Located in the heart of Toronto’s Trinity Bellwood’s neighbourhood on the Ossington strip for 24 years, Yogaspace is a 200 and 300 Hour Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher Training School. We offer online and in-studio drop-in classes, workshops and personal training and we are also home to a thriving Integrative Wellness Centre. A diverse community of teachers and practitioners, we believe that everyone can benefit from the therapeutic practices of yoga and movement and we welcome all.
Cultural Appropriation Statement
We are actively working to make Yogaspace more inclusive, more accessible, and anti-oppressive. As part of this work, we would like to acknowledge the cultural objects and practices that are present in our studio. Cultural appropriation is a reality in our world; cultures constantly borrow (or take) designs, images, clothing, and practices. When a dominant culture, such as North America, does this to a colonized and in turn socio-politically disenfranchised culture such as India, it results in commodifying and reducing aspects of their culture.
Here are some of the questions we try to keep in mind as we consider the presence of the cultural objects and practices at Yogaspace. We invite you to try them on for yourself.
- Where did I learn about this practice? From whom? What was their relationship to the culture that this practice came from?
- What is my experience with this practice? What do I know about the history of it? How much have I truly tried to learn about it myself?
- Who has access to this practice? What voices are not heard or sought out in regards to the history of this practice and how might we amplify these voices?
- What impacts might exist that I am not aware of.
Cultural appropriation in the case of yoga in North America is complex. When it comes to borrowing/taking aspects of cultures we must be critical about appreciation versus appropriation.
To acknowledge the borrowed practices and artifacts we uphold within Yogaspace, we have listed the items with context below. Yogaspace is an open community and with that we welcome feedback and critique about our space.
Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha was an ascetic sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He lived between the 4th and 6th Centuries CE in eastern India. We have several Buddha statue’s throughout our space that were gifts when we first opened 24 years ago. Many of our teachers apply Buddhist concepts to their teaching of meditation and yoga.
At the beginning or end of class at Yogaspace, you may be invited to sing or listen to the sound of Om and/or speak the word Namaste. Om is a Sanskrit syllable, a sacred mantra that occurs in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Namaste is derived from Sanskrit and is a respectful form of greeting or acknowledgement in Hindu culture. Namaste means “bowing to you” and has the connotation of “I bow to the divine in you”. Many of our teachers choose to include these in their classes as a way to acknowledge the cultural roots of yoga.
Some Yogaspace teachers share chants or mantras at the end of class. Some of these are in Sanskrit and are from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist practices. We acknowledge that many of our teachers learned these chants primarily from North American influences.
Toronto is in the ‘Dish With One Spoon Territory’. Co-existing in one dish, and navigating with one spoon, we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty, which includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with.
Yogaspace shares this treaty with respect and admiration of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. We respect the home of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Thank you for sharing your beauty with us.