Welcome to the Yoga Australia Reciprocity page. In 2021 we were honored to have launched the Yoga Australia Reconciliation Action Plan on behalf of our wider yoga community across Australia, with the firm intention to promote healing within this nation. Please explore the information and links provided below and engage in the conversation with us as we move towards a positive inclusive future respecting Country, Culture and Community.
What is Reciprocity?
Upon the Yaan Circle’s suggestion, it was decided to refer to this process of respecting, acknowledging, listening to, holding space for and supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander yoga teachers and their communities as Reciprocity. This approach recognises that the word reconciliation means “the restoration of friendly relations”. Given the initial absence of a post-invasion relationship, Reconciliation is seen as a bit of a misnomer. Reciprocity instead implies we start from the beginning to develop a robust and reciprocal relationship based on goodwill and respect.
Yoga Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan
Yoga Australia has committed to the development and actioning of a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) assisted by Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation (ICN 9263). Due to this process being held by Reconciliation Australia, we are unable to use the word Reciprocity in the title, but all of our actions keep the sentiments of this adjusted perspective at their heart.
In June 2021 Yoga Australia proudly launched the Reflect RAP. A Reflect RAP clearly sets out the steps you should take to prepare your organisation for reconciliation initiatives in successive RAPs.
Committing to a Reflect RAP allows an organisation to spend time scoping and developing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, deciding on their vision for reconciliation and exploring their sphere of influence, before committing to specific actions or initiatives. This process will help to inform successive RAPs that are both meaningful and reciprocal.
After completion of our RAP, we will move successively into the next three phases of Reconciliation; Innovate, Elevate, stretch and Elevate as per the Reconciliation Australia guidelines.
Click here to read our RAP
Tools for Reciprocity
Below you will find further information, links and tools to support Reciprocity:
We are delighted to be supported in our work by a number of yoga teachers who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples from Countries across Australia. We hope that this circle will grow as we are able to more widely disseminate this initiative across the country. If you or a yoga teacher you know are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and interested to join this circle we’d love to hear from you. Just drop us a line at [email protected]
The role of the Yaan Circle is twofold:
- To connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander yoga teachers and provide them a space within which they can meet and share their experiences, opinions and ideas.
- To help our yoga community look over initiatives and provide culturally aware guidance to make sure that we operate in appropriate ways. This includes providing assistance regarding approaches to Reciprocity and assisting in rolling out Reconciliation Action Plans.
To be introduced to our Yaan Circle and more fully understand the Yaan Circle’s role, please take a look at their website.
Or, download the PDF here.
Connecting to Community
The continent that we now call Australia is one of the most multicultural continents on this earth. The term “Aboriginal” or “Torres Strait Islander” is a blanket term, kind of like the word African or European, describing heritage of an estimated 250 – 500 distinct countries across the land.
Having been custodians of these lands, seas, skies and waterways forever, the Cultural knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities is beyond precious. In the beautiful words of recently departed Yuin elder Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison:
“So I take this word reconciliation and I use it to reconcile people back to Mother Earth, so they can walk this land together and heal one another because she’s the one that gives birth to everything we see around us, everything we need to survive.”
There is perhaps one fundamental consideration in developing relationship with Community members and that it is Respect. Read more about Connecting to Community here…
Paying Respect – to Country, Community and Culture
Acknowledging Country, Welcoming to Country and Smoking Ceremonies are a really wonderful way to pay respect to local Custodians and develop relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Communities. Knowing when and how to proceed is important.
Read more about Paying Respect to Country, Community and Culture here…
You can find out more about your local custodians through:
This continent is broad with countless ecosystems and weather patterns. As with all of humanity’s calendars, the cyclical nature of the seasons and celestial events informed the movement and ceremonies of the people here. Being familiar with the flow of seasons in the Country that you live and work on, is one of the best ways to really understand, mark respect
and be present. In addition to direct observation, knowledge from aeons of experience can be found by listening-up to Traditional Custodians, visiting your local Cultural Centre or searching for specific Country’s calendars.
Read more about Important dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands People here…
Providing Bursary Positions
In Providing a bursary position for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the idea is that the learning is two-way. Developing a clear and open relationship with the person/people to whom you will offer the bursary will allow you both to grow from the experience.
Read about Providing Bursary Positions for Classes and Courses here …
Acknowledging Country prior to class is becoming increasingly common. This has huge benefits for yoga students, by way of centering and bringing them into the present moment. In addition it establishes a sense of reverence and respect in the room, making the point that their practice of yoga, at this class, is about preparing to be of service …
to connect body, land and spirit.
