Yoga is a billion dollar industry worldwide and the fastest growing industry in Australia. According to Roy Morgan Research, in Australia it has doubled in popularity since 2008, with at least 2 million people taking themselves to a yoga studio. This number may vary as it is unclear as to whether the study includes people who practice outside of a studio.
It is not uncommon to see images showing mainly slim, white western people, usually women, wearing yoga branded clothing doing very bendy poses which look effortless.
Yoga is also mainly associated with being a sporting and fitness industry which can be a little daunting if someone does not see themselves as fit or sporty. This image can be very intimidating for people who do not fit the typical stereotype but want yoga as a part of their lifestyle. Or who want to find a new way of moving their body and adding more movement in their day without feeling out of place or feel pressured to look a certain way before they can be included.
What is inclusivity?
Yoga has always been by the people, for the people. Inclusivity is crucial in breaking down the stereotype of what a yogi or yogini looks like.
If you describe a group or organisation as inclusive, this allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person. Therefore inclusive yoga is welcoming to all people. This also means that everybody has a right to be able to have access to it. We need these spaces that cater for bodies of all different shapes and sizes because every human deserves to live freely in their bodies. It allows you to move your body in a space that does not make you feel inferior or less than because you are not able to bend your body like a pretzel.
Inclusive yoga for larger bodies provides a space for people to be able to move in a way that fits in with their own wonderfully unique body shape. An inclusive yoga teacher will be able to provide variations on different postures, thus including the student as part of the class so they don’t have to miss any of the sequences and the practice of asanas. An inclusive teacher creates a space that makes the student want to explore and learn more about what their body can do for them, regardless of size.
How do we create an inclusive yoga space?
We can create more inclusive yoga spaces by making it more accessible to a wider range of people and communities. This can be done by way of education, for the industry to provide more inclusive yoga training for all teachers, and also more teachers with body diversity.
Visibility is also key. Letting others know that you exist and that people are welcomed into the yoga space just as much as anyone else. Showing people who are fat, disabled, all ages, genders, cultures in social media, thus creating more of a balanced approach with what is already shown in the media. Allowing yoga to be more of a rainbow of possibilities alongside the norm of what we already see.
This is a progressive movement and one which needs to continue if we are all to benefit from it, both economically and as a collective, and to allow it to open doors for everyone who chooses to be a part of it.
When I first started doing yoga as a student, I was usually the only fat person in the class and would have to sit out quite a bit of the duration of the practice as I could not physically do the asanas and there were very rarely any variations offered by the teachers. This made me feel disheartened and when I decided I wanted to become a teacher, I saw it as an opportunity to be another point of view for what a yoga teacher looks like and made me even more determined to travel this path. By becoming a teacher myself, I have been able to provide a space for others to be able to practice without feeling left out and be able to participate in the gift of yoga and providing me with a platform I can share with others.
I am passionate about creating change and bringing the gift of yoga to all by making it inclusive and accessible for all people, all bodies.
Yoga has been and continues to be an incredibly life changing experience as I continue to travel on this path. I am proud to call myself a teacher and I love to be able to connect with others through this ancient practice.
“Inclusivity is recognising that ALL bodies are equally valuable and worthy regardless of size, ability, gender identity or sexuality”Evie, Curvylicious Yoga