Inclusion means belonging and belonging is a social need to be an accepted member of a functioning group (e.g. family, sports teams, friends). Every one of us has this urgent need to belong and if the inclusion is successful it makes us feel whole. The desire to belong is so universal that it doesn’t matter what kind of body or sexual orientation you have or which country you are from. Inclusion itself doesn’t know any cultural barriers; society causes these barriers.
That’s why we have to break certain sociological patterns in order to build social inclusion. The discussion on inclusion has been raging in Germany for years now, mainly in the education sector: Why do we need inclusion? Is it good for kids with and without disabilities to be in a mutual learning environment? How can teachers be trained to deal with the diversity of their individual students? These are essential questions we have to face as individuals and as a society. Sadly the discussion has sometimes become very ugly, mainly because people are scared of change or scared of not knowing what a new concept might bring in the future. But we have to acknowledge the fact that we cannot stop the world from changing but instead we can take an active part in that changing process and make it a change for the better.
In my opinion, inclusion is about trusting each other, letting go of prejudices, and facing each other as equal human beings. When I was writing this blog text, I stumbled upon the website www.inclusion.com and there it was – simple and straight to the point - so I don’t feel capable of phrasing it any better:
· Inclusion is about ALL of us.
· Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together.
· Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life.
· Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.
· Inclusion is about our 'abilities' – our gifts and how to share them.
· Inclusion is NOT just a 'disability' issue.
All of these six points totally match the mission statement of Accessible Yoga and explains why our accessible yoga network is growing as fast as it does. The unity we find in practicing yoga is the unity our society desperately needs.
At the 1st Annual Accessible Yoga Conference in Santa Barbara last year all attendees had the same feeling – we felt included and we felt that we belong! We belong to a worldwide yoga community; we belong to a group of Accessible Yoga Ambassadors who see the positive impact of yoga on themselves and their students, who know that yoga also is a sometimes windy and rocky path, who acknowledge the great gift that yoga nonetheless is for every individual and who are convinced that every mind and every body can practice yoga. Yoga makes you feel you belong and that’s one of the greatest gifts you can get!
About the author:
Katja Sandschneider is a 33 year old accessible yoga teacher from Germany and has been part of the Accessible Yoga network since the very beginning.
After an internal bleeding in her spinal cord shortly after her birth, she’s been living with a right-sided hemiparesis from her hip down. After her first yoga class five years ago, she was stunned by the effects the practice had on her: not only her back pain and headaches got a lot better, she also felt emotionally calm and relaxed. She was amazed that she could follow normal yoga classes by adapting the poses for her individual needs. At the same time, it took her by surprise that accessible yoga didn’t really exist in Germany yet. Therefore, Katja decided to become a yoga teacher to other people with disabilities and took Jivana Heyman’s Accessible Yoga Teacher Training in Austria in 2013. She’s been teaching accessible yoga classes in Berlin since 2014. For more information visit her website www.yoga-barrierefrei.de