Download our suggested Acknowledgement of the Custodians of Country before class here…
How has Yoga Australia moved towards Reciprocity to date?
Below, we have outlined the work that has been done by Yoga Australia relating to the RAP. We will continue to communicate progress through our, social channels and publications.
Acknowledgment of Country cards are available to all members. These, along with an accompanying information sheet provide guidance on the how, what and why of Acknowledging Country prior to class, and providing Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies at more important events. You can download these documents here.
Two articles have been written specifically for Yoga Today magazine to help raise awareness of the work we are doing in the space and other initiatives that are taking place in communities.
In the teacher training edition of Yoga Today, Cate Peterson wrote an article titled “Teaching Yoga In Australia is Different”. This article outlined our plans for the RAP and discussed ways in which our members could get involved. The article explored the question of how we best engage all Australians in yoga in Australia. You can download the article here.
In the April 2019 Yoga Today, themed ‘Beyond Asana’, Sara Jones introduced us to the ancient wellness practice of Wayapa. Download Yoga Today Beyond Asana to read “Why Yoga needs Wayapa”
In each member newsletter we include a section called ‘Yaaning’, you can access previous newsletters through your member dashboard.
- Naidoc Week July 7, 2022 – Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up
- Walking in Their Footsteps – National Forum May 26, 2022
- Introduction to Anti-Racism with Erfan Daliri, May 27, 2021
- Yoga Australia presents Wayapa Wuurk – March 2021: Jem Stone and Sara Jones of https://wayapa.com/ presented the modality of Wayapa Wuurk in the context of yoga practice and led a session. The protocol of Wayapa means that this session was not recorded but there are continual opportunities to attend or train in this modality.
- NAIDOC Week Forum November 2020 –As we celebrated NAIDOC week and gave deep thanks for our Yaan Circle, we invited Joelle Low, the RAP Program Manager for Training and Capacity Building with Reconciliation Australia, to share with us the benefits of undertaking a Reconciliation Action Plan. The forum replay can be accessed here ( Emily please insert)
- Acknowledging Country with the Yaan Circle, April 30, 2020 -Attendees experienced three ways to deepen their Acknowledgement of Country with Eve White, Jem Stone and Cate Peterson. There was information about the historical and current understanding of this practice and how you might best incorporate it when sharing your yoga practice. The benefits of a Yaan Circle and the traditional mindfulness practice of Dadirri were also discussed. The forum replay can be accessed here.
- 24th November 2018 – Tas State Meeting: Ruth Langford shared ways that as Yoga teachers we can mindfully bring connection to Country and Culture not only to our practice but also into our daily lives.
- 27th May 2019 – Miriam Rose Foundation Tour: A group 9 yoga teachers visited Miriam at Daly River to more closely understand Dadirri, the Aboriginal experience of mindfulness which is fundamental to Culture and being with Country. DADIRRI (Official Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Video).
- June 2019 – WA:A special 3-day event was held: Being of Service in Remote Australia – The Rewards & Challenges with Tarryn Sirianni assisting us in bringing this Kimberley immersion experience to our members.
How you can get involved:
- Apply to join our Reciprocity Group on Facebook. and follow Ngungwulah on Facebook. Be part of the conversation
- Acknowledge Country and Culture prior to each yoga class. This brings people into a state of connection and reverence prior to starting practice.
For guidelines is speaking Acknowledgement of Country, simply acknowledge from your heart and in your own words eg :
We recognise the continuous and deep connection to Country, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of this nation. In this way we respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of this land, sea, the waters and sky. We pay tribute to the Elders past and present as we also respect the collective ancestry that has brought us all here today.
- Hang a place card at your studio, add an Acknowledgment to your email signature or purchase a splash Page which Acknowledges County illustrated by Yaan Circle member Scarlet Barnett.
- Check out this non-exhaustive list of Aboriginal festivals around Australia to which the invitation is open ABC List of Festivals, North Qld Festivals, Tasmanian Festival.
- Consider bring a Cultural Awareness training to your studio or attend one online.
- Open the conversation with your local Traditional Custodians and community.
- Sustainably offer bursary classes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members at your studio and if you run Teacher Trainings consider opening a position up for free to support Community and build relationship. Here are some guidelines.
- Make purchase choices that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and that speak to your commitment to heal this country. Here is a link.
Last updated December 2022.
Next review scheduled March 2022