What does it look like to be an Australian Yoga Teacher in 2018?
With Cate Peterson
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2:30 Introduction to Cate and to the topic
Cate believes Yoga is a vehicle for social action and has created/or is part of many organisations doing that.
2:55 What does it look like to be a yoga teacher in 2018 vs. What does it look like to be an Australian yoga teacher in 2018? These are different because we are connected to a country that has the oldest, living, continuous culture on the planet. Aboriginal culture has two major precepts - taking care of the land and practicing what it is to be human that apply to this conversation about yoga. What can we learn as yogis from this ancient and modern culture for our yoga practice? GetOffOurAsana, IYTA, Yoga Australia, and Off the Mat and Into the World have handed out about 2000 postcards encouraging yoga teachers to start their yoga classes with acknowledging country. Paying respect to country and its custodians is more common in Australia than many other parts of the world.
6:50 Yoga Australia is working the relationship between Australian yoga teachers and the elders of the Aboriginal communities around Australia. Aboriginal yoga teachers look at teaching yoga to through different lens because of their cultural background although there are similarities. But yoga must be tailored/taught differently within their communities. The British colonised Australia 240 years ago, very destructive and they tried to destroy the Aboriginal culture. It went underground and has remained strong. Harshness of Australian climate, the Aboriginal people had to maintain their health through dance, ritual movement, nutrition, fasting and pushing the body to the limits, coming together in song to relate to one another and dadirii, aboriginal meditation techniques. Many of these same activities are also in the yoga culture. What can we as Australian yoga teachers learn from and use in our practice.
12:30 Cultural appropriation is a contentious topic in yoga right now; is it Ok to practice another culture’s spiritual practices? Is it Ok to use the cultures images, symbols, techniques out of context? Yoga is 6000 years old, drawing from that about how to be human. But are we paying sufficient respect to the roots of yoga?
14:25 Yoga is evolutionary discipline and changes as the need changes. Can we (should we) meld the Indian lineages of yoga with the Australian Aboriginal culture? Don’t know but the conversation needs to be started. Yoga Australia is starting this conversation. There are some parts of yoga that are easily distorted. Gurus from 19 lineages are in court for sexual misconduct. The guru model gives power and some will take advantage of that power. What is the appropriate model for teaching, or the passing of information?
19:30 In Aboriginal culture, traditionally individuals were stewards/advocates of some part of country – a tree species, an animal species, a waterway, etc. No one person was at the top.
20:55 Yoga is regaining our own physical, mental, spiritual being. What can we learn from the Aboriginal culture and how might that drive yoga in the future?
21:30 What is the goal for bringing together the yoga and Aboriginal communities? Asking yoga teachers to bring elders into their classes for welcome to country, to start conversations, stories of their culture.
23:40 How do you know that anything beneficial has occurred? The next step is to submit the reconciliation action plan (www.reconciliationaustralia.com) and have one year to reflect on the plan and bring communities together to decide what they want to do. When that is approved, then will start on the innovation reconciliation plan to actually put the ideas into place and to monitor and gather data. The third step is the elevate reconciliation plan where Yoga Australia etc will mentor other, similar organisations.
Each yoga teacher must ask permission to integrate these aboriginal tools into their practice. These are one on one discussions to open pathways, build relationships, community building is most important.
27: 35 How yoga was originally taught was to find a guru and the guru was responsible for giving you information as you were ready for it. They were there when you needed someone to go to when you were struggling with spiritual matters. How it looks in the future is unknown but starting the conversation is important?
Note: the crowdfunding Start Some Good that Cate mentions has not gone live yet but will so