A free yoga class that was halted at the University of Ottawa in November over "cultural issues" has been restored — albeit with a new teacher.
According to the Facebook page for the university's Centre For Students With Disabilities (CSD), the class will take place once a week with instructor Priya Shah, a certified Hatha yoga instructor, as well as a vocal coach.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1647842905440568/Posted by Centre for Students w Disabilities/Centre d étudiants ayant une incapacité on Friday, January 22, 2016
The original stoppage of the class went viral, prompting a vocal outcry from members of the public, who berated the school for overly politically correct viewpoints.
"Please ban karate, aikido and sushi from the campus as well, as it is also cultural appropriation since the allies dropped atomic bombs on Japan. Also, please ban dumplings because the British exploited southern China during the opium wars. Let's ban Scottish whiskey, shawarma, hummus, tacos, and sauerkraut," wrote one commenter on the CSD's Facebook page.
The CSD has emphasized since the classes stopped running in November that they were not cancelled, but instead "put on hold to allow the service centre to do proper consultation amongst themselves." They also noted attendance had been low in the classes for the semester, and this was a major factor in the decision.
As the CBC reports, Shah was unaware of the controversy surrounding the class until last week.
"When I read [about it], I was kind of thinking 'Did they hire me because I'm Indian?… I was born in Calgary, I grew up in Canada but my background is Indian and I've been there once before. I was there for about five months," she told the network.
"There are many people in my family who practice but I've never had the thought that since I'm Indian that I'm a better yoga teacher."
The former teacher, Jennifer Scharf, wrote a long message in her blog, detailing the struggles she encountered over the past months.
While she told Ottawa magazine an email from the centre had referenced "cultural issues of implication involved in the practice [of yoga]," the CSD never clarified its stance on the topic.
As a University of Ottawa alum, Scharf says she felt fulfilled in carrying out her long-held dream of teaching in the Desmarais Building, but is concerned the new teacher may face similar struggles she found:
"Now I’m sad that the new yoga teacher might fall under unwanted media scrutiny. Knowing the challenge of interacting with the media, how can this student centre justify not advising the new teacher in advance?"
Other than the announcement of the start of the class, the school had no other official statement on their site.
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