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.
Remember when you first learned Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)? Chances are the teacher told you to move right into the “full expression” of the pose, lifting your hips as you straightened your arms and legs. But most people walk in the studio door with tight hamstrings and shoulders, making this version of Down Dog uncomfortable, if not totally inaccessible. What if we started being more mindful about the options presented in class and offered pose instruction from the ground up? Maybe you’d start Down Dog with your hands on blocks and your knees bent, allowing you to access the true anatomical benefit of the pose—a long spine—instead of a painful, ineffective, self-conscious version. As teachers, we can’t always know what abilities and conditions students come to class with, but we can choose inclusive language and sequencing that offers options for more of the bodies in the room.
Here yoga teacher and education expert Chelsea Jackson Roberts, PhD, shares one quick tip for how to realign your cues and increase your compassion factor when it comes to teaching Tree Pose (Vrksasana)!