Anjali Rao 11:36:06
Namaskar Welcome to the accessible yoga podcast, where we explore the connections between the ancient teachings of yoga in the context of the times we live in.
This podcast is brought to you by the accessible yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Anjali Rao 11:36:25
I'm your co host, Anjali Rao, my pronouns are she and her. And I serve as president of the accessible yoga Association Board of Directors.
And I'm your co host, Jivana Heyman. My pronouns are he and him. And I serve as the director of the accessible yoga Association. Okay, I think we're live. Hi. Okay. First of all, I want to introduce myself say Hi, I'm Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are he and him. I'm so excited to be joining you. I live on Chumash land here at Santa Barbara, California. I'm the director of accessible yoga and we're doing this this kind of combination Facebook Live and accessible yoga podcast recording with Tejal Patel. Hey, Tejal.
Tejal Patel 11:37:12
Hi. Great to be here. Yeah, I was just gonna say my, my pronouns are she and hers. And I'm coming to you today from the stolen lands of the tomboy and to watch people colloquially known as launch at Los Angeles, California. And it's, you know, as expected, bright, sunny day, which I'm still getting used to, because I just moved here a couple months ago for the Midwest. So
yeah, how do you feel about like, bright sunny weather all that time? It's, it's a lot.
Tejal Patel 11:37:43
It's a lot. And then it's been gloomy the last few days. And I don't love that. So I'm trying to find my middle. I'm trying to find my center on on how stable the weather usually is here.
Yeah, balance, right. That's, that's yoga. Actually, there was a post yesterday that, you know, Indra, or she posted about that, you know, how you guys balance. And I thought that was very interesting, like avoiding the yoga of extremes. And I thought that was just such a great reminder. Because I feel like we do get so extreme sometimes in the yoga world. But all right, I want to talk about a few things today. So first, I thought I could kind of go back a little bit and talk about yoga is dead podcasts, which I'm sure you hear about all the time. But I was thinking about, I was just thinking about it, and how just hugely impactful I think it has been in the yoga world. And to the point where I was even thinking that we should start to identify the like timeline of yoga, like before the podcast and after, like, did I mean like how we have AD and BC or BCE? Now we have? So I was thinking would that be? A Y d? Yes. Y, Y ID right. yoga is that? So anyway, ID and then dy ID, right? So before yoga is dead, I feel like this conversation was barely happening. Like, I mean, you know, through accessible yoga, we were trying a little but like not that much. And I feel like you and Jay saw who I mean, people don't know you, the two of you created the yoga is dead podcast, which is, was it really only one season.
Tejal Patel 11:39:24
It was really only one season, and we had planned six episodes, a monthly release. And after that it was the pandemic. So everything we had planned or thought we were going to do after our last episode dropped of season one, which was January 2020. I think it was January 1 or second, and I was away. And we were just totally out of touch in that holiday period. And we were still trying to push the episode to launch and like get a pre email out to people. But I remember we had a wrap party, I think the third third week of January in person. Wow. We had so many people come out to this hunt and puppy NYC yoga studio donated the space. And we had so many people come out and it was the most surreal thing to have listeners from the internet, the online world that we've never met. We've only like kind of interfaced with through ratings, and comments, and Instagram, then show up in person and just say whatever their thoughts were about the podcast at this rap party. And then two months later, the pandemic closed everything down. And Jason moved to moved out of Manhattan. Yeah. And yeah, we were just kind of on pause for a while until last year, we dropped a book called The original godmothers of yoga. And then this year, I moved to the west coast. So life transitions really took over. It was only one season six episodes. It's
unbelievable. I mean, I think it's a combination of things. I think it was just your brilliance both of you just like the fact that you put so much work into it, by the way, like, if people listen to those, they need to go back and listen, if you haven't listened to those episodes, but it's not like a normal podcast that I that I do like this, like this is where like, we basically just chatting, you know, minimal amount of research is needed for this, because I already know you, but it's like, you know, you basically research topic and gave kind of like, it was more like reporting. You know, it was it was journalism, I would say, and I feel like that's what we needed. We need this, we needed a commentary on contemporary yoga. And that's what you gave us. It was powerful.
