Blog 2017-08-10T04:16:40+00:00

Accessible Yoga Conference: An Interview With Jivana Heyman

This interview was originally posted on SF Yoga Mag by Dana Lee Jivana Heyman, founder of the Accessible Yoga Conference, admits that he is jealous of the talented people he knows teaching yoga at the conference in San Francisco October 6 – 8th.  He laughs when he says this, exposing his staggering humility. He seems completely unaware that through his radiant love, he has transformed the suffering of others into inclusivity, healing and hope, and developed a worldwide sangha dedicated to bringing yoga to all people, regardless of ability. He works to change our skinny notions of what a yoga teacher should be. His passion to include everyone in the healing circle of yoga resounds in something he says often: “community is key to the resurrection of hope." This incredible weekend conference will include asana classes, workshops, and panel discussions with senior yoga teachers on ways we can make yoga available to everyone. It was my honor to talk with him, learn about the sangha he is growing, and to feel his tender heart of love. What was your path to growing a passion for accessible yoga? I was always searching for answers, like everyone else. I am gay, and I guess I’ve always felt different than everyone else. I think it was a gift because it caused me to ask deeper questions. I feel lucky because I’ve had a chance to practice yoga since I was a kid. My grandmother practiced yoga. But it wasn’t until after college when [...]

I’m Not Just Another Therapy By Cheryl Albright

I was born with the most amazing teacher that never said a word. I could tell with a look in his eyes and his body language and gesture what he was thinking, what he wanted, and he was being mischievous. My teacher was my older brother and he has autism. Communicating without language was normal to me growing up. I knew that I would be working with people with disabilities from a very young age. Part of being autistic is you can’t express emotions in words. So this something that was never modeled. My brother could not say he was mad but demonstrated that with behaviors such as shutting down, bolting, or in severe cases breaking a window. When I was 12 and my brother was 16, out of the blue my parents split up and my brother was sent to live in a group home. In order to cope, I turned to drugs and alcohol. Sometimes I act out to get attention. My favorite example is when I decided to pierce my tongue because my father was a dentist. Somehow, I was able to pull it together to get through college. I was done with the drugs and moderated the alcohol. In 2009, my accountant said to go take a course for a tax right off. I chose Yoga for The Special Child. They taught that this is not just another therapy. In order for this method to be as affective as [...]

The Imperfect Yoga Teacher by Jivana Heyman

The Imperfect Yoga Teacher By Jivana Heyman This was originally posted on Yoga for Healthy Aging.The recent death of beloved yoga teacher and writer Michael Stone has been haunting me. I think there are some important lessons in his personal struggle that we need to learn from as a yoga community. Even though he was teaching the world how to deal with the pain of our human existence, he was personally dealing with bipolar disorder, which he had not publicly discussed.I have no problem with yoga teachers keeping their personal problems to themselves, because that's what healthy boundaries are. We are there to serve our students and not just talk about our own issues, especially if they're unresolved. For myself, it is a constant struggle to find a balance between over-sharing and being authentic in my teaching. What I'm concerned about is the idea that as a yoga teacher we have to achieve some kind of perfection in our own lives and that our faults somehow reduce our capacity to teach. In fact, I think it's the other way around: our personal challenges make us more effective teachers because we are forced to apply the teachings in our own lives.Accessible Yoga, the organization I founded, is dedicated to changing the consciousness around who can practice yoga and who can consider themselves a yogi. If, as yoga teachers, we try to force ourselves into a perfect mold, only sharing the attractive parts, only demonstrating the poses we’re good at, then we're [...]

Accessible Yoga Conference NYC 2017 by Danielle Nardi

As a yoga teacher and future physical therapist, I am passionate about making yoga accessible to all populations and blending it with my therapy, so when I heard about the Accessible Yoga Conference happening in New York, I knew it was something I wanted to go to – and I knew just the person to join me!  When I moved to Cape Cod I was fortunate enough to cross paths with another like-minded therapist/ yogi, Meredith, and I had no doubt she’d be just as excited about this event as I was! Conference Mission The Accessible Yoga Conference’s mission is to provide a forum where the Yoga community can come together to connect, share, and support those who wish to expand access to the practices of Yoga for people with disabilities, chronic illness, seniors, and for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in a regular yoga class. The workshop overall was wonderful.  I met some really great like-minded people who believe in the benefits of yoga and are passionate about making the practice accessible to as many people as possible. I took away so much from this weekend, there’s no way I could share it all, but here are some highlights – if you have any questions or are interested in more information about a particular workshop let me know and I’d be happy to share additional resources! Accessible Yoga, a Revolution  This workshop began with a discussion of “What is Accessible Yoga?” and then we broke into groups and brainstormed on different topics related to how we can [...]

The Language of Yoga by Sarahjoy Marsh

Part One; We’re Stuck At What Not To Do  Last week in our 300-hour yoga therapy teacher training program, a student asked an earnest and pivotal question about the language of yoga. I felt the fire of my passion for elegant language tools that elicit the experience of yoga for our students, in their brains, bodies, hearts, minds, and relationships. In fact, her question was so stirring to me that I actually had a hard time staying in my own seat. I wanted to jump up and give a thorough demonstration of Language Styles, including a fervent exposé on what is not working in parts of our language culture in yoga. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this: In an effort to create more trauma-informed, more gender sensitive, and less body shaming language systems (all of which I wholeheartedly endorse): it’s possible that we’re missing some of the foundational skills about language in yoga classes at all; in some cases, trying to be more sensitive, we’re misusing language altogether; and based on brain science and developmental processes, we’re also missing a tremendous opportunity that language choices can uniquely catalyze in our students’ experiences, including developing a sense of self, lessening the impact of trauma, and increasing personal leadership and capacity in relationship with ourselves, others, and life at large. In yoga many trainings, designed for increased sensitivity, what teachers are learning is What Not To Do. (Having not attended all of these trainings, I am noting here what the trainees are learning, as expressed directly [...]

Accessible Yoga Update By Jivana Heyman

Accessible Yoga is growing and expanding – so much has already happened this year. We collaborated with Yoga International on our first Accessible Yoga Online Conference. You can watch a preview here. I’m thrilled that the Conference is being offered in this manner because it is truly accessible to those who can’t join us in person! We are just a month away from our Accessible Yoga Conference NYC. This is our first conference on the East Coast, and its bigger than our previous conferences – with 25 presenters and 300 attendees. We’ll have so many of my favorite yoga teachers there: Matthew Sanford, Nischala Joy Devi, Cheri Clampett, Dianne Bondy, Steffany Moonaz, Marsha Danzig, JoAnn Lyons, and so many more. This is a wonderful opportunity to get inspired and feel connected. Our Accessible Yoga Regional Teams are blossoming everywhere! We now have Facebook Groups in multiple languages to help share Accessible Yoga around the world. Check out our current groups: Accessible Yoga Italian Accessible Yoga Dutch Accessible Yoga Greek Accessible Yoga Spanish Accessible Yoga Swedish Portuguese, French and German coming soon! We’re really excited about our collaboration with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. They produced an inspiring video at our last Conference as part of their Representation Matters campaign. Check it out here. We are offering ten Accessible Yoga Trainings around the world this year, including programs in Greece, Italy, Portugal, California, and upcoming trainings in Virginia, New York, France, Austria, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and [...]