Tejal & Jesal - Yoga is Dead
Tejal Patel and Jesal Parikh are yoga teachers and the hosts of the Yoga is Dead podcast. In their own words: "Yoga is Dead is a revolutionary podcast that explores power, privilege, fair pay, harassment, race, cultural appropriation and capitalism in the yoga and wellness worlds. Join Indian-American hosts Tejal + Jesal as they expose all the monsters lurking under the yoga mat."
Jo and Rane love the podcast and were super excited to catch up with Jesal and Tejal! Yoga is Dead has taken the yoga world by storm with their honest yet humourous approach to these important issues and were eager to find out more about the women behind the podcast.
In this conversation, we learn about Tejal and Jesal's backgrounds growing up in the suburbs of Massachusetts and Michigan in the United States. We learn about some of their motivations in starting the podcast, how they chose the name and whether they have an end goal in mind.
There is a great conversation on cultural appropriation, and we ask them whether Mark Singleton's book Yoga Body is a form of whitewashing.
Podcast Instagram: @yogaisdeadpodcast
Jesal's Instagram: @yogwalla
Tejal's Instagram: @tejalyoga
Podcast Twitter: @yogaisdeadpod
Yoga Fire workshops with Tim Seutter: https://www.gardenofyoga.com.au/workshops/yoga-fire-workshops/
Buy Accessible Yoga by Jivana Heyman:
Book Depository (free shipping): https://www.bookdepository.com/Accessible-Yoga/9781611807127
Waterstones (UK): https://www.waterstones.com/book/accessible-yoga/jivana-heyman/9781611807127
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/Accessible-Yoga-Poses-Practices-Every/dp/1611807123/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=accessible+yoga&qid=1571080722&s=books&sr=1-1
Click on a timecode to play from that time in the recording.2:25 Winners of the Accessible Yoga competition
3:00 Yoga Fire workshops with Tim Seutter
3:58 How mispronouncing someone's name can have a negative impact.
7:19 Jesal’s background growing up in Massachusetts
8:35 Tejal’s background growing up in the suburbs in Michigan
11:34 Was Yoga a part of their upbringings?
17:38 What did their parents think of them leaving their stable jobs to teach yoga?
21:54 On making a living from teaching yoga
25:56 Do they see their strong branding as a form of activism?
29:29 How did the name come about - did it come up naturally or did they workshop it?
30:32 Support us on Patreon!
31:36 How has the podcast changed their lives?
33:56 Had Tejal been hosting the People of colour & Allies classes prior to hosting the podcast?
35:18 Have there been any particularly rewarding moments since starting the podcast?
36:49 Did Tejal and Jesal receive any pushback after the guru episode in particular?
38:22 Is Mark Singleton’s book Yoga Body and research a form of whitewashing?
44:01 What is the role of white people in issues of colonisation, cultural appropriation and other issues that pertain to people of colour?
46:31 Performative allyship.
49:40 What is their take on ig memes that say things like “If you become offended, you are not fully healed?”
52:48 Do Tejal and Jesal use humour to lighten the tension on topics that some people might find challenging?
55:59 Does Yoga is Dead have a conclusion or end goal?
57:10 What is the one core lesson that Tejal and Jesal would each like to share with the world?
59:30 Outro - Next week’s guest is Jose Goossens
Please email us to report any transcription errorsRane Bowen: Hello, my name is Rane and this is the Flow Artists’ Podcast. Every episode, my co-host, Jo Stewart, and I speak to inspiring teachers of yoga, movement, meditation and more.
I‘m super excited about this episode. We are speaking with Tejal and Jesal from the Yoga is Dead podcast. Tejal and Jesal have taken the yoga world by storm with their podcast, which asks some of the hard questions about yoga, raising issues of cultural appropriation, guru culture and even the validity of some of what we might teach in a yoga class. They do this in a thoughtful and loving manner, but they definitely do not pull any punches. They provide an avenue for deep, personal introspection on these matters, and I’ve seen many people, mostly white women, post online that after hearing the first episode, controversially titled, ‘White women killed yoga,’ their initial reaction was to feel a little bit stung, but after sitting with it they were able to fully integrate the message and see how they could make changes. And that’s vadyaya right, that’s part of yoga, feeling the discomfort, questioning these stories that we tell ourselves and working with it.
It’s made me question my own role in all of this as well. I’m a person of colour, right? But my upbringing is one of a privileged Westerner. I’m part Maori and I feel in a way that the spiritual culture of my ancestors was kind of erased; it was effectively wiped over by Christianity. So, for me, yoga is perhaps like a replacement, a substitute for that erased spirituality. Not that I’m keen on that word, ‘spirituality’. All that aside though, yoga is still something that comes from a completely different culture to mine and I need to honour that the best way I know how. I’m still working through this, I’ve made mistakes and I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes but the very least I can do, we can all do, is to learn as much as we can about the history and heritage of yoga, honour the culture and the people that bought us this wonderful gift to the world through our actions and not just words.
Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox for now! It’s time to announce the winners of the book, Accessible Yoga by Jivana Heyman. Drumroll please! <drumroll noise>
The winners are Karen Buckland and Daniella Rosso. Thank you so much to everyone who entered and a big big thank you to Jivana Heyman and Shambhala Publications for providing us these wonderful books. I’ve actually pre-ordered myself a copy and if you haven’t already, go and follow Jivana and Shambhala everywhere: Instagram, Facebook – you know the drill. I’ll also leave links in our show notes at podcast.flowartists.com where you can buy the book online for delivery to Australia and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. That sounds like such an Aussie saying doesn’t it?!
Finally, before we start the conversation, I wanted to let you know about some workshops we have going on at our studio, Garden of Yoga on Sunday the 24th of November with Tim Seutter. The first workshop is a two-hour long energising Vinyasa-style class - I’m really looking forward to that one! And the second is a little bit more Yin-inspired, a bit more chilled. Tim is a firefighter as well as being a yoga teacher and he brings a unique style and perspective to all of his classes. He’s amazing - we spoke with him on the podcast a while back so check that out. I’ll leave a link in our show notes so you can book in or you can check on our website: gardenofyoga.com.au.
Alright, that is way more talking than I normally do! Let’s get on to the conversation with Tejal and Jesal.
Rane Bowen: Tejal and Jesal, thank you so so much for speaking with us today. It’s so great to get the chance to speak with you. I have to say that I really loved your podcast from the first moment. I’m also someone who has a name that some people find hard to pronounce, so I was wondering, do you still have people get your names wrong?
Jesal Parikh: All the time! <laughter>
Tejal Patel: Yeah I was just thinking, something happened to me yesterday when I was teaching: after class a student asked me my name ‘just to say hi’, ‘oh, its nice to meet you too, my name is Tejal.’ She said, ‘thank you so much for class Angel.’ <laughter>
Jo Stewart: I mean I guess at least that’s a flattering one <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Yes, I get all the rhyming names: Rachel, Angel, Basil… I’m pretty sure Jesal gets the same variations as me too. <laughs>
Jesal Parikh: I do and I get it from Indian people too, like I get Sagel because that’s a more common girl’s name, all the time, Sagel, I’m Iike, ‘ok sure.’ <laughs>
Jo Stewart: I guess it’s a way to sort out the people who have listened to your podcast and the people who haven’t, or do you even get it from people who listen to you and hear your names all the time on the air?
