Let’s Talk Accessibility for Yoga
Accessibility. Now THAT is a buzz word in today’s socially conscious part of society.
Accessibility, noun, The quality of being able to be reached or entered.
Take a moment and think to yourself about a time in which YOU wanted to do something and you felt that you couldn’t reach it, or enter it. Did you give up? Did you go forth anyways? Did you find something ELSE that was enterable or reachable for you? Me, I tend to be the person who loudly tells those in charge that this space is not accessible for ALL people and then proceed to tell them how to fix it. This technique doesn’t always go over well, fyi.
I am PASSIONATE about accessibility.
I feel it is my dharma to create and spread more accessibility for ALL people. Especially in yoga. Yoga is a magical practice of both spirituality and physical well being In days of old yoga was traditionally practiced by men and women had to fight their way in. Strange to think about in our community of predominantly white, upper-middle class 20-30 year old women who are the largest demographic in yoga in the west. And yet somehow women have taken it over! The buck should not stop there.
We as humans have the power to create spaces that are inclusive and accessible for everyone. Why is this important you might ask? Because if we truly want to make an impact on this world we MUST stand together. Side by side with people of different races, genders, religions, sexual orientations and abilities.
To create access we must understand, in order to understand we must educate ourselves, in order to educate ourselves we must leave our safe spaces and meet people who are different than us. Do you see how through a practice of accessibility one is actually dispelling hate? That is where the true power of accessibility lies. Not in including others, but through the act of including them, we learn and open our minds which INHERENTLY creates a more loving and peaceful community.
Here are 3 things a Yoga Teacher can do to make spaces more accessible for ALL:
- Leave your expectations at the door. People who are different ARE different and that is totally okay. Don’t assume that they want to be assimilated and that they feel they have “overcome” something. Ansd please don’t put any preconceived notions that you may have about ANY type of difference on that person. For example, just because someone may have a physical disability doesn’t mean they can’t DO many of the more “advanced” asanas you may think they can’t. I know a paraplegic woman who can handstand press like a boss, mean while, I fully able “bodied” person can barely hold my handstand.
- Ask people what they need. Disabled people are VERY educated on ways to accommodate for themselves. While many (myself included) are not the best at self advocating, if YOU, the teacher, approach them, it will mean the world to that person that you actually care and they will give you ideas on how to make that space more inclusive for them.
- Educate yourself. If you start to see a certain populace who is coming to your class or maybe came to your class one time and never came back. Why not learn about that person. Learn about Deaf Culture or Disability Culture. Learn about People of Color or LGBTQ Culture or other religions. Take an Accessible Yoga training. Just learn. Go in with an open mind and see that people who are different from you, may not actually be all that different.
So will you join me in changing the world? One accessible yoga class at a time.
Read more and connect with Elle Zusi about her amazing work in making yoga accessible for all!