Yoga offers you a sacred space to discover your bodies, explore your inner emotions and get in touch with your authentic self. Yoga is somewhere we can gradually develop our feelings of awareness, belonging, acceptance and compassion towards ourselves and others. It should be your safe place to just be yourself.
Or, at least, this is what it is supposed to be. The reality, though, is a little different.
At yourfreeyoga.com we believe that there should be no space for discrimination in yoga. Yoga is simply for everyone, regardless of their age, size, gender and physical condition. Yoga is inclusive.
Unfortunately, however, not everyone feels confident to enter a yoga class and start practicing yoga. The reasons might vary. Maybe it’s the language we use, or the way we approach teaching. Or maybe it’s the image of the thin, flexible, pretty, young woman in the “perfect” asana, widely presented by the media in our days that makes it hard for a lot of people to imagine themselves fitting in.
Read on to see the yourfreeyoga.com do’s and don’ts for teaching an inclusivity yoga classes
This might sound obvious, but, as your own practice progresses, it is actually very easy to get carried away and start asking students to get into more advanced poses. We try not to take it for granted that everyone can follow. Instead of teaching the “final stage” of an pose we start slowly and gradually build the pose from the ground up.
Instead of teaching the “final stage” of an pose, we start slowly and gradually build the pose from the ground up.
Forget About the Perfect Shape
It is perfectly normal for a yoga poseto look totally different from one student to the other. At Yourfreeyoga.com we try to normalise all different variations of a pose. After all a student can gain the benefits of a pose even when practicing the simplest variation of it. We try to encourage the use of props; show you how to use them properly and let you know that props can boost everyone’s practice.
Your students will be of all ages, shapes and sizes. So it is perfectly normal for their practice to look totally different.
Mindful about Language
Using language like “If you can’t hold a full side plank, you can bring one knee on your mat” or “If you can’t get into Sirsasana (headstand), you can just come in Balasana (child’s pose) and gently roll from your forehead to the top of your head” suggests that holding a full side plank or getting into a full headstand is preferred, and that not being able to do so is a problem. This kind of talk implies a hierarchy of ability and we absolutely dont want this mindset at yourfreeyoga.com
We try to use inclusive and encouraging language like “Try this if you want” and avoid any language that suggests a pose or transition is 'a piece of cake'.
The use of Sanskrit in yoga is a difficult issue, sanskrit is the language used to write down the Yoga sutras and as such can a beautiful way to engage with Yoga. However overuse, especially when naming poses can be very off putting and make an on line class difficult to follow. For this reason we are YourFreeYoga.com always offer an english name fo the Yoga pose first.
How should you Feel
On a personal level one of my favourite things when teaching yoga is the part where I get to share my own experience from practicing a certain pose. And I do this quite often in class, as I have found that it can inspire a lot of people build awareness and start exploring their own body and the sensations and feelings they are experiencing. This can be a little tricky, though.
Not everybody experiences the same sensation when in a pose.
At YourFreeYoga.come we do use phrases like “you should be feeling a nice stretch in your right side" but we are aware that not everybody experiences the same sensation when in a pose. We will however strive to encourage students to explore their own bodies and bring their attention to whatever sensation or feeling arises.
Why not book a free class at YourFreeYoga