Jesal Parikh: I mean it happens…
Tejal Patel: I do, yeah…
Jesal Parikh: Yeah… I don’t think it’s, for us when we talked about it I think it was more about, you know wanting to make the effort to get it right rather than making sure you get it right every time because people mess up, it’s fine…
Rane Bowen: Mmm.
Tejal Patel: But like do you care enough to want to put in the effort is kind of the question.
Jo Stewart: But what I really got as well from that first episode is even though the name, like getting the pronunciation a little bit not perfect is one thing, just that fundamental sense of not taking the time to try to learn your name translated into people not remembering who you are as a person, even when you taught them in a yoga class or being in that kind of networking context, to not have the name means you just get lost in the background, which is horrible!
Tejal Patel: Yeah that connection was so critical for so many people to, I think take it out of the context where, ‘oh, they’re just really sensitive and this happens to everybody’. It really put it into the context of there are real impacts to doing this repeatedly, over and over, especially when it’s your livelihood that matters, and it’s your community, so both those, both those situations get so impacted over the course of how ever many instances that occurs. And then it just doesn’t feel good and it repeatedly doesn’t feel good but then it has these other impacts so … I’m glad that it resonated with a lot of people and also that a lot of people felt like ‘this seems different than how I’ve always thought about it’ …
Jo Stewart: Yeah I think really going into the other layers of what’s actually happening there was really powerful. And another thing that you did with that conversation was just pointing out how minimising it is to someone’s experience just to be like, ‘oh this happens to me all the time, this isn’t a big deal’ without thinking about how the context of how often it’s happening and all of those other issues that are tied up with that, can be really different depending on person to person.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah absolutely, it is still trivialising to say to somebody like, ‘I’m not going to bother learning your name therefore you don’t matter,’ it’s exactly that, you know it’s exactly what you’re saying.
Rane Bowen: Nice, well perhaps we could just rewind a little bit. I was wondering if each of you could tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and where you grew up, maybe starting with Jesal?
Jesal Parikh: I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, which is in the US, and it’s about an hour from Boston, if people are familiar with that area. It was like a mostly white town, with very little diversity and my parents had emigrated from India so they were the first in our family to emigrate over. My dad had come to America for college, he had done his second undergraduate and a Masters and he wanted to work in tax, so his dream was to come to America and work in tax and he made that happen for himself.
And, so I grew up in that town like my whole life. I stayed in that one town pretty much, travelling you know, to India occasionally to see family back there, and then I stayed in Massachusetts even for college. I went to Boston University, I graduated and then eventually I got a job in market research. So I worked in the marketing world for several years, working primarily on healthcare market research, and then I decided that it wasn’t for me, and so I was gonna quit my job and I knew I was gonna quit my job to do something else. And then in the meantime I did a yoga teacher training. I was going back to India to see family and so I decided during that time to do teacher training, and so I went back and did it and ended up teaching full-time <laughs> so here we are today.
Jo Stewart: Do you wanna let us know about your background, Tejal?
Tejal Patel: It’s so interesting, Jesal and I have some similar background stuff and then we have different background stuff so, I don’t wanna repeat too much but yeah. We’re both Indian-American and we’re both first generation meaning we were born in the United States and both Gujarati from India, that state in India, and we actually found all that out much later, like when we first met in 2015 but now when we talk about it, about our past, it sounds so similar. <laughs>
I also grew up in a small town in Michigan in the suburbs just 20 miles from Detroit. Actually not also, but I’m from the mid-west, a different region, and it wasn’t like a very diverse area where I grew up and my grade schools weren’t very diverse. I remember there were more Indian kids in the schools I went to than black kids. And then, so I kind of grew up in the framework of just having like an Indian community at home and friends at home but then at school things were, it was a little different, so kinda just elevating the back and forth. And then I went to college in Michigan at Michigan State, and I studied both finance and math and so from there I worked in finance jobs for about 9 years after school. And there was a point in those 9 years that I quit my first job because I wasn’t really learning, engaged, I wasn’t excited. And I tried to look into other day jobs just to see and experience how I might enjoy other day jobs better. But I ended up running out of the money I saved so that really real thing happened and then I had to get another job similar to what I had been doing prior, so I spent about 4 more years still working in finance and, near the end of that time, I decided to pursue a teacher training while I was still working. And I really enjoyed the time that I spent being a student and learning. And right after that I had been told, ‘if you want to become a teacher, if you want to teach more, just do it, just be out there teaching.’ So I started to offer classes, and someone I knew invited me to offer classes in their physical therapy space after they would close down around 5 o’clock on the day, on the weekdays, and I got in there on the weekday evenings and on the weekends, and then I was still trying to practise yoga, I still had my day job, and so about a year, it wasn’t that long, it was about a year later when I realised, ‘I can’t do all of it’ and I had to make a choice. And I realised that I really like my day job, that’s fine, but I’m not as connected to the work as I’d like to be and I think if I could pick what I wanna do, I really realised like ‘hey I can, I think I can pick what I wanna do’ then I’m going to leave my day job to study more yoga, travel for a little bit and then come back and see if I could teach full-time.
Jo Stewart: Wow so interesting to hear how you were on like, parallel paths in different cities with your growing up and your college and then that eventual decision to go from a really stable job into the world of teaching yoga full-time. And I’m wondering as well, for both of you, was yoga a big part of your early upbringing, like was it something that your family did at home together or something that you discovered outside of the home?
Jesal Parikh: It wasn’t really a big part of my upbringing, in like a formal sense. I was first exposed to this idea of yoga like because my parents would make me go to Hindu camp when I was young, so it wasn’t like an all summer thing but you know, at least a week or two for every year we’d go to this Hindu camp and they’d have a yoga teacher come like, who was usually like an old man dressed in robes and long hair, wearing mala beads type thing and he would come and, you’d have to wake up early and he’d sit you down and say ‘here’s some mala beads, okay count them and think of nothing.’ <laughter>
Jo Stewart: And so early in the morning! <laughter>
Jesal Parikh: Exactly! And for a young kid you know like, ‘what!’ you know like, ‘I’m trying to think of nothing’ and all you can think is, ‘how do you think of nothing?’ you know, the whole time. So, um <laughs> it was, it was an interesting experience that first time around and you know, we did some asana but it wasn’t like, it wasn’t like what it looks like now at all, it was just like a couple simple stretches, it was mostly seated meditation. And I remember very distinctly that they taught us how to do pranayama and they had us put like one hand and one hand on our belly and just notice the movement of the body, and I thought that was interesting coz I was confused, I was like, ‘is this what I’m supposed to do?’ that type of thing, like ‘is my body working right?’ so, <laughs> yeah, so you know, when you’re a kid you have no clue. So that was my first exposure and so you know, I, my parents would like expose us to it here and there but they weren’t practicing it. They were, again they were first generation immigrants, sorry they were the immigrants coming from India and like, they didn’t have any help, they were trying to raise two kids and provide and, you know, it wasn’t something that they necessarily had time to do. I did kind of get exposed to it again when I would go back to India because one of my aunts was into it and then in the nineties ‘laughing yoga’ was a big thing in India, so she would go and do laughing yoga. So that was kind of another experience I had with it. And, this isn’t strictly yoga, but my parents would do bhajan every weekend with their friends. It was just a social activity that they did, so they all got together at somebody’s house, every single weekend, and they sang religious songs, and then, at least for like the first half and then you know, you have dinner and then maybe they sing more film songs and, so yeah, I did have some exposure to it but it didn’t look like it does now but, and it wasn’t a regular part of my life.
