Accessible Yoga in St. Louis: Leading by Example

Accessible Yoga in St. Louis: Leading by Example

“Accessible” has become a common term within conversations of yoga.  But what does that mean?  And what do teachers mean when they say their class is “accessible”?

We’ve talked before on the blog about why the conversation of accessibility is important when it comes to yoga.  Mainstream yoga caters to young, able-bodied white women with a disposable income through marketing, price-point, class styles, studio locations, and schedules.  It’s easy to identify the things that make yoga inaccessible, but perhaps a little more challenging to identify ways in which to remove those barriers within our St. Louis yoga community.  That’s why the term “accessible” when describing a yoga class may be good-hearted but is not very specific and can, at times, be misleading.

Very early on, Yoga Buzz began having conversations about “accessibility” within yoga.  At first it began with the idea of taking yoga outside of the yoga studio, but from there the conversation blossomed into a wide variety of topics.  We have for a long time referred to our yoga events as being “accessible” and open to all, but I’ve got to call us out here:  As good intentioned as we are, there are still some who may be excluded from our events, because our actual application of “accessibility” has been short-sighted and limited.  So we are doing something about that.

As good intentioned as we are, there are still some who may BE excluded from our events. SO we are doing something about that.

In an effort to take those first steps as a community, Yoga Buzz has organized an Accessible and Adaptive Yoga Committee.  This committee is comprised of teachers in the St. Louis yoga community who are doing incredible work to make yoga accessible and adaptable for populations outside of mainstream yoga.

If you are curious about this conversation, we invite you to view the Accessible Yoga Panel Discussion which was held on Thursday, March 30th at the Schlafly Bottleworks.  Our panel featured members of our Accessible Yoga Committee, and we discussed ways in which the local yoga community can work together to make this practice more widely available throughout the city.  Scroll down to view the video.

From here, we are working to develop a local network of education, support, and advocacy for yoga teachers as well as students to create a more inclusive yoga community in St. Louis.

For us, our first step towards more active inclusion is to add Accessibility Notes to each of our events.  This will include information about the venue for each event, so you know what to expect.  For example, some notes that may be relative to an event, workshop, or training might include:

  • Event is on the second floor; elevator is available
  • Building is ADA compliant
  • Chairs are available for practice
  • Service dogs welcome
  • Sign language interpreter available upon request
  • Sliding scale fee available in limited quantities
  • Yoga Assistant is available for individual support upon request
  • Children are welcome, including babywearers
  • Size of the event: Small (up to 30), Medium (30-60), or Large (60-100+)

If ever you have a specific need or request, or have a concern, question, or just want to let us know something in advance, please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected]  If you have any injuries, mobility limitations, or are pregnant, please let your teacher know in advance of the class.

If you are a caregiver and would like to accompany your yogi to an event, we are happy to welcome you as our guest, with no extra charge.  Again, please just contact us in advance at [email protected]

Please note; we will do our best to fulfill each request we receive, and it is most helpful for us to receive requests well in advance of an event.  We cannot guarantee special requests less than a week prior to an event, although we will do our best to find resources.

If there is anything else we can do to make you feel more welcome at a Yoga Buzz event, please do not hesitate to reach out.  We learn and grow through communication and community, and you are a vital part of that growth.

Interested in having this conversation on accessibility on a national level? Join Yoga Buzz at the Accessible Yoga Conference in New York City this May 19-21.

The Accessible and Adaptive Yoga Committee is made up of Natasha Baebler, April Morrison, Amber Howlett, LizAllen Giordano, Kelly A. Kelly, Jamie Austin, and Brittany Hill.

by Elle Potter, Yoga Buzz founder. Photo up top was from the Adaptive Yoga Training with Matthew Sanford last October.

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2 thoughts on “Accessible Yoga in St. Louis: Leading by Example”

  1. Great Idea, I am up in Canada in a rural area and I would love to receive feedback on how the event went. Sources for adaptive tools and techniques for instructors would be appreciated too! Many thanks,
    Georgie Collis

    1. Absolutely, Georgie! We are planning on filming it to post on our website, so it can be enjoyed by all (:

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