Up in Canada, Jennifer Scharf has had the yoga class she’s been teaching for the last 8 years — designed to include disabled students — cancelled by the University of Ottawa. Was it due to the low enrollment? No (the class was attended by as many as 60 students). Was it a financial concern? No. Scharf actually volunteered to teach the class for free.
So why did the University of Ottawa Student Federation have the class nixed from the schedule? That’s what Scharf also wanted to know when she emailed a student representative, who informed her that the class had been cancelled because:
“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from. Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.”
But it’s “just stretching,” Scharf countered. “Yoga in its truest form is not a religion and is practiced by many religions. I would never want to culturally impose anything.”
Out of respect, Scharf even offered to rename the class, saying that it was just “stretching” for “mental health,” and while the student representative initially seemed to agree, the student association ultimately nixed it, “basically saying they couldn’t get a French name and nobody wants to do it.”
So, there will be no Yoga at the University of Ottawa this semester, and it’s not because anyone was offended. In fact, there were zero complaints recorded. The CBC tracked down several Hindus who were just as perplexed, with one Hindu man who has been practicing Yoga for 50 years saying, “Imagine how much good they’re doing for themselves. They’ll live a long and very happy life.”
In other words, they shut it down because they were afraid that someone somewhere someday might be offended.