Bridging Gaps and Building Communities via Accessible Yoga

yoga in mornington

Yoga is a practice that holds immense potential to bring people together, regardless of their background, physical ability, or life experiences. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness within the yoga community about the importance of creating inclusive spaces that welcome individuals from all walks of life. This shift towards accessibility and inclusivity is not just about making the practice physically accessible; it’s also about fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for everyone who steps onto the mat.

Positive impacts of creating inclusive spaces

The benefits are manifold. It allows individuals who may have felt excluded or marginalised in traditional yoga settings to participate fully in the practice. This can lead to increased self-confidence and a greater sense of well-being. Additionally, inclusive spaces promote diversity and cultural awareness, helping to break down barriers and foster a sense of unity among participants.

Inclusive language and cueing of poses are crucial aspects of creating a welcoming environment. Using language that is clear, concise, and free from ableist or exclusionary terms helps to ensure that all participants feel welcome and understood. For example, instead of using terms like “advanced” or “beginner,” instructors can use descriptors like “challenging” or “gentle” to describe the intensity of a pose.

This includes avoiding gendered language, using person-first language (e.g. “a person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person”), and being mindful of cultural differences. Instructors can also encourage students to use props and modifications as needed, emphasising that yoga is a personal practice that looks different for everyone.

Trauma-informed and resilience-focused

Trauma-informed yoga in Mornington, and countrywide, is an approach that recognises the widespread impact of trauma and seeks to create a safe and supportive environment for everyone attending class. This includes offering modifications for poses, providing options for hands-on adjustments, and being mindful of triggers that may arise during the practice. By incorporating these principles into their teaching, instructors can help individuals build resilience and heal from past experiences.

Prioritising mindfulness and emotional well-being as integral components of the practice, allows it to meet people truly where they are, rather than where they think they should be. Through elements such as meditation, breathwork and guided relaxation, participants are encouraged to cultivate a greater awareness of their thoughts, feelings and sensations. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who may be dealing with stress, anxiety or trauma. By providing a space for them to explore their inner experiences in a supportive environment, this can contribute to improved emotional regulation and overall well-being.

Accessible and inclusive offerings

Creating accessible and inclusive practices involves more than just physical accessibility. It also means delivering classes at different times of day to accommodate diverse schedules, providing online options for those who may not be able to attend in person, and offering sliding scale pricing to make classes more affordable for everyone. By offering a range of options, including private yoga classes, studios can ensure that their offerings are accessible to a wider range of people.

It also means creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected. This can include having diverse representation among instructors, offering workshops and events that celebrate different cultures,genders and identities, and actively seeking feedback from participants to ensure that their needs are being met.

Promoting body positivity and self-acceptance

Inclusive yoga spaces promote body positivity and self-acceptance by encouraging individuals to embrace their bodies as they are. In these spaces, there is an emphasis on practising gratitude for what our bodies can do, rather than focusing on perceived limitations. This can be particularly empowering for individuals who may have felt judged or scrutinised in other fitness or wellness environments. By fostering a sense of acceptance and appreciation for all body types, inclusive studio spaces help participants develop a more positive relationship with their bodies.

The aim is to empower individuals to take ownership of their practice and make choices that feel right for them. This can include offering modifications for poses, encouraging students to listen to their bodies and rest when needed, and providing options for props to support their practice. By giving participants the tools they need to personalise their practice, instructors enable them to make decisions that honour their bodies and their unique needs.

Cultivating a sense of community and belonging

Fostering a sense of community and belonging among participants is an important consideration. Through shared experiences on the mat, individuals form connections with others who may have similar experiences or backgrounds. This sense of ‘being seen’ can be especially valuable for those who may feel isolated or disconnected from mainstream society. By providing a supportive and inclusive environment, yoga studios can become hubs for building meaningful relationships and support networks.

Creating accessible and inclusive yoga spaces is not just a goal; it’s a journey. By incorporating these principles, teachers can help to bridge gaps and build communities, ensuring that it truly is a practice for all.