Jo Stewart: What a pity that laughter yoga wasn’t a thing when you were going to Hindu camp coz that just seems like it would be perfect for a bunch of kids!
Jesal Parikh: Yeah I’m sure it would be! It’s, the whole thing with laughing yoga is that it’s like awkward right, like you start laughing forcibly and then you break out into giggles <laughter> coz it’s so silly so I’m sure, a group of kids it would, that’s exactly what would happen right, you’d be like ‘what is this, it’s so weird’ <laughter> and then you’d just start laughing.
Jo Stewart: I mean sometimes kids just start laughing in the meditation anyway. <laughter>
Tejal Patel: This is Tejal here. I didn’t have a formal exposure either. I wasn’t in classes when I was growing up but my kind of familiarity with yoga starts before I can remember it starting if that makes sense? Because…
Jo Stewart: Mmhmm.
Tejal Patel: … it was part of the artwork in the home, it was part of the books in the home and on Sundays we would go to the temple and pray and on the walls in the prayer hall would be quotes of The Gita, talking about Karma yoga and Jnana yoga and prata yoga, so I’d always felt like just a part of the fabric of my culture and of my identity, and I felt really spiritually connected to it and through the philosophy just from having The Gita in the house and always like, referencing it. We would sing prayers at home on Sundays when we wouldn’t go to temple so that was always a spiritual aspect that we did at home. And I remember ah, I have two older sisters and one of my older sisters would ask if I wanted to try yoga here and there. Nothing consistent. And so I remember being exposed to yoga the first time with her because she invited me to take class with her. And when I finished college and I moved away from home, I realise now that I would seek out yoga classes, in the cities that I lived and the places that I would visit, as a way to like reconnect to some of those feelings and experiences that I had from growing up. Just to feel a little more connection to something that was familiar to me from my upbringing. And that experience never stuck, so I never was consistent at yoga studios, but I made that connection just over the last couple of days that that’s essentially why I would dabble in going to take class. And I think because I realise that it never stuck, it never quite felt the way that I was maybe hoping for it to feel, that’s why I decided to pursue a training where I could be on the student side of it, instead of just receiving something from someone else like unclear [16:14] what it was first and then maybe seek out that experience that would stick.
Jo Stewart: Wow that’s so interesting, so maybe if just in that time of trying all those different classes you’d found that right studio that kind of had that authentic feeling that you’d grown up with, it would’ve been a completely different experience for you?
Tejal Patel: Yeah I think that, I think that might have been, but I mean I have no issues with going in on the teaching aspect of it and, or the teacher training route of it, because that really was my first experience with consistent asana practice - the day I started my teacher training.
Jo Stewart: I think that’s true for a lot of people as well, it’s like the teacher training is when you really have that deeper exploration and there’s more time to talk about the other aspects of yoga beyond the physical, and we’ve had quite a few guests who are teachers who just went to teacher training just to access those deeper layers, never planning to teach.
Jesal Parikh: I think that’s pretty common yeah…
Jo Stewart: So I hope this isn’t too much of a personal question and it’s fine if you don’t want to answer, but I’m just wondering how did your parents feel about you embarking on yoga teaching as a career when you’ve both come out of really stable jobs in like marketing and finance? Where they like proud and excited that you were doing something Indian or were they a bit concerned because they just wanted you to have that stable experience of work?
Tejal Patel: Yeah it’s so smart that you asked that question, like then you were led there [17:39] <laughs> because ah my parents definitely were not excited about the career aspect of it, the giving away of like a very stable finance career and leaping into something, they were like, ‘what? What are you trying to do? Like, go ahead and practice’ and my mum still says it to me, I know it’s really sad, she still says it to me, ‘you know you can teach on the weekend’ you know? <laughter>
Jo Stewart: Awww.
Tejal Patel: So, she’s not super supportive of it, but she’s not actively, it’s not an everyday phone call or text message: ‘please don’t do it’, but she doesn’t really get it…
Jo Stewart: Yeah… <laughter>
Tejal Patel: … she doesn’t get it and I think bridging the gap of ‘what is a podcast?’ <laughter> is also, is also very challenging for her to grasp. And I also run another online community for South Asian yoga mindfulness teachers and she also doesn’t really understand what the goal of these things are and, I find I’m in a really weird cultural paradigm because she appreciates that I like yoga but she definitely doesn’t appreciate that I’m not doing the stable career which is essentially why they moved to the States. They wanted what their impression of safety was for their kids and so they’re a little stuck in that mindset rather than, rather than the mindset of: ‘if you’re really happy then I think you’re safe.’
Jesal Parikh: Yeah my experience is a little bit different but, you know I haven’t actually really thought about it until you asked the question. I will say that my parents are proud that I am doing yoga and like, that I am doing something Indian like you said. I think in the beginning when I quit my job they were just like you know, ‘you need to do something’. My mum, my mum kept saying, ‘go back to school, go to Grad School’ so I think she wanted me to find a different career path for sure, or more stable career path. I don’t think she minded that I was doing yoga but, similarly to Tejal’s mum, she did want me to have something more stable financially in my life.
I think honestly, and this is going to sound terrible but it’s just the truth, I think when I got married they just stopped caring about it. They were like, ‘oh yeah, you do yoga, great’, because my husband makes a stable income, they were like, ‘ok great, we don’t, you don’t have to worry about that’. And so I think from their point of view, they were like, ‘oh as long as he’s doing fine, you’re fine’ and you know, it’s an old school mentality for sure, and I don’t necessarily agree with that mentality and I have a different, <laughter> a different take on how I view my own life right, and so, but if they’re, if they’re fine with it whatever. And it’s funny that Tejal said she’s trying to explain what a podcast is to her mother because the other day I had to try to explain what that is to my 94 year old grandfather, who lives in India and English is his second language, so that was fun. <laughter> He was like, ‘come to India, come to India’ next month and I was trying to tell him, ‘I can’t come because we have to finish this podcast’ and he was like, ‘what are you talking about?’ you know <laughter> I’m like, ‘it’s like a radio but on your phone’, like, how do you explain that to someone?
