Yoga: From Tradition to Trend and Back Again

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By Abigail Dennis

Yoga is…

Breath – The stilling of the fluctuations of the mind – A sport – Transformative – Transforming – About finding liberation – Detachment – About the mysteries of the universe – Rehabilitative

Yoga is about life. It’s not about flexibility or gymnastic prowess. It’s about life. It’s what we’re doing here, sitting still in front of the highway, it’s about your life with your friends and your family, it’s about your life in the restaurant, it’s how you are on a bicycle, it’s how you are at your work every day with your colleagues. It’s not just what happens in that studio for an hour and a half every day; it’s off the mat. Yoga is all off the mat.” – Steward Gilchrest (Who Owns Yoga?)

The word “yoga” has represented so much throughout time and across space. From an ancient Indian tradition to a modern western trend, it has made its way across the world and become a significant part of millions of people’s lives in the process. Researchers estimate that today over sixteen million people practice yoga in the United States alone (White 2012). But it is not only the scale of yoga that I find interesting – it is the practice itself. I started this project because I was curious about how young people experience yoga within the modern western world today and how that relates to yoga’s origins. I am interested in how yoga has existed as a religious phenomenon, whether that use of yoga persists today, and how this compares to how modern youth in the west experience it now. As a striking case of east to west globalization, I wanted to know what it is about yoga that draws so many practitioners and how, or whether, yoga has maintained its authenticity through this movement. I have found that although in some ways yoga has changed significantly over time, in others it has remained close to its roots and today allows young people living in the modern western world greater agency over their lives both on and off the yoga mat. Continue reading

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Fuck It, This Is Class! Youth Smoking Habits and Attitudes

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By Amy Sokolow

Smoking kills. We all know that. Presumably that is a given among modern-day youths after decades of research has drawn direct relationships between smoking and lung cancer. This does not even consider the other consequences such as yellowed teeth, damaged gums, and brittle skin, among others. In my American education, these facts were drilled into us like algebra equations. Smoking has become demonized in American society, and No Smoking zones litter our streets, campuses, and public spaces. Almost no one in my immediate social circle smokes even occasionally at home. Therefore, the times I left the U.S.— and the insular bubbles of my hometown and my small liberal arts college— I was shocked to see youths smoking everywhere. Otherwise healthy-looking people smoked on the Tel Aviv beaches, outside of Dublin pubs, or while sipping café con leches on a Madrid terrace. Continue reading

Body Love and Social Media: A Story of Feeling the Sunlight

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By Taina Quiñones

“Here,” Rose says, tossing her royal blue bikini in my direction, “Try it on.” I hesitate before picking it up from where it lands on her bed and holding it up to my body. It will definitely fit. Due to our larger body sizes, Rose is one of the few friends I can clothes-swap with – something we both relish in whenever we are lucky enough to be in the same place.

This is my third summer visiting Rose in her hometown of Glencoe, Illinois. We are both sophomores in college at this point, and with permission from her parents, Rose and I will be roadtripping up to Wisconsin to spend a week in her family’s lake house.  She tells me we have to go swimming, and for the first time since I was a small child, I am genuinely excited to. Continue reading

When the Day Turns to Night: The Use of Alcohol in Friendship Formation among International Students in the ISN Introduction Week

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By Serge Savin

The International Student Organization Amsterdam, an organization financed by the  University of Amsterdam and Hogeschool van Amsterdam, arranges the Introduction Week which is an offer for international students when arriving in Amsterdam. On their website the week is described as follows: “Four intensive days will lay the foundation for your entire stay. You will make friends, visit exciting parties and you’ll get to know Amsterdam and its universities.” (ISN) Continue reading

Buck Angel’s Activist Project: Reclaiming “Vagina” and “Pussy” in Sexing the Transman

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By Zoë Crabtree

Introduction

The words with which we describe our bodies are tools for self-construction. Words narrate our memories, dreams, and goals; they enable us to construct our realities; they liberate our nightmares and circumscribe our fantasies. Words are powerful discursive tools. They act and make change in the world. Harvard lecturer J.L. Austin recognizes this in his lectures collectively titled How to Do Things with Words. He argues that words are performative: their very utterance acts upon the world, given, of course, the appropriate circumstances (Austin, 1975: 6). He uses the example of wedding vows to demonstrate that the very act of saying “I do” during a wedding brings the marriage into being (Austin, 1975: 8). In other words, not only do words shape how we think and feel about the world, they also shape the world itself. How, then, might someone try to change the world with words? What might it mean to employ words to contradict the constructed realities they have helped to create?

Recognizing language’s potential as what Teresa de Lauretis terms “technologies of gender,” transgender porn star and self-described “Man with a Pussy” Buck Angel has taken up these questions in his activist work. Angel’s central project has been to reclaim the words “vagina” and “pussy” for transgender men’s use: Continue reading

For the Love of Hair: The Natural Hair Movement in the Netherlands

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By Kimberly Mayes

As a woman of color, when it comes down to your hair you get judged a lot:

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  • when you cut it, you’re so ungrateful of what you have
  • when you braid it, you must be old-fashioned and only hanging on to your roots or even an Erykah Badu-wannabe
  • when it’s long and thick, it must be fake… uh not
  • when you straight your hair, you’re not honoring what you got (ethnic issues)
  • when you dye it, you must be ashamed of your real hair color (and only trying to fit in)

Been there, done that, tried tons of different hairstyles, 20-something and I’m still me. As India Arie early on said I’m not my hair. Yes it’s part of who i am, but it doesn’t define my true existence. The expressions of my heart do. Dig deeper…

Love,

Q

Continue reading

The elusive ideal body: Its construction and impacts on contemporary youth

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By Chu

Many studies have been conducted on the subject of youth’s body image, as well as the causes and potential impacts on young people’s behavior aiming to alter their body. Youth’s attempts to body modification are being constantly stigmatized and pathologized in the media. Youth, in many reports and researches, are infantilized and theoretically ripped off their agency. It is only by giving their voice back to youth that we can understand how the body is perceived by them, and in which ways the body is used as either a weapon for self-empowerment and resistance, or a tool to conform to social conventions. Therefore, in this paper, I have allowed more space for individuals’ subjective experiences, including those of myself, regarding the impacts of the ideal body image. Continue reading