The Multiverse of Asian Identities in Yoga and Beyond

accessible yoga association accessible yoga community anti-racism bipoc teachers colin lieu community forum cultural appropriation equity monthly programs poetry social justice teachers to watch May 27, 2022
A header with maroon and teal shapes in the background and a photo of post author Colin Lieu

by Colin Lieu

Downward facing dog
Snoop Dogg
Drop it like it’s hot
Park it like it’s hot
Hot yoga in Chelsea, Manhattan costs $31 to drop in
What is the cost of buying my own culture being sold at me?

In this world, we don’t have to wait until 2006 to have Indra Nooyi become our first woman and immigrant to run a Fortune 500 company.

Indra has said, “Take a stand. Be known for your courage and confidence.”

This is what all young people are told in this world. They have the resources to follow through too.

Here, the transition from east to west doesn’t mean dimming your light. It doesn’t mean silencing your voice. It doesn’t mean bleaching your skin.

Young kids like Meesha Sharma don’t need to work up courage over decades to say, “White people should not charge for yoga.They should not profit from it.”

Yogis of this world have divested from white-owned entities and Meesha is the face the largest online offering of yoga philosophy trainings.

Breathe in … Breathe out …
Out with the old, in with the new
New World: The western world, Americas
America’s war on terror
Terror has been made to look like me

In 2020, model Halima Aden said, “My hijab was never the problem. The problem was that I was trying to fit into a society that was not made for me.”

In this world, beauty: is big, wears hijabs, has dark skin, has kinky hair. This world is made for us: our accent, our skin, our smelly lunches.

Vinyasa is vanquished from vocabulary as yoga is appreciated for so much more than asana.

Raeeka Yassaie loves yin yoga. In this world, yin yoga is not known for its healing qualities or ability to help us reclaim our bodies. Imagine instead a world where women of color did not have to dedicate years to heal. Here, women only need to imagine, dream and invent.

We’ve always claimed our bodies as healthy. Our bodies are the norm. Our bodies are powerful.

Modified yoga on the wall
Mirror mirror on the wall
Who’s the fairest of them all
Everything everywhere all at once

In this world, Michelle Yeoh got to play Vivian Ward in Pretty Women.

Asian women are unique and each have their own complex and layered stories, unlike the norm we’ve come to expect. In Michelle’s words, “These mothers, aunties, grandmothers who are there in Chinatown, or in the supermarket, but nobody ever notices them. They just walk straight past them."

Here, we nip the zip (codes). Our skin color, geographic location and last names don’t dictate our caste, earning ability or life expectancy.

All the nuances white folks are allowed – southern, religious, liberal, conservative, etc. – are afforded to Asian identities.

Raudah Rahman no longer has to navigate schemas of oppression, power, marginalization and privilege when she takes up space in the US, Malaysia or Singapore. She laughs at the woke Olympics of 2022 because in her own Malay culture she’s been using the gender neutral pronoun dia since childhood.

Corpse pose – dead body
Body positive or body trauma
The body keeps score
It’s not the score, it’s the journey. Listen:

Dive into this multiverse of APIDA perspective in Accessible Yoga Association’s May Community Forum. Register here to access the replay until June 13th, 2022. Registration is free or by donation.


Colin Lieu is the Dean of Wellness at Creo College Prep and Founder-Director of Multitasking Yogi. He is Treasurer and Member of the Board of Directors for Accessible Yoga Association. 



Want more from Colin Lieu?

You can find other blog posts by Colin here. 


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.