Tejal Patel: Oh my gosh.
Jo Stewart: That’s pretty much what I’ve tried to say: ‘it’s kind of like a radio show but it’s on the internet and everyone can listen.’ <laughter>
Tejal Patel: Yeah I say that, I say ‘it’s a pre-recorded radio show’ and it doesn’t wow anybody so they’re like ‘okay? And?’ <laughter>
Jesal Parikh: They’re like, so why can’t you leave your life for this? You know, you’re like ‘okay, I don’t know what to tell you’ <laughter>
Jo Stewart: The next question I usually get is ‘how much are you getting paid for this?’ <laughs>
Jesal Parikh: Oh yeah.
Jo Stewart: And that one has a disappointing answer. <laughter>
Jesal Parikh: Yeah <laughter>
Tejal Patel: Yup!
Jo Stewart: So that actually leads me into another really interesting question that I have for you because I love your take on this, and there’s a really interesting distinction to be made between the commercialisation of yoga and just fair working practices that provide teachers with a sustainable income, and sometimes there’s like a real muddying of the water around money and yoga and where people maybe believe that it’s not in the spirit of yoga to be paid fairly as a teacher, um would you like to speak to this?
Jesal Parikh: Yes! Ah Jesal here and I’ll go on this one. I feel like there’s like a double-edged sword going on where on the one hand, you’re not supposed to get paid for yoga but on the other hand, you still have to live your life in a city, like where people live and that’s where they want it, right? And they want it close to them and they’re not going to travel, and they also wouldn’t want to learn yoga from like a homeless person so <laughs> it’s like, ‘hmmm whaddya want?’ right? <laughs> So I think, there is this idea that yoga should be free for all and I do think that, that there should be accessible yoga for everybody, but what we, one of the things we talked about in the episode is as individuals we should be able to make up our mind, like when and how that fits into our life, so that we’re not beholden to the structure because in the olden days, in the South Asian region there is a tradition of people taking care of those in the spiritual realm so, even whether it’s like Buddhism and they have like a Sangha and they accept food and they can’t say no to whatever food is given to them or if it’s like a yogi who’s wandering around with a bowl and begging for food, that’s an acceptable part of society and people will give to them. And people will like, build ashrams for these people to live in because they value the service that they’re giving to society. But we’ve taken this practice and brought it into this capitalistic structure where people don’t really value it in the same way. And especially with yoga because it’s not organised like an organised religion, right? So it’s much harder to fundraise for this thing where like everybody’s kinda doing it individually on this smaller scale versus Christianity, you have like big, large organisations behind this, like fundraising for the Church, so from that sense we have to like try to fit yoga into this new system that’s never existed before. And so people have opened up businesses, they’ve opened up for-profit businesses and our whole thing is, if you’re going to do a for-profit business then the people working there need to get paid and should have a sense of security in terms of food, housing, transportation, belonging in society, and so all of those things need to apply. So, I think there is a muddying but we need to be more clear about like, well we don’t have a structure in place in this society and the structure we’ve created is a capitalistic one and the model that we’ve adopted for yoga is especially a capitalistic one, so we need to treat it as such, until we come up with a different way of doing this. And as such right, right? Each individual as an employee or independent contractor should get paid fairly and on the side, if they feel compelled to create an offering that is more accessible to others in the community that they can’t reach I think that’s their own prerogative. And that’s part of what we’re saying: ‘karma, dharma and seva’ - those things combined is an individualistic thing.
Jo Stewart: Yeah, like that makes a lot of sense and, it’s really interesting as well because people want to practice in a beautiful studio, in a ‘handy to get to’ location, and that doesn’t come for free. There’s no one donating beautiful studios for the benefit of yoga that everyone can come to for free. It’s like you’re saying, part of a system where everyone needs to make money to live and that’s just the reality of life today.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah and I think we had quoted gasayij [24:45] who said something along the lines of: ‘you want yoga but you want it in a five star hotel’. You know same thing applies that with the studio – you want this beautiful studio and you want somebody who looks professional, has access to facilities, has access to nice expensive clothing even …
Tejal Patel: .. has education.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah, is educated. And then the other question I’ve been asking too about this whole thing, like I keep on thinking ‘it’s not over’ for me in my mind but, I keep on thinking like, what do we say when we tell somebody that ‘you shouldn’t get paid to teach yoga’. Are we saying that only bad things in the world are worth money?
Rane Bowen: Mmm.
Jesal Parikh: So if money is like a value system we put on things right, are we saying that only bad things have a value in that good things should not have a value because those things should be free. That’s a question I’ve been grappling with.
Rane Bowen: Mmm. Absolutely. So to change the topic slightly, your podcast has a really professional look and feel and you guys have merch, do you see this as a form of activism that is just using powerful branding to spread your message?
Tejal Patel: So I’ll take this one, this is Tejal here.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah! Go ahead <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Thanks for pointing that out, we really like that you think that it’s professional by the way <laughs> We’re just two girls trying to make a statement here … <laughs>
Jo Stewart: Oh yeah definitely!
Tejal Patel: … so we really appreciate that you notice that part of it. The podcast was just, it was a labour of love to start with and it was just from the two of us and we had to make it reflect us and, so we used colours that pop, we chose a brown girl to be the ‘miss yoga is dead’ because we definitely don’t feel we see enough people of colour represented in yoga, and especially not enough brown people or desi people or South Asian people, we wanted her to be sassy, that ‘I don’t take …
Jo Stewart: I totally get that!
Tejal Patel: Yeah, the ‘I don’t take no shit’ feel to her. <laughs>
Jo Stewart: Mmmhmmm.
Tejal Patel: So we gave her that certain look on her face and we added a skull ring to add more attitude and then, and play off the dead aspect. So that part was really fun for us and also, there was a sense of activism in there because we don’t necessarily feel represented and we realised that our stories were really deeply personal, but they might not be isolated and if that’s the case, we really wanted people to have something that felt representative to like, that message. We’ve been having these conversations on the side, we wanna put them to the forefront and so we wanted our image to be in the forefront as well: ‘pop!’ So we’ve just tried to go really stylish, really bold. We wanted It to be a design that was evocative, like just the way you asked us about it, we really wanted people to talk about that design or feel something when they saw it.
But in terms of like intentionally aiming for a strong design as a form of activism, I don’t know that it was the priority. I think our priority was really what I just mentioned and also, we wanted to use design that was a little bit organised, in a way, so if you notice our podcast covers are all the same script but the colours just interchange, so still that bright colouring, because we wanted it to be attention grabbing. So I think it is powerful and I do think that it draws people in but I don’t think intentionally we aimed for that activism feel.
