Free Ottawa yoga class scrapped over 'cultural issues'

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more politically correct….
The Ottawa Sun has a story that will leave you flabbergasted. Because of “cultural appropriation”, student leaders have pulled the mat out from University of Ottawa students. The teachings of the free on-campus yoga class could be seen as a form of “cultural appropriation” and hence, offensive.
The instructor, Jennifer Scharf, had been offering free weekly yoga instruction to students since 2008. She was shocked when told in September the program would be suspended, and saddened when she learned of the reasoning.
Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students … there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,” according to an email from the center.  “Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced,” and which cultures those practices “are being taken from.”
are you serious
The centre official argues since many of those cultures “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”
Scharf said the concept does not apply in this case, arguing the complaint that killed the program came instead from a “social justice warrior” with “fainting heart ideologies” in search of a cause celebre. “People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find,” said Scharf. There’s a real divide between reasonable people and those people just looking to jump on a bandwagon. And unfortunately, it ends up with good people getting punished for doing good things.”
Student federation president Romeo Ahimakin denied the decision resulted from a complaint.  He said the student federation put the yoga session on hiatus while they consult with students “to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces. … We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students are aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner.”
Scharf offered a solution, suggesting she change the name from yoga to “mindful stretching,” since that would reflect the content of the program and would “literally change nothing about the course.  I’m not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point (of the program) isn’t to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture,” she told the Sun.
Student leaders, apparently having nothing better to do, debated rebranding the program, but stumbled over how the French translation for “mindful stretching” would appear on a promotional poster, and eventually decided to suspend the program.
Read the whole debacle here.

Rate this post

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Dr. Eowyn

“Student leaders, apparently having nothing better to do, debated rebranding the program, but stumbled over how the French translation for “mindful stretching” would appear on a promotional poster, and eventually decided to suspend the program.”

MA in MO

Oh my oh my. Yoga was undoubtedly the best form of stretching and self control exercises that I have ever done and I have tried every form of exercise that ever came along for a long long time. This is one of those cases where a mountain has arisen where a mole hill should be. Oh Lord Oh Lord, please have mercy on us.


Not to be argumentative, but only as information: Dave Hunt, a now deceased Evangelical Christian, wrote a number of books on Eastern mysticism, among them,”Yoga and The Body of Christ”, “Death of a Guru”, “America, The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice”, & “The Seduction of Christianity, Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days”. Hunt contends that, despite the many written and verbal protestations to the contrary, yoga is indeed a Hindu religious practice whose purpose is to put the practitioner into an altered state of consciousness to attain union with Brahman, (the process of enlightenment) the universe’s highest god, and to yoke with… Read more »


Yoga my ………………………………


comment image

Auntie Lulu
Auntie Lulu

If you are going to be seduced into joining Hinduism then you really are not firmly grounded. Yoga does have many benefits for people of all ages. My other though is . . . with this proliferation of students that are shining about this, and that, and something else–it is quite obvious that they are not being worked hard enough in pursuit of an education; professors need to step it up–keep those young minds and bodies knee deep in their studies, leaving them little time for their rebellious tantrums.


Having a disease with chronic pain, yoga has kept me going. Not once did I consider changing religions, nor did I think I was being brain washed. I visited many doctors and none could offer me anything comparable in pain relief without putting me into a zombie mode. My thought was on being able to move again and without pain, and little medication. Yoga is very important in keeping the aged mobile, people all over the world use yoga to keep themselves useful. Sounds like to me, the people coming up with this garbage could use some yoga in their… Read more »