Politics & Policy

University Cancels Free Yoga Class Because It’s ‘Cultural Appropriation’

. . . and associated with "cultural genocide."

The University of Ottawa in Canada has abruptly canceled the free yoga classes it has offered to students since 2008 over concerns that they amounted to “cultural appropriation” and were connected to “cultural genocide.”

Jennifer Scharf, the practitioner who had offered the classes, told the Independent that she had suddenly received a message telling her that they’d be suspended because “there were some issues in terms of a formal complaint.”

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 at the Centre for Students with Disabilities sent out an e-mail claiming that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and  great for students . . . there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice.”

#share#”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 e-mail continued.

According to the centre, 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 practicing yoga.”

#related#The Sun reports that about 60 people had participated in the program, and Scharf said she thinks it’s ridiculous and sad that they won’t be able to do so anymore.

“There’s a real divide between reasonable people and those people just looking to jump on a bandwagon,” she said. “And unfortunately, it ends up with good people getting punished for doing good things.”

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online  


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