Tejal Patel 11:41:40
Thank you. It's, it's a fascinating study, the A why Id era No, because we offered a book, it's available online, we do no promotion whatsoever. And we get a couple of sales a week. Wow. So there's something happening where the yoga world is continuing to put the podcast on required reading lists, especially for trainings and trainings that are becoming, I would say, a little more well rounded with the social and political climate of how yoga is used as a tool in society. And because of that, people follow the thread on their own, they sign up for the newsletter, they might become Patreon subscribers, because they appreciate the free content and the free the freeness of a podcast but want to support the effort. Or, you know, they'll download transcripts, we see that happen quite a bit, still more, they'll buy the book. And it's just, it's just a fascinating study in how when you really put something out from an authentic place. And you kind of understand your own fear and your own limitations about it before you do it. So that you do it in a way that's just like of service in a way. It lasted, it's lasting, and it's relevant. Even though there are so many social justice issues that have come to the forefront, like beyond what we talked about in the podcast, it's still a very relevant conversation. And it always was, but I think the way we catalyzed it into this subversive, bold messaging, was right for the times and continues to be so I am just fascinated by I do my yoga practice by like, having a little detachment. I noticed what's going on with the podcast, I recognize, yeah, I had a part in it. But this message is everlasting and was always around. And if this gets the word out more about racial microaggressions power and privilege misuses the way spiritual bypassing shows up in business practices in yoga, how its systemic, and not just the yoga industry, but in all industries. And it's a conductor because of that, then yeah, I'm, I'm all for it.
It's amazing. I'm going to put it on the required reading for reading for, for my training. Next, you want to do a 200 hour. And I think that's brilliant. I mean, for one thing, it's free, like you said, and so that's such a great service that you offer to the world. But I think it also shows the importance of journalism, to be honest, like, I feel like journalism is a lost art that is not appreciated. And if you look at like, you know, the way politics works, that's the first thing to go like when there's an oppressive, you know, or kind of semi fascist government, the first thing they do is attack journalism. Because that's the voice that's like the the critic that's like the reflection of what's going on. I feel like that you were basically like, I think being journalists in and reflecting back, like the problems that were happening within the culture. Yeah,
Tejal Patel 11:44:53
and, you know, the criticism around having journalism that doesn't align with, you know, people in power. What I hope people do with their criticism is let it light their fire to do their own investigation to do their own research. But, you know, sadly, you still have people that just immediately react, and they take it out on you, the journalists themselves. And we've seen that in, in actually grave contexts in the past few years, quite a bit. But I found that to be another just all of this fortified my practice of yoga. And when I saw some of the one star reviews coming in, or some of the negative backlash around the podcast, it just clued me in to, to this idea that you know, we all move from different places and different starting points even even more, I was more tapped into that rather than taking it personally because you're right, the way the way journalism can be viewed is, it can be like very polarizing, like, oh, how could you and your evil person just for saying Do this or, Oh, that's interesting. I never thought of it that way. But I'm gonna do my research to continue to believe what I believe. Change what I believe.
Yeah. I mean, I think it's important to listen to other voices. And so I mean, I think that's what you get it you just, it's like, yeah, you just you spoke clearly. And you made some really powerful statements. And they were just it was amazing. But I know that's not all you're done. Can we talk about some of the other stuff? Like what are you excited about? Like, right now you have such an important platform that you've created of Tejal yoga? Can you talk about that a little bit? Like, what is Tejal?
Tejal Patel 11:46:45
Yeah. So Tejal yoga is really, I like to say it's your online inclusive yoga community, because it's really for anyone. And the amazing part about it is that all the instructors are a South Asian, all of them teach from a place of cultural and spiritual roots, and offer a very full expansive practice of yoga. One of the main focuses of Angel yoga is to build community and relationships. So if you are able to make a live practice, there will be a portion of that practice that is focused on your check in. Sometimes the check in question is guided, sometimes it's very open, like what are you bringing into practice today, we invite people to consider offering their pronouns, the land on which they're on the location, they are in the world, and then drop a check in. And it really creates a beautiful community environment, even if you're just dropping in. But if you come back to that practice, or that teacher or any of the practices, you'll get that experience in a recurring fashion. And I think it's an important place to hold space for people. And it's important to help people realize that yoga is not just about movement, it is about relationship. It's about creating a mindset of listening, deep listening, and also holding space.
