Teaching Airo in India
Author: Natalie Basch
In 2020 I came to India to reconnect with my Yoga Practice. I was supposed to stay for 2 weeks and I ended up staying for 22 months. Not only did I have the opportunity to develop my Ashtanga practice but I also had the opportunity to teach Airo at the birthplace of Yoga.
I initially had reservations about teaching Airo in India. I felt that I was not allowed to have a voice in a country, where Yoga originated and amongst teachers who practically grew up with Yoga and embodied it in so many ways. I also did not want to overstep cultural boundaries and was well aware of cultural appropriation with regards to Yoga.
Cultural appropriation is defined as “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society”.
Yoga is now largely taught by Westerners, and it can not be ignored. Search for Yoga on Google and Instagram and you will predominantly find images of white women posing in asanas. It can even be said that Yoga businesses with renowned teachers and high priced trainings are indeed not Indian. This could fall under cultural appropriation as non-native Indian teachers, myself included, are profiting and benefiting from a practice that is culturally and inherently not ours. Rather than pretending, that this is not a topic of concern and using the spiritual bypass of ” Yoga is for All”, it is a relevant topic that should be open for discussion.
This was my initial concern with starting to teach Airo in India. But the demand was there, the classes grew and students asked for training. I tried to be as transparent as possible about the origin of the practice and the swing (all of which originate from India) and encouraged my students to explore and further their educations in traditional Yoga practices after their training.
Students, therefore, receive an all-around understanding of the Airo practice, they are equipped with a methodology that works to teach this form of aerial Yoga AND they would have understood where the Yoga practice originates from.
My time in India has helped me deepen my understanding of the traditional Yoga practices, the beauty of mythology and philosophy and helped me add a much deeper layer and dimension to Airo Yoga. I am aware that I am sharing and teaching something that is innately not my culture but it is something that I believe in. I had the privilege of choosing this and I was able to put it into a form that appeals to the students of today – the modern-day Yogi.
Yoga works. And my intention with Airo is to share and preserve aspects of the traditional teachings and to bring more awareness to people on the powerful effects Yoga can have in our lives. And perhaps even act as a reminder to those, who may have initially grown up with Yoga but choose to veer away from it because it seemed outdated.
As my journey now continues to other parts of the world, Airo remains in India, with the newly qualified teachers, the majority of which are Indian. Airo Yoga is now being offered in Thane at Suvis Yoga House, in Patnem at Anand Yoga Village and we also have teachers in Bangalore and Hyderabad who will start teaching classes soon too.
Feel free to message about classes in your area or city. Online classes and courses continue and keep a lookout for where I’ll be heading next. And let’s not be afraid to discuss cultural appropriation or preservation of Yoga, because it is a relevant one for all of us.
Lots of love,