For so long, I’ve taught yoga classes and workshops on the road, without rooting myself into a community of regular practitioners. I get to interact with YBCers during workshop tours and guest appearances, but after a few hours, we all go home and rely on the miracle of social media to keep in touch. In yoga retreats and teacher trainings, however, it’s a different vibe. Everyone spends more time together, and we get to know one another on a deeper level. Beautiful bonds are forged and lasting friendships are built in these more immersive yoga experiences, and it’s important to me that everyone feels seen and welcomed regardless of their skin color, beliefs, age, appearance, or gender identity. If you are kind - if you are honest - if you are authentically you - you are our people.
In thinking of ways to communicate the Namaslay® mission of an inclusive yoga practice, it came to my attention that in these group settings, where we’re all spending a significant amount of time interacting with one another, it might be nice to address pronouns from the beginning. One way teachers can be more inclusive and sensitive to the LGBTQ community is to introduce yourself during a welcome circle or group setting and say something like, “Hey everyone, I’m Candace, and my pronouns are she and her. I’ll be your retreat leader this week, and I’d love to go around the room and get everyone’s name and preferred pronouns, so we know how to best address each other.” It’s an easy way to send the message that we honor ALL and welcome everyone to the yoga experience we are offering.
This is the community I’m working to create at Namaslay® Studios, a more grounded space for people who march to the beat of their own drum to come together and practice the principles we learn on the mat. To promote yoga for all, we’ve invited Jen Mehall, Namaslay® YTT Teacher, to share her series of yoga workshops on modifications for pregnancy, the elderly, injury, athletes, bigger bodies, and trauma sensitivity. If you haven’t already, listen to the Namaslay® podcast episode in which Jen and I discuss tips for making a yoga practice accessible for a more diverse group of yogis. We’re also hosting Ashley Spradlin, Namaslay® YTT graduate and YBC®’s Editorial Director, on July 20th for a workshop in Y4A: Yoga for Amputees®, an adaptive yoga workshop for people who’ve experienced limb loss and yoga teachers who want to learn how to modify the yoga practice for amputees. You can read more about the benefits of a yoga practice for amputees in Ashley’s guest post on her training. If you’d like see more information on inclusive yoga, or have any questions, let us know in the comments. Here’s to a great week ahead!