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“Accessibility” / Yoga for ALL

If you can breathe, you can do yoga.                                             ~Krishnamacharya

This Tuesday, June 21st 2016, marks the second annual International Day of Yoga declared by the United Nations in 2014. The theme this year is “Yoga for All”.  The goal is to inspire yoga teachers and studios all over the world to find & share ways to make yoga accessible to everyone regardless of race, gender, income and ability. How do we make yoga accessible?  What exactly are the barriers we see?    There is an argument that since Yoga came to North America, it has been represented in a limited and exclusive way.  The predominant image is of a young, flexible, fit white woman in overpriced yoga pants and matching sports bra.  While this may be a rather common sight, the facts remain that accessibility to yoga is on the increase with innovative programs in jails, schools, hospitals and in the communities of under-served populations.  The amount of men practicing has doubled since 2012!

In yoga, we start with the physical body but the beauty of yoga is that we don’t stop there.  Yoga means to “unite”.  Unity starts in accessibility.  To access the social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual we can begin in the concrete – the physical.  I have always believed that anyone can do yoga.   I often find people who feel that an injury or disability prohibits them from practicing yoga.  As a physical therapist, I know I can make yoga accessible to them by acknowledging their fear, modifying postures, making yoga safe and moving gently through pain.  When a person is able to make a positive action in a negative situation, they can see the value in yoga.  They can make the distinction between the approach of traditional medicine as “sick”care and the approach of yoga as “healthcare”.  They can begin to be grateful for what they can do rather than focusing on what they cannot do. BKS Iyengar once said, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”

This is where I can make a difference.  There is an worldwide organization called Accessible Yoga Ambassadors and I am proud to be one.  What will you do?  Maybe you can bring a friend to a local yoga class (Tuesday 9:30 am is free at Discover Yoga & PT).  Check out this link for more information.

“I’m making yoga accessible by opening my home to my community and making yoga safe and fun for my neighbors and anyone who comes by. My name is Melissa, I live in Cary, NC, and this is what a yogi looks like.”


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