And then for the people who supported us and supported that work, we wanted to have merchandise that reflected our message. Again, we wanted there to be more representation of, within the imaging you see around yoga. We wanted people who were interested in sharing that they enjoyed our work to be able to show something that they liked our work. The whole package I feel like was our attempt at being professional but also authentic to who we were, and it was important to us because, to have a kind of package, because it created like these layers of defence around our message in a way. If people saw the name of the podcast and felt triggered or upset, then they might do some research but the information is all well organised, they had somewhere to go, to research what might have triggered them. I think that whole package is what we were trying to offer people, to give them more education and knowledge around what we wanted to say.
Jo Stewart: Yeah I think that definitely shines through and I think, maybe this is just an example of how just being really authentic and expressing who you are visually, people really get that and they really connect with it, and then there’s the other side like you mentioned, of people, it stirs something in them and they’re like, ‘woah, why’s this making me feel uncomfortable?’ Hopefully if they’re thoughtful, they’re like, ‘let me explore into this and do a bit more research and kind of see why this is triggering something in me.’ I guess this also comes to the name of the podcast, which I’m sure a lot of people think is really controversial and you’ve probably got lots of questions about. Was that name just something that like immediately came to your mind or was it something that you kind of workshopped together?
Jesal Parikh: Well we workshopped for a long time! <laughs> It took us at least several months to come up with this name, and we were going back and forth for months and months and months, and then when, I think it came out of Tejal’s mouth I was like, ‘yes!’ and the funny thing is like a week later I was looking through my notes and I had written something similar, like, weeks before and I just, I guess I hadn’t said it or seen it or, so it was, it was the perfect name for both of us. It’s definitely controversial; people get confused about it. They also think we’re speaking literally and so they don’t really understand like, as millennials, this is kinda like millennial slang, and I hesitate to call ourselves millennials <laughter> because we’re like older millennials but <laughs> so we’re kinda still, you know in the middle with the slang and so we know, when you say something is dead, it’s just kind of slang for like, it’s over or it’s passé or you know, it’s just not cool anymore, and so we get a lot of people who are like older than us who are like, ‘but yoga is everywhere, it’s not dead!’ <laugher> we’re like, it’s not what we’re saying, no, you know <laughs>
Rane Bowen: Hello! Rane popping in just to let you know about our Patreon page. Now Patreon is just a way that you can help support the Podcast for as little as $1 a month. Higher tiers get access to extra special content as well as a listing on our website and a shout out on the Podcast. We use these funds to transcribe our favourite episodes so they’re accessible to the hearing impaired or anyone who would prefer to read these interviews. You can read them on our website right now at: podcast.flowartists.com. If you enjoy our conversations with amazing teachers, we would love your support! Just go to patreon.com/flowartistspodcast.
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That’s more than enough from me! Let’s get back to our conversation with Tejal and Jesal.
Rane Bowen: I’m just curious, how have your lives changed since you started the podcast?
Jesal Parikh: Honestly, they’ve just gotten busier <laughter> ah, I, I think we can speak to this individually, like I personally feel like my day-to-day life besides, I’m sitting at my computer a lot more, I’m doing a lot more work, but my day-to-day life outside of that hasn’t really changed all that much. It changes when I interact with people that you know, maybe have listened to the podcast or we’re in a yoga-specific space and people kind of know who we are. That’s like interesting to me where somebody’d be like, ‘oh I’ve heard your work, it was so great!’ or ‘I resonated with that!’ or things like that. But like, on a day-to-day I just feel like I’m still sitting in front of my computer, I’m still going out and teaching my privates and I’m still doing the things I would normally do. So when I say, it’s just gotten busier, it kind of is true. It just got busier <laughs>
Tejal Patel: It definitely has gotten busier and because I do teach group classes I’ve had people come to class because they’ve listened to the podcast. That was quite a shock at first and it was a way to really kind of marry like, this nebulous internet world and then realise like, I’m making personal connections with people from that, which is incredible, and we interact with so many more people now. I think that’s just been wild for me to be in communication with so many more people than I’ve ever been, so it’s been busy but I feel like we’ve, we’re really just doing our best to stay afloat, like on top of all of it coz it’s gotten so busy.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah I feel like I’m just on my phone a lot more and my husband’s like, ‘why are you always on your phone?’ you know, <laughs> ‘I’m answering, I’m tryna answer all these messages!’
Jo Stewart: Tejal um, I’m not sure if this is something you were doing before the podcast came out, but I think maybe I saw it on your Instagram how you’ve been leading a few yoga and race issues workshops. I’m wondering if that’s something you’re, like people are asking for you to come and do that at their studios now or if you’ve always been doing that and I’ve only just heard about it in Australia because now I follow you on social media when I wouldn’t have done that before you had a podcast because I just wouldn’t have know about you?
Tejal Patel: Yeah, oh that’s so interesting. I had been leading those prior to the podcast, so that’s really where my interest was heading towards for me. Jesal and I started talking about the podcast in January 2018, so it took us a while to get to June 2019 where we actually had an episode to release. But I have been leading those classes over a year now, so that’s been really great. It’s been really great because the yoga that I teach, the yoga that I offer, has been getting closer and closer towards what’s really important to me and then I’ve been able to create the podcast with Jesal which is closer and closer towards what’s important to me, so I feel like a lot of my work is in this beautiful synergy right now, where I can continue to talk about things consistently throughout my day, rather than in certain packets and places where it’s only welcome or only accepted.
Jo Stewart: I guess as well, like when you put a podcast out, you know it’s reaching people and people are listening but it’s just going out into, into the ether of technology but then when you’re also, concurrently running the workshops you get to make real personal connections with people, and I imagine people get to ask you the questions that have come up for them once they’ve started thinking about these issues, have you had any really like great questions from people or moments that come to mind or just—I know this work can be really hard—but has there been a really rewarding moment that has just made it all worthwhile or is it just that knowledge that like, yup this is something that needs to be done and that’s what keeps you going?
Tejal Patel: There are so many, I’ll just say like, battles, small battles that we’ve won along the way and stories that we’ve heard from people that have been really uplifting. And I have a couple experiences in the studio setting where I work or primarily spend most of my time, where we’ve had these hard conversations around diversity within the teaching staff, we’ve had conversations around pay for community classes. And they have been really challenging professional conversations for me, but because the team that I, I really feel grateful to work with in the studio setting, and I’m just an employee there I’m not in management, a management member, but as an employee, we have a structure where those conversations have become something really positive, and I feel like being able to talk about that in my day job in the studio, also on the podcast—and that’s what I meant about having the space to do my work everywhere I go—has been really really gratifying. So, it’s all very encouraging so far.
Rane Bowen: In your guru episode, you named and shamed a few so-called gurus and their wrongdoings and I know a few people I know commented that they were sort of worried about potential ramifications from doing that, for you guys mainly. Did you receive any pushback from that episode in particular?
