Sharing Strategies to Make Yoga More Broadly Accessible – Part 3 in the Yoga and Body Image Book Discussion SeriesApril 23, 2015
Part Three: Culture & Media
GUEST POST BY: Anitra Cottledge
We wasted no time in getting right down to it for our third Yoga and BodyImage discussion. After a lovely grounding facilitated by the amazing Dianne Bondy (via Google Hangouts), we jumped right into the topic at hand: the role that media and culture play in shaping our ideas about our bodies, beauty standards and yoga.
I almost don’t know how to capture the richness of our discussion. The conversation was flowing, and everyone had a story about how media had impacted their thinking.
I could tell you about the time when someone brought up “the girl on Instagram:” the one who always seems to be in a bikini doing complex yoga poses on a cliff while overlooking the ocean. (There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this or being this person; it’s just frustrating when that image is what many people associate with yoga.)
I could focus on the comment made by a yoga teacher and her comment that she was convinced that she didn’t meet the “yoga teacher standard.” She said, “Aren’t all yoga teachers tall, former dancers?” (FYI: she was neither tall, nor was she a former dancer.)
I could share our conversation about the commodification of yoga, and that we appreciated the part in Rolf Gates’ essay where he says: “…if we are not willing to do the work to create a healing community, the dominant culture fills the vacuum and we cannot realize the potential of our healing practices” (p. 127).
But what I want to focus on and what I am going to share is our discussion about strategies to make yoga more broadly accessible and available.
Here are some ideas that emerged from our group:
- Teach the teacher. Surface and prioritize issues of accessibility, beauty and media representation in yoga teacher programs.
- Redefine beauty. Explore the notion that in U.S. culture, beauty can be narrowly defined in the media. What are some other ways to conceptualize beauty outside of that narrow focus?
- Forget beauty. Some people argued that yoga practice and culture shouldn’t be concerned primarily with beauty in the first place.
- Yoga studio, not retail outlet. Consider not selling yoga accessories and clothes as well as doing away with mirrors in your yoga studio.
- Who’s missing? Co-create yoga spaces for/with underserved and underrepresented communities.
- Truth in advertising. When you say a class is open to all levels, be mindful of whether that’s really true. Is your class accessible to a wide range of experiences and bodies?
- Start locally. Get connected to your immediate community, and position your studio as a space FOR your community.
Those are just a few of our ideas about how to make yoga more accessible and available.
Share your thoughts in the comments!
- “I’m sure your story is just like mine.” – Part 2 in the Yoga and Body Image Book Discussion Series by Anitra Cottledge
- “Every exhale is an opportunity to forgive.” – Part 1 in the Yoga and Body Image Book Discussion Series by Anitra Cottledge.
- Yoga and Body Image: Raising Awareness Through Book Clubs by Erin McCloskey
- “I’ve never said this before.” – A Yoga and Body Image Coalition Workshop Weekend by Elen Bahr
- Black Yogi. White Studio. by Anitra Cottledge.
BIO: Anitra Cottledge is a higher education professional, teacher, writer, developing yogi and compassionate questioner who tweets infrequently.