In Celebration of Asian Heritage Month

We are grateful to have Lanielle Dawn Taguibao an Awakened Spirit Yoga alumni, a Prenatal and Postnatal yoga teacher, Birth Doula, and mother of three – share with us her reflections of this year’s Asian Heritage Month. Lanielle will be familiar to many of you, as she’s completed 335 hours of yoga teacher training online with us over the past year — starting with the SACRED EARTH 200HR YTT, and then adding SACRED BIRTH + Doula 85HR RPYT, and recently completed her Holistic Birth Educator +LAMAZE 50HR YTT training.

We posed some questions to Lanielle, and are delighted to share her beautiful responses below. if you so feel called to answer them, too, we’d love to read your responses in the comments.

  1. What does being Asian mean to you?

  2. What does this year’s theme of “Recognition, Resilience & Resolve” mean to you?

  3. What is your favorite cultural tradition as it pertains to yoga?

  4. How would you like the yoga community to evolve in the coming years?

  5. What do you hope to see for the Asians in the yoga community in coming years?

  6. What is one yoga goal you have for yourself?

  7. How do you make the Asian identity your own?

  8. What is one yoga activity from the Asian side of your culture that you think everybody should try?

  9. Beyond your Asian heritage, what other identities do you hold dear?

Hmmmm, what does being Asian mean to me?

To me, being Asian means it is up to me to preserve my culture and traditional knowledge to pass down to future generations. I am a second generation Canadian, born to parents who immigrated here as teenagers with their families, in hopes of a better life with greater opportunities. Having been born and raised here, I feel an intense need to learn from my one surviving grandparent, so that my children will still have some of that ancient wisdom, despite the Western culture that they are living in.

When I would get sick as a child, I wasn’t given cough medicine, but a piece of dried persimmon to chew on, steaming hot bone broth with ginseng, and a fierce rub down with eucalyptus oil. When I gave birth to my own children, my mother was here within hours with warming foods such as shredded ginger and egg, steamed chicken with dried scallops, Chinese mushrooms, fungus, sesame oil, and rice, and bone broth with dried dates and berries, all with a warning that pain will set into my bones and air in my belly if I didn’t eat them right away. According to Chinese medicine, postpartum foods are meant to nourish and replenish the blood, and give the body more yang, or warmth, through “warm” foods. It means more to me than physical healing though; I feel the warmth of a mother’s love, the nurturing of new life, and the comfort of traditions that have survived millennia.

Especially because I was not born in Asia, it means that I have a great responsibility to learn more about the history of the people who came before me, the land which they called home, and the beliefs that they held dear. With the recent resurgence in energy work and Eastern medicine, I love that many Asian core beliefs are becoming more widely known and studied, making it accessible to people from all walks of life and parts of the world.

My favourite cultural tradition as it pertains to yoga is the concept of qi and the practice of qi gong, which corresponds to prana and asana practice in ancient Hinduism. Qi is the living’s vital life force, and qi gong, like pranayama and asana practice, pairs mindful breathing with movement and awareness, to balance qi and cultivate health and wellness. Seeing that many Asian belief systems include references to qi shows how universal and integral moving with the breath is to healing and well-being.

In the coming years, I would like the yoga community to evolve to a more well rounded practice, encompassing all eight limbs of yoga, and honouring and uplifting the people and culture that yoga came from. This means listening to the voices of South Asian teachers and being very mindful not to cross the fine line between appreciation and appropriation. While asana practice is heavily emphasized in the West, let us commit to a lifetime of learning, for there is more to yoga than nailing that elusive handstand (though very satisfying as well!). I believe that to practice yoga is to forever be a student and here at Awakened Spirit Yoga, there is always an offering to quench that thirst.

In the coming years, I would like the yoga community to evolve to a more well rounded practice, encompassing all eight limbs of yoga, and honouring and uplifting the people and culture that yoga came from.
— Lanielle Taguibao
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