And it's all South Asian teachers, is that correct?
Tejal Patel 11:48:19
Yeah, that's right. And it, the platform was created, I created the platform, because of the pandemic. And I thought, Okay, I'm a yoga teacher said that I teach yoga, I'll just move everything online, which I was already an online spaces through the podcast and through ABCD yogi, which I'm sure we'll talk about later. So that wasn't that new to me. But then I was realizing that my nine classes a week didn't feel energetically balanced. So I started to host guest teacher weeks, so that the last week of the month would just invite in all these wonderful South Asian yoga mindfulness practitioners that I've been interfacing with, already through the ABCD od community. But I was still managing all the operations, finances, everything back end, and technically. So over time, in about six months from starting it, I decided to, like bring in more recurring teachers that would just be there, consistently. And then finally, in July of 2021, we have about seven, or eight recurring weekly offerings, and some of the teachers have two classes a week. And it's just this amazing crew of people that are really aligned with the vision of Angel yoga, which is to have everyone that comes through a practice, feel empowered and equipped to take social justice actions in their relationships and communities.
But it's also so we should have gotten started with ABCD. Yogi. But I mean, it does seem like it's part of your efforts to platform South Asian voices right or to to comment on that the lack of those voices in contemporary yoga. Yeah,
Tejal Patel 11:50:11
actually, my my need to connect with South Asian yoga and mindfulness teachers was similar to something you had said earlier, this week was just a need to build community and I think that's a very resonant need that a lot of people have. And I also found it to be ridiculous, like, it was a ridiculous gap in my community in New York City. New York City's a diverse place. yoga is a South Asian routed practice. And here I was working insane hours teaching probably 2526 classes, traveling to each one, and not really having days where I just didn t have to teach and I had for myself and whatever long practices I needed, and really feeling this dissonance between what I believed yoga to be and how I was implementing and practicing and working within the system of Western yoga. So that led me to seek out more community. It led me to continue processing some of the grievances that were occurring when I was in yoga spaces that were wildly culturally insensitive and also racist. And through that processing, I started the conversations with Jason. So I pitched the idea of a podcast, we started talking in 2018. We know the podcast didn't come out to the public till June 2019. But that same year I was reaching out to, I was just really stretching, what I thought community could be for me, and go beyond the confines of New York City, because I really didn't know anybody that I was connecting with. Outside of Jacelyn, maybe to other people, there was South Asian, that did not sit well with me. So I turned my attention online. And I had seen this fun idea of takeovers. It happens everywhere. But I saw it in Washington, DC people could apply to take over and they just walk you through their day, show you their favorite spots. And it's a really fun look at Washington, DC. And I thought, well, wouldn't it be lovely if people wanted to take over on Instagram and show us their connection to the cactus their daily rituals, talk about the issues they're facing, and have it the South Asian yoga and mindfulness teachers. If I could do that, if I could accomplish some stream of popularity with that it could be this own like self generating engine where people to supply to take over, I get to talk with them, I used to have 30 minute, you know, 3045 minute calls with everyone that applied just to get to know them better. And ended up being people from all over the world, all over the world, had takeovers from people in The Hague, Netherlands, Lisu, to in Africa, definitely in India. So all over the world, there's at least 15 countries that are represented through the takeovers. And at this point, since 2018, the middle of 2018, we've had over, I would say 190, people have taken over and have joined a community to just kind of wrap together about what they're facing with the yoga industry, find support, help signal boost their programs, it's just been really, really amazing. And that happened just shortly before, I would say a year before the podcast came out. And then a year after the podcast came out, sagely yoga became, you know, started moving in the direction that it is now
you're making me want to like have our ambassadors do takeovers, or accountants to such a great idea. I mean, I love watching. I read all of them, I think, I mean, I love what you do. But I never thought of like the power, the power of that platform and how you can share it. You know, it's such a, it's a beautiful way to build community. I also like, it seemed like there was something else though, that happened. And I just wonder if you could talk about it a little bit about like, how do you go from having a, I don't know, like being frustrated about something or having a concern or an awareness and turning that into some action. Like, I feel like there's, that's like a leap. I feel like I've done certain times in my life. And other times I haven't been able to, and I just wonder if you have advice about how to, you know what I mean? Like turn that not just a vision, it's almost like a gap that you see are some children, I'm saying like,
Tejal Patel 11:54:39
