Accessible yoga has become a buzzword lately. People talk about making their yoga accessible, trauma-informed, inclusive, and I am glad to hear these concepts being discussed. However, when the discussion is still being had in groups that center the able-bodied individual of at least average fitness, with no talk about mental health (other than the platitudes that yoga and meditation will “help”), neurodivergent, or what it’s like it live in a body that’s disabled, rather fat, and not cis-gendered in a way that doesn’t conform to societal expectations, then is the yoga being discussed very accessible?
When I think of accessible yoga, I think of a space that’s full of the liberation which permeates yoga philosophy. A space in which we are free to be ourselves, and no matter how we process information or whether we can get to the “full expression” of a pose, or even into an identifiable yoga pose at all, we’re welcomed. It’s a space that is aware people handle information, environmental stimulus, even the very nature of their own bodies in different way. And it’s never ever a space where we’re told we’re “doing something wrong”.
It’s also a space which understands the socioeconomic inequalities of our society. A space that gets that a large percentage of autistic and neurodivergent individuals (I’ve read studies ranging from 60-80+%) are under or unemployed, and thus lacking a sustainable, living income. Too many of us lack a living wage. And so to me, accessible yoga spaces aren’t ones which start their classes and experiences at over a hundred dollars.
I get that things cost money. I know that all too well. But if I, as an autistic, non-bendy, very large size individual who is not making a living wage doesn’t feel welcome in your space, then I am sure there are many marginalized individuals who also don’t feel comfortable. Who are you centering?
And more importantly, and something I’m going to explore in my next blog, are you fostering your savior complex? Because I’m not a coupon. I don’t need saving. I just need help, and accessible spaces where people feel like they don’t belong isn’t helping.