Yoga for Specific Communities – is it divisive?

I am excited to use this space to share events, research, news and info on yoga in all sorts of settings, on teachers and organizations offering yoga to people and communities who could benefit but wouldn’t otherwise have access.  It’s fantastic to have research on the benefits of yoga for specific conditions, to have trainings on teaching yoga with students’ specific situation in mind.

I wonder though if it becomes divisive at some point.  One article described trauma-sensitive yoga almost as a new “style” of yoga, developed by a specific organization at a point in time. Some gyms and studios have coined a term of a “new” class – yoga targeted at men.  There are training programs designed specifically for teaching yoga to specific communities.

I absolutely agree that a teacher should be sensitive to a whole host of issues students may be facing. However we all belong to multiple groups … I’m a woman, I am “low-income” right now, I have had issues with food, I’ve had other experiences I won’t be sharing here … one of these things may be more important than the others, but that’s not something a teacher could choose for me. I also worry that singling out a specific condition or experience runs the risk of focusing on those characteristics that are outwardly visible, or those that people feel comfortable sharing openly, to the detriment of other characteristics which are “invisible” but just as – or even more – important. These experiences and conditions matter, but they don’t define us.

None of this is to say I think teachers should not learn about trauma, or not take a training where they learn more about specific situations people experiencing homelessness might face … I guess I would hope to find a balance between gaining information about a condition or experience and letting that condition define the students; between making appropriate (and perhaps common sense) modifications to any class and considering that sequence a new style of yoga.


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