No namaste: Ottawa Yoga Class

Published: November 25, 2015

No namaste: Ottawa Yoga Class, Yoga has become the latest victim of political correctness on university campuses after a free class was cancelled because of complaints that the lessons were an unacceptable “cultural appropriation” of a non-Western practice.

Jennifer Scharf, a yoga practitioner who has offered free weekly sessions to students at the University of Ottawa in Canada since 2008, said she was shocked to receive an abrupt message telling her the classes were to be suspended.

“I’d been in touch to prepare for the new semester’s classes when, out of nowhere, I received an email telling me there were some issues in terms of a formal complaint,” she told The Independent.

The decision to cancel the classes was made by the Ottawa Student Federation, the university’s independent student body.

According to the Ottawa Sun, staff from the Centre for Students with Disabilities, where the classes were held for students of all abilities, wrote in an email: “While yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students…there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice. 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 went on to say that because many of 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 practising yoga.”

Ms Scharf said she suggested a compromise by changing the name of the classes to suggest “mindful stretching”, but was rejected. “I think it’s easy to worry too much about accommodating everyone,” she said. “By saving one person’s feelings, we’re ruined the experience for so many others.”

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