most Americans, I float on a sea of cultural-appropriation-lite. You could say America is a land of cultural appropriation - ever since we took some tobacco from the Indians and a turkey for Thanksgiving. Glory in it, folks, because it is NEVER going to stop. Happy Thanksgiving!

Yechiel said...

"the Centre for Students with Disabilities"

I'm surprised the name hasn't been changed to Students with Different Abilities, or some such thing.


No, that's what we call Universities now.

Douglas said...

Just to clarify, I gather that there are some American Hindus who claim to be offended by Westernized yoga schools of one stripe or another, but since they are just re-broadcasting the same post-colonial oppression bullshit that they learned ten minutes ago in community college, I can't take them seriously. In India, no one cares that Los Angeles women wear hot-looking clothes and do yoga to rock music.

Amadeus 48 said...

And speaking of cultural appropriation, did you see what the Romans did to the Greeks? They couldn't even come up with their own gods. And those days of the week. What does Wednesday have to do with Saturday? About as much as Woden has to do with Saturn. And this just in--Bhudda was from India. Take that, China and Vietnam!

Those who reject cultural appropriation are ignoring fundamental human nature. It is a feature, not a bug.

Cultural appropriation is what humans do.

JAORE said...

"That strikes me as a moderate approach, not a ban, but a call for deeper reflection about something that is, in its origin, deep and that has been made shallow for the purposes of consumption by health-minded young people in stretch pants. A university should be a place of learning and a search for greater understanding. There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief."

Here's a more moderate approach: Take off your panties. Smooth out the bunch in them. Put them back on. Worry about things that really matter. Reflect on how you feel about what ever you want, on your own time and to yourself.

Peter said...

But, all successful cultures take what they can use from other cultures, typically after modifying the import to suit itself. Just as surely American Indians learned to ride horses after Europeans arrived.

What culture (other than perhaps a carefully preserved and protected museum piece) could or has thrived without observing what's useful in other cultures, and adopting that for itself?

What, exactly, is the point here- that even though we're been pretty successful, we must feel guilty for every damn thing we do?

Annie said...

From a dot Indian friend of mine.

"Please appropriate my culture.
The epidemic has breached the border and gone north. The virulent strain has found fertile ground in the University of Ottawa. Students there are upset that Yoga is being taught (free of charge, mind you) by a white lady. This is cultural oppression of the highest order! Hitler had nothing on this lady!

Longtime readers of this blog (not althouse) are aware that your humble writer is a person of exotic ethnic extraction. I am a brown Hindu person who came to US from India. This means that my moral authority over all things Yoga is absolute. SJWs who are not brown Hindu people, please take note. Your attempts to fight this battle on my behalf, without taking my explicit consent, is a microaggression. You do not get to decide that we are some kind of oppressed people who need enlightened and empowered people like you to protect us and our culture from the menace that this Yoga teaching, culture appropriating, white supremacist five foot nothing monster lady embodies. You have triggered me and you should check your privilege.

The very thought of some pasty unbathed vegans kvetching (oh no! I appropriated a Yiddish word.) about who can or cannot teach or practice Yoga triggers me. You do know that only yes means yes, right? You did not ask, and I did not say yes.
Nowhere does it say that you have to be brown, Indian or Hindu to practise Yoga. It is good for you. Everyone is welcome to try it. And while you are at it, try the delicious Samosas too. And if you feel like wearing a Saree, go right ahead. It is an elegant piece of clothing and you will look beautiful.

And if you are a SJW who happens to be of Indian origin, let me slap some sense in you. You are all children of privileged upper middle class or rich parents, whether they are residing in India or here in North America. Either way, they are picking up the tab for your education, and expect you to learn some life skills and become successful. You are hurting them by majoring in grievance studies and wasting your time in useless culture wars. And if you came from modest means, what the hell is wrong with you? Why are you wasting yourself instead of learning some Physics and Robotics?

Even if you are Indian origin, you don’t own Yoga. It is an ancient wisdom that was created by some enlightened people for everyone’s well being. Just like Penicillin can be used by people who are not Scottish, and you get to casually hop on an Airplane even though you are not American, other people get to use stuff that came from India. Stop looking at yourself as exploited, oppressed people and be proud of who you are.

And to the SJWs in general: please continue what you are doing. You are all a product of liberalism, the political philosophy that has no guiding principles other than naked pursuit of power. Highlighting and exploiting the divisions within people is their primary means of getting power. If this means bringing in people who have nothing in common, and forming a patchy coalition held together by government spending on chosen constituencies and welfare checks, they would gladly do it. But you are bringing the internal divisions to the fore. You are causing the system to devour itself from within. I dream about the day when the democrats will find it impossible to find suitable candidates to fight elections. A black candidate will offend Hispanics. A male candidate will offend women. An able bodied candidate will offend people with physical, mental or imagined disabilities. Useless as you are, you may end up doing some good after all."

Annie said...

And then this -

"Yoga has acquired an effete image in US, thanks to people who created perversions like naked yoga, yoga pants etc.
Since old days, Yoga in India was primarily practiced by ascetics who lived in mountainous jungles and needed their bodies and minds to be strong enough to endure the elements and the lack of sufficient nutrition."

Richard Dolan said...

"There is something wrong with presenting yoga as fun, lightweight, stress relief."

Really? For those interested in the history and origins of yoga, feel free to pursue it to your heart's content. For those just interested in stretching some muscles, you don't need to suffer through an indoctrination session (sometimes gussied up as "cultural sensitivity training") before beginning your workout.

One size doesn't fit all; we will all have our different takes on cultural sensitivities and their relative importance in the larger context; and a healthy dose of live and let live is in order, even on taxpayer funded campuses.

All in all, not your best effort, Ann.

Anonymous said...

As an Indian, I would like to offer my perspective. Yoga is not just breathing, meditation, or exercise, it is a way of life. It is a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth and experiences. It pains me to see it being reduced to a trend or a fashion item. Yoga has Yamas and Niyamas-the moral and ethical disciplines which have to be adopted-like being non-violent, truthful, kind, modest, not being greedy and many more. I have a Caucasian acquaintance who "teaches" Yoga at a class in Madison. I have seen her talk to the class about how Yoga will make them spiritually rich and come out of the class and bitch about anyone and everyone behind their back. She is very negative to other people. How can such a person claim to have mastered Yoga without learning the basic moral and ethical standards that Yoga embodies? If one chooses to teach or practice just the exercise or meditation part of it, then call it just that-Yoga-based exercise. Calling it Yoga is gross misappropriation of a respected ancient tradition.