Yoga is for Every Body!
‘Oh you practice yoga! You must be very flexible! '
‘Ah I could not do yoga, I am too old/weak/inflexible/don’t look like the other people in the yoga class..’
All of these are things that most people who practice yoga will have heard at some point at least once.
It is well known that accessible and affordable movement and meditation practices have been shown to:
· Improve physical health of yogis – yoga has numerous health benefits. It is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity and build strength, flexibility, and balance.
· Improve mental health and wellbeing of yogis– yoga can provide tools to reduce stress, anxiety and improve self-esteem.
· Improve relationship with self and others, leading to improved family and working life.
So why do so many people assume that yoga will not be suitable for them? Here may be some roots to the most common misconceptions about yoga.
Social Media: If we type yoga into any social media, we are likely to be shown pictures of very flexible, fit and peaceful looking people showing impressive skills on the mat. It is not unfair to assume that many prospective yogis have felt a little intimidated by this image, or at the very least have felt a little apprehensive when practicing in their first class. Will I be able to keep up? Will I feel accepted if I can’t perform some of the poses? Should I attend a beginner or advanced class?
Affordability: practicing in yoga studios can be financially challenging for many people. This means that many will associate yoga with an elitist and inaccessible practice. Yoga is expensive, it must be for rich people!
Representation: mainstream and social media show a very limited snapshot of the real population that practices yoga. And a number of groups are not often portrayed to show that diversity does exist in yoga, as in life. If we do not recognise ourselves in the common image of the practice, does that truly make us feel that the practice is accessible to us? No one looks like me, so I won’t fit in..
In reality, yoga means different things to different people. For some, it is a physical practice that creates a strong body, and that perhaps alleviates stress and tension in their daily life. For others it is a much more holistic activity, with emphasis on connection with themselves and others. But it can seem like the modern popular image of yoga has more to do with acrobatics than self confidence and acceptance.
The good news is that there is a growing movement in the yoga universe that is looking to challenge this common image of yoga, by focusing on making yoga more accessible to a wider audience. A greater emphasis is being made across the yogasphere on creating opportunities for people to practice in a way that suits their body, their circumstances and their wellbeing goals.
So how do we create a practice that is accessible to as many people as possible? Here are just a few ideas:
1. Create an environment that is empowering and friendly. Stepping onto the mat (or chair!) can be a novel and emotional moment for many. Ensuring that the environment is free of judgement is important, so that all yogis feel that they can join in as they are, with no need to fix or change anything. You do not need to do the splits/lose weight/buy expensive clothes to practice yoga!
2. Create a practice that meets yogis where they are. Most yoga poses have a specific benefit (whether it be a specific stretch, strength building, calming) and can be adapted to suit practitioners of any ability.
3. Celebrate diversity, creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to feel at home in a yoga class.
At Lumi Foundation we believe that yoga is for everybody. We believe that everyone should have access to a yoga practice that is affordable and accessible to all, whatever your circumstances. We believe that creating connection with ourselves and others is just as important as the physical practice of yoga. We believe that everyone should feel comfortable in their body, whether you are old or young, active or immobile. We believe that you should enjoy a sense of wellbeing, no matter what challenges life may throw at you.
We think that these are great reasons to practice yoga! If you feel like it, take a look at our schedule, and join our supportive and empowering community!
See you on the mat!