The Buzz Words: Accessible Yoga Conference: Santa Barbara, by Elle Potter

Yoga Buzz is excited to be a part of the 2nd Annual Accessible Yoga Conference in Santa Barbara, taking place September 16-18.  Yoga Buzz Founder Elle Potter will be presenting on developing creative and successful events for your community, and thinking outside the box (something Yoga Buzz is good at!).  Local St. Louis yoga teacher Natasha Baebler will also be presenting on yoga for the blind and visually-impared.

I remember when we first began Yoga Buzz, just over two years ago.  I was patting myself on the back for making yoga less intimidating by taking it out of a yoga studio. But then it hit me; the main demographic that was showing up to our events was the same demographic who generally already shows up to yoga – able-bodied white women between the ages 25-45 who have access to a disposable income.

If I was going to make yoga accessible, I had to start asking what makes yoga inaccessible?  Cost, physical limitations, access to transportation, lack of diversity represented by teachers… the list started expanding, and the conversation around “accessibility” in yoga began to unfold and become deeper and deeper.

Why is a conversation around accessible yoga important?  For those yogis who have always felt nothing but welcome and at home on their yoga mat at a studio, this may be a confounding question.  Isn’t all yoga “Body Positive” yoga?  Isn’t yoga meant to look and feel different for each individual body?

In theory, yes.  But in practice, if a teacher lacks the education and understanding of the wide array of experiences possible on the mat, a student may leave class feeling unseen, unsupported, or uncomfortable.
Check out Elle’s interview with Accessible Yoga Conference founder, Jivana Heyman.

Having a conversation around accessibility – which, in truth, can become a complex and never-ending discussion – means taking time as teachers to listen to our students, acknowledge their experiences as real, and learn how we can better support them.  Sometimes this means acknowledging that as a yoga teacher, you are not always the best options for the specific needs of a student.  Building relationships with teacher colleagues who have unique perspectives and different training experience will help strengthen you as a teacher, and the greater yoga community around you.

Here are just a few of the teachers in St. Louis who are making yoga accessible to our community.

St. Louis yoga teacher Natasha Baebler teaches yoga to visually-impared and blind students, both as adults and children.  What she can offer to this group is truly unique, as she herself is legally-blind.  Learn more about Natasha at UDforYoga.
Jamie Austin, owner of Mindful Movements in Old North St. Louis, opened the first black-owned yoga studio in STL this spring.  Representation matters on the mat, and her plans to continue to share the practice of yoga with people of color in St. Louis is something to keep an eye on.  Check out the Mindful Movements class schedule here.
Full-Figured and Flawless was founded this summer by Kelly A. Kelly, a recent graduate of Yoga Buzz’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program.  Committed to making yoga available to those who live in larger bodies, Kelly is also interested in sharing yoga as a tool for coping with Type 2 Diabetes.  Follow Kelly on Facebook.
Lisa Roberts has been teaching yoga at Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade.  Her ability to adapt yoga and mindfulness to kids who are recovering from surgery, treatments, and injury shows incredible dedication to children’s wellness.  Through her YoYo Yoga School, she educates health professionals as well as children’s yoga teachers to spread the awareness of mindfulness for children in the most critical of times.
 


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