In defense of race and ethnicity

Okay, that title is a red herring. But I’d like to add to my last post, in which I posited that race and ethnicity should not matter.

I still believe that quick judgments based on those characteristics are wrong, whether when choosing teachers or friends or sushi chefs. That said, isn’t there something delightful about entering a 100% Japanese sushi bar? I love the “irasshaimase!” (“come in!”) from a kimono-clad proprietress and waitstaff and probably all the chefs themselves, clean-cut men, modest yet glowingly confident, with meticulous hands and supreme knowledge of all edible sea creatures. If you speak Japanese, you can banter with the chefs or entrust them to please your palate. If you don’t, the language barrier can even heighten the singularity of the experience.

Now, there are excellent non-Japanese sushi bars (case in point: Sushi Rock), don’t get me wrong. I’m just pointing out the  fascination and wonder of people perpetuating their native traditions. It is a heartwarming novelty to watch, say, a white or Asian hula dancer, adopting another culture. But that is no comparison to the visceral punch of seeing Native Hawaiian dancers, drawing from a unique life experience due to their history, color, and status in the islands.royalcourt0807b_07c4

I am not saying that people of particular ethnicities are born with cultural knowledge or skills, or even an affinity for their native traditions. But, those who do embrace their culture have a distinct perspective that outsiders cannot imagine. That perspective, I believe, deserves some recognition.

So, is yoga different in India? I have yet to travel to India, so I will ask those who have studied there to compare being in India, with Indian yogis, to being in other countries, with the gamut of fellow yogis. Is there a difference?

One thought on “In defense of race and ethnicity

  1. “is yoga different in India?”

    yes, it is, at least where I study at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. However, most Indians I’ve met do not practice yoga. And the ones that do, asana is a very small part of the practice — the main practice is meditation, pranayama, then asana.

    with the Indians I’ve met, Spirituality is also a part of their everyday lives, not put into a separate box and taken out when needed.

    I’ve blogged about the differences so try a search on my blog.

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