I totally know what you're saying. And I just want to take a minute to acknowledge that the way another person can do your work, it can be so surprising, like I hear you say this about the work that I've done, or for me, it's just run of the mill. Like this is just kind of what happened, what happened, it's what had to happen. But just hearing you reflect back that it was a more hopeful approach. And it was a more positive approach to being frustrated. And then I'm reflecting Well, you've done that, too. You've had a long history of challenges and disappointments, and you've gotten to books. Yeah, you're the director of this amazing organization. And it's nice to be in community with people that can reflect back to you. You know, things you just missed, because, you know, we're maybe we're programmed that's notice those things. Yeah.
I mean, you see that in you. I mean, it's really remarkable. I mean, that you've, I mean, at this point, you've created three very distinct projects that I think are really powerful and, and are essential part of what I consider to be the contemporary yoga world. It's
Tejal Patel 11:55:48
really, that's really lovely. Thank you for saying that. Yeah, I think what really stands out to me as how I was able to move from frustrated and almost defeated to the point where I was ready to walk away and this still how happens a lot with me it's it's a, it's a whole patterning that I am working to kind of shift and decode from the coding that I've that I've experienced growing up is really support. It's really about the support that I was that I was that was in place at the time. And for me, I'm extroverted. I really appreciate deep rooted relationships, relationships where we skip the small talk, and we just talk about, so how are you really doing? I know, you said you were good, but really tell me how you're doing. And I'm going to look you in the eye, and we're going to have that conversation. Those are the conversations that really led me up. And I think through those conversations and sharing my struggles, sharing what I was feeling challenged by, and having the space to talk about, what a what a different world could look like, is actually how I was able to do any of the work I was able to do. ABCD yogi was a project I started on my own. But it was very much because I knew there were other people out there that wanted to be talking about this that wanted to be having conversations, not only one on one, but also on a platform where they could just say, Hey, this is amazing work that I'm doing because I get to uplift my grandfather, or my grandmother or my family lineage, because of this work, or I get to bounce back from severe depression because of these practices. And I want to share more about that with you. So for me, it just felt like being a vessel for people that were already either doing this work or a little intimidated by doing the work of being on a platform and sharing about themselves and feeling vulnerable in that way. And guiding people to a place where it felt that you could have these conversations, or you could be seen in a loving and held way.
So it's about the support you had saying that alone. It's
Tejal Patel 11:58:08
about the support, I had to help process what was really needed and go beyond the i from the me to the way, right. So what is the collective need here. And the podcast, I will say it's a very different. It's a very different surface than Instagram takeover is where you can be directly interfacing with the people live, you can join in a live practice, you can comment on a story as it happens. The podcast was very methodical in that I knew that I did not want to be having conversations with people about this information. I wanted to be presenting findings and sharing stories in a way that allowed people to walk away if they needed to, but then to come back. And in a way that allowed Jason and I to speak uninterrupted, which is so rare, which is so rare, which is, you know, which is part of the examples that we shared where we would we would be brave enough to share with someone Hey, I think there's a racial microaggression happening here. I feel very uncomfortable. And immediately someone who's trying to tamp it down and placate and and normalize it. And the point is it's not normal. Let's not make this common. Darren just because it's common doesn't make
it right. Yeah. That's awesome. But I also do, I do think there's something and I don't mean to keep complimenting you. But I mean, there is something special about your ability to then translate that into an action and into something that serves others. And I did. I think maybe it just goes back to yoga actually, like you said, I mean, the theme of the conference that's coming up accessible yoga conference online next weekend, which is October 14 through 16th. is moving from me to we like he said, and I mean, that's the point of that theme, is to kind of get back to some of the essential concepts of yoga, which is around service. And I think more than just service is like the ability to care for ourselves and turn inward. And how that process also connects us to others to like the, you know, the inward movement of yoga, that that spiritual, personal spiritual practice is actually a way of connecting. And I think that's so often lost, like, I don't know how to even say it like really clearly. But I think that's what you're doing. Like you're you're actually putting it into practice when you notice something in yourself or your frustration or your disappointment, and then you're able to like turn it into service for others by actually creating something that is either addressing the problem through dissecting it or just offering additional options, right.
