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Yoga for All: How to Start Teaching Accessible Yoga Today

WHAT IS ACCESSIBLE YOGA?

Accessible yoga breaks down barriers to entry for new practitioners and creates an inclusive environment for yogis of all backgrounds and capabilities. It creates space for real bodies, empowering yogis to attain the best versions of themselves—rather than an idealized yoga model.

To better define accessible yoga, let’s evaluate what can make yoga inaccessible

Prioritizing complex movements. The goal of yoga should be to clear your head—not stand on it. Advanced techniques can be daunting to newcomers and those with different body shapes and sizes. Starting with simplified forms of more complex poses and progressively sequencing to the final form builds a flow that everyone can partake in.

An all-or-nothing approach. Many yoga classes that advertise “modifications” often encourage practitioners to revert to downward dog or child’s pose if they cannot perform an advanced pose. This deprives the yogi of a pose’s physical benefits and can make them feel inadequate. Incorporating physical aids like chairs and demonstrating alternative movements can allow novice or physically disabled yogis to stretch the same muscles as their more experienced classmates.

Images that send the wrong message. A crowded classroom full of homogenous practitioners who all resemble Lululemon models hinders an inclusive environment. Newcomers will not only feel more secure and confident in a smaller class, but one that reflects diversity and promotes body positivity.

Logistics. Not everyone lives near a yoga studio, and many people may find it difficult to attend an in-person class. Offering remote classes, such as through Flowell’s online studio, removes logistical barriers to accessibility.

WHY SHOULD YOU MAKE YOGA ACCESSIBLE TO YOUR STUDENTS?

Yoga is for everybody.

It is a highly personal practice, with each yogi pursuing their own goals. Your class may include people with injuries, older folks, or people looking to relieve stress. Each of these individuals deserves to achieve their goals.

Students of all skill levels should leave your classes feeling simultaneously relaxed and empowered. When you increase accessibility, you give each yogi the tools they need to both meet their goals and progress as they continue to build upon their practice. People shouldn’t feel like they have to bend over backwards to achieve mind-body harmony.

I’M A YOGA INSTRUCTOR. HOW DOES OFFERING ACCESSIBLE YOGA BENEFIT ME?

Creating an accessible yoga practice not only helps your students—it helps you, too!

Do you have a specialization, such as working with individuals who have injuries or pain? Leveraging your unique skills can help you find new demographics of students whose goals match your specialty. According to 2017 CDC data, only 14.3% of Americans practice yoga—meaning most of the population is an untapped market of potential students, many of whom have needs they may not know could be addressed through yoga.

Or perhaps your identity is underrepresented in yoga. New students may prefer instructors who look like them, and your shared background may help you better understand their needs.

Making yoga more accessible for your students brings better retention and longer-term commitment, yielding more progress. Your students will feel more empowered and eager to continue their journey in this inclusive space, allowing them to reach their fullest potential.

LET’S GET TO IT!

Flowell can help pair you with students who match your specialization and provide you with the interface to both teach and give your students personalized feedback. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami and your student is in rural Oregon—we’ll connect you and give you the tools you need to create an accessible, inclusive practice for all.

Comments (1)

Michael Sheehan

Access to yoga and wellness is key for uplifting the underrepresented people who equally benefit from an inclusive and personalized yoga experience! Well written and relatable!

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