notes for Brighton

Honouring our sources

It’s just a quick post this time, after a long, full month, and a long day delivering my final, bound thesis to the university Research Degrees Office, and celebrating my supervisor, who’s retiring to spend more time with his writing and less with institutional bureaucracy. It was a day, therefore, of that particular form of enthusiastic awkwardness so common among scholars. I begin here, then, by honouring Gwilym Beckerlegge, and the Open University, for both quietly supporting non-traditional students, amplifying marginalised voices, and their unshakeable belief that there is a better, fairer, more innovative way to do scholarship, for more decades than either of them wish to count.

This past weekend, I spent the day with a group of yoga folk in Brighton clustered around Pete Blackaby, presenting a day workshop about the most up to date research into yoga, on the rise of post-lineage networks and their risks and rewards, and with a chaser introduction to the concepts of epistemology, ontology and axiology. They were an enthusiastic group, with plenty of questions and much discussion.

I ended the day with a summing up slide of the best ways that people involved in the sharing of yoga can honour the sources of knowledge that we depend on. Here’s the list, because it turns out to be of interest and use to many more of you. It’s not definitive, and it provokes as much debate as anything else, and that is all to the good. It’s something perhaps we can think about living up to together.

  • Being as well-informed as we can about the emerging history of yoga
  • Being as well-informed as we can about the evolving science of bodies moving and sitting
  • Understanding what the best research looks like
  • Being clear that sometimes anecdotal evidence is all we have
  • Being clear about our own scope of practice
  • Telling our students how we know what we know
  • Understanding the relevance of vertical and horizontal knowledge transfer
  • Asking our teachers how they know what they know
  • Understanding the patterns of power and even abuse within the systems in which we learn
  • Honouring diversity and honesty in epistemologies and ontologies
  • Finding common ground in our axiology
  • Amplifying marginalised voices, especially of South Asian origin
  • Practicing #JivanasHomework
  • Practicing good citational politics

Jivana’s homework comes direct from Jivana Heyman of Accessible Yoga. It means pushing back against competitiveness and market forces by making efforts to share and support the work of other yoga folk we admire. There’s a hashtag and everything. And good citational politics means being conscientious in crediting ideas to those who create them.

Oh, and my schedule for the year isn’t quite full yet, if you want me to come and talk or run a workshop. Get in touch. It’s going very well indeed. Get me before I’m even more popular, because my schedule is getting really, really full, and I still need to find time to write a book or two!

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