Yoga and LGBTQ History: Who is Your Teacher?

yoga lgbt history blog

After another yoga class where I tried to stay on my own mat (this is metaphoric for my non-yogi readers) and not envy the young and dexterous millennial pretzeling on my right or the less dexterous but muscular Gen Y’er to my left, I decided to offer a suggestion to my loving and kind 30-something yoga teacher; why not offer a class for women over a certain age?

She embraced the idea immediately. And then she asked if I thought it appropriate for her to teach a class about something she hadn’t experienced.

That is the question I have asked myself for years. Is there something inherently inauthentic in teaching about an identity group, if you are not a member of that group?

Because I am Jewish by identity, do I have a better understanding of anti-Semitism? Certainly, I have experienced anti-Semitism, but does that make me more qualified to teach about the Holocaust? Do I have a special obligation to teach Holocaust history? In contrast, am I less qualified to teach about slavery, the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Trail of Tears?

All things being equal, is it better to have a member of a group teach that group’s history. If we add the caveat, all things are never equal, then what? Does the answer change if the teacher is not a member of the group, but the students are?

Can a straight female/male teacher adequately teach LGBTQ history? Please leave your comments here and let’s have a discussion!

Namaste ….