Yoga for All!

This week, I’ve asked Stacey Fox to guest blog about her new class, beginning January 3rd: Yoga for All! Take it away, Stacey . . .

When I first got really into yoga and decided to become a yoga teacher, I got a lot of enthusiastic support, for which I am very grateful. However, many of my supporters also expressed some variation on, “I’m not flexible enough/in shape enough/the right body type to do yoga.” I have always wanted for those people to feel that yoga is truly for everybody and every body, but I know their doubts persist despite my encouragement. 

Honestly, that doubt is understandable. Look at the cover of any fitness or yoga magazine, or check out the way yoga and yoga teachers are presented in visual media. You probably have a very specific vision in your mind of what a “yogi” looks like: thin, long-limbed, flexible, able-bodied. I’m well-aware that I fit that stereotype, and you might even be wondering what the heck I’m doing teaching a “Yoga For All” class in my clearly privileged body.

While I don’t have first-hand experience living in a larger body, I’ve spent my life commiserating with a dear friend who has always had to navigate a culture that prizes bodies that look nothing like hers. I watched her when we were teenagers as she pushed her body to the limits with exercise and extreme diets. I’ve listened to her and encouraged her as she explained her fears of going to the gym or to group fitness classes for fear of what other people might say and think. She’s finally coming to love herself for the way she is, but it’s taken a long time for this person I love so dearly to work towards recovery from a lifetime of struggling against her own body. 

I know my friend is far from alone in having this kind of struggle, and I know the profound difference yoga can make in healing emotional wounds and bringing a sense of peace and even appreciation about the body one is granted. It’s this experience, combined with my love for my dear friend, that drives my passion to help others who might struggle with their body image or who believe yoga isn’t for them. When I heard that two of the most innovative and compassionate yoga teachers out there today, Amber Karnes and Dianne Bondy, were offering a teacher training program called “Yoga For All” which is tailored to empower teachers for just this specific mission, I couldn’t get myself signed up quickly enough. 

If you aren’t familiar with Dianne and Amber, I encourage you to take a moment to go look them up and then come back to this post. If you do, I’m certain you’ll come back here thinking differently about whether or not you belong in a yoga class. These two amazing women are challenging the stereotypes of the yoga world and empowering other yoga teachers with the tools to make sure their classes are truly inclusive to people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. I am thrilled to be able to bring that kind of yoga class right here to Main Street Yoga Fairmont.

So, what exactly is “Yoga For All”? It’s a class designed for YOU. We’ll slow it down and really experience how to make the pose work for you instead of you working towards the pose. With the use of tools like blocks, straps, chairs, and even the walls of the studio, you’ll have the chance to take charge of your practice and find the variation of the pose that makes you feel both strong and at ease. We’ll break down the asana while we break down preconceived notions of how a particular pose “should” look or feel. Consider it a mixture of workshop and yoga class, where you can take your newfound blueprint for these poses and incorporate them into your practice, both at home and in the studio. Questions are encouraged, and as the teacher, I’ll be collaborating with and learning from each individual student as we work together to make yoga work for you. Chances are good that as you look around the room in this class, no two people will be in quite the same variation of the pose. That’s the goal, really! Everyone will be able to make the practice truly customized to their bodies and abilities. 

Our kick-off class is Thursday, January 3rd at 7:00 p.m. I hope you will come to the studio and see what Yoga For All is really all about!