Combining the seven teachings with Eastern yoga practice
This episode originally broadcast on April 21, 2016.
Jade Harper was lying in a hot yoga class when the idea of combining Indigenous teachings and Eastern practices came to her in early 2015.
"My experience in the sweat lodge and the yoga studio kind of came to my mind," she said. "That was the first time I actually thought of bringing the two together."
From there, Harper created SpiritFusion, a mobile yoga and wellness studio.
She connected with a friend who is a hand drum singer and asked her to bring her drum to the studio.
"I thought it would be really nice to have someone drum me through my practice because I find so much healing in our songs and in the drum and drawing strength from that drum."
Seven Sacred Teachings
Harper also incorporates the seven sacred teachings as part of the initial meditation in her classes.
The seven teachings are traditional laws that form the foundation of the Indigenous way of life, they include: love, humility, respect, courage, honesty, truth and wisdom.
Harper is aware that combining what some would see as sacred Indigenous teachings with the East Indian tradition of yoga might be called cultural appropriation. But because she includes elders in her classes and approaches them for guidance, she hasn't had to deal with that type of criticism yet.
In fact, when approaching this fusion of cultures, she discovered a similarity between the two.
"I know that there are so many connections beyond yoga, like colonization," she said "When they were colonized, it was illegal to practice yoga, very similar to what happened here in Canada when it was illegal to practice our own traditions."
Harper said this history of colonization and loss of culture might make some skeptical of integrating the two. But, for her, that integration doesn't have to mean a loss of what makes each of them unique.
"Right now trying we are trying to ensure that our children know our teachings and our culture and our language," she said. "I actually feel like this is one of the ways that I am sharing our traditional culture and who we are."