Episode: 5

Cultural Appropriation of yoga - a starting point with Madhura Bhagawat

Welcome to Episode 5 of Let’s Talk Yoga! 

Cultural appropriation of yoga is a conversation that needs to happen out in the open, in the modern yoga world. I am excited to invite you all to listen as I am sure that you’ll find value in today’s discussion, especially if you're a yoga teacher or a studio owner, or if you’re a student, share this episode with your teacher. Let’s welcome our guest, Madhura Bhagwat as she packs a hefty punch in today’s episode. 

Madhura’s yoga journey has been her entire life. Being a Bhagwat, the philosophy of yoga has been in her family ever since she was a child and her forefathers would even preach Bhagavad Gita. But being in a Christian school, she did not have access to physical postures of Pranayama-based practice until she was almost 18 or 19 years old. She enrolled herself in a yoga teacher training by the government of Maharashtra because her mother thought that she was not doing anything in her life. She has been teaching yoga for 14 years now & continues to educate with passion about all things yoga. We invited her on, to talk about the cultural appropriation of yoga. 

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture such as the Western culture takes a certain culture which belongs to another race and repackages it, diluting the very essence of that culture in the process. 

Episode highlights: 

  • What is cultural appropriation of yoga and why it matters 
  • Cultural appropriation versus decolonizing yoga 
  • Are Indian or South Asian yoga teachers left out of mainstream Western yoga? 
  • What is a yogi and yogi as a lifestyle 
  • “Namaste” in yoga 
  • Yoga trends, are they culturally appropriate? 
  • Using music in asana class 
  • Sacred symbols, mandalas, and deities as decorations in studios or body tattoos 
  • Is wearing mala beads a fashion statement? 
  • How to best represent yoga 
  • Spiritual bypassing 
  • Yoga, the culture of Sanatana Dharma, and religion 
  • Is yoga in India westernized? 
  • BLM and yoga 

Resources and links mentioned: 

Instagram: @madhurabhagwat06 

Gmail: [email protected] 

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Featured Guests

Madhura Bhagawat

Madhura has been on her yogic path for a little over 14yrs and has been primarily involved with teaching in yoga teacher training. Being born and raised in a Hindu family, yoga philosophy, eastern psychology, Ayurveda, and mantra chanting have been part of her day to day life. Her primary focus has been to offer authentic Yoga and Ayurveda education in the most accessible way to suit a modern lifestyle while passing on the Yoga traditions in the purest form. With her double bachelor in Politics and Law, she has been an audacious educator in the field of yoga, equity and cultural appropriation. She has wide experience of practicing with Traditional Indian and western Yoga Teachers; she thus represents a beautiful blend of Indian culture with a western approach.


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