To be colonized is to turn into a stranger in your personal land and tradition.

As an Indian lady, that is typically the sensation I get in lots of Westernized yoga areas right now. I’ve been ignored, kicked out and uninvited to show in yoga festivals and areas, been appeared up and down in yoga lessons as if I didn’t belong, had lecturers dismiss me besides to ask me how you can pronounce Sanskrit phrases, and once I raised considerations about how a follow didn’t sit effectively with me or of us in my household, been utterly ignored and even mocked. I’ve grieved the lack of the knowledge of my ancestors robbed from us by colonization, and as soon as once more taken and diminished to suggestions for getting a greater “yoga [insert sexualized body part].”

I’ve shed tears of frustration at so many people being shut out by yoga establishments within the West. I’ve written letters, known as, spoken up, campaigned and cried, listened and laughed for over twenty years. This brings me right here. There may be a lot work to do. I’ve desired for thus lengthy to have the deep follow I do know and love from my household and lecturers within the custom be shared far and huge. I need nothing greater than this follow that we cherish to be honored and revered, taught in its fullness for us and for future generations. 

And I’m nonetheless right here.

The trauma of colonization can occur throughout colonization and post-colonization because the impacts of the erasure of tradition, norms, behaviors and practices are intersectional and cumulative over time. Institutional and systemic colonial violence, which seeks to manage,

deny and exploit, can result in signs akin to cultural dyssynchrony (feeling misplaced inside one’s tradition), disorientation and feeling remoted, not at dwelling in a single’s surroundings, out of sync with tradition, time and place, an absence of function, and private internalized oppression. These impacted exhibit signs not not like PTSD—hypervigilance, despair and private and social nervousness.

This may present up within the our bodies of BIPOC of us feeling disoriented, disconnected, having a way of tightness and stress within the stomach and chest, stress complications and well being considerations akin to elevated coronary heart price, hypertension and different types of bodily illness. It may present up mentally and emotionally by means of nervousness, despair, stress and different types of psychological and emotional trauma. 

This trauma impacts the thoughts, physique and spirit, so yoga might be an efficient software for therapeutic.

Entitlement to choose and select and to take what we would like from the yogic system as a result of it advantages us with out regard for these we’re impacting known as “colonial supremacy.” 

We might even see colonial trauma and colonial supremacy forces at play in yoga areas right now within the following methods:

  • Traits of many/most Western yoga areas: Chilly, quiet, clear, naked
  • Yoga tradition might be crammed with competitors and specialization
  • Skilled standing—a consolidation of information and energy
  • Interactions are transactional and inflexible

open bookThis contrasts with conventional yoga that I noticed in my travels and follow in North, Central and South India, in addition to in my follow inside Indian yogic communities within the diaspora. As an alternative of chilly, quiet and naked areas akin to within the West, in conventional yoga teachings typically occur in neighborhood and collectivized areas. It’s fairly widespread for yogis to be seen in connection and dialog in neighborhood. For instance, as an alternative of a deal with competitors and individualism, conventional yoga encourages humility, respect for lecturers and traditions and an absence of deal with the self. As an alternative of merely specializing in knowledgeable standing, there may be an understanding that information resides within the Vedas, the sacred texts, in addition to many divine and impressed lecturers. Historically, interactions will not be transactional however fairly embedded in relationship.

Colonial trauma leads fashionable yogis within the West to perpetuate dehumanization.

Simply as early colonialism sought to divide and separate, management, deny and exploit. The antidote is connection and unification, uplifting and belonging to at least one one other. Usually the community-care fashions which are only right now for coping with trauma are just like the collectivized, non-hierarchical neighborhood and collective dwelling areas of many indigenous ancestors.

A part of the work of reclaiming the roots of yoga resides and practising yoga as a method of being, a philosophy and lifestyle. We invite this in by asking: Do my decisions result in extra separation or extra unity? Indigenous and conventional practices of mutuality might help to rebuild cultural rhythms. These embrace storytelling; listening to the tales of previous trials and challenges builds resilience. Partaking in ritual and rites of passage. Training non-attachment—swaraj—connecting to our karma and taking private duty whereas working towards our dharma or function. Opening to grasp a extra cyclical nature of time and therapeutic. 

Although colonial trauma is pervasive, fractures tradition, and creates disorientation and separation, yoga is a method of being, a philosophy and lifestyle, and its deep follow results in unity. 

With the follow of yoga, we will expertise holistic restoration, self-control and private duty that enables disorientation to remodel into integration and connection.


Excerpt from Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Follow by Susanna Barkataki. Copyright ©️ 2020 Susanna Barkataki. Reprinted with permission from Ignite Wellness & Yoga Institute. Get your ebook at

Susanna B An Indian yoga practitioner within the Shankaracharya custom, Susanna Barkataki helps practitioners to steer with fairness, range and yogic values whereas rising thriving practices and companies with confidence. She is founding father of Ignite Yoga and Wellness Institute and runs 200/500 Yoga Instructor Coaching packages. She is an E-RYT 500, Licensed Yoga Therapist with Worldwide Affiliation of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). Writer of the forthcoming ebook Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Brave Methods to Deepen Your Yoga Follow. With an Honors diploma in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Schooling from Cambridge School, Barkataki is a range, accessibility, inclusivity, and fairness (DAIE) yoga unity educator who created the ground-breaking Honor {Don’t Applicable} Yoga Summit with over 10,000 contributors. Study extra and get your free Chapter from her ebook on indigenous roots of trauma knowledgeable yoga at

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