The Community Speaks: What’s The Greatest Challenge Facing The Yoga Community Right Now?

The Community Speaks: What’s The Greatest Challenge Facing The Yoga Community Right Now?

Published May 16th, 2017 By Jo Stewart

Jo ponders how we can make the Yoga community a more inclusive, diverse and accessible space.

I'm honored to be a part of The Yoga Lunchbox's Influencer Roundup, The Community Speaks.

Here's my response to their first question...

We want to generate more meaningful and constructive dialogue in the yoga community, especially around the hard questions we face, and to create a space for the community to share their stories and perspectives.

So here it is: The Yoga Lunchbox’s first edition of our Influencer Roundup, The Community Speaks.

This week we asked a handful of influential people in the yoga community to respond to the following question:

What’s the greatest challenge facing the yoga community right now?

The answers we received are challenging, insightful, hopeful, grounded and very real. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

by Lucinda Staniland

Jo Stewart

One of the greatest challenges facing the yoga community is a lack of diversity and accessibility. Some of the members of the wider community who are facing the most isolation and stress in their daily lives have the least access to these teachings.

Yoga isn’t just for young, fit, affluent white women, yet they are who we see in yoga magazines, online and are the majority in most of the studio classes I attend.

I’m lucky enough to teach yoga and pilates as part of a free exercise program that my local council organises. I see much more diversity in those classes, especially older people, long term unemployed and people who have found the class through community mental health services.

The overwhelming feedback I get is how grateful people are for these classes. They love that they get the chance to practice gentle strengthening movements and learn some tools to help their minds and bodies relax.

Yet, I’ve taught at studios who have tried running free community classes and no one came!

Is the problem that the people just aren’t hearing about these classes?

Or perhaps they feel intimidated going to a studio, and that they won’t be welcome there unless they have fancy leggings or are already ‘good’ at yoga.

Krishnamacharya famously said ‘If you can breathe you can do yoga’. The practice itself is beautifully adaptable and inclusive, our challenge is embodying this as a community.

Jo Stewart teaches yoga, pilates and antigravity aerial yoga at her studio Garden of Yoga, and in local parks, schools, gyms and festivals in Melbourne Australia.

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