Tejal Patel 12:00:58
Yeah, and I have to just accept what you're saying. Like it's so lovely. It's so kind, and I'm just going to accept it. And I also want to acknowledge that this is very much part of my entire family's history, at least for the last two generations before me. So I talk about this story in an article that I just kind of wrote about people that inspire me and my grandfather is someone that my paternal grandfather is someone that inspires me to this day through his memory, but also through his his life and work and he was a freedom fighter. And he was out there because not because it would just benefit himself and his family, but because he knew it was the right thing to do to fight for sovereignty, and to fight against the colonizers. And that is just something that I bounce back against, like, I use that as a backboard often. That it's that it's just for the collective sometimes, and sometimes it's not safe, but it's worthy. And then I think my father also carries a lot of service, focus in his life. And he's very hopeful person, I mean, to the point of bypassing other emotions, but he really focuses on trying to be humble. And I think that's an admirable image to a fault. But it's nice to be able to see that and then take what I feel is beneficial and positive. Through my history,
well, I want to talk about helping him because that's the topic of your keynote address, too. So that's funny that you that you said that about him, but, but just to regarding the issue of like, protest and social disruption, and like when there's, you know, that I also think of that as service, you know, like, actually be willing to put yourself out on the line, like to march and a demonstration and to put yourself in harm's way. Because you care about something, whether it's about your even if it's for yourself, or your family or community. It's a service, it's an act of love. And I just feel like, to me, the biggest misunderstanding around social justice that I see, especially in the yoga world, is where people say, you know, that's not yoga, yoga, is this inward, whatever, going into some peaceful place. It's not about social justice. It's not about politics, and like this constant, constant, but there's like, kind of, I would say, separation in the yoga world around yoga and politics, when it's so clear to me that if you approach social justice as service to humanity, then it's it's completely aligned with the yoga teachings like 100%. In fact, I think if you're not doing that, I question if you're actually practicing, you know,
Tejal Patel 12:03:47
I 100% agree with this approach that, like yoga has precursors almost in a way. And it's fascinating I was, I've been studying sutra and this commentary that I'm currently working with it says, Don't it essentially says, Don't even open this book. If you haven't mastered karma yoga, or Bhakti. yoga, yeah, go there. Get grounded, get rooted. Let your life be a life of service and a life of devotion, and love. And then you can come to the yoga Sutras to get your instructions on how to move forward. But if you don't do that, like, Don't bother. This is all over your head. It's not gonna land appropriately. And I think that's so fascinating. Because if you know, what if your intro offer to a studio was just, you have to take this lecture on karma yoga, and then submit homework on what you've done for the last 30 days and a commitment that you'll continue to do this. Yeah. Like, what then? Would you be a hot yogi? Would you actually pursue this path?
