I just registered for a new training that I'm SUPER excited about and can't wait to share with you guys. It's called Yoga For All and it is a training designed by Dianne Bondy (check out her Instagram HERE.) This training will teach me modifications, queues, new postures, language considerations, and MUCH more. With this 6-week training, I will be able to offer safe, inclusive classes to demographics that are currently not represented in "mainstream yoga".
In Western yoga, we see fitness magazines, clothing ads, famous Instagram yogis, big-label yoga clothing lines, and general "spiritual" culture that represents thin, young, predominantly white, mostly female, cis-gendered, hyper-flexible yogis. You hardly ever see yogis of color, queer yogis, larger bodies, or anyone over age 30. (Obviously are some exceptions here and there, but it's a very apparent theme.)
While Yoga Teacher Training is valuable and necessary, most 200-hour trainings don't offer enhancements or queuing for yogis that don't fit that norm. So what does it mean to practice and teach yoga INCLUSIVELY? How do we create a welcoming space for yogis in all bodies, of all ages, from all backgrounds?
I think we can start with recognizing and confronting our own biases. We can eliminate the idea that "doing yoga" means being bound up like a pretzel, zenned out in booty shorts, or nailing the "perfect" handstand. We can choose not to glorify yogis that only represent the hyper-flexible, or the multi-million dollar yoga clothing corporations. We can choose not to support companies that show lack of representation and diversity in their media and advertisements. We can call out discrimination when we see it, rather than spiritually bypassing.
More importantly, we can ACTIVELY LISTEN to yogis of color, yogis of the LGBTQ comunity, seniors, and larger-bodied students when they share their experiences of bias and judgement in the yoga studio. Their stories are valid, and discrimination within the yoga community happens more often than we realize. Finally, if you teach yoga or own a studio, please consider taking additional training that uses an INCLUSIVE approach to teaching students outside of "the Western yoga norm." (It doesn't have to be the same one I'm doing - although it would be rad to study together! Plus Dianne is uhhhh-mazing.)
After all, the word yoga means 'to yolk' - to bring together, to bind, to commune. May the lessons we learn on the mat reflect the lives we live off the mat. There is no point in bettering yourself if you aren't bettering the community around you.
How will YOU practice yoga inclusively? Share below!
Thanks for being here.
Om Shanti, Cortni