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About Roopa Bala Singh

Dr. Roopa Bala Singh is the Assistant Professor of Law and Civic Engagement at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), where she teaches on Race and Gender Justice. As a scholar-activist, Roopa is the founder of Critical Yoga Studies, which centers Black and Brown relations in wellness. As a leading voice on yoga and racial justice, Roopa was appointed as the first South Asian diasporic advisor to Yoga Alliance, a global yoga governing body.
Experiences of being an Othered “Indian” in U.S. law have shaped Roopa’s scholarly agenda from the beginning. As a Berkeley Law student interning in legal journalism with National Public Radio in the U.S. Supreme Court, Roopa was ordered by Chief Justice Rehnquist to remove her headscarf. Between, ironically, First Amendment arguments before the Court, a police officer approached her to enforce the order. Roopa removed her headwrap, but did not surrender her pen. Roopa’s story of the event circulated globally, fostering public conversations on uneven courtroom access, race, headwraps, and hair.
Commitments to anti-racist equity and inclusion have been a central part of Roopa’s lifelong career in social justice. Before joining the academy as a professor, her first career was in prison law and labor and community organizing. Roopa has advocated for the freedom of incarcerated women and girls as a prison lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and the Young Women's Freedom Center.
In 2020, Roopa launched the Critical Yoga Studies podcast, as part of The New School’s Social Movements + Innovation Lab. The podcast uses yoga as a jump-off point to explore Black and Brown relations and yoga. Dr. Singh is published in the book, Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change (2016). Her forthcoming book, Yoga is Not "White:" Critical Yoga Studies Essays on 100 Years of U.S. Yoga, lays the groundwork for this emergent intersectional field. In a recent publication, Roopa uses U.S. popular music to uncover connections between anti-Black racism and Orientalist tropes, “Yoga’s Entry into American Popular Music is Racialized (1941-1967): A Critical Yoga Studies Analysis of Race, Othering and “Belonging,” (UC Press, 2020).
Dr. Singh is a licensed attorney (UC Berkeley) with a Masters in Cinema (Tisch School of the Arts, NYU) and a Ph.D. in Justice Studies (ASU). She is a registered yoga teacher, an experienced doula and pre-natal yoga teacher, and a mother.


Present Assistant Professor, California State University, Monterey Bay School of Humanities & Communication

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Scholarly Publications (3)

Videos (1)

Web-Based Publications (3)

Public Scholarship (8)