My journey toward decolonizing yoga has not always been a one-way voyage of seeing my South Asian ancestors as perpetual victims of colonial oppression. Early on, I gravitated toward tallying the instances of yoga’s appropriation by white supremacist and colonial structures. My positionality as a descendant of upper caste Hindus made me reluctant to admit yoga’s co-optation by Hindu nationalist and caste supremacist groups. Ultimately, I realized, in order to truly decolonize my yoga practice, I had to also see my ancestors as perpetrators of oppressive harm against Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalized groups. I had to contemplate the contradicting narratives of the colonizer and colonized that are yoked within my ancestry.
If I wanted yoga to be purposed toward embodied freedom for all of humanity and Mother Earth, I understood it needed to be wholly decolonized from the interlocking logics of all oppressive systems.
The Decolonizing Yoga Workshop!
My Decolonizing Yoga workshops pulls from my personal experiences with confronting my internalized identity as an upper caste yogi and my professional and relational experiences as an activist scholar. It's designed to help practitioners and teachers move closer to spiritual enlightenment by replacing a framework of identity politics with a framework of anti-oppression. Rather than settle for the mere insertion of brown faces in yogic spaces, the framework I incorporate challenges participants to apply a critical lens to contemporary examples of yoga’s weaponization in law enforcement, military industries, corporate environments, so that we can root the struggle to decolonize yoga in an ethics and politics of social justice and collective liberation.
Register for an upcoming Decolonizing Yoga workshop (scroll down for dates)!
You can also schedule a "Decolonizing Yoga" workshop for your university, yoga studio, or teacher training program by completing this inquiry form.
Dr. Sheena Sood’s Decolonizing Yoga workshop is an invaluable part of our foundational yoga teacher training. It provides students the context to look deeper into the lineage of yoga and their own ancestry to develop a practice with integrity and authenticity. Students leave so excited to dream up a brighter future for yoga in our communities.
- Kari Thompson,
Co-Owner of Studio 34 Yoga