Jesal Parikh: Not in terms of the legality of it. And to be honest we were striving to be very intentional about it, from the get go, and for all the episodes for that matter. We made things clear when it was like an allegation, when things are an accusation. And I think it’s pretty obviously an opinion when we say something is an opinion. And everything that we talked about in the gurus episode is documented and there, so there are, have been rather, things that weren’t documented that we wanted to mention that were maybe like, on a blog or in a rumour that we heard, or through the grapevine but we, we omitted those things because we wanted to be sure that we kind of covered our bases from that point of view. So no, we didn’t have any legal issues and we don’t have any fear of legal issues because we just made sure. <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Yup.
Jesal Parikh: And then we’ve like posted you know if you, you’ve, visited our website, we have pages and pages of like resources for each episode so, when it comes to like the gurus, we’re still working on that section but we’ve put so many links to all the things that you can read out there on each individual that we talked about so it’s not, we didn’t come up with it on our own, at all. In cases where like, I think there was like an anecdote that Tejal told where she like witnessed something, we didn’t name names. Where it was like an anecdotal story somebody told us, we also didn’t name names so, we were conscientious about that as well.
Rane Bowen: Fair enough. And in your vinyasa episode you talk about the Mark Singleton book, Yoga Body, and how it’s good to be sceptical of his conclusions and how they may even be a form of ‘white washing’ and I think we agree with your view. Would you like to speak to this a little bit?
Tejal Patel: Yeah. So we bought that book up and we actually noticed in his words, that people are taking the conclusions from his book in a way that he explicitly stated not to do. He said he was investigating, he said he was researching, he said it was theories. And I think we actually quoted that. Jesal, did we actually quote that in the episode? What Mark was saying about his work?
Jesal Parikh: Yes we did, we had that whole section. Yeah we had that whole section that he wrote.
Tejal Patel: And he described how challenging it is to try and trace back the origins so we made sure to state that piece, because I think what’s happening is a problem, where people are walking away saying, ‘this is the origin story’ or ‘this is the point of view that makes the rule’. So we have healthy scepticism about taking that book and then running with it for a couple of reasons. We pointed out that we know academia is pretty biased, 53% of professors are white males, so everything around the background and study, and then studying from people who look and think like you can become a problem, not saying that it is always, but it can create a false consensus. And then you know, Mark Singleton works for a European institution with a Eurocentric viewpoint. For us, that creates heightened level of awareness around the history of colonisation by European countries of India and of the South Asian region, so we just wanna keep that at the forefront as well. We know that Singleton and his colleagues, again that structure of who is in academia, are really benefitting from white supremacy culture. They’re benefitting from being males who are white and who are given opportunity to recognise and unrecognise biases. And we haven’t actually seen anything in their research or in their discussions that addresses that, so that’s not necessarily something they’re considering about where the work is coming from, how the work is being directed or pulled from. So that’s a problem for us, and the team structure that we’ve noticed, there are a few South Asian people on his team but none of them are in high positions or positions of real power within that structure. And something we talked a lot about in episode 1 is that you want to have authentically diverse viewpoints and opinions coming forward, make sure that your representation is diverse. And make sure that it’s not just a structure where the people in power all look that same, and they are the ones managing people who look differently or think differently or have different backgrounds, so try and diversify truly within all levels of your organisation.
Jo Stewart: It’s kind of mind blowing. It’s like if you’re researching an aspect of South Asian culture, why aren’t some of the most senior people on that research team from that culture?
Jesal Parikh: Yeah it’s a great question, right <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Yeah and you know, it’s mind blowing but it happens in every aspect of yoga teaching and yoga backgrounds. And, not to name, but some of the bigger yoga educational institutions out there or where people will go to get their information, is what you talked about, like it’s diverse at all. The bodies of, not the bodies but the groups of people that are the experts – not diverse at all.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah and I mean, we have some more reasons to be sceptical. He wrote this book and he created this narrative and it, and we know for a fact that most of the texts out there that are about yoga, the ancient texts, haven’t been translated yet, so you know that’s like another reason to be sceptical. Another reason to be sceptical is that, this is my understanding and I’m willing to be wrong on this one, but from my understanding they’re looking primarily at yoga-specific texts and now they’re not even looking at other cultural references and influences, so if you’re coming in from an outside point of view, and you’re only looking for this one thing, you’re sort of missing the bigger picture, in my opinion. And then the other thing is that, in yoga we have a history of like passing things down orally, and so they’re looking at the written word coz that’s like where white supremacy culture says ‘this is valid’ – only if it’s written down. But from our perspectives and our like understanding, things have been passed down orally from student, or teacher to student rather, for generations and generations and even so much of we’ve learnt from our families has been an oral passing of tradition. And so it’s like, where do you account for the things that you don’t know because things haven’t been written down? So it’s like a lot of levels of scepticism. I’m not saying like his work should be invalidated, but we should be asking ‘what about the things we don’t know?’ and ‘where are you getting anecdotal evidence?’ and ‘are you talking to like people are 100 years old or close to it and getting their point of view?’ Just to validate or the different point of view on what you’re researching right?
Jo Stewart: Yeah definitely! And like what you’re saying about all of those texts that haven’t been translated, why aren’t you drawing on that knowledge if people are actually speak those languages of that text, or if it’s Sanskrit, have studied those languages and access all of that other information about this field that you’re trying to research?
Jesal Parikh: Yeah it’s like a lot we don’t know basically, right? And then all of it, there’s so much unknown and you’ve written a book with some conclusions that, or at least people take it very conclusively, and I know he wrote that in his foreword of his book or whatever to not take it so literally but, people have, like Tejal said, have, they’ve taken these conclusions and ran with them and created their own narratives and I don’t see his team coming out with any like contradictory statements saying, like ‘actually, please don’t use our work in this way.’
Rane Bowen: And even then, I guess he, he did go on to write The Roots of Yoga with James Mallinson and they actually do catalogue quite a few ancient practices from India that they’ve translated from some texts as well but yeah, no I totally get what you guys are, are saying here, and I guess it’s a slightly related question, but what do you think is the role of white people when it comes to speaking of colonisation, cultural appropriation or issues that may pertain to people of colour, because I sometimes see, I guess white people taking the lead or even profiting from these issues which does make me a little bit uneasy.
Tejal Patel: Oh thanks for mentioning that Rane. I think, let’s take it in two parts Jesal. I think they’re, the role isn’t that cut and dry but it’s also not super challenging. I guess, let me just break that down, because I think there are many ways for white people to be involved. Many many ways. Like continue to seek out teachers from different backgrounds than yours, different ethnic groups than yours, South Asian teachers specifically. Develop genuine relationships with those teachers and then if you have a platform where you can, employ them, and then not only employ them but partner with them through fair and equitable partnerships, nothing um shady or really belittling their background or education and saying, ‘look, I don’t have money but I’d love for you to do the work’ - that kind of partnering. I think if you don’t have the privilege to create opportunities or employment opportunities for others, seek out minority-owned businesses where you can invest your dollars for training and for practice. That’s like a great way to show that you’re in solidarity with other folks, that you are not only an ally but you’re an accomplice; you’re using your dollars to help level up other people and their businesses as well. And then also like, the one that might be the most overlooked or challenging aspect of this work, but I guess I can’t really speak to that, is asking white folks to speak to other white folks about these issues. That’s something that people can start immediately. Start learning how to have the conversations like more frequently and with more of your white peers and allies so that we can start normalising all the work that people of colour have consistently and historically been doing for everyone. Just normalise all the work that’s before us by talking about it and finding ways to talk about it that’s acceptable and accessible to basically everyone. Again, like I was mentioning, like so that you can talk about the things you’re interested in all the time rather than only in certain spaces.
