My New Logo (2019)Sep 21, 2019
I consider myself a lifelong learner. Since I began my first yoga teacher training over 5 years ago, I have attended one training after another, exploring different teachers and styles of yoga.
In 2017, I attended my first training with Alexandria Crow. Alex is a world famous yoga teacher who went from being on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine to being so injured she couldn’t practice physical yoga. Her story intrigued me because I was beginning to feel some negative effects from my physical yoga practice. Practicing 5 days/week for the last 3 years had left me in constant pain in my lower back and hips. Often the pain was so bad that it hurt to sit down. I never blamed yoga for my pain though. I thought it was the 8-5 office job I worked and the new car I was driving. After I read Alex’s story, I knew I needed to attend training with her to learn more. A weekend workshop in Detroit in 2017, led me to her yearlong online training in 2018, which led me to her 300 hour in person training in 2019.
If you’ve taken my classes since I’ve began training with Alex, you know that I am different than most yoga teachers and continue to evolve as I learn. I had taken over 500 hours of training before I met Alex and functional range of motion was never brought up once. Every training I went to basically said that everyone can do all the poses if they just work hard and long enough. And as a yoga teacher, we’re trained to use the same cues to get everyone’s pose to look the same. Hands go here, feet go there. That is simply not true. We all have unique bodies with different ranges of motion and not everyone will be able to do every pose in the same way. PERIOD.
So, now that I know better, I am trying to do better. I began with changing my class styles and the types of poses I was teaching. In my latest training with Alex this past summer, we began to take a look at cultural appropriation with Alex’s colleague, Amara Miller. Amara defined cultural appropriation as when someone from outside of a culture, takes that culture’s knowledge, traditions and cultural expressions, without permission, acknowledgement or understanding. We looked at the ancient roots of the yoga system and compared it to what’s going on in America today. We discussed if we are respecting this ancient, spiritual practice or if we have simply turned into the latest money making fitness craze. I strongly feel that it’s the latter. So, I’m trying to do better.
I began taking a look at some of the “yoga” items that I owned, from my clothing to my coffee cups. Was I appropriating yoga culture or was I respecting it? (You can learn more about that in my blog/vlog “Sh*t You Shouldn’t Say on Yoga Shirts” coming October 2019.)
Then I took a look at my business logo. My old logo featured a yin-yang symbol. I have loved the yin-yang symbol since I was about 9 years old. My step-mom explained to me what it meant and I had stickers and earrings with the yin-yang. But what does a yin-yang have to do with yoga? Although, you may hear yoga teachers talk about different poses or practices being yin or yang, the concept originates from Chinese religion and philosophy. Although I had nothing but good intentions in using the yin-yang symbol in my logo, the outcome may not be so. I would never want to offend anyone by using a symbol of their culture, mixing it in with a different spiritual practice, and then using it to promote my business, as a white woman in America. Even though my intentions were good, I didn’t feel comfortable using my logo anymore, not after what I had learned about cultural appropriation.
Know better, do better.
I chose the peace sign in my new logo, another symbol I have always loved. I also promote peace as the intended byproduct of my classes. My goal isn’t to help students achieve a yoga butt. My goal is to help students find more peace in their life. To feel less stressed, to just feel better in general.
I am not trying to criticize anyone else for the way they treat the yoga practice currently. I am simply trying to be the best yoga teacher I can be, educate those around me, and be respectful to this ancient spiritual practice. I want to share what I’ve learned with my students and hopefully we can all come to a better understanding of cultural appropriation and how we can show respect while borrowing from other cultures.
What do you think? Leave a comment below :)
For more info, check out my blog “Sh*t You Shouldn’t Say on Yoga Shirts.” Coming October 2019
And check out Zachary Spafford’s “You Can Still Eat Tacos – How To Not Appropriate Yoga For Dummies” https://yogaphysics.com/yp/2018/03/can-still-eat-tacos/
Also, check out Alex’s blog “This is how I participated.” https://yogaphysics.com/yp/2018/01/the-truth/
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