Options, Empowerment, and Love | Meet Erik FuentesJuly 23, 2018
What does accessible yoga look like to you?
I can describe accessible yoga in three words: options, empowerment, and love. As a yoga teacher, if your students know they have options, you freely give them the power to do what’s best for them. If you offer options no matter what their capability may be, you provide an opportunity for healing. If you do your best to offer an option but still can’t find something that works for them, maybe love is the answer.
How did yoga find you?
Following my first experience with a yoga class I vowed to never return to one again. I guess you can say I wasn’t ready. After about 8 years later, the gym I was attending offered a free yoga class and I thought I’d give it another try. The experience was much better but I still had difficulty with the physical aspect of the practice (At the time, I thought it was all a physical practice…silly me). This weekly yoga class ultimately led me to a yoga studio, following a friend’s recommendation. This decision proved to be a life-altering one. I connected with the community at I Am Yoga in Turlock, CA, and could identify with the male presence at this beautiful space. From there, I haven’t looked back.
I was given a new set of eyes and a new heart after becoming a parent, which led me to pursue my 200 HR yoga teacher certification at I Am Yoga. My teacher training was yet another transformative experience and where I discovered (I mean, really dove into) the other “limbs” of yoga.
Following the completion of my yoga certification, I founded my own business under the name The Wellness Within, where I offer services and products with yoga, aromatherapy, and connection. Soon after, I pursued a certification in Chair Yoga and now incorporate a chair in about half of the classes I have or currently teach at various facilities including a church, a senior apartment complex, and a senior center.
“My mission is to share my experience as a yoga instructor with anyone who’s willing to experience it with me. I will always make space for you.”
Through the magic of social media, I found myself at the Accessible Yoga Conference in San Francisco where Jivana Heyman and his team have created an organization of “my people.” Their mission was so impactful, I pursued an Accessible Yoga Teacher Training following the conference. I whole-heartedly try and bring my flavor of accessible yoga wherever I teach. The universe has led me towards a path involving trauma-informed yoga and has connected me with other studios and organizations that I’m blessed to be a part of.
Who are your accessible yoga role models?
Anna Eshoo for not only creating a space of healing and love that is I Am Yoga, but ensuring that her members and trainees know and understand that yoga is more than just a physical practice. She has inspired and guided me in ways I may never be able to put in words. Thank you, Anna.
Stacie Dooreck, for not only providing a chair yoga trainings and classes that is SunLight Yoga, but for offering support whenever it’s needed. Thank you, Stacie.
Jivana Heyman, for his role in the Accessible Yoga community and for his irrefutable support and mentorship in my life. Thank you, Jivana.
The staff and instructors at The Yoga Seed Collective in Sacramento, CA, for offering a safe space for various communities as well as offering trainings in various accessible categories. You are a shining example of what the future of yoga studios look like. Thank you, The Yoga Seed Collective.
To all of my fellow accessible yoga instructors (some of whom I call friends), I’m blessed to share space with you as we pursue our mission to make yoga accessible to all. Thank you, all.
It’s an honor to witness and partake in this apparent shift in the yoga community. Moving away from a concept that you have to look a certain way or have a certain level of physical ability to be worthy of being a yogi. We are all deserving of yoga and let’s not ever forget that.