June 21, 2018, marks the fourth 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.
Concrete obstacles to yoga are not erased just by making spaces wheelchair accessible (although that’s important too!). 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 orientations, gender identities, ages, or financial statuses, or to those with disabilities. Yoga teachers have an added responsibility. They need 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.
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."
"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."
2. Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #IDY2018accessibleyoga or #IDYaccessibleyoga. Additional hashtag suggestions (but not necessary to qualify): #accessibleyoga #whatyogalookslike #IDY2018 #IDY2018whatayogilookslike #WhatAYogiLooksLike
3. Tag three friends.
We'll choose five winners at random. Each winner will receive an Accessible Yoga water bottle and decal, a one-year Yoga International membership, a Yoga International shirt and notebook, and will be featured on the YBIC blog and the Yoga and Body Image Coalition's Instagram page (which will be regrammed by Accessible Yoga and Yoga International!)