Yeah, right. You'd be hot. Maybe you'd be really hot. I mean, that's that karmayoga is like the thing like, to me, that's the ultimate practice. It's funny, because I think of that as like, the most advanced practice. You know what I mean? Like, it's funny that that book said, start there, because I'm like, I to me, people that are able to turn their life into service and care about others that's already like, you know, elevated,
Tejal Patel 12:05:15
right? Yeah. And I think it's, it's almost a deterrent. It's like, you know, we want less people to read the book, because it's so challenging to get through these, these yoga practices and integrate them fully. But honestly, that's, that's a little bit about the podcast, a little bit about ABCD yogi and being a committed student at Tejal yoga, is about realizing that there is commitment required to the practice of yoga. It's not topical, and it's not. And it doesn't have these very short start and end points. Like yeah, you could drop into a 20 minute practice, or even there are 10 minute practices out there. But that's not your start and end time of your yoga practice. And I agree Really, I can step back and appreciate that. I have these three projects that offer yoga and such various and different ways of learning about it and understanding it and integrating it, because of how different and varied we are in the way we learn, and the way we understand topics and integrate them. So I can appreciate that I think that's really cool. But it's also because I'm probably a lot of like, I have a lot of that energy, a lot of varied interests. So I'm like, well, let's just do this thing. And then let's do this thing. Next thing next. That's it. But to your point about politics and yoga, way I talk about it forever, because, of course, yoga is political, like, around Arundhati Roy, this amazing writer, I went to her book release of the Ministry of utmost happiness, which is an epic novel, you gotta read it. But she was asked a question. And she just said something, passing by statement and said, the moment the breath enters the body, it's political. Everything is political.
Right? I mean, yeah, politics is simply the rules and the guidelines that we create, to be in community. I mean, this idea of politics as separate is actually a trick of politics, to actually keep us less engaged, to make us feel less empowered. But it's the rules that we agree to when we form community. And I think, for a yoga practitioner, to look at how you relate to others is essential. That's what you're talking about with Karma yoga and Bhakti. yoga. So how can you separate those two things? How can you separate your actions in the world from your, from your practices, right? And that's always getting back to this idea of like, when I see when I see people demonstrating, I often think that's, that's an act of love. They're trying to express love right now, when a lot of people see that as anger, you know, or like, some kind of selfishness. And I think that's so twisted. It's like, let's look at how social justice can be service to humanity can be an act of love and care. But let's talk about your keynote if that's okay. You mentioned that your was it your grandfather was is was eternally hopeful. Is that what you're saying?
Tejal Patel 12:08:23
My dad, really hopeful person. And I think to a fault, I was saying, because if you touch on something, and you get critical, they're like, Okay, well, let's talk about something else. But my, you know, my grandfather was a freedom fighter. And my dad, I think, was really proud of that. And also, it was immigrant. So I had to be hopeful, I had to think there was something better the grass was going to be greener on the other side of that journey. And I think there's a steadfastness he has to that thought, regardless of circumstance, which is where I say to a fault, because I think he recognizes I took a huge risk. I made a huge effort. I'm here now let's make the most of it.
All right. But it seems like you're following in his footsteps? Because then okay, the title of your keynote address. opening keynote for the conference is the audacity of hope for yoga. Thank you. Influence maybe?
Tejal Patel 12:09:24
Yeah, definitely is. And definitely President Barack Obama's influence from their book, The Audacity of Hope. And it really feels aligned to how I view the world. And mostly my journey, which I feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster. And I'm constantly inviting people to join the ride. So for me, the audacity of hope for yoga is, is really going to be a journey of talking about honest, honestly, some of the ugly truths, some of the experiences that would make you want to turn and run in your practice of yoga, in your understanding in your application. And why then, did you not? Why are you still here? And what does that mean? If you're still here, and we're all still here together to to be a part of that journey of processing. Maybe you've fully processed, whatever you've gone through, maybe you're in the midst of it, and you're garnering hope from the community or with the support that you have. What does it mean now? We're still here. And I feel like that's audacious enough to say we have hope. We have hope for the state of yoga
hope. That's what I was gonna say. So it's you're talking about hope for like the the current contemporary practice of yoga. Is that what you're saying? Because is that like, sometimes you just feel so defeated. Like, I actually know a number of yoga teachers who have just recently walked away like through the pandemic, they're just like, I'm done. Like, I'm not a yoga teacher anymore. But yeah, Is that what you're talking about? Like not? Not giving up on? Yeah,
Tejal Patel 12:11:08
I'm talking about. I'm talking about, it's very similar to when the accessible yoga community gets together to reflect on the work. And say, the hope is that one day, we no longer need the word accessible. We are just the yoga community. Right? We don't have to define how to make these practices accessible, because that is the base understanding of moving forward. And so I'm I'm really taking a page from that whole thread that shows up in every conference that shows up in the work that I do, which is, there's so much here that I could just use as reason to walk away and say yoga is a lost cause yoga is just hot yoga, yoga is just led by charlatans and snake oil charmers to, like, keep up with this phrase, Callie used about Yogi Bhajan. But, but instead, I'm still here fighting the good fight, and making good trouble and telling people Hey, do you want to think a little bit deeper about removing Sanskrit from your practices? Do you want to think a little deeper about removing all from yoga are saying we don't do any of that woowoo stuff? Do you really want to continue cleaving yoga from its roots? It's like cutting a tree off at the trunk and saying, Look, I found this gorgeous tree, well, eventually that tree and all its branches, they're gonna die, because you've cut it out from the source. So let's just take a step back and look at how we can approach you know, all of these spaces that might be harming what we think is authentic approach to yoga. And and just look at the fact that before even talking about how to solve it, just look at the fact that we're still here hopeful about how we could maybe affect it.
