It is no secret in Westernized Yoga, we are saturated with very specific imagery of what a Yoga Practitioner and/or Yoga Teacher looks like and what is required of an individual prior to even beginning to contemplate practicing Yoga. However, Yoga is for ALL. Yoga is for EVERY BODY.
And, despite what Instagram's overly saturated visuals might show; Yoga is not just for young, thin, able-bodied, flexible white women; and it is imperative that we continue to uplift and amplify the voices of those who have dedicated their lives and teachings to changing this perception and making Yoga spaces welcoming for all humans.
We have compiled a list below of some of our favorite teachers, organizations, and activists seeking to decolonize Yoga practices in the West and create more diverse and inclusive spaces within Yoga studios, training, and practices. (Names and images are linked to their websites/social media)
First Up: Susanna Barkataki
"A teacher, inclusivity promoter, and yoga culture advocate. I see a world where yoga unites us all and excludes no one…" _Susanna Barkataki
Susanna is an incredible educator who focuses on decolonizing Yoga practices, Honoring Yoga's Roots, and creating inclusivity through her many trainings and educational resources.
She also just released her 300 Hour online training HERE
Next up: Dianne Bondy
"Dianne Bondy is a social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga For All movement.
Her inclusive approach to yoga empowers anyone to practice—regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability. Dianne is revolutionizing yoga by educating yoga instructors around the world on how to make their classes welcoming and safe for all kinds of practitioners."
Dianne is also the author of Yoga for Everyone which was featured in our blog post, "5 Easy Reads and Reference Books to Support your Yoga Practice"
Next Up: Michelle Johnson
"I am a social justice warrior, author, dismantling racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and an intuitive healer. With over 20 years of experience leading dismantling racism work and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker, I have a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart. My awareness of the world through my own experience as a black woman allows me to know, first-hand, how privilege and power operate." _Michelle Johnson
Michelle is also the Author of Skill In Action: Radicalizing your Yoga to Create a Just World
Next Up: Yoga is Dead Podcast
"We met years ago in a training in NYC. Each of us was relieved to finally make a Desi yoga teacher friend who could relate to the other’s experiences with yoga in America vs. yoga in India, and to have someone to bitch to about the cultural appropriation, racism, exploitation and general belittling that we experienced in that training and in many others. But after a few years of having these conversations in hushed tones so as not to offend our white colleagues, we decided it was high time our voices and experiences were heard. We created the Yoga is Dead podcast as a way to jump start critical conversations, elevate oppressed voices and perspectives and to expose the problems felt by anyone who isn’t in the “in” crowd of the yoga industry. " _YID Website
Check out the Yoga is Dead Podcast HERE
Next Up: Accessible Yoga
"Accessible Yoga is an international, grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to sharing yoga with everyone. The mission of our 501(c)3 non-profit organization is to share the benefits of Yoga with anyone, who currently doesn’t have access to yoga practices, especially communities that have been excluded or underserved. These communities may include people of all shapes, sizes or colors. They include people with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or invisible disabilities such as chronic illness, emotional challenge or PTSD. They include people with vision or hearing impairments, canes, walkers and wheelchairs. They are young, middle-aged and senior. They live in homes, juvenile halls, jails, or on the street. Our goal is to make any of these people feel welcome in a yoga class, so they can experience the benefits of yoga.
Accessible Yoga believes that all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of yoga, which offer individual empowerment and spiritual awakening. By building a strong network and advocating for a diverse Yoga culture that is inclusive and welcoming, we are sharing Yoga with all." _Accessible Yoga Website
Accessible Yoga was founded by Jivana Heyman, co-owner of the Santa Barbara Yoga Center (Just a short drive up the coast from The Pharm) and author of Accessible Yoga Poses and Practices for Every Body, which was a book featured in our blog post, "5 Easy Reads and Reference Books to Support your Yoga Practice"
*While we encourage accessibility and variations in ALL our classes, several of our teachers here at The Pharm have trained specifically with Accessible Yoga and can offer further support if needed. Please reach out if you would like to know which classes are taught by an Accessible Yoga trained teacher.