Debate on Yoga and 'Cultural Appropriation' at Ottawa

November 23, 2015

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa was facing considerable criticism this weekend after The Ottawa Sun reported that the organization called off free yoga classes because of fear that yoga is a form of "cultural appropriation." An email from an official with the federation's center for students with disabilities to the yoga instructor who was told she was not needed this semester said that "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 email added that because 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 practicing yoga."

Two vice presidents of the federation, reached by Inside Higher Ed Sunday evening, said the issue of cultural appropriation was one of several factors at play in putting yoga "on hold" this semester, and that it could return next semester, after a review of all of the issues, including but not limited to cultural appropriation.

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