Yeah, I love that I can you talk more about the Yogi Bhajan issue, because I just feel like, I have that with my teacher like that he was abusive. And I also am so grateful for what I've learned. And you know what I mean, it's I think it's just such a struggle for those of us in those lineages. And I just, I feel like that, it's when I feel hopeful, I'm like, It's okay, you know, I can just focus on what I got, and the teachings which are eternal. And part of me,
Tejal Patel 12:13:28
I just want to say, I hold space for you for having experienced that that is very tough, because yoga is such a gift, and it's so powerful. And then the source, some of the source of your knowledge is a little bit murky now, a little bit unclear, it doesn't have that clear thread. So just sort of hold space for that, because that is many people's experience. So actually, ABCD yogi, if I could just bring it back to that is a space where we not only have takeover is from people that are wishing to make community and join community, with a global community and with other South Asian yoga, mindfulness teachers, it's also a space of learning. It's a hub for healing and learning. We do that through storytelling. We do that through practices, we do that through dance, we do that through panel events. And one of the upcoming panel events in November is I can't with Kundalini small text as taught by Yogi Bhajan. And there will be five Punjabi Sikh yoga practitioners on this panel, taking this the mic front and center, nobody else there to say, Oh, well, what about my practice of Kundalini or my Kundalini yoga ties, just these five people who are rooted in the culture rooted in Sikhism, and our yoga teacher, so have interfaced with the Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. And I think that panel is going to be incredible. I encourage everyone to attend if they can. But talking about Yeah, it does, right. It's I feel like it's groundbreaking. And even I had a prep meeting with the panelists yesterday, and they, they agreed, they just hadn't had this conversation before in open spaces. And also with themselves. It's been, it's been a journey. Some people even turned down the invitation because they weren't at the point where they could have the conversation yet. And that's actually just as important as a panel talking about it is knowing that this is so harmful, what has been done to the practice of Kundalini, the understanding of Kundalini and has been translated by a person who was an opportunist, a capitalist and decided to prey on eager, wealthy white people. That wouldn't question yo que Bajans authority. So what happened is what happened similar to pick rum you just have what happened similar to Oh, shell like you have these risks. Always on repeat. But you also have these stories with the white community and spiritual leaders as well on repeat. And what we're trying to do is talk about, first of all, the impact it has to people from the source culture or the source practice. Second of all, why it's harmful for someone to mis use or translate in this completely disparate way, indigenous practices, and also what happens next? How to hold compassion for the people that have gone through that machine. And I think the question that resounds is, do you throw the Should I throw the method out with the human? Right? And that's an answer that answer only the practitioner can get to do their own inner work through their own support systems. But essentially, the invitation is to go even deeper, go even further back, because before there was this group, there were practices, there was history. And there were other people deep in the culture and the practices of this practice. So for Yogi Bhajan, for example, what they offered is a brand, let's just call it the brand of Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. And it's an amalgamation of Leia yoga, of Sikhism. It's a violation of Sikh rules and rituals, for a lot of what the belief system had become. And I think if you were a victim of Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, or if you are emerging from this practice, realizing that you were, like shrouded in this strange violation of practice.