Jesal Parikh: And just to add to that too, I do think that there is a role for white people, even in leadership positions at times, but you have to be careful too, like we do want white people to talk to their own communities, but at times it could end up being like the blind leading the blind if there isn’t someone there helping direct the conversation, right? Or helping to recognise, ‘oh you’re missing this important piece’ like: ‘don’t forget about this!’ Just because when you are white you’re so blind to it because you don’t have to notice it, right? So partnering with a person of colour we think is like so so important, it’s like the ‘best practice’ if you will, of being a person who does benefit from white privilege and wanting to do this sort of work. And we do end, think that it ends up being like sometimes like performative allyship if you don’t partner, because if you’re only, you said profiting right? If you’re only doing something for your own benefit because it makes you look good or you get validation from it, then it is performative. And we think that sometimes that performative nature isn’t always conscious, right? Sometimes it’s subconscious, like sometimes it is conscious, people are just like, ‘ well, I wanna look cool and I wanna look like I’m a social justice warrior’ or whatever it is but… We’ll give you an example of when it’s subconscious. We had somebody reach out to us recently about participating in an event that they were putting together because they wanted to uplift our voices. And they were charging for this event and they were not going to pay us or any of the speakers, but it was an event that they were charging money for and so they didn’t wanna, they didn’t wanna do any profit-sharing because to them they were making the upfront investment, they were doing all the work behind the scenes to put it together, and so they were looking at it from that point of view. And so their whole thing was like ‘well we’ll be getting you an audience’ and I’m like, ‘yeah but there’s a pay wall between the audience and me, and effectively I’m lending you my audience and I’m not getting paid and I’m not getting any access to that audience’ like I’m not getting an email list or like access, you know to the social media, I’m not taking over your social media or anything like that, so at the end of the day like that whole event was benefitting the white person organising it much much more, disproportionately more than it would have benefitted any of the individual speakers. And so I think we have to ask, like if you’re a white person and you’re trying to do allyship work, the essential question is: who’s benefitting the most from this action? And if the white person is still benefitting the most, regardless of whether they think they put in more work or whatever, then they’re still upholding the status quo, they’re still upholding this white supremacist like culture around us, and so if we want to dismantle racism, I think it is okay for white people to even profit off this work but they have to be very very careful that they’re not the prime beneficiary of this work; that other people are benefitting much much more in a greater capacity than they are.
Jo Stewart: And I think that’s a really important and powerful message just to put out there for people to absorb, that even if maybe that organiser was just a little bit misguided and their intention really was to put an important message about diversity out there, your intention is not as important as your actions, so if they’re getting paid from this event and nobody else is; this is the real world, they’re profiting and that’s something that they’ve got to look into and just keep in mind. So thank you so much for sharing that story.
Tejal Patel: Absolutely.
Jesal Parikh: Yeah no, absolutely it’s exactly like the, it’s like: are you just maintaining that power structure inadvertently, like you’re the white person at the top and then everyone else is below you? And if you are, even inadvertently perpetuating that power structure, then you’re not dismantling racism, so your allyship is not allyship.
Rane Bowen: Mmm. I’ve seen memes on Instagram and Facebook and, along the lines of, ‘if you become offended you are not fully healed’ and, I think even one had a picture of Bruce Lee on it for some reason, I must have been grumpy when I wrote these questions and I’m obviously not fully healed <laughs> but I’d like to hear your take on this sentiment.
Tejal Patel: <laughs> First of all, that’s, memes are, taken so out of context, don’t you think?
Rane Bowen: Mmm.
Tejal Patel: Like, there’s a meme out there and then you’re supposed to feel better about life, the world, everything around you <laughs>
Jo Stewart: Mmhmm <laughs>
Tejal Patel: So, I think memes are a little pushy sometimes <laughs> and ah I actually think that more people can feel bad after reading memes than better, sometimes. Like, ‘oops they’re made to feel that I had this human reaction about a thing and now I feel totally bad about myself for having that human reaction, rather than better. Becoming offended means I haven’t quite subjugated my ability to be offended enough, so now I’m a bad person’. I think that throws a lot of the meaning about yoga, a lot of the meaning about what we want to do with yoga instead, it just like throws that around in a bad way. And we’ve also put out Yoga is Dead memes where we’ve intentionally wanted people to think twice after reading it. I know we put up a post that said, ‘if we’re pissing you off then you’ve got work to do’.
Jo Stewart: <laughter> Which is like the inverse of that meme! <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Yeah, yeah. I know why we did it! <laughs> So we did it as a way to you know, like differentiate between ‘are you explosively react to this and immediately get on your keyboard and feel really offended?’ versus sitting with how you’re feeling, taking that moment, that pause, registering what it is that you feel, and then trying to unpack why you might feel triggered after reading that and whether or not it’s just a defence mechanism to cover something else up.
Jo Stewart: I can’t remember if it was in your podcast or if it was in something that you posted on your social media but it was something around, ‘if something has got you feeling defensive, like look into that’ and that one really resonated with me.
Tejal Patel: Yeah, I think, I mean I think you’re quoting the one we posted, which is different, your words are more polite <laughter> Yeah so, and in the first episode we made a very clear disclaimer about these type of explosive reactions that people might have to an episode called ‘White women killed yoga’, and we asked people to consider why they might think that their opinions and their explosive reactions were more valid and more important than our voices being heard.
Rane Bowen: Mmm.
Tejal Patel: It’s really like a question to sit with and say, ‘why don’t we live in a way that allows for both of our responses?’ Or a variety of responses to coexist. And like, in terms of the meme you mentioned, your healing doesn’t need to be on my time …
Jo Stewart: Mmmhmm.
Tejal Patel: … and so please don’t feel bad about that.
Jo Stewart: And so, I’m a white woman and I really enjoyed that episode, and I think one of the things that you do really masterfully is you weave personal stories and humour and productive suggestions for change into your message. So it’s like you share your own story, you share the issues, you share how we can all move forward and do better in the future, when a lot of people’s kneejerk reaction is just to get really defensive when they’re confronted with these uncomfortable truths. Do you feel, like do you consciously bring in a bit of levity when you are asking these tough questions and are sharing these messages that can be really uncomfortable for people, to kind of lighten the tension?
