Yoga’s popularity has surged across the world as people discover its therapeutic benefits. More than 36 million people practice yoga in the United States alone, many of whom regularly attend classes.
As interest in yoga continues to spread, it is crucial for instructors and students alike to embrace inclusivity to encourage new yogis as they embark on their wellness journey. Here are some ways you can facilitate a more inclusive yoga class and create a more welcoming studio:
Create Safe Spaces
Attending a yoga class can make even the most seasoned yogi feel vulnerable. Trying new poses that test your limits and put your body in uncomfortable positions can leave students feeling anxious, unfulfilled, and defeated. Instructors can mitigate this by creating a safe space in their yoga studio and using inclusive, encouraging language as cue poses. Affirmative rhetoric as well as carefully selected words to help students adjust their poses go a long way in establishing a more inclusive environment. Whether they are doing downward dog or attempting a handstand, your students should feel comfortable pushing their boundaries and trying new poses.
Encourage Diversity Among Students & Teachers
More than 70% of yoga practitioners are female—though yoga is increasingly popular among men—and yoga teachers are almost evenly split between male and female. While yoga tends to be relatively gender-inclusive, this is not always the case when it comes to body type, race, and even socioeconomic class.
American yoga culture often overlooks people of color and those with larger bodies. It is overwhelmingly portrayed as a practice for skinny, white, and wealthy women, a stereotype that is perpetuated by social media and advertising campaigns. To empower underrepresented yogis, yoga studios can prioritize hiring racially diverse instructors as well as those who have curvier bodies. Students who identify with these demographics will be more likely to continue their practice as a result, creating a more diverse environment and expanding the yoga community while promoting body positivity.
Always Provide Modified Poses
Most yoga teachers are incredibly fit. A stunning 98% of them participate in other types of exercise or sports outside of the yoga studio. Due to their high baseline fitness, they can effortlessly perform complex poses that may be inaccessible to their students. By providing modified poses, instructors can lead classes that are inclusive of all fitness levels and body shapes, allowing new students and those with limitations to participate in the class without feeling excluded or disappointed.
Yoga is for everybody! Studios and instructors can directly influence the level of inclusivity in their yoga classes by intentionally creating yoga classes that reflect diversity and accommodate varied fitness levels.
If you’re a yoga practitioner or instructor, join our community at Flowell today. We’re working to provide more compassion and inclusivity in the global yoga community. We’d love to help guide you on your wellness journey!