Honoring The Roots of Yoga
March 3, 2020
Hello RCY Community!
I have ordered and received a brand-new batch of RCY round white magnets (for car/fridge, etc.). If you have one of the older RCY magnets, please feel free to trade it in for one of the new ones (at either of the check-in desks).
Why? Great question – allow me to explain.
I have been learning *a lot* over the past year or so about the importance of honoring and respecting the roots of Yoga. Turns out, many of us in “Westernized Yoga” circles (including myself) have a lot to learn on this topic. I’ve been grappling with these uncomfortable but important lessons about cultural appropriation in the Yoga world, and I feel it is my responsibility as a Yoga studio owner to help bring these lessons to light within our community and put these lessons into action. That is not to say I know all the lessons… I’ve only just scratched the surface. I am learning as I go, and the lessons do not come in a neat and organized fashion. I will do my best to share what I’ve learned, with the understanding that I am on this path of learning in lockstep with everyone else who is looking to do better in honoring the roots of Yoga.
I want to welcome anyone with connections to the cultural and religious roots of Yoga to reach out to me if you see there is anything I can be doing better at RCY. I am eager and willing to learn. I have been humbled by the reality that I don’t know what I don’t know. I’ve learned it is possible to have the best of intentions, and still cause hurt and harm through cultural, religious, and racial micro-aggressions we may not even be aware we are doing. My deepest desire is for RCY to be a place where absolutely every single person feels safe and welcome.
So, what does this have to do with the RCY magnets, you might be wondering?
The original RCY magnets used the Om symbol as the central image of the magnet. The use of the Om sound and symbol in the Yoga world is super common, but how many of us know its true significance or where it comes from? There is a wealth of knowledge to be found on this topic, but here is a very short partial answer taken from an article by Subhamoy Das:
“The syllable “Om” or “Aum” is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism—omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible, so some kind of symbol is essential to help us conceptualize the Unknowable…” “…For Hindus, Om is not a word exactly, but rather an intonation. Like music, it transcends the barriers of age, race, culture, and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au, and ma which, when combined together, make the sound “Aum” or “Om.” For Hindus, it is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds within it. It is a mantra or prayer in itself, and if it is repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the center of one’s being, the atman or soul.” (from an article by Subhamoy Das – “Om is the Hindu Symbol of the Absolute.” Learn Religions, Feb. 11, 2020 learnreligions.com/om-or-aum-hindu-symbol-1770511)
So, it goes without saying that this sacred symbol should be used and displayed with great reverence, mindfulness, and understanding. For this reason, I now see that using the Om symbol on the RCY magnets and on other items at the studio is not something I want to do, out of respect. Therefore, I am taking steps to make sure that RCY is not using the Om symbol in ways that could be offensive or disrespectful to its religious roots.
Revolution Community has, since its doors opened in 2011, incorporated an image of a Ginkgo leaf as part of its logo. The Ginkgo leaf symbolizes love and longevity, among other auspicious characteristics. The Ginkgo leaf will now be used on our magnets and other items.
There are so many facets to this endeavor of honoring the roots of Yoga, and over time, I will continue to share what I am learning so that our Yoga studio is doing its best to not be culturally appropriative.
Lastly, I would like to offer my most sincere apology if anyone has felt that Revolution Community Yoga has disrespected, marginalized, or offended anyone in any way.
Again, I welcome any and all thoughts, feedback, and commentary. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owner / Manager
Revolution Community Yoga