Jesal Parikh: Absolutely! But I don’t know if we do it for the reason you think <laughter> We do it, we honestly do it more for ourselves more than anything else because, okay let’s rewind. Like Tejal and I have zero background in creating media and like writing these types of narratives up until now, and so the first, especially the first episode, like now we’re sort of going back and redoing the episodes and we’re being more intentional about it as well but that first episode, like we were just laughing because, this is hours and hours of work and we’re bringing that levity in for us, do you know what I mean? <laughter>
Jo Stewart: Oh yeah self care is important for you, like you’re the ones doing the unclear [53:29] labour <laughter>
Rane Bowen: Yeah …
Jesal Parikh: Exactly! And so…
Rane Bowen: … and make it fun yeah!
Jesal Parikh: Right, and I don’t think we can have a conversation about race and like not bring humour in without us both ending up on a heap on the floor just like, depressed and crying <laughter> so I think we needed that humour to keep it light and for us, you know we’re also taking in as much media as we are, more, than we’re putting out there and so we’re also talking about like things that we’ve seen, we’ve heard and that just brings levity into it I think naturally too when you’re referencing other things you’ve seen. And you know, in terms of like, you saying, ‘oh well, you bring positivity and you bring like, more resources and you give action items’, we are very discerning listeners, we are so impatient with our, with anything, we’re just New Yorkers right, so we’re super impatient. <laughter> We’re like ‘alright right, come on yes yes’ so when we hear ourselves, it’s painful, like we have edited that, every episode so carefully because we like, want the pace to be quicker; we don’t wanna be annoyed listening to it. Like, if we would be annoyed then we know other people would be annoyed. And so, what you said with like bringing in the positivity, like that’s another aspect, like I don’t wanna hear an episode of someone just like complaining the whole time and then the end is like, no conclusion, <laughter> you know what I mean? I wanna hear, like we expose the truths but we wanna keep it actionable so that it’s interesting and that it’s something you can take out outside of just the podcast. Like I wouldn’t wanna listen to a podcast that was just, ‘oh here are all the problems and I have no solutions to offer you.’ And so that’s why we created this solution-oriented outlook and this positive sort of light at the end of the tunnel outlook with all of our work and we’ve created the companion content to go along with that as well.
Jo Stewart: Oh I think it’s really powerful because it’s like, you shine a light on these issues, and then you’re like, ‘here’s what you can do about it!’
Jesal Parikh: Yeah and it challenges us to think about it too, right? Like we didn’t come with the solutions but we realised in creating this that we needed to come up with some solutions. So we actually had to sit down and intentionally say like, ‘okay, well what do we want people to do? What do we want to see? What could we do? What do we think we could do?’ And we tend to look at it as much as we can through three different lenses: We look at it at through the lens of the teacher, the yoga teacher, ‘coz we are both yoga teachers, but we also sympathise with studio owners and business owners and we also understand that the students have some agency in the situation as well, so it’s like, can we look at every issue that we’re exposing through these three lenses and can, what can we offer each group?
Rane Bowen: Springing from that, do you see the Yoga is Dead project as having a conclusion or an end goal?
Jesal Parikh: That’s a very good question <laughs>
Tejal Patel: We got this question and we’re like, ‘wellll, we don’t really know’. We can’t say for sure that we started it with this end goal in sight and even now that we’re, we’re at a point in our first season that we’re working to finish up two more episodes, we still aren’t very clear on what that, like, end goal might look like, so…
What we can say is like, throughout the process so many beautiful things have come out of it, so many connections, conversations have come out of it and we’re interfacing with people on a whole nother level: personally, in a consulting manner, we’re offering workshops now for folks ah, so we’re going to continue just meeting people through social media, interviews like this, you know cross unclear [56:54] <laughs> and maybe take our workshops and like this whole show like on the road, we don’t know, but we’re just on this journey and we’re open to seeing where it will take us.
Rane Bowen: We’re reaching near the end of our time together, so I was just wondering if you guys could distil everything that you’ve learnt and everything that you teach and share on the podcast down to one core thing, what do you think that one thing would be?
Jesal Parikh: That’s a big question! <laughs>
Tejal Patel: Aha.
Rane Bowen: We save it for last.
Jesal Parikh: <laughter> Tejal do you have any thoughts on this?
Tejal Patel: Mine’s a little flowery, I don’t know if it’s going to be Jesal’s, but I think it’s gonna be like: never underestimate yourself. Investigate why you might think your story’s not valid or why it’s not the right time to do something, what is it that you’re waiting for? And then once you’ve figured that out, you might realise that like, now is the time to go ahead and do that big thing that you’re scared of or weren’t sure you were skilled enough to do or whatever it is, like don’t underestimate yourself, because this journey has really solidified that for me, and definitely with the help and support of Jesal, we’ve gotten it to a place where I had not seen us getting to, in my wildest estimations, and we’re reaching people, we’re actually achieving like life goals of mine, of community and engagement, you know on different levels and I just never would have thought that would be possible for a podcast. So that’s mine!
Jesal Parikh: Mine is, and I guess, this also sounds cheesy but these conversations, the conversations are so important and need to be had so many times, like the same conversation over and over again. That is my key takeaway from this whole process because when Tejal and I started out, we started out were thinking we were going to do a podcast. This whole original idea was not what we wanted to do, we wanted to do a podcast where two very similar people with similar backgrounds end up having different conclusions. And what ended up happening is through conversation, and having the same conversation over and over and over again, we listened to each other more, we created more empathy, we started taking in information differently, and now we have much more of a similar outlook, on every topic that we’ve talked about. And so we figured if that can happen for us of course that can happen for other people. So if other people start taking these conversations and having them dozens of times, the same conversation, hopefully we all reach a place of greater understanding.
Jo Stewart: That’s awesome, thank you so much for those wonderful insights and I felt like they were from the heart, but not flowery, just like a lot of truth in there…
Rane Bowen: Mmm. And Jo and I are all about the cheesy anyway so…
Jo Stewart: Oh yeah <laughter> yeah maybe I just can’t see it because I’m just, that’s who I am <laughter>
Rane Bowen: Thank you both so much for creating this wonderful podcast, we’ve learnt a lot from it and I know many many other people have as well so yeah, thank you.
Tejal Patel: Thank you!
Jesal Parikh: Yeah no we’ve loved doing this one!
Rane Bowen: Alright, that was a great conversation, I loved speaking with them both. I’d love to meet them in person, I hope I someday get the chance.
Alright for our next episode we’re speaking with former President of Yoga Australia, Jose Goossens. Jose was one of Jo’s teachers back when she did her yoga teacher training at CAE and I’m sure she’s probably taught many hundreds if not thousands of yoga teachers in Australia, so that episode will really be something to look out for.
Alright, our theme song is Baby Robots by Ghost Soul and is used with permission. Get his music from ghostsoul.bandcamp.com.
Jo and I would like to honour the elders of these wisdom traditions of yoga and mindfulness from India and beyond, as well as honouring the traditional custodians of the land where this podcast is recorded, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulun Nation.
Thank you so so much for listening. Jo and I really appreciate you spending your time with us. Arohanui, big big love.