Wait, is this cultural appropriation?
This is a big question, and one that takes the utmost respect to answer. I hope to do it justice in this short blog post.
Unfortunately, it is really easy to confuse appropriation with appreciation.
Have you done your research?
So you have been to a few yoga studios and follow some yogi's on Instagram and you see these symbols and rituals and you think to yourself "wow, that is beautiful" - ahh, we have appreciation. When you then decide to incorporate those things in your day to day life, or as part of your yoga practice, but chose not to do any research to really understand what that statue or symbol means - that is appropriation.
Know what you are doing and/or using before you begin. Take an hour or so, and just do a little bit of research. That beautiful symbol may also have significantly deep meaning to those who belong to its culture or religion. Did you know that it can be a sign of absolute disrespect to turn your back to a statue of a deity? How about the fact that you should never place a mala on the ground? These sacred objects have a story and deserve your time and attention.
Do you know anything about the history of yoga? Not to say you need to have a masters degree in the subject, but just do a little bit of research, understand the origins of what you are practicing, or teaching.
Read about the 8 Limbs of Yoga and read through each of the Yamas and Niyamas. This will help you build a solid foundation upon which to build a beautiful, respectful, appreciative practice.
Also, talk to people :) Start conversations with other yogi's you know. Be brave, and start talking about it. Educate and empower.
I hope for this to be a conversation, so I will leave it there. Please feel free to comment here, or on my Facebook page, I will share the post there.