You can go back to the roots, you can go back to Leia yoga, you can go back to learning about Sikhism in an authentic way learning about Kundalini yoga, before Yogi Bhajan, it's fairly recent 1960s. And we know yoga is an ancient practice three 5000, even beyond. So I think that's, that's what I would, that's what I share with people, when they come to me with that concern, do I just stop Ashtanga yoga? Do I just stop i and gar? Like, no, you just think about the elements that have always had roots in history, and how they are a part of this, but they're not the totality of that practice. And what then do you want to keep for your practice,
is to move beyond the individual kind of figurehead of the movements that we have identified as the practice itself. And go, like you said, go deeper, it's a beautiful, that's a beautiful piece of advice. I would also say that, you know, it's just important that we keep having that conversation, though, because it seems to me like there's, there's a part of the yoga community that I see the yoga world that feels very clear about it. And then other parts is continues to be in denial and just stop and doesn't look at that, you know, kind of continued abuse that happens within, like so many communities in yoga, like you said, many white communities as well and white teachers as well. So it's not, it's not specific to like a traditional yoga thing. It's everywhere. But like, we have to keep talking about it. And I think it gets tiresome, and people just like, move on and don't want to talk about it. And they still quote these people. So yeah. Thanks for doing that. And thanks for thanks for this. I just wondered if you want to share anything else about? Yeah, about your work or about your keynote at the conference? Anything you want to share with us?
Tejal Patel 12:19:50
Yeah, I'm just really excited and honored. I'd have I've had a long history with accessible yoga and the conference. And I never thought I would just want to put this out there. I never thought that I would be able to say that. When I was a yoga teacher floundering trying to find my feet in 20 1314 1516 2017. Finally, in 2018, things started to integrate in a way that said, Hey, I've always worked with, you know, my racial ethnic communities in high school and college. Where did that go? Like, where has that gone? And if yoga was my chosen path, because I left finance after nine years, because I liked it, but I loved teaching yoga, and I thought, if I can take the opportunity to do what I love, why not? If yoga is my chosen path because of my love for it, then I believe yoga place and I can integrate my love for all these other elements of my life, which is my interest in social justice. My interest in current politics, my interest in uplifting, marginalized communities. yoga is a place that offered me the opportunity to fully integrate. And so I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this community for four plus years going and to be the opening keynote just feels not even full circle. It just feels like a moment on the journey together. So I'm really, really grateful for that. And I hope that the message of how audacious it is to hope really comes through through this keynote. And through the whole weekend, I think all of the practices are really centered on hope, because they're, they're centered on offering more tools and insight. And I think when we have more tools and insight and feel more supported, we walk away more hopeful.
Yeah. I love that, I think, yeah, it's when we feel like we need. Like, when we start to give up, when we start to get frustrated, like given then it's like, we need to actually be open to hearing new thoughts and learn from people like you. So I hope people will come to listen to you and learn from you and all our amazing speakers. Lots of information available about the conference on our website. Anyway, thanks for being here, basil, thanks for all you do. And for being part of the conference again. I remember was it 20? What year was that? Your keynote? The Euro keynote in New York. At our live conference,
Tejal Patel 12:22:18
we offered a opening meditation. Oh, right. Okay. Okay. That was funny. 2019. It was in September, and it was a wild ride. It was just a couple months after the podcast had come out. And we were meeting all these people. And we were getting to me, you add. It was an incredible moment. There really was.
That was beautiful. It was good to meet you then and to talk to you today. So thanks for being here. Yeah, you're
Tejal Patel 12:22:44
welcome. All right. Have a great rest of your day and weekend.
Okay, you too. Bye. Bye, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you. Please check
Anjali Rao 12:22:57
out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs, including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website, you can also learn more about how to become an ambassador and support the work that you're doing in the world.
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Anjali Rao 12:23:19
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai