2017 International Day of Yoga Accessible Yoga Challenge

June 19, 2017    BY Melanie Klein & Jivana Heyman

June 21, 2017, marks the third year that the world is coming together to celebrate the International Day of Yoga. This is a holiday that the United Nations created to commemorate India's gift to the world and to celebrate the power of yoga. This year, Yoga International is once again joining forces with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and Accessible Yoga to share the message that yoga truly is for every body and everybody. This collaboration builds on previous work by all three organizations which are dedicated to making yoga inclusive and accessible.

In this video, friends and teachers from around the world share the ways that they are working to make yoga accessible. We hope that their efforts inspire you as well.

As practitioners who have benefited from yoga and know the power of these practices, we owe a debt to those who have yet to discover them. And we must also recognize that there are still many roadblocks to access—some are subtle and some concrete. Messages that we receive through the media tell us that yoga is only for people who are young, athletic, able-bodied, and flexible. But that's not the truth. Yoga has gifts for all of us regardless of our physical condition, size, and ability.

Consider how the images that you experience on a regular basis have constructed your understanding of yoga, as well as how that media image is different from the experience you've had through your own practice.

Creating Accessibility 
Concrete obstacles to yoga are not erased just by making spaces wheelchair accessible. There are many obstacles to access, like financial concerns, teachers having a lack of training, and appropriate levels of classes being offered. Yoga classes often take place in exclusive environments that aren't welcoming to people of different races, sexual and gender identities, ages, financial status, and disability. Yoga teachers have an added responsibility. They need specialized training in teaching yoga to all bodies, and to consider the way they include or exclude students from the practice, the language they use, and their willingness to serve everyone who comes to them.

Challenge

This year we invite you to join us in stating our intention to make yoga more inclusive. We can send a message to the world that yoga is for every body, and we're creating an international online challenge to unite our voices.

To join our challenge, please post a video and/or photo to Instagram, on or before June 21, using this prompt: "I'm making yoga accessible by _________. My name is ________, I’m from _________, and this is what a yogi looks like."

Examples

  • "I'm making yoga accessible by teaching donation-based classes. My name is Shelley, I'm from Santa Monica, California, and this is what a yogi looks like."
  • "I'm making yoga accessible by teaching in juvenile detention facilities. My name is Sarit, I'm from Culver City, California, and this is what a yogi looks like."
  • "I'm making yoga accessible by teaching yoga for all bodies. My name is Maitreyi, I'm from Sacramento, California, and this is what a yogi looks like."
  • "I'm making yoga accessible by teaching yoga for people with multiple sclerosis. My name is Priya, I'm from Oakland, California, and this is what a yogi looks like."

Enter

  1. Follow all three hosts: @accessibleyoga, @ybicoalition, and @yoga_international.
  2. Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #IDY2017accessibleyoga or #IDYaccessibleyoga.

Additional hashtag suggestions (but not necessary to qualify):

#accessibleyoga #whatyogalookslike #IDY2017 #IDY2017whatayogilookslike#WhatAYogiLooksLike

  1. Tag three friends.

Prizes

We'll choose five winners at random. Each winner will receive: a copy of Yoga & Body Image, a USB pre-loaded with over 20 hours of workshops, classes, and presentations from the 2016 Accessible Yoga Conference, and a one-year membership to Yoga International. One grand-prize winner will receive a ticket to attend the Accessible Yoga Conference in San Francisco, California, October 6-8, 2017 (travel and lodging not included)—a $395 value.

Melanie Klein
Melanie Klein, M.A., is a writer, speaker, and Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Santa Monica College. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest - Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn's Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn,... Read more>>

Jivana Heyman
Jivana Heyman is the founder of Accessible Yoga, an international advocacy organization which offers Conferences, an Ambassador program, online Network, and Trainings. Details at www.accessibleyoga.org. Jivana is also co-owner of the Santa Barbara Yoga Center, and manager of the San Francisco Integral Yoga Institute. Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities with an emphasis on sharing yoga philosophy. His passion is making Yoga accessible to everyone, and empowering... Read more>>

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