YJ’s Mission to Help Make Yoga More Inclusive for All

Part of our mission at Yoga Journal is to expand the conversation and include a more diverse group of yogis in print and on the web.
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Part of our mission at Yoga Journal is to expand the conversation and include a more diverse group of yogis in print and on the web.
Diversity month

A few months ago, I was settling onto my mat before my favorite yoga class, when I looked around the room and noticed, once again, that almost all of the other yogis waiting for class to start looked pretty similar to me: white, female, and relatively slim. It’s true that I live in Boulder, Colorado, a notoriously homogenous town. Even so, it was a subtle reminder that while yoga has the potential to unite us, it also has a reputation for being pretty exclusive.

This is not new. When yoga first emerged in India, it was taught and practiced by men, and only men. But as the ancient practice migrated West, it evolved. Today (in this country at least), classes, trainings, events, and media dedicated to yoga (this magazine not excluded) are predominantly filled with similar-looking, able-bodied, financially stable women.

See also Why Every Yoga Teacher & Practitioner Needs Inclusivity Training

Part of my mission as editor of Yoga Journal is to expand the conversation and include a more diverse group of yogis in print and on the web. We’ve dedicated nearly half of the June 2017 issue to the subject of yoga inclusivity. In the following pages, you’ll meet four incredible yogis, including Chelsea Jackson Roberts, a black yoga teacher who says that even after 10 years of teaching, new students still act surprised that she is the teacher. You’ll hear from Anna Guest-Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, who shares her path to body acceptance and being at peace with being the curviest yogini in the room. You’ll be inspired by Dan Nevins, a soldier turned yoga teacher whose transformative experience of embracing yoga may very well have saved his life. And you’ll also meet Teo Drake, a trans yoga and meditation teacher who asks not for sympathy from those who hear his story, but rather a commitment to finding a commonality. “I want them to feel empathy,” says Drake, “and to act in solidarity.”

See also How Arm Vet Dan Nevins Spreads Hope Through Yoga

That is my ultimate wish, not only for this issue, but for the yoga community as a whole: that we, as yogis, commit to remembering that we are all united and to doing what we can to make this beautiful, accepting practice available to anyone who wants it, regardless of gender, race, size, ability, or socioeconomic status.

In that spirit, I’ll ask you the same question I promise to continue to pose to myself: What will you do to help make yoga more inclusive for all?

—Carin Gorrell
Editor in Chief

Sign up now for Yoga Journal’s new online course Inclusivity Training for Yoga: Building Community with Compassion for an introduction to the skills and tools you need as a teacher and as a student. In this class, you’ll learn how to better identify student needs, make compassionate and inclusive language choices, gracefully offer pose alternatives, give appropriate assists, reach out to neighboring communities, and expand and diversify your classes.